Lighting the Path to Self-Mastery, Harmonious Relationships, Inner Wisdom, Peace, and Resilience
 

Articles and Advice on Walking the Labyrinth
© All advice and articles are copyrighted material. Please contact Eve for reprint permission.

Click on the Title of the article you are interested in:
2012 Moonlight Labyrinth Walk Schedule
Why Walk the Labyrinth?
Labyrinths as a Wellness Pilgrimage
Walking the Winding Path—Through Hawaii
A Labyrinth Wedding as a Sacred Pilgrimage
Dear Lord, Please Be Blunt With Me
The Labyrinth at The Sacred Garden of Maliko
Spiral Labyrinth Calendar

Why walk the Labyrinth?

Dear Eve,
I've heard about the monthly labyrinth walks you hold at The Sacred Garden and I have to admit that I'm curious. I have a hard time imagining how walking around in circles can improve my life or my relationships. Honestly, it seems like I walk around in circles all day long! Can you tell me what I'll get out of a labyrinth walk? Thanks.

Aloha,
Actually, I cannot tell you what you, specifically, will get out of the labyrinth walk because it is a personal experience, different for everyone. With that said, I can tell you how to get the most out of the labyrinth walk and assist you in understanding why you might want to try it. I can also help you see how to gain benefit while you are “walking around in circles all day long!”
Without going into any of the history, the “labyrinth” I'm referring to is not a maze; there is only one path to the center and the same path brings you back out. I have found it to be the perfect “practice ground” for all of the essential life skills that I teach. The skills can be practiced and mastered on the labyrinth and then applied in your relationships and daily life.

As you walk into the labyrinth, the object is to practice self-observation. In my experience this is one of the most important skills that we can develop. Self-observation brings about awareness. When we are aware of what we are doing and thinking, we realize we have the power to choose differently if what we are thinking or doing are not serving us. When we find our minds wandering as we walk, we can practice focusing on the present moment, on the walk.

When we become aware of what we are experiencing on the labyrinth, we can look at what that represents metaphorically in our lives. For instance, if you are bored on the labyrinth, boredom is probably an issue in your life. If you judge others on the labyrinth, judgment is your issue. If you worry about what people are thinking of you as you walk, your need for approval is your issue. So the labyrinth acts as a sort of microscope shining light on the areas of our being that may need a little shifting. In addition, it serves as a place to experience peacefulness and calm, where we can quiet the busy-ness of our minds and really listen to the whisper of our hearts. We can gain clarity as we walk, receive answers to our questions, let go of stress and discover richer aspects of our being.

What does that have to do with relationships? Imagine being in relationships when one or both people are self-aware, know how to reduce their stress and access their inner wisdom when problems need to be resolved! The better we know ourselves and the better self-mastery we have, the better our relationships are going to be.

The labyrinth walk can also shine a light on various dynamics of your relationship. Perhaps as you walk, you become aware that you are more comfortable when one partner is leading. Perhaps you realize that you pay so much attention to wondering whether your partner is enjoying him/herself that you don't pay any attention to enjoying yourself. You may find there are times where you are walking side by side, only to find moments later that you are on opposite sides, going opposite ways. The labyrinth is a rich field of metaphor so what is revealed to you as you walk in partnership will undoubtedly be revealing of issues that could use some awareness. As we simply observe our experience in the labyrinth, we gain valuable insights into ourselves and our lives. The same holds true when you find yourself “walking in circles” throughout your day. Simply become observant and notice what is being revealed to you.
At the very worst you will have a peaceful and pleasant experience under the Maui moon. Perhaps that is all you really need!
With Aloha,
Eve

Intellectual Foreplay Question: How would your relationships benefit if you were calmer, clearer and more centered?

Love Tip: When what we are doing isn't working, we have to do something different. Remain open-minded to the possibility that the “something different” is something you've never tried before or that won't make sense to you until you do!


