The labyrinth: finding peace while walking

By Terri Bentler, BSN, RN, OCN, CN-BN Apr 06, 2017

002 Have you ever experienced a walk in a labyrinth?

Have you ever experienced a walk in a labyrinth? I am not speaking of a maze, but another type which leads you from the outer edges to the center of a circle in a slow, contemplative stroll. The first labyrinth I experienced was during a retreat/education weekend in Rochester. We stayed at the Assisi Heights Spirituality Center of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. The day was warm with a light breeze, perfect for walking. An apple orchard was nearby filling the air with a calm, fresh fragrance. I used the labyrinth as a walking prayer and reflection of what I was learning and how that knowledge may be useful. I shared the walk with others. We did not speak to each other to respect the moment. We simply walked in thought, in prayer, in reflection. It was a grounding, revitalizing and comforting walk. I felt at “home” and content when I finished.

Certainly, anyone can take a purposeful walk outdoors and come away with similar contentment. What I appreciated with the labyrinth was the feeling of “entering in” to a purpose, reaching the center and returning outward again with a feeling of being prepared for a purpose. The path of the labyrinth, to me, is symbolic of the path of life. It folds back on itself in the circuit to the center and out again, much like the patterns of our lives. It is always a new walk, but with recognition of previous walks and appreciation of the changes in this walk.

I have experienced other labyrinths and always feel a sense of good when I finish. The healing garden at Sanford Bemidji includes a small labyrinth. It is available during our warmer months to anyone visiting the campus. I also have a finger labyrinth in my office. I plan some quiet time, close my eyes and trace the labyrinth with my finger. I allow my thoughts to come and go, breathing deeply and relaxing for a few minutes. Using a labyrinth for this slow, purposeful, mind-calming activity may be just the thing to refresh your heart and mind and bring a sense of quiet and peace.