Yearly Archives: 2014

Some Listening Guidelines

Martin Buber, a twentieth-century existential philosopher and theologian said that” he could never hold a significant conversation with another person until he had heard the other person’s life story.” The reason behind his statement is that trust and understanding of others requires listening as a way to make meaningful connections. Listening needs to come first and immediately among people who are interacting. We need the experience of listening to know that we are not alone in the world. Listening allows us to form relationships and communities that challenge and support us as individuals.

Think about the radical nature of this view of the importance of listening! It changes much of the behavior we bring to situations we encounter in our lives. What happens when we meet others and we set ourselves the task of listening before we start to talk? After introductions and pleasantries what occurs if we ask a question of welcome and forego a statement about ourselves. Likely our interactions take on a different character that structures the time together around sharing.

It may seem a bit daunting at first. It’s not, however, a way of “psychologizing” interactions and relationships. It is a way of finding your freedom to “be yourself” by encouraging another to talk while you listen with attention, respect and lively curiosity.

Approaching interactions as a mutual invitation to experience the opportunity to listen and to speak clears the way for each person to respond and to ask clarifying questions. Time for conversation whether long or short happens naturally and easily, but, it starts with listening.

The Importance of Listening for Love, Limits, and Learning

Listening is one of the greatest gifts we give to ourselves and to each other. Skillful listening involves attention, gestures and a willingness to engage and focus. All of the questionnaires and “tests” I’ve shared in this blog require listening for understanding and sharing. Listening is the basis for love; listening is the way we experience boundaries or limits; listening is how we learn about others and how we grow ourselves.

There is a distinction between “hearing” and “listening” that is deeply embedded in our English language. “Listen” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word “hlystan” which means “hearing” and the word “hlosnian” which means to “wait in suspense”. When we listen, hearing what is said is combined with an intense psychological involvement between us and others.

Listening involves hearing several things in any interaction:

  • What is described? (Facts, events, situations, information conveyed)
  • How does another person feel? How do you feel?
  • Where is the energy? Where is the emphasis?
  • What are the bodies saying? Both the speaker’s body and the hearer’s body have actions and reactions that are important for listening.

Effective listening develops from a desire to acquire a skill that brings out the best in yourself and at the same time respects the dignity of other people. Common sense tells us that listening well improves our relationships. Steady practice in listening better is a habit that enhances meaningfulness among us. Listening leads to happiness.

Dr. Margaret Rappaport

The Q-sort as a measure of self-concept

The following example developed by Dymond has sixty-six items containing positive and negative self statements. Try to determine which are positive and which are negative.

1. I put on a false front 34. I am shy
2. I make strong demands on myself 35. I am no one
3. I often feel humiliated 36. I am impulsive
4. I have a feeling of hopelessness 37. I am a rational person
5. I have a warm emotional relationship 38. I despise myself
6. I have values of my own 39. I am tolerant
7. It is difficult to control aggression 40. I shrink away from difficulty
8. I am responsible for my troubles 41. I have an attractive personality
9. I feel like giving up 42. I just don’t respect myself
10. I am a responsible person 43. I am ambitious
11. I can accept most social values 44. I am afraid of disagreements
12. I am on guard with people 45. I have initiative
13. Self-control is no problem 46. I have a positive attitude
14. I usually like people 47. I can’t make up my mind
15. I often feel driven 48. I am assertive
16. I express my emotions freely 49. I am confused
17. I feel helpless 50. I am satisfied with myself
18. I have a comfortable life 51. I am a failure
19. My decisions are not my own 52. I am likeable
20. I am a hostile person 53. I’m attractive to the opposite sex
21. I battle with myself 54. I fear accomplishment
22. I am disorganized 55. I am relaxed about most things
23. I feel apathetic 56. I am a hard worker
24. I am optimistic 57. I always give in
25. I don’t trust my emotions 58. I feel emotionally mature
26. I’m liked by most people 59. I am intelligent
27. I often kick myself for things 60. I am self-reliant
28. Its pretty tough to be me 61. I have to protect myself with excuses
29. I’m not facing things 62. I am different from others
30. I make up my mind and stick to it 63. I understand myself
31. I don’t think about my problems 64. I am a good mixer
32. I am contented 65. I feel adequate
33. I am reliable 66. I am poised


An important part of people’s interactions is the way they communicate with others. The impact individuals have on one another depends upon what they are willing to share about themselves and their impression management in a variety of social situations. Often, however, are unaware of their disclosing style and, therefore, are either surprised or disconcerted at the reactions of others to them. The Self-Disclosure Questionnaire by Sidney Jouard encourages people to reveal their feelings about disclosure and assess their interpersonal impact.