Labyrinths as a Wellness Pilgrimage
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Labyrinths are popping up all over the country in hospitals, churches, retreat centers, parks, schools and back yards as a path of prayer and Hawaii is no exception.

The concept of taking a pilgrimage as a path of wellness is not a new one. In fact it is eons old. From the ancient concept of vision questing to journeys toward sacred destinations such as Jerusalem, Mecca, Lourdes, Stonehenge, or power places in nature. While coming to Hawaii as a spiritual destination is certainly a pilgrimage in its own right, one can miss the spiritual aspects entirely if only focusing on the shopping, nightlife and resorts. For a sense of spirit, for an experience beneficial to one's wellness, one must look a little deeper. In addition to the beautiful beaches, gardens, waterfalls and rainbows designed to replenish your soul, the labyrinth is available here as a walking meditation.

Most labyrinths built today are replicas of the 800 year old Chartres Cathedral labyrinth. In the 1200's, the Crusades were going on and taking a pilgrimage to a sacred destination meant risking your life. Rather than journey into danger, pilgrims of the 13th century took a metaphorical pilgrimage within the confines of the labyrinth and the safety of the church. Today, we use the labyrinth in much the same way.

The labyrinth looks like a maze but it is not. Rather than dead-ends and multiple paths to tease and challenge you, the labyrinth has only one path that winds its way into the center and the same path brings you back out. The labyrinth offers a three-fold path, just like a pilgrimage—the journey in, the sacred destination of the center, and the return back out.

The labyrinth provides us with a laboratory for practicing certain life skills that are imperative for wellness: self-observation, letting go, getting centered and choosing actions in alignment with our strong, wise and healthy self. The labyrinth allows us a practice ground for these skills from which, once mastered, we can apply them in our lives moment to moment.

The walk into the labyrinth provides an opportunity for us to begin self-observation, contemplation and release. The task is to walk the labyrinth cognizant of a "witness" state—being the observed and the observer at the same time. Simply pay attention to what you are feeling and thinking and then, with a deep breath, release it and let it go, freeing your awareness to be available for the next moment in time. The walk in is a time of preparation, as if you are emptying your mind of thoughts, memories, expectations, and judgments, so that you are open and ready to receive guidance when you reach the center. It is the journey from your head to your heart, from thought to feeling, from logic to intuition, from believing to knowing.

The center of the labyrinth, the heart, represents the sacred destination. Just as on a "real pilgrimage," here the pilgrims sit or stand in mediation open to receiving guidance or insight. Whether you receive an answer to a question, a valuable insight about your life or merely a sense of peace, solitude or joy, the center is a quiet space in which you get what you need, if not what you came for. You come to know the stillness of the center—your center—as a sanctuary to which you always have access and can return whenever your soul needs rejuvenation. So many of us are so busy in our lives that our brains are working overtime—creating a lot of noise. Seldom to we retreat to silence—away from TV, radio or conversation. The center of the labyrinth provides the solitude necessary for accessing your inner wisdom and hearing the whisper of your heart.

The journey out of the labyrinth represents Divine Alignment—returning home, in union with God, to apply in your daily life the insights and wisdom youíve gained on your pilgrimage. Truly, this action step is critical for bringing about the transformation that extends beyond the pilgrimageóthe transformation of your life toward wellness, wholeness, and health.

The labyrinth works with the magic of metaphor, mirroring back to us anything that stands between us as the pilgrim, and the Divine. If you simply observe what you experience as you walk, you will see that metaphorically that is also what you experience in your ìrealî world. If you find yourself impatient to reach the center, impatience undoubtedly impedes your path through life, as well. If you find yourself judgmental of others as they walk, your judgments are the very thing you need to release in order to enter the temple of your heart. If you walk worried about what others are thinking of you, releasing your need for approval will move you closer to the Divine. If you stay ìin your headî throughout the journey counting the paths and trying to figure it out, this metaphor reveals to you that it is time to venture into the realm of feeling, rather than merely thinking about, the Divine.

