Labyrinths are one of the most mysterious symbols known to man. This unique symbol is a geometric shape that doesn’t really stand out, but feels very much at home in the country. Labyrinths have been a part of Native cultures for thousands of years, and Native American cultures have depicted them in their art, pottery and petroglyphs.
“Walking through the Labyrinth relaxes the mind, opens the heart and calms the body…some find answers to long-asked questions, some find healing, development, a place sense of the whole…”
The Man in the Maze sign is actually a labyrinth, not a maze. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth is a one-way loop in and out, where there are no hidden paths, no tricks, and no goals. The labyrinth journey is a wandering mind, and each person goes their own way without thinking. When traveling, we let go of emotions, take our time and entertain the imagination. Labyrinth walking is a mind-moving experience that can heal, inspire or simply relax as we connect body and breath with the present moment.
World Labyrinth Day this year is May 6 and many communities organize public and private tours on this day. The Labyrinth Resource Group of Santa Fe is organizing one at Unity of Santa Fe. Here in Taos, I will host a private meeting at my Casa Oasis 7-circuit classical labyrinth. Recently, a person driving from Minnesota called to say they found my labyrinth on the Veriditas World-Wide Labyrinth Locator and wanted to go to a labyrinth while they were in Taos. For the spring equinox, I hosted a group trip to welcome the changing of the seasons and I’m planning one for Earth Day this year. Needless to say, I love labyrinths!
I think Taos needs a public labyrinth, and a list of public and private ones (if you want to list yours, please contact me). Listing a private labyrinth does not allow people to transgress without permission. A public labyrinth at a church or park is a great addition to Taos’ community spaces. Although the labyrinths are suitable in nature, they require regular maintenance so that the circuits are not exposed to dirt and overgrowth.
This month’s family practice is to enjoy a labyrinth tour as well. If we walk with the feet and fingers, it means thinking to join the eyes, heart and body. Finger labyrinths can be found online in a wide variety of intricate designs for purchase or printing. In my experience of bringing creativity into classrooms, kids love the labyrinth, so have fun with your group adventure!
Labyrinth tours are ideal for groups or families
- Choose a labyrinth (printed or physical) that is age appropriate for your family. Each person will follow their journey through the circuits.
- Begin by explaining that everyone follows the labyrinth path in their own way. Children want to see who gets to the center first, so make sure everyone understands that this is not a race.
- If you walk through a labyrinth in person, encourage children to walk before running so they know where to put their feet.
- The same goes for walking hand in hand. Explain that the purpose of walking a labyrinth is to walk slowly and deliberately. A fun option is to use the thumb of your free hand while walking.
- Before starting the labyrinth, take a deep breath to release the energy and thoughts.
- The path is followed so calmly that each person can go on his own journey in peace and without fatigue. Background music can help create a relaxing atmosphere.
- During your journey, look at the path, while walking, pay attention to the plants, stones, or everything in and around the labyrinth. Stand on the slopes and look at the sky or the landscape and breathe in the nature and environment.
- If you are walking with your fingers or toes, when you reach the center, please stop for a few moments, breathe slowly and think about what comes to mind and then, return to the way you came.
- When everyone finishes their walk, I recommend holding hands and taking a deep breath together. If desired, participants can share their labyrinth journey with others. If there is time, the family can do some coloring or journal writing.
- Anne-Marie Emanuelli is the founder and executive director of Mindful Frontiers LLC, a vipassana style mindfulness meditation studio offering workshops, classes and coaching for children, families, individuals, meeting and classrooms. For more information, visit mindfulfrontiers.net.