Beryl Porter tells us how a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step when walking a labyrinth.
After I lost my husband to cancer twenty years ago, I discovered the healing powers of the labyrinth and have been promoting their importance ever since.
Labyrinth walks have been used since ancient times for spiritual centering, meditation and contemplation and are still in use today.
The labyrinth invites you to have the opportunity of focusing on your breath, mind and spirit. Each labyrinth has a continuous pathway, with one entrance and exit. There is no right or wrong way to walk the labyrinth. The twists and turns slow you down and allow more time to reflect. It’s usually walked in silence, to allow for personal reflection. The slow purposeful walking in a quiet place helps focus your mind in a busy world. Walking a labyrinth helps release endorphins, feelings and thoughts that enhance calmness and harmony in the body.
For anyone facing cancer, walking a labyrinth allows you the freedom to concentrate on living and healing in the present.
Getting most out of the experience
Before entering a labyrinth, spend a few moments stretching your arms and allow each deep breath to fill your lungs and body. As you breathe out, lower your arms, relax your body and feel your stress fade away. Now bring your thoughts to the entrance of the labyrinth and think about how you choose your path for the day.
Begin your walk in the labyrinth, focusing on your breathing as you take each step. Starting with breathing deep into the lungs, hold the breath and expand the belly, then slowly and consciously release all the stale air from your belly and lungs. Repeat this several times.
With each new breath, focus on breathing into different parts of the body. Start off with consciously breathing into the top of the head, then moving to the neck, shoulders, arms, fingertips, lungs and belly, hips and down the thighs, calves and finally onto the feet and toes. Feel your toes tingle with the clean fresh breath and then wiggle your toes, releasing all your residual stale energy.
With each step and every change of direction, all parts of mind, body and soul connect. Breathe, feel, connect, be aware of your body’s movements. There is no rush to reach the centre. Feelings of gratitude and spirituality gush through the body.
Walking, focused breathing and changing directions are a simple exercise, however, are very powerful in healing the body, mind and spirit. It is a wonderful way to enhance your life and give you peace of mind.
Take a deep breath. Take a step. Focus your mind and let the path of the labyrinth lead you to tranquillity and inner peace.
Please visit Innisfree Park, in Sandton, where I’ve created a permanent labyrinth for the public to enjoy. This seven-circuit labyrinth is used by many as a meditation, prayer, dancing and exercise spot.
A labyrinth vs. a maze
A maze activates the mind to solve a problem while a labyrinth quietens the mind to come to a place of centre and alignment in our body and mind.
Click here to find other labyrinths.
MEET THE EXPERT – Beryl Porter
Beryl Porter discovered her passion for walking and was part of the group that set up the first Joburg Walk The Talk. She then started walktours.co.za to encourage people back onto the roads in an innovative way. This is where she discovered labyrinths and all their healing powers.