“With a labyrinth, you make a choice to go in – and once you’ve chosen, around and around you go. But you always find your way to the center.”
“A labyrinth is a symbolic journey . . . but it is a map we can really walk on, blurring the difference between map and world.”
If you have read enough of my blog, you know that I hike for many reasons. Although the physical benefits are obvious, the ones that aren’t many times are the positive ones that you receive that are psychological in nature. After a good day, bad day or indifferent one, hiking offers the mental cleansing I need to keep moving forward, both literally and figuratively.
Recently I have been researching the Labyrinth as a form of walking meditation and I think I have found parallels to what I experience when I am out in the woods hiking, especially a trail that I discovered several weeks ago in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.
The Labyrinth Society says that:
“A labyrinth is a meandering path, often unicursal, with a singular path leading to a center. Labyrinths are an ancient archetype dating back 4,000 years or more, used symbolically, as a walking meditation, choreographed dance, or site of rituals and ceremony, among other things. Labyrinths are tools for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation, also thought to enhance right-brain activity. Labyrinths evoke metaphor, sacred geometry, spiritual pilgrimage, religious practice, mindfulness, environmental art, and community building. ”
When I read the definition above, I couldn’t help but think of The Red Trail at the Ward Pound Reservation. At about 5 1/2 miles, the trail offers a varied enough terrain to allow for the same benefits that have been found with traditional labyrinths. Flat earthen surfaces combined with multiple short rocky climbs allow the hiker to find solace in the journey that they are taking. The trail has enough twists and turns as you make your way around the park to keep things interesting.
The most beautiful thing about this trail is that built within the loop are several other trails or connector trails that can either lengthen or shorten your journey. A little more than half way through the hike is a nice set of rocks that although during the summer do not offer many views, will be absolutely magnificent in the fall and the winter. You can sit on these and reflect on where you have been and where you are going. It is also a great place to eat lunch if you choose to do so!
The differences in a traditional Labyrinth and what I have described above are obvious. With that said, you can use what you have at your disposal to help achieve the peace that you are either looking for or trying to maintain.