Introduction: A Simple Meditation Labyrinth

I have started practicing "walking meditation". This is where deliberate focused movement, contrasted with still sitting, fosters mindful awareness. (I'm pretty much a newbie at this, so others can comment on it as they find necessary.) There are many great general references on labyrinths on the web and in books.

It's a bit of a drive to a local full Chartes-style labyrinth, so I created a small 3-circuit "Classic" style in my driveway with chalk and a yardstick. Since chalk is by nature very temporary, the next iteration will be larger, and perhaps someday more permanent.

Just to be clear, a labyrinth is not a maze; there is generally only one path to the center and back out (though some modern designs blur this distinction).

Step 1: Tools and Supplies

  • Sidewalk chalk (some kind of marking spray chalk might work as well) -- the original outline used about 1/2 of a large stick, but I used 3 sticks total including deepening the line with wet chalk
  • A large flat surface (7'x7' minimum)

  • A measuring device / straightedge / right-angle reference such as a yardstick and/or a carpenter's square (strongly recommended, but freehand will work if you're careful)
  • A long dowel so you can stand while drawing, and duct tape to secure the chalk to the dowel
  • Kneepads and gloves for "groundwork"
  • A bowl or bucket of water for "wet" drawing

I originally duct-taped my chalk to the dowel as seen here, but in the end I just got down on hands-and-knees. The project took me (an overweight old guy) about 20 minutes for the original path, and another 15 minutes to deepen the lines.

Step 2: The "Seed Pattern"

Drawing a "classical" labyrinth consists of drawing a "seed" to lay out the basic direction and dimensions, then drawing the "path walls" around that seed in a regular pattern.

The seed for a 3-circuit classical labyrinth is a cross with dots at the four corners of an imaginary box around the cross (see photo). The width of the walking path is determined by the length of one arm of the cross. The labyrinth pictured here has a path one foot wide, so the whole cross is 2 feet by 2 feet. While it is walkable, in future constructions I would probably make it at least 1.5 feet wide.

Step 3: The Center (the First Wall)

The first "wall" from the seed creates the actual center point of the labyrinth. Starting from the top of the cross, draw a line 1' up, 1' right, and 1' down (3 sides of a 1' x 1' box)  ending at the upper right dot.

Each "wall" line we add from here will start at the next counterclockwise* unconnected seed point (either a dot or the end of a cross arm) and follow outside around the existing walls to the next clockwise unconnected seed point. (If this doesn't make sense, just keep going -- it's easier to see than to describe).

* anticlockwise to some :-)

Step 4: The Second Wall

Now, starting at the upper left dot, draw a line 2' up, then 3' right, then 3' down, then 1' left, ending at the end of the right arm of the cross.

Step 5: The Third Wall

Starting at the end of the left arm of the cross, draw a line 1' left, then 4' up, then 5' right, then 5' down, then 2' left, ending at the lower right dot. (Follow the red line in the photo.)

Step 6: The Fourth (and Final) Wall

Finally, start at the lower left dot and draw a line 2' left, then 6' up, then 7' right, then 7' down, then 4' left, then 1' up, ending at the bottom arm of the cross.

This completes your labyrinth!

OPTIONAL: At this point I took a small bucket of water and went over each line after dipping the chalk in water for just a few seconds. This will create a deeper, more solid line -- but it will use up the chalk a lot faster and can be kind of messy!

This simple pattern could also be constructed in a field with stones or sticks or "field marking paint" (or whatever), or in the sand on a beach, or ...

Step 7: Walking Your Labyrinth

Walking the path starts at the opening at the bottom left, and continues back and forth until the center is reached; then turn around and follow the path back to the beginning. Many people start the path with some thought, question, or intention in mind at the beginning; others (like me) prefer simply to be "mindful", focusing and re-focusing the attention on the present, the senses, the here-and-now. There are many sources of information about the practice more qualified than myself out in the world.

Instead of using straight lines as I show here, a more traditional approach is to connect the "seed points" in the same order but use a single curved line. There are also different seed patterns that yield larger and more complex labyrinths. Searching on "labyrinth seed pattern" is a good start.