The labyrinth experience is such a profound metaphor for the grief process. The labyrinth is a sacred tool that has been used by many cultures and religions for over 4,000 years. A labyrinth has a single, winding purposeful path from the entrance to the center and back out again. Unlike a maze, it has no dead ends or wrong turns. There is only one way to walk, which is forward. So it is with grief. The only way through is forward, with many twisting turns and going back and forth over what seems like the same territory. After we journey to the center of our grief, to the center of ourselves and the center of the labyrinth, we can then slowly return to re-enter the world anew. The circuitous labyrinth path offers hope and healing to all who enter. Each walk is unique, as we are each individuals with unique journeys as time passes. The labyrinth offers a safe refuge to navigate the emotional world of grieving. There is a beginning, middle and an end to the labyrinth walk helping us to contain the often-overwhelming nature of grief.
For some people, walking a labyrinth is a time for peaceful reflection, a stroll in the woods. For others, the experience is profound and comes with transformative insights. You can use labyrinths to find hope and inspiration during your grief journey. It can be used as prayer, remembrance and time alone with your loved one. The experience can calm, energize, clear, or give meaning or understanding. It can facilitate letting go, change, transition and reconciliation. It is a ritual which recognizes life changes and offers the opportunity to fit things together again. Reflecting on where you are can turn the simple experience of walking into a mind/body/spirit connection with the potential for wholeness.
Whether you choose to walk the labyrinth or not, the four themes of labyrinth walking can be very helpful as a reference point in healing your grief. Bear in mind that this is not a linear process, but rather a multidimensional route. Healing your grief requires time for reflection, remembering and reviewing your loved one’s life and your life with him or her. While there are no right or wrong ways to walk a labyrinth, there are four R’s of labyrinth walking: Review, Release, Receive and Return. Reviewing allows for reflection, remembering and gratitude. Releasing is a time of letting go, clearing out, resolving the past and opening up space in your life. Receiving is the opportunity to open up to other possibilities, a sense of freedom, some relaxation and time to embrace peace and acceptance. Most likely you will cycle through reviewing and releasing many times. Then there is time for returning to your present life and circumstances, reconnecting with your values and the experiences and beliefs that have given your life meaning. Note that your beliefs may change over the course of your healing time or be magnified.
Grief work is hard work. The labyrinth offers a safe sanctuary where you can both grow through your grief and renew yourself. It becomes a container for grieving, which you can step into and also step out of.
The labyrinth is a sacred path where the mystical meets the ordinary, the divine touches the mundane, the physical body supports the spiritual body. It is a path of deep silence. In the labyrinth, the mind chatter of daily life can quiet itself. There is space for deep listening.
I will be offering a workshop September 21, 2013 on making and walking finger labyrinths for healing grief. If you would like more information check out my website www.clindroos.com.