Q: I will be moving soon to a home which has a large flat back yard. I want to plan a labyrinth path for my yard so I can exercise without getting too far from my house because I have arthritis. How is the best way to do this? What are some good sources for instructions?
A: My friend LaRhonda W. just finished installing a labyrinth at Alpharetta Presbyterian Church. She says, “People use it when they’re seeking clarity, or if they’re dealing with loss or if they just want to get quiet and listen to God. Some say that there is something about the process of walking an uninterrupted path that helps you turn off the chatter and relax your mind so you can listen.”
The most common labyrinth consists of seven paths around a central point. You can make the walls from stones, grass, earth or anything else handy. Once you learn the simple “seed pattern” you can even draw a labyrinth in the sand at the beach.
LaRhonda continues, “I got interested in getting one started at our church when a friend who was going through a nasty divorce told me that they did it as part of her divorce recovery group. She said it was a very powerful and healing experience for her and it helped her let go of some of the anger and move on. You use a different part of your brain walking a maze where you’re trying to figure your way out. It’s not for everyone, but a lot of people really swear by it.
“One of the interesting things about these paths is that they have been found existing in different parts of the world presumably before there were any kinds of roads or links between the sites or inhabitants. They’ve seen a resurgence in popularity in the United States due in part to the efforts of a woman named Lauren Artress. She constructed one at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. You can’t go too far into this topic without hearing about her book, “Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool”.
“They come in all different kinds of patterns. The designs can be made out of rocks and mulch or concrete or planted liriope or in our case we used something called “trail mix” because we wanted the path to be wheelchair accessible, but didn’t want concrete.
“Jack Stribling at Rock and Earth Technologies in Rockmart, Georgia put us on to the trailmix. It’s a kind of fine-grade shale that drains well, but can be firmly packed with a tamper. Plants can grow through it.
“Some of these things are very stark and minimal in their surroundings. We decided that we wanted ours to be more “green.” We’ve just finished planting native plants and trees around it to give the area more of a garden-like setting. We hope to add a water feature and some additional benches for a meditation area where people can also sit and anjoy the surroundings. The greenery provides a greater feeling of privacy while still maintaining a feeling of security to anyone walking it.”
For more information on labyrinths and their construction see: