Text -- 304-412-4065 Danny@DannyPettry.com

Submitted by:Professor Paulette Schuster, MS, RTC, RC


Have you ever walked a sacred path?   Have you ever seen one and just thought it was a beautiful design and had no idea what it was for?  In these despite, unsure times, our communities can benefit from playing, running or having a meditative walk on a labyrinth.  It’s for everyone and inclusive.

Labyrinths are ancient symbols, ancient because it predates Christianity over a millennium.  Dr. Artress, who has done extensive research on them, says it’s a blend of visual symbolism with the process of walking meditation which is similar to the Japanese Zen.

The labyrinth combines the artistry and simplicity of the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path.  It represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world.

A labyrinth is an archetype with which we can have a direct experience. We can walk, dance, play, pray, meditate and ponder in it.  It is a metaphor for life’s journey; a symbol that creates a sacred space and place and takes us out of our ego to, what Dr. Artress describes as “That Which Is Within.”  In the 90’s Jean Houstin New Age Teacher, says it is seeking spiritual enlightenment through walking the labyrinth.

By walking the labyrinth, a design laid in or on the floor, we are rediscovering a long-forgotten mystical tradition that is being reborn.

The most famous ancient Labyrinth was in Crete found in a cave 5,000 BC.   Later found printed on ancient coins, baskets and pottery.


Labyrinths are found all over the world.

Were you aware that walking a labyrinth is a right brain task?   It involves intuition, creativity, and imagery.  Labyrinths are often confused with a Maze.  A labyrinth is not a maze, which has dead ends and paths which sometimes must be retraced to find a way out. With a maze, a left brain task, many choices must be made and an active mind is needed to solve the problem of finding the center and finding your way back out again. The labyrinth has only one path.  There are no tricks, and no dead ends. The path winds throughout and becomes a mirror for where we are in our lives; it touches our sorrows and releases our joys. Walk it with an open mind and an open heart.

A labyrinth has only one path. It is unicursal. The way in is the way out. There are no blind alleys. The path leads you on a circuitous path to the center and out again. There is only one choice to be made. The choice is to enter or not. A more passive, receptive mindset is needed. The choice is whether or not to walk a spiritual path.

There are as many reasons for walking the labyrinth, as there are people, worldviews or spiritual traditions. Whatever one’s religion, walking the labyrinth clears the mind and gives insight into the spiritual journey. We live in a time of extreme spiritual hunger. People are seeking ways to enhance and deepen their awareness of a higher power.

The Labyrinth can be a therapeutic tool for doing this, as a form of walking meditation. Many people today are seeking a closer, deeper, more personal relationship with a higher power or power within us. The labyrinth is a place to find this. It is a place to pour out our hearts, express anger, experience joy, express gratitude and experience a peace that truly does pass all understanding.  It is a very effective therapeutic tool for people with ADD, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, Mental Health disorders, Prisons, PTSD, Youth at Risk and the VA’s and the list goes on and on.

I have conducted numerous workshops to certified recreation therapists throughout the years, who are using it as a tool with their populations.  I have also been teaching it to my university students for 20 years and happy to say that the university finding put a Labyrinth on campus which students enjoy using, especially during mid-terms and finals.  Students send me pictures of Labyrinth they find on their travels throughout the U.S. and foreign countries.

Walking the Labyrinth has many outcomes some of which are; quieting of the mind, grounding and centering of self, feeling of being healed, increased unity and wholeness, increased awareness of self and relationship of self and a higher power or spiritual beliefs.  It can be a vehicle to enhance our understanding of the mystery of ourselves and experiences in which we move out of chaos into harmony or better understanding.

There are generally three stages to a meditative walk; the first stage, lasting until the center of the labyrinth, can be called shedding, a releasing, and letting go of the details of your life. This tends to quiet the mind. The second stage can be called the illumination, when you reach the center and linger there. The center is a place of meditation and prayer; stay there as long as you like. The third stage, beginning as you leave the center and retrace your steps back to the outside, can be called union with spiritual power and the healing forces at work in the world.

I know firsthand the benefits.  I became fascinated with it years ago after attending a general session given by a recreation therapist at a CA Park and Recreation Society Convention.   I never forgot the impact it made on me and began seeking them out whenever I could.  I was so impressed that we put a Labyrinth in our backyard.

By this time, you may be asking yourself, how does this ancient concept bring a community together?  Our departments and agencies do not have to have the budget to put one in.  Community members can come together, design plans and build it as a community event.  I’s not impossible.  It brings people together and everyone benefits.  Once it is built, there is very little maintenance.  They fit into all spaces, from simplistic to more traditional.  It is a win, win for everyone.


Dr. Lauren Artress Walking a Sacred Path, Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool (Riverhead Books New York 1995)

Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper & Rev. Dr. Carole Ann Camp, Second Edition Labyrinths from Outside In (Skylight Paths Publishing a Division of Longhill Partners, Inc. 2013



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