As I explained in my last article, the more stressed you are, the less likely normal meditative practices are of working. I should know, stress was killing me and I knew meditation could help but it became more and more difficult for me to tap into the life-sustaining peace it offered.
I discovered two other ways to reduce my stress, neither of which required pills or alcohol. One was through writing, which is not for everyone. The other was using the power of the mythic Labyrinth.
Labyrinths have been around far longer than History. And so their purpose has been shrouded in mystery. Why did primitive man carve or paint them onto cave walls? Or incise them into rocky outcrops?
Was it the same reason early Christians used them in their churches, or the ancient Egyptians designed temple floor plans to replicate them? Or the American or Australian Indigenous tribes created them?
We don’t know. All modern man can do is experience labyrinths for themselves and assume that ancient man got the same kind of results from them that we do.
One theory is that a labyrinth design that is based on the sacred spiral- the swirling phenomenon that can be found throughout nature and the Universe. Just look at swirling galaxies like our own and you can see the similarity to a whirlpool.
But a labyrinth is not simply a continuous spiral inward. It follows a weird sort of pattern of two steps forward one step back. It makes you doubt you’re getting anywhere- maybe that’s why they’ve been confused with mazes in the past. You’re mind is tricked into thinking you are getting somewhere and then, before you know it, you seem to be further from your goal than when you started.
And just when you’re losing heart and ready to give up, what do you know? You’re sweeping in really close to the centre destination.
But wait! Don’t get too confident. Keep following the path and you end up again getting farther away from your goal than you were. It’s like you have to give ground before you can win.
Some people believe that this strange inward outward circular path creates a conduit or passage way to other levels of consciousness or reality. Certainly the brain does seem to switch channels.
When people play my game, which uses the labyrinth formation as its pathway, they find their mind playing tricks on them. Simple things like adding numbers together becomes a hardship. Some people behave as if they’re drunk or stoned. Time seems to pass without being aware of it. I’ve glanced down at my watch and been shocked to see 2 hours have passed when it feels like only half an hour.
What is actually happening is that the left hemisphere of the brain is being side-lined and the creative right hemisphere is being allowed more control. And the right hemisphere lives in the NOW, doesn’t think rationally – and it can’t count!
But the right hemisphere does seem to be concerned with another kind of Knowing, a deeper Knowing that meditation attempts to access by different means.
It doesn’t matter what the significance of this tricky path is. It’s enough that something in the process of moving along that path, whether by walking a full-sized labyrinth or simply finger-walking a small hand-drawn design, takes you to another, more peaceful, place. You find your worries more difficult to be concerned about. You open yourself to all sorts of insights and understanding that may not have been available to you by ‘thinking it through’.
And you come out feeling far less stressed than you went in. Why not try it for yourself?

Author's Bio: 

Nhys Glover is an Aussie writer, teacher and creator of the innovative 'Psyche's Key' Tools, who now lives and works in England. You can find out more about her and her work, as well as getting her FREE Labyrinth Visualization Audio at http://luminapress.co.uk