Tarot Meditations: Walking a Labyrinth
Last week I went on a search for labyrinths in my area, and was thrilled when I found this amazing resource: With the World Wide Labyrinth Locator, you can find labyrinths anywhere, most of which are open to the public. So, I set out on a pilgrimage to visit some of labyrinths in my area and walk them.
First of all, some background and clarifications: A labyrinth is not a maze, is not constructed out of tall hedges and does not contain ghouls and monsters at each turn, as is the case in Labyrinth, that spectacular 80s movie starring David Bowie. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has only one path to center and one path out and is typically laid on the ground. It is impossible to get lost in a labyrinth. In fact, its purpose is just the opposite—it is meant to help you be found. Labyrinths have been used as a tool for meditation for thousands of years. One often finds them at Catholic churches, and so sometimes they have been associated with Christianity, but they long predate organized religion. The circular, spiraling pattern of a labyrinth represents the discovery of wholeness and your true self.
The first time I saw a real live labyrinth was in San Francisco at the entrance of Grace Cathedral. I was struck by its simple, mystical beauty and geometric shape, and then I walked it and I discovered an even richer experience. As you enter the path and make your way to the center, you are on a journey to your own center. Then, as you make your way out, you are transitioning back into the world. You may be surprised by how the simple symbolic gesture of walking the labyrinth path and staying on the path feels all encompassing. Even though my body can jump out or walk across the lines if it wanted to, my mind remains so calm and focused I forget there are not walls around me.
I hope you will find a labyrinth in your area and walk it. If you do, here are some tips to get the most out of the experience:
- Before you enter, set your intentions. What would you like to discover about yourself on this journey?
- As you take your first steps, don’t rush it. Focus your eyes and mind on the path and your footsteps to clear your head. Develop a slow, steady pace.
- As you focus on your intention, allow your mind to move freely and delve into whatever feelings, visions, and thoughts surface.
- Commit to completing the entire walk. If you get antsy, frustrated or impatient, resist the urge to quit and leave the labyrinth. Instead, stay with the feeling, give yourself compassion, and let it pass. Sometimes these types of feelings are actually blocks we need to work through.
- When you encounter others on the walk, gently step to one side to allow them to pass, keeping your eyes focused on your own path.
- When you reach the center, pause for a few moments and reflect on the process so far. Look up at the sky. What are you feeling and thinking?
- Keep the same pace on your journey out. You may be tempted to rush it at this point, but know that the second half of the journey is just as important as the first. Focus your mind on integration. How can you use what you have learned about yourself on your journey in? How will it change your outlook or even your actions?
Bonus Tip: Before you set off on your labyrinth pilgrimage, draw a tarot card. Then meditate on that card during your labyrinth walk and see what wisdom you discover.