In the past week I have had multiple conversations about prayer labyrinths and how prayerfully walking these over the years (some indoors, some outdoors) has shaped my faith journey. One conversation arose in a spiritual direction session, another after a yoga class with a student, and another at a meeting with a colleague. I find it interesting how God nudges me to return to the ways I best listen and hear when life feels distracted or I begin to feel distant. Labyrinth walk soon anyone? I am grateful for the reminder that this ancient prayer practice helps draw me nearer. So, I thought I would share this overview for those of you who aren't familiar with labyrinths and invite you to discover one near you (keep reading).
What is a Labyrinth?
For Millenia, pilgrimages to holy sites have been part of the Christian tradition. However, when a pilgrimage was not possible, the discipline of this spiritual journey was found on the labyrinth as a symbolic prayer walk. By walking the labyrinth today, we are rediscovering a long-forgotten tradition found in various traditions and forms around the world. While labyrinths have a history that can be traced back thousands of years and to a variety of religions, their beginning origin is unknown. No matter the style of the labyrinth, structurally, it has only one path so there are no tricks and no dead ends. The path winds throughout and becomes a mirror for where we are in our lives, each on a journey. Walk it with an open heart and mind as you allow God to touch your sorrows and release your joy, allowing your soul to sing.
What a Labyrinth is Not?
It is important to keep in mind that a labyrinth is not a maze. A maze is designed to confuse you, a cognitive puzzle (mazes only entered our world’s culture about 600 years ago). A labyrinth has only one path that leads to the center, designed to easily find your way making space for prayer and meditation.
Why Walk the Labyrinth?
The labyrinth offers a sacred and stable space to focus your attention and listen to your soul. It is a wonderful place to pray. However, the experience is different for everyone because each of us brings different raw material to the labyrinth. As with any spiritual discipline or prayer practice, we bring our unique beliefs, hopes, dreams, history, and longing of the soul. Leave behind what may not serve you as you journey toward union with God in quiet reflection.
How Do I Walk the Labyrinth?
Try to not have expectations, simply enter into the journey and use your senses to move your body forward in prayer. Before you walk, quiet your mind and become aware of your breath. Ground your feet and let go of any expectations. Simply have an open mind and do what feels natural. You may wish to choose a prayer, centering word, or phrase to avoid a wandering mind. Some find simply focusing on their breath helps them remain in the present. Allow yourself to find the pace your body wants to move forward (skip, dance, or walk very slowly). Those going in on the path will meet those coming out. You may "pass" people or step to your right and let others step around you. Do what feels natural. Afterward, you may wish to sit quietly and reflect, journal, create, or simply give thanks. You may find the following three stages helpful for your walk:
Find a Labyrinth Near You:
Click here to visit the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator. Note, not all labyrinths are posted at this website. You may also wish to do a simple search on the internet for locations in your area.
The above information was created and compiled by Whitney R. Simpson from the research of Lauren Artress using her guides, "Walking A Sacred Path” and “The Sacred Path Companion” as well as the Grace Cathedral Website. If using this information as a guide for others, please note these resources and also cite this post at www.ExploringPeace.com/blog.
If you know me well, you know I love collecting Bibles. Insightful commentary as well as scripture in fresh translations are encouraging to my soul. So, when I discovered the Common English Bible had created a Women's Bible, I was excited to spend time with this one in my lap. It is indeed fresh and what really makes this one unique is that the commentary was written by women - for women. The CEB Women’s Bible is intended for all women. It was designed for women in church leadership, women in the pews, and especially for women who value spiritual practice in their lives. It is ideal for those who value equality and discussions related to issues of gender and justice and how those ideas are lived out through their faith (YES, please!).
Once I discovered this gem, I wanted to share it with you too. Good news! My wonderful friends at Abingdon Press gifted me a new hard cover edition to be given away here at my blog - TO YOU! So, if you're feeling like you may need a fresh new translation with insightful commentary, I would love to share this Bible with you! It will be mailed via Media Mail in October to one blog reader (US Residents Only). You have during the month of September to enter the giveaway (the winner's name will be drawn and announced in the October newsletter)!
Simply enter your name and email address below (you'll be subscribed to my monthly soul care newsletter). For an additional entry, comment on this post with an encouraging scripture passage you would like to share with the women in your life. AND...you gain another bonus entry in the giveaway if your passage is from the CEB translation (my favorite)!
Feel free to share this post with someone who may also love to discover the new CEB Women's Bible. Let's encourage and bolster one another on the spiritual journey and reconnect with God's word.
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson,
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC