One of the best things about my retreat experience was that I got an introduction to different types of prayer and meditation. Of all those I tried over the weekend, the one I most enjoyed was walking the labyrinth.
A labyrinth isn't a maze--there's just one path that leads to and from the center. To start, you cross the threshold. Then you follow the path in to the center, enjoy your experience in the center, then take the same path back out across the threshold. Since you don't have to think about where you're going, it's easy to meditate while you walk. As a matter of fact, the twists and turns can serve as a metaphor for life's journey.
The labyrinth at King's House is made of stones, and is a replica of the one in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Chartres, France. It is on a beautiful part of the grounds, and is ringed with trees, bushes, and flowers. The center of the labyrinth has benches so you can sit and meditate. Its path is covered with wood chips, which were very soft to walk on.
I had about an hour to complete the meditation; coincidently (without looking at any kind of timepiece) that's about how long it took. The hardest part of the exercise for me was emptying my mind. It helped to practice awareness of all the things I passed as I walked--there was a wildflower growing at the side of the path, and smaller weedy plants growing right in the middle of the path. A couple of acorns were half-buried in the bark, and some of the bushes were growing close to the path. Half of the labyrinth was in the sun, so it was warm; the half in the shade was a little chilly.
When I got to the middle, I was really surprised. The labyrinth didn't follow a logical path, and so I didn't know I was getting close to the center. I chose a seat in the sun, sat down and closed my eyes. I don't know how long I sat there, but when it felt right I got up and started to retrace my path. I again noticed all the plants I'd passed by the first time. In my head, I was singing a meditation I'd learned earlier in the day. My steps matched the beat of the singing. I got finished right on time, and felt relaxed and rested.