Medieval Meditation

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As someone who loves the idea of yoga but hates the practice, I’m always searching for a shortcut to inner peace. Labyrinths have been touted as “walking meditation” so I decided to give them a try. The way I understand it, you ask yourself a big question—say, “What’s the meaning of life?”—then follow the path to the center where wisdom and David Bowie await. (Part of that statement is not true.)

According to Gloria Carpeneto, executive director of the Friends of the Northeast Interfaith Peace Garden, labyrinths reflect real life with “peaceful stretches followed by twists and turns.” Unlike mazes, with problem-solving that appeals to the left side of the brain, labyrinths have just one way in and one way out. You can’t make a wrong turn. Carpeneto brought the labyrinth to St. Anthony of Padua Parish on Frankford Avenue with support from the TKF Foundation (naturesacred.org), an Annapolis-based nonprofit dedicated to healing through public green spaces.

How it Works: As I prepare to walk the 47-foot brick-and-stone beauty, I’m mindful of Carpeneto’s tips. I center myself with a long, deep breath then take measured steps to the labyrinth’s center, pause and
reflect, then make my way out. Rather than obsessing over a single question, I accept inspiration from wherever it comes—a centipede crossing my path; catching a snippet of a Bruno Mars song from an idling car. The whole thing takes 15 minutes.

What I Love: Each time I try a new labyrinth, I feel a little more relaxed—noticing beautiful details in the moment. Make-a-wish dandelions poke up like silent choruses at the Ellen Morriss Memorial Santa Rosa Labyrinth on York Road. At the Thanksgiving Place Labyrinth at Stadium Place, I read through the entries left in the waterproof journal stored under the bench. The children’s drawings, posts about Baltimore’s unrest and wishes for a better future will stay with me.

What I Don’t: I still haven’t figured out the meaning of life. Have you? Locate dozens of labyrinths in Maryland at labyrinthlocator.com

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