Spirituality on the Road: World-wide Labyrinth Locator a Handy Tool for Mindful Travelers

Julian's Bower, Alkborough, North Lincolnshire, United Kingdom (c. 1970s, public domain).

Julian’s Bower, Alkborough, North Lincolnshire, United Kingdom (c. 1970s, public domain).

The breath becomes more and more focused. The heart rate slows. Nagging questions are resolved.

For centuries, world-weary travelers have paced their way through mesmeric labyrinths, slipping deeper and deeper into concentration to harness the power of the mind and cleanse their spirits from the detritus of daily living. Such seekers initially often found their favored nature-based contemplative structures by word of mouth or via invitation to trod the simple stone pathway of a private garden while others were drawn by the artistry of the labyrinths installed in the most ornate and awe-inspiring cathedrals across the globe.

Today, contemplative travelers have it easier. Thanks to the ongoing collaboration of The Labyrinth Society with Veriditas and the Faith, Hope and Love Foundation, it is easier than ever to find a labyrinth near one’s home, workplace, hospital, or travel destination.

Their joint project – the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator – offers a free, easily searchable database spotlighting thousands of labyrinths scattered across more than 70 countries. Designs range from the Cretan – a classical, single square or circular pathway looping seven times towards the labyrinth’s heart – to mind-boggling mazes – to ornate, complex patterns mimicking those of the Chartres Cathedral’s gloriously medieval meander.

Visitors to the United Kingdom may enjoy a stroll through Julian’s Bower,” a 44-foot-wide turf labyrinth cleaved as penance by a knight who reportedly helped to murder Thomas a Becket (according to local lore). Situated southwest of Alkborough’s village church, the structure’s path offers the contemplative traveler a serene view of the Humber and River Trent. For the “less outdoorsy” set, the church also maintains an 11-circuit, medieval style labyrinth on its porch.

Labyrinth Carving, St. Martin's Cathedral, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy (c. 2013, public domain).

Labyrinth Carving, St. Martin’s Cathedral, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy (c. 2013, public domain).

For weary wanderers who would rather “walk the circuit” in mind rather than body, views of stone work and stained glass may provide the desired tonic. Focused meditation on artwork such as the 12th century stone carving at St. Martin’s Cathedral in Lucca, Italy has proven to be an effective technique for many, enabling tourists to be contemplative without breaking a sweat under the warmth of Tuscan or other suns.

As always, before you travel to any sacred site, be prepared. Dress appropriately, and be respectful. (Learn and then follow the rules of the site you’ll visiting.)

Contemplative Travel and Meditation Resources

Traveling for business or pleasure? The following resources may be of help to your mindfulness practice while on the go.

 

 

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