Who Knows You?


People differ in the extent to which they let people know them. Naturally, the things that are true about your personality, your feelings, your problems, hopes, and actions will change over your life time. Therefore, the idea that others have about you will be out of date from time to time. What was true about you last week or last year may no longer be true. When you see people after a lapse of time, and you want them to know you as you are now, you tell them about yourself so that they have a more up to date picture of you. If you don’t want them to know, you don’t tell them, even if they ask you personal questions.

Some of the things about yourself you will regard as more personal and private than others; people differ widely in what they consider appropriate to let others know, and what they consider is nobody’s business but their own.


Below there is a list of topics that pertain to you. You have a reasonably good idea of how much about yourself you have let the people in your life know about you. Choose one as a reference and follow the directions for answering the questionnaire. This will yield an accurate picture of you as you are now.

Use the scale to indicate your answers:
0: The other person doesn’t know me in this respect because I haven’t disclosed this.
1: The other person has a general idea of me but I haven’t updated or completed it
2: The other person fully knows me because we have talked about it recently.
X: This is something I wouldn’t confide even if asked.

1. What you dislike about your overall appearance.
2. The things about your appearance that you like most, or are proudest of.
3. Your chief health concern, worry, or problem at the present time.
4. Your favorite spare time hobbies or interests.
5. Your food dislikes at present.
6. Your religious activity at present.
7. Your personal religious views.
8. What do you like to read?
9. What annoys you about your closest friend?
10. If any, what problems do you have with sex?
11. Your perspective on your love life.
12. Things about your own personality that worry or annoy you.
13. The chief pressures and strains in your daily work.
14. Things about the future that worry you.
15. What are you most sensitive about?
16. What you feel guilty about or ashamed of in the present.
17. Your views about what is morally acceptable.
18. The kinds of music you enjoy listening to the most.
19. The subjects you didn’t like in school.
20. The things you do to maintain or improve your appearance.
21. The kind of behaviors in others that make you furious.
22. The characteristics of your father that are/were unlikeable.
23. The unattractive characteristics of your mother.
24. Your most frequent daydream.
25. The feelings you have the most trouble controlling.
26. The biggest disappointment you have had in your life.
27. How you feel about your choice of life work.
28. What you regard as your handicaps in doing good work.
29. Your views on race in America.
30. Your views on race in America.
31. Your thoughts and feelings about religious groups not your own.
32. Whether or not you have planned some major decision soon.
33. The kind of jokes you like to hear.
34. Your savings amount or that you have none.
35. The possessions you are most proud of and take care with most often.
36. How you usually sleep.
37. Your favorite TV programs.
38. Your favorite comics.
39. The groups or clubs or organizations you belong to.
40. The beverages you don’t like to drink and your preferred beverages.

Internal Control – External Control: A Sampler

Julian B. Rotter is the developer of a forced-choice 20 item scale for measuring an individual’s degree if internal control and external control. This I – E test is widely used. The following are sample items taken from an earlier version of the test, but not, of course, in use in the final version. The reader can readily find for himself/herself whether he/she is inclined toward internal control or toward external control, simply by adding up the choices he makes on each side.