By allowing the labyrinth to be the laboratory where we practice self-observation, letting go, getting centered, aligned action and the magic of metaphor, we are then prepared to expand the boundary of the labyrinth to include our entire lives. After all, does your spiritual path—and the benefit of these skills—only exist within a 40 foot circle? Or, did your spiritual quest begin when you left your home, flew across the ocean to the sacred islands of Hawaii and then return back home the way you came? Or, did your three-fold path begin with birth, continue with the sacred center of this life, and the return journey of death? Or is your pilgrimage even bigger than that?


Walking the Winding Path—Through Hawaii
Originally Published in Zento Magazine June/July Issue 2003—updated 2006
(New labyrinths have been added to this article as they have been made known to me.)
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Though ancient in its origins, the unicursal labyrinth (single path as opposed to a maze) is a recently resurrected tool used for taking a walking meditation. Labyrinths as a path of prayer are lovingly being placed in hospitals, schools, parks, retreats and churches all over the country and Hawaii is no exception. Whether you are walking the simpler 7-circuit labyrinth (circuits are the number of times the path passes between the outside and the center) or the more complex Chartres Cathedral 11-circuit labyrinth both are metaphorical of taking a pilgrimage. The labyrinth offers a place of refuge where one can commune with God, access inner wisdom, release stress, resolve problems, heal emotionally and physically, pray—and receive answers.

The process is quite simple, almost so simple that it can easily be missed without a little education to guide you. At first glance it is incomprehensible that walking around on a circle could possibly bring about measurable improvements in one’s well being, but it does, none-the-less. Metaphorically, the labyrinth will mirror to you whatever you need to look at in yourself for achieving greater wellness, health, authenticity or joy. The labyrinth is a laboratory for practicing self-observation, clearing the obstacles you encounter, and returning to your center, before choosing your next actions—skills which, once mastered, can be utilized on one’s journey throughout life.
The walk into the labyrinth, just as on a pilgrimage, is an opportunity to contemplate your life and observe your thoughts and feelings. This is a time of preparation— emptying your mind so that when you reach the center you are ready to receive. On an outward pilgrimage the obstacles you encounter may be long distances and heavy burdens, but on an inner pilgrimage the obstacles blocking your spiritual path are internal—ego, judgement, fear, impatience. The key is to simply take note of what you are experiencing, then let it go, return to the present moment and continue your journey.
The center of the labyrinth represents the sacred destination. It is here that pilgrims sit or stand in silence, listening for guidance and absorbing the peacefulness that exists there.
The return walk out is for integrating insights that you’ve gained on your journey so that you may emerge from the labyrinth renewed, balanced or transformed.
In Hawaii, labyrinths have been popping up island to island as residents and tourists alike have discovered the many benefits—physical, emotional and spiritual—to walking the sacred path. Based on available information (aside from private backyard labyrinths), there are three labyrinths on Maui, four on the Big Island, two on Oahu, two on Kauai, and one currently under construction, soon to bless the island of Lanai. In speaking with the "labyrinth keepers" on the various islands, it became quite obvious that the keepers had been "lured" by the labyrinths—into this calling—with love.


Labyrinths on Oahu:

St. Clement Church has recently added a beautiful Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth made by Robert Ferre and his skilled team of labyrinth builders. The labyrinth is closed at times when the area is needed for parking, so check their web site for the hours of availability.
St. Clement's Church, 1515 Wilder Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii  96822 Phone 808-955-7745, stclem001@hawaii.rr.com


Labyrinths on the Big Island:

Christie Wolf and her husband discovered the labyrinth by reading a book about them. Then as she began clearing some property in the Puna area of the Big Island, the 11-circuit labyrinth pattern kept popping into her head. She and her husband created the impressive ever growing and changing Awapuhi Garden Labyrinth before they had ever actually walked one. This was no small effort as the original Chartres Cathedral labyrinth in France is forty-two feet in diameter, but the Awapuhi Labyrinth (a pattern replica) is ninety feet!

