Chateau Sur Mer, Newport, RI
The Labyrinth is a magnificent spiritual tool, one of the oldest universal meditative devices. It may be thought
of as a "Divine Imprint": an archetype of wholeness helping us to rediscover the depths of our souls. The Labyrinth is a "unicursal" path, that is, there is only one way in and one way out. As in the journey of life, those undertaking the journey of the Labyrinth can never get lost, there is only one path to the center or heart of the Labyrinth and one path out again. This IS the difference between a maze and a labyrinth. Mazes were designed to amuse, puzzle and perplex. The Labyrinth, on the other hand, is a meditative path of peace, healing and focus.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE LABYRINTH
Walking the Labyrinth promotes relaxed brain wave activity through a form of physically experienced biofeedback. This experience of Sensory Integration promotes greater problem solving abilities and enhances self understanding and self mastery.
Research conducted by Herbert Benson, MD, at Harvard's Mind/Body Institute affirms that a state of sensory integration has long term health benefits for body, mind and spirit.
As early as 1980 the concept of "Brain Synchrony" was noted by researchers L. Fermi and G. Fritz in their article that appeared in SOMATICS, vol.2, 34-40, entitled "Open Focus; The Attentional Foundation of Health and Well Being". In the article Fermi and Frtiz identified three levels of brain activity;
- Beta State; 15-40 brain wave cycles per second which induces task oriented linear thinking and where the brain is subject to stressful stimuli
- Alpha State; 9-14 brain wave cycles per second, which moves us into a gentle form of relaxation of body and mind
- Theta State, at 5-8 brain wave cycles per second, offers creative nonlinear thinking and balance of both right and left hemispheres of the brian.
As one walks the pattern, moving left then right then left again, one seems to be calibrating the balance of Left and Right Hemispheres of the brain, clearing the mind to open to new information.
Summer Solstice Labyrinth Walk 2010, The Heal CoOp, Middletown RI
THE MYSTICAL PATH
In Western Christianity, the mystical path is traditionally known as The Threefold Path. There are three stages in the process of deepening a sense of union with The Divine, and we walk the Labyrinth using these stages.
- Purgation: Walking in, a purging and releasing; and emptying and quieting of the mind.
- Illumination: In the center, a place of meditation and prayer.
- Union: Walking out, a sense of grounding and empowerment, a way to integrate and manifest our visions in the world.
Return here to read more about the Labyrinth's history, mythology and science and discover the path of healing.