I more strongly believe that: OR
1a) Promotions are earned through hard work and persistence b) Making a lot of money is largely a matter of getting the right breaks
2a) In my experience I have noticed that there is usually a direct connection between how hard I work and the results I get b) Many times the reactions of others seem haphazard to me
3a) The number of divorces indicates that more and more people are not trying to make their marriages work b) Marriage is largely a gamble
4a) When I am right I can convince others b) It is silly to think that one can change another person’s basic attitudes
5a) In our society a person’s future earning power is dependent upon ability b) Getting promoted is really a matter of being a little luckier than the next guy
6a) If one knows how to deal with people, they are easily led b) I have little influence over the way other people behave
7a) In my case the rewards I get are the results of my efforts b) Sometimes I feel my efforts don’t matter
8a) People like me can change the course of events if we speak out b) Wishful thinking makes people think they can influence society
9a) I am the master of my fate b) What happens to me is a matter of chance
10a) Getting along with people has to be practiced b) It is almost impossible to figure out how to please some people
11a) Getting involved in political and social movements is good b) Ordinary people are powerless to make their convictions felt
12a) Through determination and will power, people can change b) Early experiences determine us and attempts to change will fail
13a) Most auto accidents are the result of careless driving b) Weather conditions and poorly made vehicles causes most accidents
14a) People who commit crimes are usually the products of poverty and emotional deprivation b) People become criminals because they would rather profit at the expense of others rather than work
15a) Friendships are founded on “chemistry”, if it is wrong you  can’t make it right b) When I behave in a friendly and   interested way, people will probably like me
16a) Most people would like to support themselves but are unable to do so sometimes b) Dependent people are often sick or lazy and cannot or won’t  work
17a) I believe that I can achieve my goals if I clearly define them and direct my energy toward achieving them  b) It is best to resign yourself to the fact that the future is largely determined by the circumstances into which you were born
18a) Passing from childhood to old age is like travelling in a canoe without a paddle; one can only hold tightly to the sides and hope not to be dashed against rocks   b) I feel that my life is like a sailing vessel, and I am its Captain firmly in command at the helm
19a) Inequality has existed for all of history so we must accept it as inevitable and part of the human condition b) Inequality can be overcome through the concerted efforts of political groups and governments
20a) Certain people are “meant” for each other, if they are lucky enough to encounter one another b) An enduring relationship between two individuals is largely the result of empathy, consideration, commitment


Nonverbal Communication of Love, Limits and Learning

Spoken language is not the only way people communicate. Some of the most meaningful acts of communication occur soundlessly. By using facial expressions, gestures, posture, and movement, we make a wide variety of communications. Kisses, a smile, a wave, “say” something in body language.

There are ten different forms of nonverbal communication using body language:

Body contact. Some forms of body contact are aggressive, some are not. Aggressive behaviors include hitting, shoving, and pushing. People differ greatly in what is acceptable as nonaggressive body contact but it is most often experienced in greetings and farewells. Getting along with other people requires an understanding and appreciation of body contact behaviors.

Proximity. How close people stand to one another is easy to spot but not easy to interpret. People tend to stand closer to individuals they like and farther away from those they dislike if only by a few inches. Generally speaking, maladjusted individuals stand farther from others than do well-adjusted people.

Orientation. The angle at which people stand or sit in relation to others is another aspect of nonverbal communication. If people want to engage one another they tend to stand opposite each other. The friendliest and most cooperative encounters tend to occur in side-by-side positions.

Appearance. Clothes, grooming, and other aspects of appearance communicate information about social status, occupation, social group and so forth. Gender and age have extraordinary impact on the power of appearance to communicate.

Posture. The different ways in which people sit, stand, or recline may communicate friendly or hostile, or superior, or inferior messages. People may more easily control their facial expressions but posture can’t be rigidly controlled under ordinary circumstances, at least not for very long.

Head Nods. Head nods serve many functions. By nodding each time another person uses a specific word or gesture it become possible to get the person to increase the frequency of that word or gesture, for example. A head nod during a conversation may indicate when each person can speak. Rapid head nods signals that the “nodder” wants to speak.

Facial Expressions. Human facial expressions are similar across cultures and apparently are not learned. The eyebrow flash, when the eyebrows are raised very rapidly and kept maximally raised for about a sixth of a second, is a sign of greeting, recognition, and welcome. People tend to be able to control their expressions quite well and accompany their spoken words with appropriate expressions. Pupil size in eyes is not under people’s control and often provides clues to the impact of verbal communication.

Gestures. Gestures are very helpful in communicating. Hands, head, feet can be used expressively. Some gestures indicate general emotional arousal, whereas others convey more specific messages. Closely allied with speech, gestures may either emphasize a point or replace speech altogether.

Eye Contact. People look at each other about 25 to 75 percent of the time during conversation. Eye contact, when both people look at each other’s eyes, occurs less often than does looking at the other person’s face without meeting his or her eyes. Looking at another person indicates interest in what is being said, and people end to look at other people they like.

Nonverbal aspects of speech. Inflection and pitch are on the borderline between verbal and nonverbal communication. The way we say something, such as our tone of voice, and how loudly we speak, can alter the meaning of words. For example, take the words, “well done”, and think about what they can mean – spoken sincerely they indicate approval; spoken sarcastically, they indicate quite a different response. How we say something indicates whether we like or dislike the person we are speaking to.

