This J-term I am teaching an undergraduate honors seminar in Contemplative Practices at the University of St. Thomas. We are exploring a variety of practices from a number of different faith traditions.
Today, our focus was on contemplative practices involving movement, including various forms of walking meditations, yoga, and dance. Since the course includes a significant experiential component, I decided that I wanted to give the students the opportunity to walk labyrinth.
The labyrinth is an ancient tool for prayer and meditation; the earliest labyrinths date back about 4000 years and they have been used in any number of faith traditions. The labyrinth has a single path, that begins at the periphery and leads to a central space, such that the way out follows the same path as the way in.
Although there are some outdoor labyrinths in the Twin Cities, winter is not the best time to be walking them, so I rented this labyrinth from Wisdom Ways.
It took the students various lengths of time to walk the labyrinth, after which they took some time to journal before we talked about their experience.
For me, and clearly for some of the students, walking the labyrinth can be a very powerful experience. Whether it is peace, some clarity around a question for decision, some answer to a problem, or something else, something always happens when walking the labyrinth.
If it is not a contemplative form you have experienced, I encourage you to find one in your area and take some time to walk it.