Labyrinths for Spiritual Practice
The labyrinth in the Paul College courtyard is meant to be used by the UNH community as a way to promote community well-being. Have you walked UNH's labyrinth?
The labyrinth is an ancient symbol that has been rediscovered and adapted for use today. It can be found in ancient cultures, traditions and countries including China, Ireland, India, England, Scandinavia, France, Crete and others. It is an image that represents wholeness, healing, and inclusion.
Labyrinths have long been used as a meditation and prayer tool. It is used for walking meditation to assist us in finding peace and clarity, managing stress, assisting with decision making, self-exploration and reflection. The labyrinth can also provide the opportunity to examine goals, assess talents and abilities, make decisions, and evaluate progress, both personally and professionally. Others view walking a labyrinth as a metaphor for life’s journey - a journey to your deepest self, where you come back into the world with a clearer understanding of yourself. It is seen and used for different reasons by different individuals.
Is a labyrinth like a maze?
It is not a maze. A maze is designed to confuse the user. It is a problem to be solved, a left-brain task that requires the user to think analytically, logically, and sequentially. A labyrinth is not designed to confuse. It is one circuitous path to the center and out again. The entrance is also the exit. It is designed to help you find your way out. It is a right brain task that involves intuition and creativity.
How do you walk a labyrinth?
There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. It is a symbol that can create a sacred space and place and allows you to create time to go within. Though it is meant to be done slowly, each participant determines their own pace, time and goals for their walk.
One way to walk a labyrinth:
At the entrance to the labyrinth you can stop, take a deep breath, reflect, make a prayer or intention for the walk you are about to take. The walk around the labyrinth towards the center is to assist you in "letting go,"- of quieting the body and the mind, to let go of things that hinder your path/journey and to become present to the experience. Arrival at the center - a place of meditation/prayer- to let in light, open the heart, receive wisdom, guidance, the "divine" – "letting in". When you are ready, you walk out of the labyrinth. You walk back into your life with new insight, strength, peace, centeredness, knowledge and/or relaxation – "letting out". When you arrive at the exit you take a moment to take a deep breath.
Others view walking a labyrinth as a metaphor for life's journey - a journey to your deepest self, where you come back into the world with a clearer understanding of your self.
Download Finger Labyrinths
"We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time" -- T.S. Eliot