A Labyrinth: Celebrating Life’s Twists & Turns
Interested in how a labyrinth has influenced Dr. Weil’s life? Learn more from the man himself, as he discusses labyrinths…
Life involves many twists and turns. Why not celebrate them?
That is one of many lessons taught by the labyrinth, an ancient form that has fascinated people for millennia. I had one on my ranch in southeastern Arizona (I’ve since moved to a smaller home in Tucson) and I must say, I miss it. When I travel, I seek out labyrinths and always find a slow walk through the turns and curves worthwhile.
A labyrinth is not a maze. A maze is often made of tall hedges that obscure the route and offers multiple paths; it is designed to confuse and challenge. A labyrinth has one way in, one way out, and lets you see where you are at all times.
The idea of building the one at my ranch came from a friend, Jace Mortensen. He used the Chartres Cathedral near Paris, France as inspiration, copying the pattern of the famed labyrinth laid into the floor sometime around the year 1200. He used a center stake and string to mark the 11 concentric paths and the central chamber, making a pattern 80 feet across, roughly the same size as the one at Chartres. H then placed stones on the circles.
So what’s the attraction? Labyrinths were traditionally seen as representations of a pilgrimage – people who walk the path were said to be symbolically retracing heroic journeys to salvation or enlightenment. But in recent years, they have been regarded as ways to reach a contemplative state, and this is how I see them. Because the path is complex, it requires one’s full attention – which means the everyday cares that normally nag the conscious mind fall away. The walker becomes quiet, absorbed in this moment, freed by the fact that there is nothing to do now but walk, slowly and deliberately. It is at least restful; at most, transforming.
If you would like to realize the advantages of a labyrinth, an organization called The Labyrinth Society maintains a “Locate a Labyrinth” tool that lets you find labyrinths in your community or in places you may choose to travel. Also, labyrinths are not difficult to build – there are many resources on the web. Enjoy!