As we head into 2022 many of us are looking at ways to start the new year off on a new slate. It’s human nature – the desire to exercise more, stress less, be more present and learn to say no. Sometimes however, we lose our way and revert to the old habits, landing up feeling frazzled too soon.
, the free gardening app that connects green lovers across South Africa, we believe in the power of nature and are always looking at ways to harness our green spaces for healthy living. Recently we were reminded of the calming influences that can be found in labyrinths – the one place you really can’t lose your way!
It’s believed that labyrinths date back to the Neolithic Age. The word is derived from the Greek labyrinthos, which describes any maze-like structure with a single path through it. However, it is not the same as a maze. Ever wondered what the difference is between a maze and a labyrinth?
A maze can have many paths, while a labyrinth is a single route to the centre, with one entrance which is also the exit. There is no right way to walk the path and there are no decisions to be made as to which way to turn. With no pressure of ‘finding your way’ or getting lost in a maze… no wonder people find it calming!
This ‘repetition’ of the route is perhaps also why so many people find walking labyrinths meditative. Slow, intentional walking on a set path in a quiet, safe place allows for focus and tends to relax the body, while concentrating on one’s steps is a way to get centered and be present.
Lorelei King, former director of surgery at Michigan’s Mercy Hospital, who noted how her patients were visibly relaxed after walking the hospital’s labyrinth gives tips on how to use the path to reap the benefits:
- Before entering, consider a contemplative question, phrase, prayer or image to hold in your mind.
- While walking, just follow the path and concentrate on your steps.
- Upon reaching the centre: Sit or stand with your eyes closed or looking downward. Take three deep breaths and ask yourself: What am I feeling right now?
- When walking back, repeat the contemplation you began with.
- After walking, reflect on your time in the labyrinth.
To help kickstart your journey of discovery, Candide
has put together a list of some cool and calm labyrinths in South Africa. Grab your water, follow your path and clear your mind.
The 11-circuit design of the ‘Labyrinth at The Edge’ is very similar to a labyrinth found in the Chartres Cathedral in France. The length of the pathway is 700 metres so a complete walk in and out is around 1.4 kilometres. Afterwards take a moment to enjoy the beautiful mountain views and fresh air.
The 7-circuit classical labyrinth is at the bottom of the forest and offers an incredibly serene green space. The path is lined with indigenous plants while a gurgling stream flows through it.
Located at the Third Rock Guesthouse, which dates back to the Anglo-Boer war, the conventional labyrinth is surrounded by desert rose succulents and an indigenous garden.
Sequoia comprises six hectares of wild and formal gardens, including cherry blossoms, azaleas and loads of specialist blooms. Magoebaskloof, with its mountains, lush forests, waterfalls and streams, is already the perfect area for meditation.The labyrinth was created around an old beech tree and visitors are encouraged to “walk in peace” in remembrance of people loved and lost.
The Cabernet Sauvignon Labyrinth is the world’s first labyrinth vineyard. You know what you can enjoy after your walk!
This Chartres-style labyrinth in Gauteng is a major attraction for R’new guests. A highlight is the fragrant rows of thyme, oregano, catmint, lavender, rosemary, echinacea, fennel and other herbs, as well as rose bushes, grape vines and fruit trees.
Located in the Cathedral’s courtyard, Siyahamba is a paved, medi-Chartres replica, open to all, no matter what your spiritual inclination.
What do you do with an old, disused reservoir? Convert it into a labyrinth, of course! This gem boasts incredible views from Stellenbosch to Table Mountain.
Philadelphia Labyrinth, Western Cape - https://www.colourdots.co.za/listings/corner-of-meul-and-main-road-philadelphia-labyrinth/
One of the largest labyrinths in South Africa, the 11-circuit Philadelphia Labyrinth is located at the De Malle Meul Restaurant, about 26km outside Durbanville. The property is also a great space for kids to play – but they are not encouraged to enter the labyrinth so that other guests can enjoy the peace and quiet.
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