The point of a maze is to find its center, the point of a labyrinth is to find your center.
Throughout history labyrinths have been used as a meditative tool symbolizing a journey to our own center, then returning back into the world with more feelings of peace, clarity, and mindfulness.
What invaluable emotional gifts to present to a child, especially when things seem so confusing in the world as it is.
Looking at the concepts of labyrinths will help us to teach this contemplative tool a little more easily.
Labyrinths are not to be confused with mazes, which have numerous entrances and confusing choices. The walls on mazes are often built high enough so that it inhibits the ability to see the way out. Mazes are meant to enhance left-brained activity, while the design of the labyrinth is meant to enhance right-brain activity.
A labyrinth is unicursal, a mathematical term meaning that it’s a closed curve but can be drawn out in a single movement (think of cursive writing).
To qualify as a labyrinth, a design should have only one path that leads unalterably from the entrance to the goal. But reaching the center goal is only half of the distance – it’s time to turn around and go out the same way you came in.
The intention is to have found some inner peace along the way.
Much of the inner peace can be attributed to the Sacred Geometry of the labyrinth, which is based upon the geometric patterns found in Nature. Mathematicians, scientists, and spiritualists agree that in studying nature we find that the basic building blocks are geometric, such as the perfect pattern of a nautilus shell, the arrangement of a sunflower, the hexagons of honeycombs, and even the spiral of a galaxy.
The idea is that in observing and experiencing sacred geometry, it leads to truth and self-understanding. Most societies use sacred geometry to construct their temples, sacred places, and artwork (Labyrinth Society).
During the Medieval Ages, hundreds of thousands of people walked the labyrinths of the cathedrals, such as Chartres, in place of making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. They felt that if they walked the labyrinth they would walk out transformed and purified, ready to embrace new challenges in life.
Other spiritual significances include the symmetrical and contemplative designs of mandalas, and the seven circuits of the Cretan Labyrinth in relation to the major seven chakras of the body (Crystalinks).
Most people don’t have the luxury of living near a labyrinth so they either make it themselves as a part of a meditation or peace area or they use a finger labyrinth. Whatever way helps to bring this historic, mindful practice to more people, the better!
Hundreds of schools and parks across the country are beginning to adopt the practices of the walking labyrinth because they understand the peace and wisdom it brings. And it’s hard not to admit the primal air of mystic mystery the sight of a labyrinth brings. The heart is pulled towards it, asking for the journey to the center and back.
Here’s a great idea… Follow the heart.
Recommended product as a follow-up, try Montessori Services’s finger labyrinths. You can find them here.
To see some inventive ways you can use the finger labyrinth, see my posts: