One time honored form of meditation is walking a labyrinth. Labyrinths are frequently referred to as mazes, but that is not quite correct. A maze generally has several paths to choose from, but a labyrinth only has one meandering path to the center. Labyrinths have been around for thousands of years. Probably the best-known labyrinth is the legendary one of King Minos, built by Daedalus to hold the Minotaur.
There are several theories about the meaning and purpose of labyrinths. Daedalus’ labyrinth was designed to hold a monster, but other labyrinths have been designed to lead to the divine. Perhaps the common theme is the journey inward to face what you must, so that you can come back out again. After all, reaching the center is only half the battle.
Depending on the pattern of the labyrinth, you always go to the right or always go to the left. This requires you to pay attention and focus on what you’re doing which is why the labyrinth is such a good meditation tool. Medieval Christians began using labyrinths in this way over a thousand years ago. The most famous medieval labyrinth is in Chartres Cathedral.
While labyrinths with tall hedge walls figure in mystery novels and films, that sort of thing is not necessary in a modern garden. The Chartres Cathedral labyrinth is built into the floor, so there’s no reason why a garden labyrinth can’t be put right into the ground. There are many kinds of labyrinth designs from which to choose. They can be round, square, rectangular, or even triskel shaped. The Labyrinth Society has a section of their website devoted to teaching visitors how to make their own labyrinths.
For a meditation garden, the center of the labyrinth should be a place of tranquility. A tree that is already in the space with could be the center, with the “wall” parts of the labyrinth planted with soothing, fragrant plants. A lavender specimen garden could be the center of a simple spiral created with stones. The important thing with any garden of this kind is to figure out what relaxes you, and puts you in the right frame of mind. It might be that there are no plants whatsoever in the center of your labyrinth, because you’ll be too tempted to prune, deadhead, and fiddle. In that case, maybe some crystals, or one of those Victorian gazing balls will be just the thing. Only you will know.