Community Papers

Walking the path to peace at Fleetwood Park’s outdoor labyrinth

The labyrinth at Fleetwood Park in Surrey is a “path for mindfulness and walking meditation,” according to Diana Ng. - Sam Anderson
The labyrinth at Fleetwood Park in Surrey is a “path for mindfulness and walking meditation,” according to Diana Ng.
— image credit: Sam Anderson

Labyrinths have fascinated people for thousands of years.

Although the labyrinth at Fleetwood Park in Surrey has existed for less than a decade, its design is one some estimate to be nearly 4,000 years old.

The simple gravel path, winding into a single central point, is known as a classical seven-circuit labyrinth.

The installation could be mistaken as a work of public art, and although, in a way, it is one, its purpose goes far deeper than that.

“It is a path for mindfulness and walking meditation,” explained Diana Ng, the woman who championed the project.

When The Reporter visited Ng at the labyrinth, it was an early spring day. The flowers were beginning to bloom, the sun was shining and the park was full of life — parents pushed strollers, a class of students walked past the park and a park caretaker tended to the trees.

In the centre of the scene was an unassuming spiral of gravel and stone, but, as Ng explained, it allows one to enter an inner world.

“It’s simple to do,” she said. “You just walk.”

Ng first walked a labyrinth when she was a graduate student. She didn’t know what it was or what it would do for her. She was studying in her dorm one night, “sick and tired of reading and writing,” when she received an email invitation to spend an evening walking a labyrinth on campus.

“I didn’t know what it was,” said Ng. “But because it was outside, I went.”

A woman took chalk and drew a pattern on the ground of an empty parking lot. She didn’t say very much about it, or its purpose. “There was about 60 of us,” said Ng. “We just one after the other walked in.”

“As I’m walking, I could feel my head start coming back into my chest. I was doing so much thinking that I could have disengaged my head from my neck. My head was so full, I could have unscrewed it, put it on the table and not missed it.”

“I could feel myself breathing,” she said. “I could feel sensation in my arms and my legs. I could feel the breeze, like right now, on my face, and I could see the colour of the horizon changing form a blue to a pink, the sun was setting.”

“I was just so relaxed and feeling good, and I thought, ‘This is a good thing.’”

When she returned from her studies, she knew she wanted to bring that sense of peace to her community in Fleetwood. And so she began a two-year process to get a labyrinth built in Fleetwood Park.

The $30,000 project was completed in August, 2008.

Although some labyrinths are directly associated with a form of faith, the labyrinth in Fleetwood Park is open to people from all walks of life.

“People walk labyrinths for all kinds of reasons and people bring with them all kinds of faiths and traditions,” said Ng.

It’s simple to make use of the labyrinth, as Ng explained it. One simply needs to approach the entrance – or mouth, as it is sometimes called – take a few deep breaths to set an intention, and begin to walk.

“You just walk at your own pace, putting one foot in front of the other,” said Ng.

The centre of the labyrinth is a metaphor for centre of self, and who you are. “You can stay there for as long as you want,” said Ng. “And when you’re ready, you just follow the same path and it takes you to the exterior world.”

Diana Ng is inviting the community to attend Surrey’s sixth annual Peace Walk on May 6. Sam Anderson

Ng, and the rest of Surrey, doesn’t just use the labyrinth to bring inner peace. On Saturday, May 6, from 1 to 2 p.m., Ng will host Surrey’s sixth-annual Peace Walk, an event that connects the local community with people all over the world walking labyrinths on World Labyrinth Day, in an effort to bring about world peace, too.

“[The event] is open to the community, it doesn’t matter who you are,” said Ng.

“The idea is to send a positive wave of energy over the world,” said Ng. “That’s the intention. Last year they had over 200 events in over 24 countries.”

“If everybody can believe in peace for one hour, we must do something. Something must happen,” she said.

If you’d like to join, you are welcome to participate in Surrey’s annual Peace Walk. You can find the labyrinth on the northeast side of Fleetwood Park, 15802 80 Ave.

For more information on the event, labyrinths or Diana Ng’s work, visit Ng at labyrinthlady.ca.

 

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