The Labyrinth mirrors the wanderings and travails of the hero in search for meaning and resolution to the vicissitudes of life.
– David Danow (Models of Narrative: Theory and Practice)
Today, we travel there and back again. Today, we go on a mighty quest. Today, we leave behind the philosophical and abstract discussions and get down-to-earth – so to speak – about The Vitruvian Labyrinth. And to do this, you will want to download and print out your own, personal Vitruvian Labyrinth! Get yours now by clicking on the following link:
As you know, the labyrinth is one of those mysterious elements that lives within The Vitruvian Square. As a reminder before we start out on our journey, here is The Vitruvuan Labyrinth overlaid onto The Vitruvian Square.
If you missed the first three parts of my discussion, make sure you read the following before going further:
Today, you are going to go on an actual journey along or through your labyrinth. There are a great many ways to use your Vitruvian Labyrinth; so many, in fact, that a full discussion of the various adventures and techniques available would far exceed the boundaries of good blogging and your patience. So, in Part 4 of the series, I want to give you a very straightforward and fundamental approach to walking the labyrinth as this basic concept will serve you well time and time, again. This is essentially a combination of both a waking dream and deep mediation. Don’t over-analyze this before you take your first journey – there will plenty of time for you analytical types to deconstruct the technique after you experience its full effect.
STEP ONE: Lay your Vitruvian Labyrinth in front of you with the small antechamber at the top (the title, The Vitruvian Labyrinth, should be at the top left of your paper). Take a moment and just look over the entire labyrinth design. In doing so, know that there are 5 memorable stages to your imminent Vitruvian Labyrinth journey:
STAGE 1: The Place Before – This is the obligatory antechamber or entryway into the labyrinth. It is where you will take a moment to deliberately reflect on the reason for your visit upon the path.
STAGE 2: The Quest – This is the serpentine, 10 circuit path with its 22 turning points that you take to reach the center of the labyrinth.
STAGE 3: The Center of Peace – The promising center and refreshing heart of the labyrinth.
STAGE 4: The Return – The now-worldly-wise path you take back out of the labyrinth.
STAGE 5: The Place After – The same antechamber through which you entered, but now it takes on a new role – a room of gratefulness and reflection.
STEP TWO: Place the forefinger of your non-dominant hand inside the antechamber. Just pause here for a moment, imagining yourself about to embark on an exciting exploit. This is the time when you ask yourself why? – Why are you are starting out on this journey in the first place? What do you hope to find? What do you want to explore? What emotion do you want to confront? Perhaps you want to consider whether you just desire to leave the real world behind for a short time or whether you want to come face-to-face with some fiendish thought that has been plaguing you. The enchanting characteristic of labyrinth work is that it is so personal. There are no wrong reasons for walking a labyrinth. Know only this: to quote Yoda, you will find only what you bring in! Now, use your waking imagination and pretend you are standing inside the antechamber, itself. Is it a room? Is it a cave? Are you in a garden or a park? Wherever you imagine yourself to be, bring your creative, inner vision into focus and note as much detail as possible about your surroundings.
STEP THREE: After a short time, you find that a chaperone or guide appears to you in the antechamber. This can be a person, an animal, a fictitious character, anything or anyone. Just let the guide appear to you and start to lead you out of the antechamber and along the path. Move your finger down from the antechamber along the first straight portion of the pathway and towards yourself knowing that your guide is actually leading the way and keeping you shielded. You have started your journey! Pay attention to how you feel as you make your way along the path. Is your path actually a tunnel or are you on a garden pathway? Are there walls or are you on an open trail? Are you descending down into the earth or is the path level and serene? Is the sun shining down on you or do you see the moon or, perhaps, there’s no light at all. Notice your emotions. Notice the sounds around you. Notice where you start to linger or perhaps lose your way. Notice the focus it takes to stay on the path with your finger. And . . . notice what your guide is doing or saying as it leads you. All of your sensations and thoughts and feelings are important as they serve as both messages and metaphors for what you are supposed to find inside the labyrinth.
STEP FOUR: As you and your guide come to the end of the straightaway, you make a sharp left turn with your finger. Continue on the path a short distance and you will reach the beginning of your first hairpin curve. Before you actually move into the curve, your guide turns to you and bids you to continue on without it. Thank your guide for traveling with you this far and know that it will be waiting for you at this very spot to lead you back out of the labyrinth when you return.
STEP FIVE: Leaving your guide behind, you move through the first hairpin curve. Continue along the winding path – again, paying attention to how you are feeling, your reactions to the journey, and where your mind is focused.
STEP SIX: Eventually, in your own time and at your own pace, you will arrive at the bosom of the Vitruvian Labyrinth. Describe what you see, feel, hear, and experience. Where is this place that you have finally arrived at? When you are ready, place the palm of your non-dominant hand on top of the paper with the center of your palm over the center of the labyrinth. Then repeat to yourself the following incantation: at the center of all peace I stand and naught can harm me here. Now just let feelings of peacefulness and tranquility play with your mind. And as you stray and drift with your own thoughts and your own stillness, you start to notice that a wise thing has become visible in the center of the labyrinth with you. Who or what is this wise thing? And now you learn that you get to ask your wise thing any question at all – something that is important at the moment for you to know or learn. Ask your question of the wise thing and then listen intently for the answer. After you receive the message, thank your wise thing for sharing its knowledge and time with you. And then watch the wise thing slowly fade away.
STEP SEVEN: Stay where you are, with your palm on the paper, for as long as you’d like and enjoy the repose while you muse over the import of the message you were given.
STEP SEVEN: When you are ready, put the forefinger of your non-dominant hand back in the heart of the labyrinth and commence tracing your journey back out of labyrinth the same way that you came in.
STEP EIGHT: In due course, your finger will return to place where you left your guide. The guide, of course, is still there, waiting patiently and obediently and expectantly for you. Bid it hello, again, and – tracing the path with your finger – follow it back out towards the antechamber. At the entrance into the antechamber, your guide now signals you goodbye as you trace your finger that final trek into the room from which you started. Take a moment before lifting your finger from the paper to give thanks for what you have experienced and any lessons or messages you have been gifted.
STEP NINE: Take the time needed to think back on what you experienced in the labyrinth, what you were told, what you saw with your inner vision, and what special messages or meanings these have for you. This is a very personal journey you have been on and you are the best person to interpret what you have been gifted along the way.
The use of The Vitruvian Labyrinth can be a soulful and passionate daily practice that will bring you comfort and meaning. I must emphasize that there is no one way to walk the labyrinth and, in fact, your journey, adventure, guide, and your wise thing may be different each time. I want you to remember this. Sometimes, you may move through the path quickly. Other times, you may feel like you’re plodding your way along the path. Sometimes, it will feel like magic has happened in the labyrinth. Other times, it will just be a restful break from the stress of life. Whatever is happening at any given time is precisely where you are supposed to be and what you have to do and it is perfect for you. The important thing is to notice what is happening and remember the feelings, thoughts, messages, etc. that are given to as you complete your journey.
The Vitruvian Labyrinth will provide you with metaphors and messages that should be turned over in your mind immediately after finishing your return out of the antechamber. Write down the inklings, random thoughts, direct messages, and experiences you noticed while walking the path. All of these have significance for you and have a deep-seated message to digest.
I want to thank you for taking this month-long adventure with me. There are certainly many more incredible insights to be extracted from The Vitruvian Labyrinth, but this has been a spectacular start to a new way of exploring for you.
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