Nonverbal communication may sound very complicated, and to an extent it is. Yet each one of us engages in it rather naturally. Perhaps if we agree to think about it and learn more about ourselves as nonverbal “speakers” we will communicate more accurately with each other.

Dr. Margaret Rappaport


Abundance of Love, Limits, and Learning

There is a game of questions through which you identify yourself to other people, who in turn may or may not identify themselves to you. The game may be played at many levels that are more or less intimate. No matter when it is played, however, the goal is to disclose who you are as a person. It may be played with a perfect stranger, with a close friend or an acquaintance, with a spouse, or any family member. The set of rules by which it is played probably varies with each relationship. Basically it is a game of “invitations” that involves the process of making ourselves known to other people and in turn getting to know who they are.


Both you and another person have a list of 40 questions varying in their degree of personal intimacy. When the game begins, both you and your partner will have selected 5 questions to ask each other from a list. The only firm rule in playing the game is that you may not ask your partner a question which you, yourself, are not willing to answer. Otherwise, you are on your own and may explore the questions at any level of intimacy you choose, until one of the players declines the invitation to answer the question. At this point you should move on to another question.


For each question on the questionnaire, indicate how much information you, yourself, would be willing to tell the other person. Mark each question on your score sheet as follows:

  • Mark a 0 for each question you would be unwilling to talk about with your partner.
  • Mark a 1 if you would be willing to talk about that question in general terms with your partner, but would not be willing to reveal any extremely personal information about yourself.
  • Mark a 2 only on those questions which you would be willing to confide completely and very personally to your partner.

Score Sheet

Name_______________   Partner’s Name______________

My Willingness To Disclose
1_____ 9_____ 17_____ 25_____ 33_____
2_____ 10_____ 18_____ 26_____ 34_____
3_____ 11_____ 19_____ 27_____ 35_____
4_____ 12_____ 20_____ 28_____ 36_____
5_____ 13_____ 21_____ 29_____ 37_____
6_____ 14_____ 22_____ 30_____ 38_____
7_____ 15_____ 23_____ 31_____ 39_____
8_____ 16_____ 24_____ 32_____ 40_____
Questions I Intend To Ask My Invitation Refused
1_____________ ___________
2_____________ ___________
3_____________ ___________
4_____________ ___________
5_____________ ___________

How to accept or decline an “invitation” to answer a question

In playing the game you should try to feel comfortable and unembarrassed. If you do not wish to answer a question your partner may ask, simply say “I decline” and you both move on to another question. Remember there are only five questions to ask the other person and you must also be willing to answer them yourself.


1. If someone sent you a bouquet of flowers what kind would you like?
2. What do you dislike the most about having a complete physical examination?
3. How do you feel about engaging in sexual activities prior to or outside of marriage?
4. With whom have you discussed your dental health?
5. What are your favorite spare-time hobbies or interests?
6. What do feel the guiltiest about, or most ashamed of in your past?
7. How many brothers and sisters do you have?
8. What movies have you seen lately?
9. What were your favorite subjects in school?
10. What questions would you ask a potential date?
11. What are your favorite colors?
12. How many people have you been attracted to in the past year?
13. How can you tell when you are falling in love?
14. How often do you kiss someone?
15. What age do you think a President of the United States should be?
16. What type of foods do you enjoy/
17. What thoughts have you had that repulse you?
18. What techniques do you use to attract people?
19. What do you like to read?
20. What are your feelings about your friends?
21. What foods are best for your health?
22. In what ways do you think various members of your family may be “maladjusted”?
23. Where would you like to go on a trip?
24. What kind of furniture would you like to have?
25. How many colds do you usually have per year?
26. What are your favorite sports?
27. How do you feel about your love life?
28. Would you like to travel to some part of this country?
29. What kind of group activities do you usually enjoy?
30. How tall do you like men to be?
31. What is your favorite look in a woman?
32. What schools have you attended?
33. What are the persons like whom you have loved?
34. How important do you feel education is to a person?
35. What do you think about fitness?
36. How do you feel about people of the opposite sex touching you as they talk?
37. How do you feel about same sex people touching you as they talk?
38. Which celebrities do you like the most?
39. Which of your family members do you resemble?
40. What do you think makes a book a bestseller?

Congratulations All Around

I began this blog over a year ago, wondering what it would be like to be a grandparent, worried that I might not be all I should be, and hoping that I would embrace the role and my grandchild would embrace me. For 51 weeks, Winnie has loved, educated, and embraced me as her grandmother, changing my life as her mother did years ago, and the experience has been . . .magnificent.

