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Labyrinths - Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

Walking your way to peace of mind

Grace CathedralGrace Cathedral

The first time I walked a labyrinth I was fuming over lost luggage, I'd missed one meeting and was quickly losing ground on a tightly choreographed schedule.

Waking up to find my San Francisco hotel room overlooking one of the most famous labyrinths in the world was a gift, a chance to stop raving at the airline and calling my partner across the country to "please do something!"

Dr. Lauren Artress, a modern-day apostle of labyrinths, describes them as a 3-part therapy.

  • Entering allows you to purge your worries as you walk.
  • Reaching the center gives you time to reflect and confront your truths (and sometimes your whining).
  • Walking outward gives you a chance to come up with alternatives, a plan.

Uncoiled, a labyrinth is about a 1/3 of a mile long andGrace Cathedral can be made from stones, pavement, or mowed into a field. Unlike a maze which is designed to fool and confound, a labyrinth is a back and forth circular path that leads to a center - no dead ends or switch backs. There is only one entrance and one exit - just like real life.

For many people, myself included, it's meditation without the risk of falling asleep. By intentionally walking, breathing and focusing on the path, insights and emotions can rise to the surface.

Grace Cathedral"When you move the body, the mind quiets much easier," Dr. Artress says. "For some people, meditating while sitting still is like trying to hold a volleyball under water. Instead of concentrating, you use all your energy trying to keep that ball down."

If you're curious about labyrinth walking, visit the World-Wide Labyrinth Project and find one registered near you.

Not all labyrinths are registered, so talk to friends, family and neighbors to find the hidden treasures in your community.

And if you're really excited, book yourself a flight to San Francisco and walk the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral

Even your doctor can't prescribe this kind of peace of mind.

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