Sunday, 22 January 2012

Labyrinths

For the past two days I have been thinking about walking. For a long time now I have been saying that I must take more time out to walk, if only to get fitter. There is also the idea that I could relieve alot of stress through some kind of walking meditation.

I have tried the sit-down kind of meditation and it has got me through some rough patches in the past, if only because it calms and focusses the mind. But walking meditation would be new. As well as being a new relaxation-meditation it should also enhance awareness, an eastern/Buddhist concept to which I wholeheartedly subscribe but practice too little. I spend so much of my time unaware, or maybe I just switch off with the sensory overload that seems to be around sometimes.

The advice I have is to begin the walk with steady breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, and follow the breath as in regular meditation. But as I walk I am to observe physical and mental feelings. First starting to observe the pressure of weight on my feet and root myself to the earth and then begin to walk, feeling the feet, ankles, calves, thighs, working upwards, and note both pleasurable and uncomfortable sensations right to the top of my head. It is also advised to note the distribution of weight, balance and posture. And the environment - is it windy, cold, damp, how is this affecting me? Thoughts might occur and I can acknowledge and dismiss these if I wish, or mediate on a single idea.

These ideas about walking got me thinking about Labyrinths. These are fascinating to me and another example of an ancient and wide reaching human concept. They are found across cultures and there are three types: 7 circuit, 11 circuit and 12 circuit. As you walk the path you can meditate, perhaps on a problem. With each 180 degree turn the brain swaps focus from left to right. On reaching the centre you can linger and meditate some more or head straight back out and continue your perambulation back and forth.


They are a great symbol for journeying and this seems appropriate to this blog as I set out on a spiritual path. As I say, they appear in all cultures and periods, from ancient Crete to the Celts and in medieval Chartres cathedral . But they also feature in the native American tradition. The Hopi indian Labyrinth represents the enfolding energies of the Earth Mother. The straight line represents the child. The child is not enclosed, even at the centre, showing that we are free but supported.


Hopi Labyrinth



I think the Labyrinth is something I will keep coming back to. Next I would like to find one near me and walk it, and if I can't find one I'll just walk. Eventually I think I will trace one out in a garden. I'll record the outcome of my walk here I think.

My final thought about the Labyrinth is this: "it just looks right". There is something fundamentally beautiful in certain symbols. Maybe it's in the geometry of the thing, it just feels like a bit of the universe expressing itself.

(see links on right for more Labyrinth info)

1 comment:

  1. Liked this post. I walk every day but have never tried to walk meditatively. I have seen a labyrinth mowed into a lawn; this gives me an appreciation for that creation.

    Aine
    http://thehemlockgrove.blogspot.com

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