Winona has enriched my world by causing me to study it closely as she delves right in, head first, mouth first, fingers first. She is enchanting and delightful and outrageous and loving. She has the curiosity of a scientist, the expressions of a mime, and the bravery of an astronaut. She is precious to me.

A friend of mine is a great-grandmother, and has been for twelve years. She is my “go-to” grandmother, as her kindness, optimism, and patience is legendary and as strong as ever as she reaches her 90th year. I always learn from our conversations and realize why she says that her relationships with her grandchildren are her most precious. According to Ruth, “there is no greater thrill than to be a grandmother for the first time.” A few weeks ago, as she awaited the arrival of her great-grandson from California, she said she was counting the minutes. The thrill of being a great-grandparent is something she can discuss eloquently, but what I most needed to hear was something she told me last week. “It is not easy for me to watch my daughter do so many things at once. First I am a mother.”

This brings my role as mother/grandmother to where my discussion began thirteen moths ago. Ruth said what I have been thinking for all this time. First I am a mother. But what I realize, thanks to Winnie, is that that is exactly what helps me have the relationship I have with both my daughter and granddaughter. The love I need for this is there. I needn’t have worried.

Ruth knows this. “I don’t worry,” she says. “I pray a lot.”

It has been a year of tremendous love and learning. And as Winnie blows out the candles on her first birthday cake, a banana-blueberry sugarless creation with cream cheese frosting, I will learn that cake without sugar is delicious if you are sharing it with a grandchild.

Screens and Fish

My ten-month-old granddaughter has never watched television. I hadn’t either, at her age, and waited four more years until my parents could afford to purchase one. Even then, my father placed his large fishtank on the top of the imposing piece of furniture that pre-dated the flatscreen, and I spent lots of time watching the hundreds of guppies come and go and occasionally jump out, which was, for a time, much more interesting to me than anything on the screen.

Thinking about the absence of television in Winnie’s life, I realize how television became so important in mine. John Gnagy’s soothing, instructional voice drew me to the set on Sunday mornings when he taught viewers to draw an entire picture; I was mesmerized. That same evening the four of us, my whole family, would watch the Ed Sullivan Show and be entertained together.

Daytime television was only viewed if I were home from school and ailing, when the living room couch became my bed and I started the morning with “My Little Margie,” progressed to “The Gale Storm Show,” continued with Arthur Godfrey or “The Real McCoys,” and then “Our Miss Brooks” in the early afternoon. Six o’clock on weeknights I’d watch “The Mickey Mouse Club” and end with “Terrytoon Circus.” Saturday mornings were all consumed by “The Howdy Doody Show,” “Andy’s Gang,” “The Lone Ranger,” and “Sky King.”

The casts of all these shows played with my imagination and stayed with me. And so I can’t help but wonder how Winnie’s inner life will compare. If she continues living the active life she was born into, she’ll be running, swinging, swimming, biking, hiking, and practicing yoga on Saturday mornings. Will weeknights be spent helping to cook the evening meal with her food-enthusiast parents? Perhaps books (on screens?) will be her go-to favorites on a day home from school. Will she begin where I did, watching guppies, but proceed to surf-casting or a day on the water instead of in front of a screen?

As computer, television, and phone screens loom large in the world around her, I am curious to see how our newest family member spends her leisure time. Her grandmother logged many hours watching screens. Will Winnie go to screens to relax? And I wonder how different this grandmother’s life would be had my father put the fishtank on a table and taken us all, with the money not spent on a television, on a fishing trip.

Children = Love Squared

Becoming a grandmother has meant more than falling in love with my granddaughter, which I expected to do and so easily did. It has also made me fall in love all over again with my children.

Not lack of sleep or time alone, nor constant demands to be simultaneously flexible and scheduled have made Winnie’s parents any less loveable. In fact, the depth of my love for them grows when I witness how they care not just for Winnie but for each other. She is the most important person in their lives, but she is not all they discuss. After making her food and nursing and pumping and filling her days with words and music and all kinds of weather, after dealing with the work they do, they remain engaged with the world. They are good company and jovial hosts, and Winnie is reaping the benefits. Their smiles are genuine and grateful, and when a smile is sent in my direction, the effects carry me through my week.

Winnie’s aunt and godmother scoops Winnie up and surrounds her with laughter and smiles and hugs. Winnie is adored and when her future uncle sings to her with his guitar, she clearly adores him back. When I look at my granddaughter with her aunt and uncle, I know she will always be a part of their lives. They choose that. Can I love them more?

