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Published March 12th 2014
A meditation on foot
All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Apart from being a movie with David Bowie in it, labyrinths exist out in the world as large spaces which are created on the ground by drawing or by using stones, etc. They are often circular. Over recent decades they have enjoyed greater popularity around the western world, and Melbourne is no exception.
The Desert Rose labyrinth at Ivins, Utah, USA. Pic by AliveFreeHappy under CC 3.0 attribution/share-alike licence
The practice seems a little strange at first - the sole purpose of a labyrinth is to walk the one-way path - there is only one, unlike a maze - into the centre of the labyrinth. Once you get there, you turn around and walk back the way you came.
Walking the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France
Labyrinths have been popular as a form of walking meditation for millennia. There is something about the walking that stills your mind. What seems a rather pointless exercise in terms of outward achievement is a space that helps to calm your chattering thoughts. This is more like exercise for your mind, rather than for your body, and though your mind might protest that it's dumb, it nevertheless helps to quieten those monkeys.
Labyrinth walking by the sea in Dunure, Scotland. Pic by Andrew Guthrie under a creative commons attribution/share-alike licence
There are quite a few public and private labyrinths around Australia. Some around Melbourne include:
Lower Plenty - The Edmund Rice Centre, or Amberley, is a retreat and conference facility which has a labyrinth that is a full-sized replica of the famous one at Chartres Cathedral in France. It is available to walk by prior appointment.
Langwarrin - the labyrinth at McClelland Sculpture Park is available year-round. A walk is scheduled at 1pm on Saturday, 3 May 2014 to celebrate World Labyrinth Day.
Gardenvale - Tina from Labyrinth Lane in Gardenvale is running a guided labyrinth walk around the time of the autumn equinox - the time of year when it officially becomes autumn, when the days and nights are equally balanced. For $35 you will have an introduction to the labyrinth and a guided twilight walk through it, with time afterwards in which to journal and make art. Refreshments and music provided.
Clifton Hill - The Merri Creek labyrinth was created out of bluestone by the community, for the community. It sits in a beautiful spot in Clifton Hill and is available for a walk any time.
Merri Creek labyrinth, Clifton Hill, Melbourne. Pic courtesy of the Friends of the Merri Creek Labyrinth Facebook page