Maze walks have been used around the world for more than 4,000 years to refocus, meditate, and heal. Indiana has dozens of them, plus one expert: John Ridder, an Indianapolis resident, founding member of the Labyrinth Society, and creator of these serpentine trails. In contrast to a labyrinth, there are no wrong turns or gimmicks in a labyrinth, just a single way in and out. “The nice thing about the labyrinth is that you do it your way,” says Ridder. “You just stand at the entrance and follow the path at your own pace.” The repetitive structure can calm the mind, ease breathing, and relieve anxiety. Consider these four spiritual goals this summer.
The man in the labyrinth of the labyrinth – Wabash
Open every day from morning to evening, charleycreekgardens.com
In the small private park at Charley Creek Gardens, just past the waterfall and hedge maze, you can enter the center of The Man in the Maze, which is not a maze at all, but a Native American style maze. “The design ties in with the Native American heritage in the area,” says director Kelly Smith, noting that the limestone crane medallion in the center is a nod to the past Miami tribe. “The goal is to provide a feeling of peace, tranquility, and refuge.”
John T. Myers Footbridge Maze – Lafayette
Open 24/7, homeofpurdue.com
Let yourself be lost in your thoughts on this path at Riehle Plaza – note the gap between West Lafayette and Lafayette. A water feature near a contemplative stroll is always nice, and here the Wabash River provides an abundant spring that flows under the medieval-style maze built by Ridder’s Paxworks company. This is a replica of the best walk-in maze in the world: the one in Chartres Cathedral near Paris, a classic 11-circle style with a six-point rose window in the middle.
Harmonious labyrinth – new harmony
Open every day from morning to evening, visitnewharmony.com
Not to be confused with the cathedral maze in downtown New Harmony (the tiny town actually has two). The Harmonist is located further south on Main Street at the Labyrinth State Memorial. This quaint privet hedge-style labyrinth was originally planted by the Harmony Society in 1815 as a path to enlightenment. After the Harmonist Labyrinth was recreated as a labyrinth in 1939, it was restored to its original unicircular path with the grotto in the middle in 2008.
Smale Riverfront Park Labyrinth – Cincinnati
Open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., cincinnatiparks.com
This large-scale, Chartres-influenced design features a steady hiking trail along the Ohio River, buffered by wispy grass and muscular vistas of the Roebling Suspension Bridge and downtown Cincinnati. Clarify as you twist to the center and back again. Then explore the rest of the park. Located between the Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium, this 45-acre play area features a hand-carved carousel, interactive fountains, adult-sized slides and the world’s largest carillon.