Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What Can Walking A Labyrinth Do For You?

About one year ago, I met a lovely lady named Diana Ng, aka, The Labyrinth Lady, at a women’s networking event.  I remember her telling us about the Labyrinth that she had built in conjunction with the city of Surrey, BC, and I knew afterwards that it was some place I wanted to visit, but just never got around to it.

Most recently, I have been going through some major personal stresses, and I was really feeling the effects on my body and my mind.  Each day was a struggle to keep myself in a positive mindset and a lot of the days, I failed at it. 

I happened to be in Surrey one day last week, and had some time to kill between appointments in the area, so I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with the 3 hours that I had to fill. I knew I wanted to find somewhere to go and read my book, but I just didn’t want to sit inside in a coffee shop.  I just knew I wanted to be somewhere outside.  Then the thought came back to me, the Labyrinth. I remembered that I kept saying that I wanted to go, and here was the perfect time for me to go and find it. 

So that afternoon, I made my way to Fleetwood Gardens at 160th and 80th, got parked and then started the search of the gardens to find the Labyrinth. Luckily it didn’t take me long, as I noticed a man walking a pattern in the distance and knew that is where I was headed.  Honestly, I had no idea what I was looking for.  The picture I had made in my head was actually of a Maze done up with shrubs that you see in some English gardens.  At that point, I didn’t realize that there was actually a
difference between a Maze and a Labyrinth, so I was surprised to see that it was just a rock pattern in the ground.  Have a look at the clips I put together below of an interview that Diana did where she explains the difference between a Maze and a Labyrinth, the significance of the switchbacks and some feedback that she has received from people who have walked it.

From Diana’s website, she statesLabyrinths are ancient, transformative tools found in cultures all over the world dating back 4000 – 5000 years. Its circles and spirals meander into a purposeful path of centering symbolizing wholeness and unity, change and growth. A powerful tool for reflection, discernment, self-discovery, it enhances right brain activity. The labyrinth reduces stress, quiets the mind, leading to balance and insights. It offers a place for people to escape their pressures-filled lives, helps them find calm to open up their hearts.”

At the entrance of the Labyrinth, there is a sign that tells you more about the history and gives you instructions as to how to walk it…..”quiet your mind and allow yourself to find the pace your body wants to go. Become mindful of the sensation of walking. Continuous awareness of these sensations develops the strong concentration needed in order to gain insight.”

There are also 3 specific stages in walking a Labyrinth. Purgation (releasing): the act of shedding thoughts and distractions enables you to let you of the details of your life. This is the time to open your heart and quiet your mind. Illumination (receiving): At the center, stay there as long as you like, sit or stand, meditate or pray. Allow yourself to receive guidance. Union (returning): To leave the center, follow the same path back out. There can be a strange sense of strengthening and clarity. You become more empowered to find and do the work you feel your soul calling for.

So, I started walking the Labyrinth, and it honestly didn’t take long for me to start feeling the sense of calm. The concentration on my steps and in walking the pattern actually cleared my mind of the troubles that I have been dealing with lately. Upon noticing this, I actually tried to think on the issues that had been weighing on me, but I actually couldn’t. It was like my brain just wanted to rest. When I got to the center, I didn’t feel like sitting on the ground, so I just stood there and closed my eyes. While standing there, this big gust of wind came and blew through me, as if blowing my troubles away. When the gust had stopped, I opened my eyes and walked back out the Labyrinth. I exited the Labyrinth feeling calmer and more at peace. It was at this time that I noticed 3 big red chairs directly across from the Labyrinth and I knew that is where I needed to sit to spend some time reading.  My mind was now quieted enough that I knew I could sit still and just absorb the info in my book.

I definitely enjoyed my time in the Labyrinth, and wish I lived close enough to it to walk it every day, but being that I know that I will be somewhat in the area on a weekly basis, I am going to make a point to visit it as often as I can, as long as the weather holds, and use the time after wards to sit in the big red chair for some quiet contemplation and some reading.

I left the gardens that day feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, with my mind way more at peace. I will however suggest that if you are planning on going, I would avoid walking the Labyrinth in the late afternoon/early evening hours.  In my time sitting there, I noticed a ritual that happens with the people that live in the area, the park turns into a meeting place with the women gathering at one end by the parking lot, and the men gathering at the benches right by the Labyrinth, in what my dad would call “hen parties”. The group was way too loud to enjoy the meditative moment of walking the Labyrinth, in my opinion. So if you are thinking of visiting the Labyrinth and enjoy the peace and clarity that it provides, I would do it earlier in the day.

Thank you Diana for sharing the story and the power of the Labyrinth with the world!
You can connect with Diana on Facebook here, and visit her website

Have you walked the Labyrinth? What was your experience? I would love to read your comments.

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  1. Thanks for sharing your experience! I just heard about the labyrinth recently and have been wanting to go for a walk there myself. I will keep in mind to go earlier in the day.

    1. That's great Jenn......would love to hear what you thought afterwards. :)