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Home  /  Integrative Cancer Care  /  Spirit  /  Labyrinth and Cancer

Labyrinth and Cancer

By Jeannine Walston


“Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.
Don’t try to see through the distances.

That’s not for human beings. Move within,
but don’t move the way fear makes you move.

Walk to the well.
Turn as the earth and the moon turn,
circling what they love.

Whatever circles comes from the center.”
-Rumi

What is a labyrinth?

A labyrinth combines the imagery of the circle and spiral into a single, meandering and purposeful path with movement toward the center. Traveled inward and outward with continually changing direction, the beginning is also the end. The pattern of the labyrinth is a symbol that creates a sacred space and experience.

What is the experience of a labyrinth?

Walking the path of a labyrinth is a metaphor for the soul’s journey of life, death, and rebirth. The labyrinth’s path is to the center of each person’s deepest self.

The journey in the labyrinth invites more profound understanding of self and life. Twists and turns of the labyrinth can serve as reminders of times when goals appear elusive. The labyrinth simultaneously symbolizes that the center is never far away. Despite any perceived loss of orientation and hope, navigating the path invites transformation and faith. The design of the labyrinth encourages that we are always exactly where we are meant to be. This ancient symbol represents and encourages wholeness.

The choice to enter a labyrinth affirms traveling a spiritual path. The practice of walking a labyrinth has been used as a tool for prayer, ritual, and initiation. Some people identify intentions before entering the labyrinth towards insights and answers. The experience supports a peaceful, meditative essence.

What are the potential health benefits of a labyrinth?

Moving through a labyrinth may lower blood pressure, relieve stress, improve breathing, bring new awareness, shift perception, deepen spirituality, access intuition and creativity, and integrate the body and spirit, among others.

Cancer patients and cancer caregivers can walk a labyrinth for serene, spiritual support.

What is the history of the labyrinth?

The oldest labyrinth was found on a clay tablet from 1400 BC Greece. During the Crusades, European pilgrims who could not travel to the Holy Land often made their journey to a labyrinth. The labyrinth laid in stone in the floor of Chartes Cathedral in France was a popular destination. Labyrinths still exist that were constructed centuries ago in many diverse locations such as Arizona, Peru, Iceland, Egypt, Crete, India, and throughout Europe.

Locating and Creating Labyrinths