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12 Jun 2019

Warm up your body and mind

Feeling the winter blues or looking for ways to spend time outdoors this winter? Get an extra dose of vitamin D while calming your mind with a moving meditation at the Centennial Park Labyrinth. 

The links between a healthy environment and a healthy community are seemingly endless - but one of the strongest health benefits of nature is on mental health. Centennial Parklands is much more than just grass, trees, buildings and wildlife, it's a hub of activity for Sydneysiders.

The Parklands was created initially for the people of Sydney to, as they quaintly put it, "take in the air". This space was created to improve public health, and over 130 years later, it still plays that role.

With the help of an inspired community and the drive of Sydney local Emily Simpson, the Park is home to the only public Meditation Labyrinth in Sydney. 

meditation labyrinth in centennial parklands
This Park's Labyrinth is a replica of the Medieval Labyrinth built in 1205 at the Chartres Cathedral in France.

There is no right or wrong way to walk a Labyrinth. Simply find your natural pace and enjoy the experience that is to come.

What is a Labyrinth?

A Labyrinth is not a maze (and unfortunately ours doesn't involve David Bowie). It is an ancient pattern found in many different cultures - a truly universal symbol, used by people around the world as a place of reflection and renewal. It differs from a maze in that it has only one path and there are no dead ends.

A labyrinth is a simple contemplative pathway. Unlike a maze, which has several different paths designed to trap you, a labyrinth has only one path and there are no dead ends, so you can't get lost - instead you find something within yourself. A maze is an intellectual exercise but a labyrinth is a spiritual one.

A labyrinth is not exclusively a Christian or pagan concept. It is a universal and non-denominational symbol, used by many different cultures over 4,000 years.

This article from the Sydney Morning Herald gives an insight into labyrinths, but instead of reading about it, we recommend you come visit it!

How do you use the labyrinth?

There’s really no wrong way or right way to walk a labyrinth. Some walk it slow, some fast and some even dance it. 

Centennial Park Labyrinth founder, Emily Simpson, says there are three phases to a labyrinth walk:

  1. Releasing on the way in – letting go of the distractions of your day

  2. Receiving a sense of peace and calm as you pause in the centre

  3. Resolving a new way of being in the world as you follow the same path back out of the labyrinth.

85,000 - that's the approximate number of times that stonemasons tapped the 1,700 pieces of individually cut and shaped stone that make up the Labyrinth. It's not just a labyrinth, it's art.

An inward journey 

Before you walk the labyrinth you may want to sit quietly and reflect. Some people come with questions, others just to slow down and take time out from a busy life. Some come to find the strength to take the next step during times of grief and loss.

Its winding path becomes a metaphor for our journey and where we find ourselves on our personal path. It offers us a threshold to cross, helping us leave behind what no longer serves and quite literally, step into the new.

If you find sitting meditation challenging, then walking meditation is an easy way into that same peaceful place – an easy way to quiet the mind and open the heart. 

Music composed for a Labyrinth Walk

Being at peace in nature has a profound impact on our mental health and has inspired artists from all walks of life since the beginning of time. One such artist is a local composer, Corrina Bonshek, who created a musical piece inspired by her meditation walks at the Centennial Park Labyrinth. Listen or download Corrina's musical composition here

Or check out our Meditation Labyrinth playlist for our top ten favourite songs to help you tune out.

Community walks

Be part of the community in a gentle, peaceful way by coming along to the group walks hosted by Sydney Labyrinth at 9.00 am on the first Sunday of every month. These events are free and open to all. More information here.

centennial park meditation labyrinth
Centennial Park Labyrinth. Photo by Ann Jones.

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