Village Church Prayer Labyrinth
In 2017, Village Church established a prayer labyrinth at the Meneilly Center for Mission campus at 9900 Mission Road in Overland Park, Kansas. Situated on the west side of the campus near the Village Church Community Garden, parking is conveniently available close to the labyrinth. More information on the labyrinth and a prayer are in a mailbox at the labyrinth entrance.
What is a Labyrinth?
The labyrinth is not a maze. There are no tricks to it and no dead ends. A maze is a multi-entrance, multi-path puzzle with numerous dead ends meant to confuse and challenge the mind. A labyrinth has a single circuitous path that winds its way into the center, and it is meant to quiet the mind. Since the destination is assured, with no obstacles to overcome, what remains is the deeply meditative and purposeful discipline of setting one foot in front of the other. The person walking it uses the same path to return from the center and the entrance then becomes the exit. The path is in full view, which allows a person to focus internally.
The labyrinth is an ancient pattern found in many cultures around the world. Labyrinth designs were found on pottery, tablets and tiles that date as far back as 5000 years. Many patterns are based on spirals and circles mirrored in nature. In Native American tradition, the labyrinth is identical to the Medicine Wheel and Man in the Maze. The Celts described the labyrinth as the Never-Ending Circle. It is also known as the Kabala in mystical Judaism. Labyrinths have been used for hundreds of years as a substitute for pilgrimages to Jerusalem. All in all, the labyrinth is a spiritual tool to help center and calm oneself.
How to Use the Labyrinth
Generally, there are three stages to the walk: releasing on the way in, receiving in the center and returning when you follow the return path back out of the labyrinth. Symbolically, and sometimes actually, you are taking back out into the world that which you have received. There is no right way or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. Use the labyrinth in any way that meets what you need while being respectful of others walking. You may go directly to the center to sit quietly--whatever meets your needs.
Studies have found that like sitting meditation, focused walking is highly efficient at reducing anxiety and triggering a "relaxation response." This effect has significant long-term health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, slowing breathing rates, reducing incidents of chronic pain, and reducing insomnia. Exposure to green space reduces stress and increases a sense of wellness and belonging. Walking a labyrinth for 20 minutes outside has resulted in a positive affect on vital signs and has modestly decreased the respiratory rate.