Walking a Labyrinth

Land's End Labyrinth and the Golden Gate Bridge

People have been walking labyrinths for over 3500 years. Today people use labyrinths for inspiration. They walk to help with stress, to deal with an illness, to help heal anger, grief and to quiet the internal and external noise of our lives. 

You can find labyrinths in churches, gardens, national forests, schools, hospitals, beaches, prisons and in many private spaces. 

People often confuse a maze and a labyrinth. Mazes have many routes in and out. They have tricks and dead ends. Labyrinths have one way into the center and one way out. Where mazes are more of a game, labyrinths are a spiritual journey. You never lose sight of the center while walking a labyrinth.

My Mother Walking the Outdoor Labyrinth, Grace Cathedral

The first time I walked a labyrinth was with my mother. She had always wanted to visit the two labyrinths at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. My mother was a long time meditator and knew how to consciously walk. 

At first I watched her walk from outside the labyrinth and was so very touched by her focus as she walked the eleven concentric paths while carrying her purse. 

Then I joined her. First we walked the garden labyrinth and then the one embedded in the Cathedral’s floor. I was quietly aware of her calm movements as we passed each other.

Not long after, my mom became quite frail and died. The following year I retired and moved to Mexico. One day walking along Lake Chapala’s malecon in Ajijic, I stopped to watch a man build a labyrinth. It was shaped like a heart and was dedicated to his wife who had recently passed away. In the center was a vase where he regularly places fresh flowers. 

So I now have a lakeside labyrinth to walk where I can find my center and remember my mom. 

There are so many labyrinths in the world today. You can find them in public spaces by visiting the website Labyrinth Locator

I recommend three books about labyrinths. 

Walking the Sacred Path by Dr. Lauren Artress  
Exploring the Labyrinth by Melissa Gayle West 

And if you are interested in building a labyrinth you might want to read... 
Classical Labyrinths: Construction Manual by Robert D. Ferre.