Christie shared, "I walked the labyrinth every day with a specific intention. There was a creative discipline I wanted back in my life, but it had been blocked for many years. After three months it was there, so much so that I didn't have time to both walk and pursue my artistic practice. Unfortunately the daily walks became irregular, but I had cleared the obstacles that were blocking my creative passion!" (picture, right)
Christie revealed another experience, "At a group event, a couple was soaked by an unexpected rain shower when they reached the center. They were ecstatic when they came out of the labyrinth, and told me the whole experience was a metaphor for forgiveness and cleansing!"
awapuhil@aol.com, walks available by appointment only

Paleaku Gardens
Barbara DeFranco, keeper of the labyrinth at Paleaku Botanical Gardens on the Kona side of the Big Island had their 7-circuit labyrinth built in response to a dream that the property needed a labyrinth. The whole community pitched together to build the path from red and black lava rock and many return regularly to walk the winding path. DeFranco explained, "The process of walking into the labyrinth is an internal process guiding the walker on a journey within, however once they reach the center and turn around they are greeted with expansive coast line views. At that moment, one can’t help but to gain a more expansive view of oneself, as well."
(Picture Left, center of labyrinth right)
www.Paleaku.com, open to the public.

Dragonfly Ranch, also on the Kona side, hosts a multi-colored, 7-circuit labyrinth. "Walking our labyrinth is like eating the colors as you go, filling you with joy!" says Barbara Moore, proprietor of the Healing Arts Center. She shared that the labyrinth is not only a great place for healing, balance and wellness, but also love! "One man placed an engagement ring in the center for his future bride to find when she reached the heart of the labyrinth." (picture, right)
www.Dragonflyranch.com, open to the public

Waimea, North Hawaii Community Hospital
(not pictured here)

The grounds of North Hawaii Community Hospital in Waimea have a 5-circuit labyrinth that is used both as a healing path of prayer for the hospital community and as a fundraiser. Local artist Emily Herb makes the tiles that the hospital sells to pave the path. Most of the tiles purchased memorialize someone who has traveled life’s path ahead of loved ones, or serve as a prayer or blessing for someone healing.
www.planet-hawaii.com/nhch, open to the public.

Hawi, Big Island, Peggy Brevoort Private residence in Puakea Bay Ranch
56-2863 Akoni Pule Hiway, Hawi, Hawaii 96719, 808-889-6930


Labyrinths on Maui:
Rev. Heather Mueller of St. John’s Church in Keokea and I had a "happy accident" when we discovered that she had built a replica of the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth in the parking lot of St. John’s Church but had no one to teach the community about it. While simultaneously, I had discovered this perfect tool for sharing powerful concepts for spiritual growth with the community, but I didn’t have a labyrinth. We were truly an answer to each other’s prayers and continued to provide monthly full moon labyrinth walks at St. John's for Maui’s pilgrims for ten years. The walks are now held at The Sacred Garden of Maliko in Makawao, Maui, Hawaii.

Rev. Mueller has also been presenting the labyrinth walks as part of the church’s historical tour for senior citizen groups who quickly discovered the labyrinths healing abilities quite by accident. "One woman shared that she almost didn’t make it to the walk due to a severe migraine," the Reverend explained. "At the last minute she decided to walk and when she emerged from the labyrinth she excitedly shared that her migraine—which usually lasted several days—was completely gone! Shocked, she wanted to know if this was ‘normal.’ As I reassured her of the labyrinth’s healing traits, another older woman overheard the conversation and shared that she suffers of vertigo on a regular basis and was apprehensive about walking around in circles on account of it. However, after just a couple of turns along the path she realized that her vertigo had gone away!" Rather than being disoriented and confused, the twisting path served to balance her equilibrium.

The Reverend’s personal experience has been that in days full of ministering to other’s needs, handling zillions of interruptions and phone calls, taking just fifteen minutes out to walk the labyrinth always brings her back to center so that she can carry on from a peaceful state. 808-878-1485, open to the public.

