Labyrinths are an ancient tool meant for an embodied approach to meditation. There are some simple tools to use as you try it out.

We suggest beginning with an imaged walk. An imaged walk is simply walking the labyrinth while whispering a meditative mantra. If you are new to the use of a mantra, begin with a classic Christian mantra of Maranatha, which means ‘Come Lord Jesus’. This word is suggested because it can help to use words that are not normally used in your native language. Doing so frees your mind from the tendency to associate images and emotions with words in your common vocabulary.

We begin by slowly seeking to silence our busy minds. You may choose to sit near the labyrinth or go into the Cathedral if it’s open. Silence is one of the world’s great challenges today, so be gentle with yourself as no one is able to entirely disengage one’s mind. We aim to slow down a bit and allow whatever silence we can to permeate our spirits.

How to
When you are prepared to begin, start at the entrance on the south side (street side) of the labyrinth. Good news: there is only one path, so you cannot get mixed up or lost. Just follow your feet.

Walk a steady but slow pace as you move along the winding path to the center. As you walk, whisper Maranatha to yourself in time with the pace of your steps. You may notice that the rest of the world falls away as you concentrate on your steps and your mantra. 

In the Center
When you come to the middle of the labyrinth, breathe. Take time with God. Some people like to stand in each of the petals of the flower in the middle, offering a prayer in each one. Stay there as long as you feel you wish to be there, whether long or short. Trust your intuition. You’ll know when it’s time to start moving out again.

When you are ready, proceed back out of the center by minding your pace and once again whispering your mantra. When you reach the end, take a moment to notice your feelings and the way your body feels. Meditating while walking the Labyrinth can be calming. If you wish, you may choose to walk the path back to the center again if seeking more of a feeling of completion.

Spiritual Discipline
As with all spiritual practices, walking the Labyrinth is a discipline. It is practiced in order to gain personal renewal and a deeper connection with the Spirit. Do not worry if your mind wanders as you walk! Recognize the thought that arises and offer it to God, and then return to your mantra. We all would like to stay focused and not have our mind stray to our everyday cares. But a crucial piece of the discipline is how we treat ourselves when those thoughts arise. Can you gently and lovingly acknowledge your humanity when these thoughts arise and you realize it? No one is immune to this experience, but we are all changed by what we do with those experiences. Release the thought and return to your mantra.

Please enjoy the Trinity Cathedral Labyrinth. May your pilgrimage be fruitful and know that you are always welcome!

Labyrinths enjoy a long history predating Christianity. Western Hellenic mythology gives us the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. This labyrinth was a maze-like construction designed by Daedalus. It was so cleverly constructed that Daedalus himself almost did not make it out alive. The hero Theseus entered the labyrinth to kill the Minotaur, a legendary creature with the head of a bull on the body of a man. The goddess of weaving, Ariadne, gave Theseus an unbreakable thread which he unwound as he went to the center of the labyrinth. After reaching the center and dispatching the Minotaur, Theseus was able to follow the thread back out.

Unlike the labyrinth of legend, most labyrinths are unicursal. This means that there is only one course in and out of the center of the labyrinth. It is not a maze and one cannot become lost on the path. Rather, the path winds from the entrance of the labyrinth through to the middle. The ancient custom is to follow the labyrinth from the entrance to the middle and back out again.

Archeology has discovered forms of labyrinths all over the world: in architectural ruins, pottery, baskets, and jewelry.  In fact, some very interesting examples may be found in the archeological remains of the Phoenix area’s own Tohono O’odham ancient ones. In this sense, Trinity Cathedral renews an ancient practice used in this area for thousands of years. The fact that labyrinths appear in cultures divided by geography and years suggests they fulfill something deeply archetypal and important to the human psyche.

Christianity adapted the use of labyrinths to both liturgical and meditative purposes. Writings and art depict people using the cathedral labyrinths of western Europe in penitential ways, as mini-pilgrimages, and liturgies associated with rebirth during Holy Week and Easter.  There has been a recent resurgence in the use of labyrinths as a practice of meditation in western Christianity.