The farther the outward journey takes you the deeper the inward journey must be. ~ Henry Nouwen
The Henson Reflection Garden provides the the High Point University campus an outdoor place for prayer and reflection, centered on the ancient practice of labyrinth walking. Labyrinths provide a space for walking meditation – which is part of many ancient traditions, including Christianity – to support reflection, meditation, prayer, solitude, and the ability to “just be.”
A labyrinth is not a maze. Mazes are intended to deceive and trick with false paths and dead-ends. A labyrinth, by contrast, has only one path that always leads to the center. It provides guidance in which you cannot get lost.
How to use the Labyrinth
While there is no right way or wrong way to walk a labyrinth – simply following it’s path in your own time is sufficient – there are helpful tasks, meditations, and prayers that can be used to draw out the most of the experience. You may try the following:
- Read and reflect on a line or two from scripture, sacred text, prayer, or hymn. For example: “Your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to you.” (Psalm 26)
- Pay focused attention to an experience in your life where you are seeking healing or forgiveness.
- Think about a key celebration in your life and walk a thanksgiving prayer in the labyrinth.
- Focus on your inward and outward breath, in sync with your steps.
- Use the four-fold path.
Use the four R’s as a way to walk:
- Remembering. In readying to enter the labyrinth open yourself up to the sacred. Remember that you are a child of God, one who is blessed with each breath you take.
- Releasing. As you enter the labyrinth and begin walking toward the center, be patient. Take your time. Over the course of your walk, release worry, anxiety, and “road blocks” that get in the way or distance you from God’s presence. This is a time of letting go. Focuse on deepening your breathing or recitation of a prayer helps with the emptying and releasing needed.
- Receiving. At the labyrinth’s center prepare to receive. By emptying of oneself there is a spacious to receive of God’s spirit and presence. Receiving guidance, silence, insight, wisdom, clarity, or a sense of peace are some of the experiences that can occur. It is different for everyone.
- Resolving. As you walk the path back out, consider how to integrate the walking meditation into your life. You may desire to resolve to take a next step in a particular area of your life or resolve a conflict. This is a time to consider new beginnings, to be born anew, and to take into the world what you have received.