A labyrinth is not a maze. Mazes conjure up images of high hedges, hiding a pathway that has all sorts of choices leading a person into endless tangles or dead-ends. We expect to get lost in a maze. Labyrinths are the complete opposite.
In The Gateway Retreat the labyrinth forms a special and symbolic part of the process. It’s a symbol of endings and beginnings, renewal and letting go, and the constant path of life we all must walk. The labyrinth can represent our journey to our centre, our still point, our Zero-Position – where we can stand strong and true in ourselves amongst the winds of the world.
Walking a labyrinth
The pathway begins at the outside and meanders back and forth in a seemingly random pattern and leads you to the centre. There are no choices, so the traveler can let go of concern about where the path leads and simply enjoy the journey to the centre and then back out again. This process seems to encourage heightened intuition, balance, and a sense of wellbeing.
Medical research has shown that walking or tracing a labyrinth balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and people have experienced improved mental clarity and memory, calmness in dealing with grief and trauma, a release of pain, and a deeper connection with their own inner resources. Children say they just feel better after walking a labyrinth and use it when they are sad.
In all cultures, the labyrinth represents the three-fold path of nature, that of Life, Death and Rebirth. Following such a pattern is a dance that engages us on a cellular level, returning us to a felt sense of the body walking the path of life. It is a pattern to be experienced and encountered as we seek wholeness in an increasingly fragmented world.
Labyrinths have been built out of a variety of materials and have been found in almost all cultures in the world for thousands of years. We may still access labyrinths that were built in the 14th century. In the past 30 years there has been a worldwide renewed interest in them that is attributed to the desire for a personal spiritual practice as well as a tool for self-awareness and growth. Today, labyrinths are found in hospitals, schools, churches, community gardens, prisons, cemeteries, retreat centre’s, and in back yards.
We are entering a time when the treasures of this precious tool are being rediscovered and passionately pursued. A Labyrinth readily surrenders its secrets up to the sincere seeker. We invite you to walk its Path of Grace.