I work a lot with women who are burned out, stressed out and bummed out. Their adrenals are exhausted from over-stress. Their thyroids are underactive, their bowels are hyperactive and they can barely make it through the day without their coffee fix. For these busy women, adding an hour a day of meditation and a yoga class 3 times a week to manage stress was just not realistic. As a result, I’ve had to seek out alternative methods of keeping my patients stress levels down. One of the most intriguing methods I’ve come across is walking meditation and labyrinths.
Dr. Liz Alexander, the author of The Magic of Labyrinths: Following Your Path, Finding Your Center is an expert in labyrinths. She’s shared with us a wonderful introduction to the benefits of walking meditation and the power of labyrinths.
An Alternative Means of Meditating: The Magic of Labyrinths
by Dr. Liz Alexander
You’re probably already aware of the many health benefits associated with meditation, a practice that has become increasingly popular as more yoga studios and spas have helped to promote its physiological, psychological and spiritual effects. From reducing anxiety, depression and stress to alleviating insomnia and pain, from enhancing concentration and self-confidence to boosting the immune system, there appear to be few health issues that regular meditation cannot influence in some positive way. But what if, like me, you find it difficult to sit still? This is where finding—or even building—a labyrinth can be invaluable.
With its history buried in the mists of time and mythology, the labyrinth symbol is found in cultures throughout the ages as a representation of life’s journey. Unlike mazes which were built as challenging puzzles that are hard to navigate successfully, labyrinths have a single pathway that winds in various patterns to the center. From the mouth of the labyrinth, all you have to do is follow the path–the same route that takes you both in and out.
As the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh explains:
“Walking meditation is meditation while walking. We walk slowly, in a relaxed way, keeping a tight smile on our lips. When we practice this way, we feel deeply at ease, and our steps are those of the most secure person on earth. All our sorrows and anxieties drop away, and peace and inner joy fill our hearts. Anyone can do it. It only takes a little time, a little mindfulness, and the wish to be happy.”
In many ways walking a labyrinth, engaging in ritual and going on a secular pilgrimage are one and the same. Many people find that their meditative journey walking a labyrinth provides them with the same calming, reflective, health-boosting benefits as sitting or lying down to meditate. That is undoubtedly why many hospitals, churches, and spas have included labyrinths in their grounds. The beauty of labyrinths is that, unlike more passive forms of meditation, they can inspire you to be totally authentic.
For example, Nicholas Halpin, responsible for the 36 feet diameter Chatres-pattern canvas labyrinth at Dundee University in Scotland, discovered that de-stressing can take different forms–all of which can be accommodated by walking the labyrinth. While most people choose to walk slowly, as described by Thich Nhat Hanh, others will skip, dance or even run around a labyrinth. “After all, a meditative state takes lots of different forms, according to different needs,” says Halpin. While slow, deliberate steps may enhance mindfulness and reflection, navigating the labyrinth in a fast way can help kick-start your creativity or give a much-needed boost to your circulatory system. The choice is yours. Now, doesn’t that sound more appealing than sitting still?
You can find a labyrinth near you by accessing the World-Wide Labyrinth locator, a database of labyrinths around the world.
Dr. Liz Alexander is the author of ten nonfiction books, including The Magic of Labyrinths: Following Your Path, Finding Your Center (written under her former name of Liz Simpson), published by HarperCollins in 2002. Also known as The Book Doula, she works with would-be authors to creatively conceive, grow, and birth books that help them leave a legacy and use this promotional tool to boost their business, service, or subject-matter expertise. www.bookdoula.biz.
Are you feeling stuck?
Do you feel as if something is missing from your practice that's keeping you from delivering breakthrough outcomes for your clients?.
Nutritional Endocrinology Practitioner Training (NEPT)
The Mastery and Certification tier is our flagship program and provides everything you need to feel confident as a practitioner who knows how to get results that lead to healthy and happy clients.
Functional Assessment Mastery
Explore the relationships between the most important hormones and their relationship with nutrition.
Functional Nutrition Mastery
Learn how to support your clients to eat and supplement in a way that reduces and eliminates chronic symptoms.
Medical Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo, drritamarie.com, and the experts who have contributed. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.
Disclosure: Sometimes (but not always), when I share resources in my programs, newsletter, and on my website, I'm using an affiliate link, which means I do make money if you buy. My credibility is extremely important to me; therefore, I only endorse the products, services, and people I believe in. DrRitamarie.com is independently owned and the opinions expressed here are my own.