It’s amazing how much has changed in our world in a few short weeks. The global Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way of life for millions of people around the world in a very short period of time; it has brought fear and isolation into our lives, but it has also brought a spirit of togetherness, compassion, and a sense of community to unite and work together, even if from afar.
St. Peter’s had planned to host a few public labyrinth walks in the coming months as a way to re-invite the community into the labyrinth space, and to revive labyrinth programming; due to social distancing, we have had to put the walks on hold for now. However, this does not mean that we can’t take advantage of what the labyrinth has to offer, while we are staying close to home.
The labyrinth is a walking meditation; a path that provides a place, a shape and a focus to turn within. When you walk a labyrinth, walking is the centring action. The twists and turns of the labyrinth combined with an awareness of the sensation of walking, combine to create a meditative experience. Now, there is no right or wrong way to walk the labyrinth and every experience will play out and feel differently; just like anything, though, practice can help cultivate awareness that can focus your mind, body and spirit. That’s why it’s wonderful to have regular access to a labyrinth to walk…….
Since we cannot have access to the labyrinth in the Chapel at this time, I’m offering you a few suggestions of ways you can include the labyrinth in your day, even if you don’t have one!
Below you will find an image of my at-home finger labyrinth that I invite you to print and use as your finger labyrinth. You can sit in a quiet place in your home and trace the pattern with your finger-this is a different experience than walking the labyrinth; however, with practice it can also provide the mind-body-spirit benefits of a labyrinth walk.
I am also including some instructions for a walking meditation. It is a very similar practice, but one that does not require the labyrinth to follow. Generally speaking, walking meditation is done in an area with a walking space of up to 20-30 steps (although it can be done on a longer walk-you just don’t want to confuse the process with trying to get somewhere!). The idea is that you walk back and forth on a specific path, turning back onto the path at each end.
This spacing is perfect for our current conditions, because it means that even if you are at home in self-isolation, you can pick a spot in a hallway, a larger room or outside in your yard.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Pick your path
- Centre yourself and relax
- When you begin to walk, pay attention to your body; how do your feet feel? What are your arms doing? What are you hearing?
- When you arrive at the end of your path, stop and pause.
- Take a moment to allow your senses to guide you as you turn and begin walking back.
- Feel free to stop and pause if you feel you need to focus
As you walk, remember that it’s normal for your mind to wander sometimes; simply acknowledge whatever thought has popped into your head and re-orient yourself to your body’s sensations in walking. In the same way you make observations as you walk the labyrinth, do so as you walk your chosen meditative path. Focus on your walking, your breath or your senses, so that you can be present in the moment.
“The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
Created in 2012, the labyrinth at St. Peter’s is a replica of the medieval labyrinth found in Chartres Cathedral, France. It consists of 11 concentric circuits with a twelfth circle in the centre. The rosette in the centre where people stand, sit or kneel is made of six petals. It was designed and installed on the floor of the St. Peter’s Chapel with the help of Dr. Vanessa Compton, Veriditas Labyrinth Facilitator & Educator and Karen Ehlebracht, BScN, RN.
The Labyrinth, an archetype, is represented in some form in most civilizations throughout history with the earliest examples of Christian labyrinths, found in Northern Africa, dating back to the 4th century. Today, labyrinths have been re-discovered through the work of Lauren Artress (Verditias) and are used as tools for meditation, spiritual growth, wellness and healing.
Labyrinths symbolize a transformative journey that allows walkers to learn more about themselves and the lessons they are seeking in their lives. Unlike a maze, walking the labyrinth is not a puzzle, there are no dead ends to navigate or a specific direction to find. Walking the labyrinth is a creative endeavour that involves the right brain’s creativity, imagery and searching.
For many walkers, the labyrinth’s path of twists and turns is a metaphor for life. The best way to learn about the labyrinth is to walk it; there is no right way to walk the labyrinth. Begin with an open heart and mind and see and hear where it takes you.
Some Notes About the Labyrinth
There is no “right way” to walk the labyrinth. Just be open to whatever happens as you walk.
- You may remove your shoes to walk the labyrinth, if you wish.
- Maintain silence for your reflection and that of others.
- Let go of extraneous thoughts as you enter. Become aware of your breathing. Enter your walk in a receptive, non-judgmental state.
- Walk at your own pace. As you meet other walkers, gently give way to your meeting and passing.
- You may stay in the centre of the labyrinth as long as you wish-being respectful of others coming in.
- Take time after your walk to reflect and meditate. Consider journaling your experience.
The labyrinth is available for individual/group walking, with or without facilitator support. Please contact us at (519) 745-4705 or firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for an appointment and to learn more.
If you would like to rent the facilities at St. Peter’s Church, please download and complete our booking form and email it to the Parish Administrator, David Roth.
We have a 600-seat auditorium, chapel and Labyrinth, fellowship hall, lounge, and kitchen.
Musical instruments at St. Peter’s Church, Kitchener
Details about our Hallman organ and other instruments. St. Peter’s also owns a small, portable pipe organ built in the 1980s by the late local builder Gerhard Brunzema. This organ has three ranks and is suitable for continuo work. It can be available anywhere in the facility. There is a 6’6” Kawai grand piano in the Sanctuary and a Clavinova in the choir room and a Yamaha upright piano in the Chapel. The Clavinova and upright pianos can be moved to suit renters.