Labyrinth

The labyrinth is one of the oldest contemplative and transformational tools known to humankind.  They have been used for centuries for prayer, ritual, initiation and personal and spiritual growth.  Today they are often used for stress relief.

Labyrinths are unicursal.  They have one well-defined path that leads us into the center and back out again.  There are no tricks or dead ends and no intersecting paths that one finds in a maze.  No matter where you are in the labyrinth’s coherent circuits you can always see the center.

Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress states, “The labyrinth opens the door to our inner symbolic world.”   The labyrinth does not engage our thinking minds.  It invites our intuitive, pattern-seeking, symbolic mind to come forth.

The classical labyrinth is found all over the world traced on rock, marked out on the ground with stones, carved into turf and decorating ancient artifacts. This design is sometimes called the Cretan labyrinth, named after the island of Crete and found on coins from Crete.  It is the oldest and most universal form of the labyrinth, dating back at least 3,500 years.  Stone labyrinths have been discovered in India and China.  Native American tribes in southern Arizona wove baskets with labyrinth images and labyrinths believed to date from the 12th century have been found carved into rock faces on Hopi reservations in northern Arizona.

The Chartres labyrinth is a distinctly Christian pattern, named after the permanent stone labyrinth set into the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France during the thirteenth century.  The great tradition of labyrinths in medieval Christianity was their use as a symbol for pilgrimages.  When actual trips to Jerusalem became too dangerous and expensive for European pilgrims, massive cathedrals were designated pilgrimage shrines.  Within those cathedrals, the labyrinth pattern was embedded in the stone floors of the nave—this became the final steps of the pilgrim’s journey.

Walking the labyrinth just naturally causes our attention to start turning inward, focusing in the present moment.   Labyrinths can be used as a spiritual practice, relieve stress, help persons work through grief and illness.  At the most basic level, walking the labyrinth focuses the attention, stills the mind, and quiets the breathing.

Rev. Artress states “Being in an intuitive flow is one of the most refreshing activities we can do.  Images burst forth:  unwinding, uncoiling, participating in the cosmic dance.  The flow is renewing and opens our creative channels.”  The labyrinth can help us learn to walk respectfully with others, celebrating our differences.  All the world’s religious traditions in their most profound forms teach these concepts.

The Seton Cove has an 11-cricuit Chartre labyrinth made of canvas that is setup in different locations in the Seton Family of Hospitals for open labyrinth walks.

The Seton Cove has trained labyrinth facilitators to customize labyrinth walks or workshops for groups and organizations.  Businesses can benefit from using the labyrinth for problem solving, enhancing creativity and promoting employee wellness.  The Seton Cove Chartres canvas is available to groups scheduling programs with the labyrinth facilitators.  Programs using finger labyrinths are also available.

Please contact Will Fiorello at 451-0272 or wmfiorello@seton.org for more information.

Links:

www.veriditas.org
www.labyrinthsociety.org