With the goal of providing an area of solitude, beauty and mindfulness, the labyrinth and surrounding environment were designed by landscape architect James Urban (FASLA). Constructed in 2002, Maryland Hall’s labyrinth is a replica of one of the most famous in the world -- the one inlaid in the nave floor of the Notre Dame de Chartres Cathedral outside of Paris, completed circa 1220 A.D. Centuries ago stone masons labored to inlay a special geometric design of concentric circles and curves in the nave floor of the Notre Dame de Chartres Cathedral. They were creating a labyrinth, using as their pattern one found on coins dating back to Hellenistic Greece.
Maryland Hall’s labyrinth is just over 42 feet in diameter and has eleven circuits to its single pathway for a walk of approximately one-half mile in length. The labyrinth and surrounding gardens provide opportunities for reflection, rejuvenation and artistic expression. With daily stress and pressures and the bombardment of technology, the labyrinth and its surroundings provide a respite from hurried lives. This goal complements Maryland Hall’s mission to provide “art for all” with myriad opportunities for cultivating artistic expression and nurturing creative experiences.
Nature Sacred also funded an iconic bench that accompanies the labyrinth. In partnership with the Maryland Correctional Enterprises, Nature Sacred benches are built by inmates learning carpentry skills to help them secure employment upon release from the Western Correctional Institution in Lavale, MD. The benches are made from reclaimed pickle barrel wood that is more than 100 years old. Waterproof journals and pens are placed in a small opening underneath the bench so visitors can write a diary entry, daily log, motivational quote, or even converse with someone else who has written in it. The bench and journal are an integral part of each sacred space supported by Nature Sacred. The quotes below represent just a few of the hundreds of quotes visitors have shared in our journals over the years.
Tom Stoner, co-founder of the Nature Sacred with his wife Kitty, says of the Maryland Hall labyrinth: “Art and nature give people a means to transcend daily stress, reframe perspectives and renew spirits. We are so pleased to be a part of the creation of the Maryland Hall Labyrinth and Artists Circle, which fuses both in a uniquely potent way—providing our community an accessible, open space tailored to encourage moments of introspection and a sense of harmony.”
Since its creation in 2002, the labyrinth has served not only as a place for meditation and thought, but for creative events and activities as well. Activities have ranged from outdoor concerts and yoga classes to canned goods drives and plein air painting classes.
Maryland Hall’s labyrinth is always open; visitors are welcome any time of day (or night) to walk the circuit, meditate, and share their thoughts in our journal. Look for new programs incorporating the labyrinth and outdoor spaces in the year ahead and continued improvements to our gardens and grounds as part of the ongoing restoration and modernization of Maryland Hall.
How to Walk the Labyrinth at Maryland Hall…
There is no right or wrong way to walk the labyrinth. However, some of the following tips will help visitors get the most out of a labyrinth walk.
- Begin your walk at the entrance (outside rim) and if you encounter other people pass them or let them pass you.
- Clear your mind and become aware of your breathing.
- Maintain silence throughout your walk and when others are walking.
- Walk at your own pace. Pause for rest and reflection.
- Practice mindful walking by becoming aware of sights, smells, sounds and sensations.
- Find a private space to reflect through meditation, writing or drawing when you have completed your walk.
Remember that each labyrinth walk is unique — different for each person and different from the time before.
Quotes from visitors to the labyrinth:
April 28, 2017: Enjoying the sun and the breeze and the beautiful spring scent as I contemplate my performance tomorrow evening…definitely gonna share this bliss!
No date: I sit here and stare at an open world full of adventure and peace. All we need to be happy.
August 2017: A pleasure just to sit and enjoy this bench in the bright sun, shade and breeze.
A quietness only partially interrupted by the occasional passing car with clouds wafting lightly over the building’s roof. Pleasant.
June 14, 2017: Spending a few minutes before a concert enjoying this beautiful spot in your lovely city as a welcome break from the busy-ness of DC. Thank you for your hospitality Annapolis!
October 10, 2017: Walking the beautiful labyrinth. We love it!
No date: The labyrinth walk gave me the structure I need to be creative!