Part of my own labyrinth ministry on Maui has been to provide labyrinth weddings on a portable canvas labyrinth, in which the bride and groom walk in separately, letting go of the past. They share their vows when they find each other in the heart of the labyrinth and then forge the path out together. The labyrinth is the perfect metaphor for the transition of marriage.

Below is the recently built labyrinth on my property "The Sacred Garden of Maliko."

While I am more of a labyrinth "mystorian," Maui is also home of labyrinth historian, John Kozak. John painted a labyrinth on the grounds of Sacred Hearts School in Lahaina.


712 Waine'e Street, Lahaina (Maui), Hawaii 96761
Intersection of HW 30 and Dickenson St in historic old Lahaina towne. Located behind church on corner of Sacred Hearts School playground.
John points out, "Anytime someone prays, there is an associated body movement. The labyrinth walk is a body movement prayer. In Catholicism, we have sermons, mass, choir, and liturgy—all talk, talk, talk. The labyrinth offers the opportunity for a spiritual experience." lelabyrinthe@hotmail.com
http://www.maui.net/~miserere/

Kapalua, just below the Ritz Carlton, is the home of Maui's largest labyrinth. Building the Kapalua Labyrinth was a true act of love and was done as peace project in spring 2005.

The Kapalua Labyrinth is made of white coral and is nestled on a little penninsula with turquoise blue water on three sides. This sacred location was considered a "jumping off point" for souls as they made their transition from this existence to the next. To get there, Go to the Ritz Carlton (Turn toward the ocean from Hwy 30 onto Ritz Calton Way. Take it all the way to the bottom where you will see the small Ritz Carlton Chapel on the right. Turn right into the little parking lot. It is easiest if you walk up toward the chapel, then cross the bridge toward the ocean that will take you on a golf course path toward the bottom of the hill. When you reach the bottom, you'll have to walk across a small stretch of golf course toward the stand of ironwood trees. The labyrinth is on the other side of the trees, near the ocean.

There is another labyrinth beyond the RItz by the "blow hole." Continue on highway 30 north to "Hobbitland". At mile marker 38, park seaside near the orange gate, walk down toward the ocean.

A Wedding as a Sacred Pilgrimage
Taking a Pilgrimage to Get Married

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On the island of Maui, in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, there are a plethora of ways to get married-from quaint little churches to ceremonies above, below or beside the sea, from bikini clad to formal attire. Thousands of couples come to Hawaii each year to share their vows, ever seeking ways to make their celebration special, memorable and often unique.

Rev. Eve Hogan, inspirational speaker and author of “The Way of the Winding Path,” has recently introduced to the islands a unique and sacred means of getting married or renewing vows that is rich with spiritual symbolism: labyrinth weddings.

The labyrinth is not to be confused with a maze. While mazes are designed to trick you with dead ends and false paths, the labyrinth has only one path leading into the center and the same path leads back out. The labyrinth used for weddings is a replica of the one that is tiled into the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France, which dates back to 1220AD and was used as a walking meditation, metaphorical of taking a pilgrimage. At a time when the Crusades made journeying to sacred destinations dangerous, if not impossible, would-be pilgrims got creative and designed this beautiful path of prayer within the safety of the church. There they could still take their own personal spiritual journey, but not have to risk their lives in the process. Just like a pilgrimage, the labyrinth offers a three-fold path; the walk into the labyrinth, the center-which represents the sacred destination, and the return journey back home.

The symbolism of the labyrinth lends itself perfectly to weddings and vow renewals. The bride and groom enter the labyrinth separately as the walk in represents a time for self-reflection, clearing any obstacles that lie before them and letting go of the past. The walk into the center, which takes approximately seven minutes, allows them an opportunity to prepare for the sacred ceremony by walking off any nervousness and becoming fully present. The center of the labyrinth is where pilgrims go to receive guidance and insight and it is here that the bride and groom receive each other. In this sacred destination, the heart of the labyrinth, they are joined by Rev. Eve and exchange their vows. After the blessings of the center are received, the couple makes their way back out of the labyrinth, arm-in-arm. The return walk out represents union with God and is a time for transition. Here the bride and groom begin their journey together as husband and wife.

