The Labyrinth

A meditative walk at Joshua Creek Heritage Art Centre

By Stephanie Hounsell  | Photo by Nikki Wesley

With its twisty-turny path, shoulder-high wildflowers and nothing but the sounds of nature to accompany me, walking the labyrinth at the Joshua Creek Heritage Art Centre in Oakville was an exercise in tranquility.

I wasn’t sure what to expect as I turned into the parking lot, but when I saw the expanse of rolling hills and the quaint studio that houses an art gallery, I was ready to find out. I made the short jaunt toward the labyrinth and felt a million miles away from the busyness that resides just beyond its borders.

The labyrinth — which is not a maze, but a single path on mowed grass — is a 1.4 km walk in and the same distance out. The 11-circuit labyrinth is based on the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth in France, and takes between 45 and 60 minutes to walk. (If you’re tired or run out of time, it’s perfectly acceptable to step over the grassy “walls” for a quick exit.)

A sign at the start explains that labyrinths are designed for meditative walking and promote a sense of peace and mental wellbeing. As I started along the narrow pathway, my first thought was, “I should have worn pants, not shorts.” Nature can be scratchy. But I quickly found myself relaxing. There were little purple flowers, big white lacy blooms and small yellow-petaled beauties (a botanist I am not). And since when was nature so delightfully noisy? Birds chirped, a frog croaked, and the breezed whooshed, all above the faint din of traffic, reminding me that this truly is an urban oasis.

With all of its turns, I couldn’t see in advance where the path was leading me. I didn’t have a clue how close I was to the centre. Just one step at a time. Being in the moment. And then there I was, in the circular middle, marked with a large quartz crystal. I sat on the bench, enjoying my small accomplishment. Then I followed that same path out, faster this time. I emerged refreshed and glad I’d taken this time for myself.