Many couples choosing to get married in Hawaii face the dilemma of whether to honor their spiritual beliefs by getting married in a church, or to take advantage of the tremendous natural beauty the islands have to offer by getting married outside. Since the labyrinth is portable and has its roots in the church, it offers couples a unique way to take a piece of the church outside-a big piece! The canvas labyrinth measures 36' in diameter and is a beautiful foundation upon which to build a marriage.

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Dear Lord, Please Be Blunt With Me

Ten years ago when I first read about the labyrinth as a walking meditation, I immediately knew I wanted to include this wonderful tool in my workshops. Metaphorical of taking a pilgrimage, the labyrinth seemed to me to be the perfect place for people to practice the essential life skills that I taught for self-discovery and self-mastery.

It was then that I heard about a Labyrinth Facilitator's Certification training at the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and knew that this was a course that I wanted to attend. I reviewed the registration materials and figured out that I was already going to be in California at the time so I didn't need to worry about the airfare from Maui, (where I live). My excitement began to build as I envisioned joining the group and learning about this sacred path.

My heart sank as I continued on to read about the registration fee as, at that particular time in my life, I had several other expenses that were taking priority and an extra $500 for this workshop was not in my budget. And then there was the issue of explaining to my husband that I was spending $500 and three days taking a class on how to teach people to walk around in circles on a specific, clearly marked path with no dead-ends and no tricks. I just knew he wasn't going to understand why facilitation of this type of “no-brainer” experience was something that needed to be taught.

So, I sat in my personal little shrine reviewing the problem with God. “Here is the deal. There is a labyrinth facilitation course going on at the Grace Cathedral next month and I'd really like to go. However, I can't justify the money right now. So, God, if you want me to do this work, you are going to have to come up with the money, because otherwise, I'm not going to be able to. Okay?” I offered my problem to God and then went about my day, forgetting all about it.

Soon I had heard that there was a labyrinth up on Haleakala mountain at St. John's Church just 45 minutes from my home. Since I knew I wanted to teach people about the labyrinth but I didn't have one, I thought I should go meet with the minister of the church and find out what they were doing with their labyrinth and if I might be able to use it from time to time. Reverend Heather and I immediately hit it off. We started sharing our appreciation of the labyrinth and our excitement about its many uses for helping people to experience a sense of peace, hear the voice of God, make sense of their life experiences, release stress, achieve balance and gain clarity. It turned out that she had a labyrinth and no one to teach about it and I wanted to teach about it but didn't have a labyrinth. Our enthusiasm was contagious as we discovered our obvious match. In the midst of the conversation I explained to her that there was a labyrinth facilitator training coming up and that I was trying to figure out where to get the money so that I could take it.

At that, she stood up from the table where we were sitting, walked over to her desk, pulled out her checkbook and wrote me a check for $500—on our very first meeting!
As I walked away from the church—in shock—with check in hand, I had to stop to thank God. I held up the check and said to God appreciatively, “Now THAT was very clear!” On many occasions I have explained to God that I needed blunt answers and guidance, subtle clues didn't work so well for me. Now, with check in hand, it was clear that becoming a labyrinth facilitator was definitely God's will.

I looked back toward the waving Reverend as I drove away from the church, overwhelmed with gratitude that we got to be the answer to each other's prayers.

© Copyright 2006 Eve Hogan


For more in depth information on any of these topics, see Eve's books.
For dating: "Intellectual Foreplay: Questions for Lovers and Lovers-to-Be" and "Virtual Foreplay: Making Your Online Relationship a Real-Life Success." For marriage or relationship success: "How to Love Your Marriage: Making Your Closest Relationship Work." For spirituality and personal growth: "Way of the Winding Path: A Map for the Labyrinth of Life" and "Rings of Truth."