Children clearly inspire a love that grows. Who knew? I would have told you, as my daughters were growing up, that I could not love them more. But then they become parents and aunts and the love multiplies and grows even deeper at a time in life when I am happy to share in it, when I need to know it’s there.

Engaging the Practice of Walking the Labyrinth

After much experience facilitating labyrinth walks, I have a mantra that guides my interactions with people: engagement is caught not taught! I can’t teach it, only model it. I can’t motivate it, only encourage it. People come to walk the labyrinth with some inclination or curiosity but the level of engagement in the walk varies greatly.

With a reassuring, warm welcome and equipped with my own eagerness and high level of engagement I offer people the simple opportunity to know the walk. As is true of myself, no one knows everything about the experience. Through practice however, what isn’t known can slowly be understood and result in a deep personal understanding. I urge people to recognize that what you don’t know today, you might feel or know the next time. Engagement is a process. It demands attention, intention and above all practice.

There are at least two aspects of engagement that are part of the labyrinth experience. Firstly, the individual determines his or her level of engagement during the walk and subsequent walks. The context in which engagement happens is a unique combination of interior and external events. Since the ritual is focused on walking, not talking, a person has the freedom to proceed according to what he or she desires. Just as the pace of the walk is personal, the speed and depth of engagement is idiosyncratic.

Secondly, engaging others on a walk may be included or excluded as useful and important parts of people’s experience. Some walks may be more communal while at other times the sense of companionship may be more abstract. Enjoying a variety of different types of walks is probably the best advice I have for individuals and groups. Successful engagement in the practice of walking the labyrinth equals satisfaction either way, anyway.

Margaret Rappaport

When “It” Seems Too Much, Take a Strengthening Walk in the Labyrinth

There are times in life when stale routines, money problems, quarrels and turned backs leave us depleted. We realize energy is low; we find ourselves at a dead end and in darkness. We feel bad; we feel living is asking too much of us. There is no compassion to be found and we have lost our daring and persistence. We are in a sorry state!

Walking into the labyrinth provides some nourishment. Walking into the labyrinth promises some gladness and hope. Walking into the labyrinth offers encouragement to journey from bad to better.

As we release our bruised hearts and our harried minds to the fresh rhythms of the pathway we open to music and laughter and celebration of life. As we reflect in the center of the labyrinth the very air changes as our spirits are uplifted. On the return walk out of the labyrinth we lose our confusion. We find the strength to go back into the strain and stress of living. We are renewed. Something marvelous has happened!

I believe God is present when we seek to pray and meditate by walking the labyrinth. The transformation of our human perspectives occurs because we enter the spiral of faith and retreat from the negative preoccupations of life. Embracing this sacred time and space for communicating with God is life enhancing. We rediscover our strengths and we share with each other the common intention to ask for help. We become different as we recover from our indifference to God’s grace. We have to do this more often!

Be Ready for Surprises as You Walk the Labyrinth

I was facilitating a group walk in an outdoor labyrinth on a pleasant and cold day last week. The people who ventured forth in early spring on Cape Cod to spend thirty-five minutes slowly walking in brisk air surely had only one common intention. They wanted to walk the labyrinth for whatever surprises might be in store. They brought a playful mood to the experience. All of them felt exhilarated in the fresh air. Their eagerness shone from their smiling faces.

We began the walk with a brief focusing exercise. I suggested that “thinking about God’s enduring presence in our lives is always reassuring and often leads to serene feelings during a walk in the labyrinth. Today, however, let’s think about the surprises we might experience as we walk. Let’s notice the random thoughts or feelings that might come up.” I talked about a research survey which found that one in eight people report hearing holy voices or seeing spiritual visions. “Whether entirely explainable or not, let’s be ready for surprises as we walk the labyrinth”, I said.

There was laughter and some joking as we quieted ourselves before stepping into the labyrinth. The sounds of wind and the “early” bird songs replaced our voices as we set out on our journey in search of surprises. Each person appeared to adopt a sincere individual focus as though expecting to find a treasure just ahead.

At the end of the walk, we gathered for sharing. Once again there was hilarity and fun in the words and actions of the group. The group wasn’t any less connected as a result of our personal experiences in the walk. However, the enrichment and inspiration that came from the humor of the “surprises” we shared was uplifting for all of us. God is ready to surprise us; what an idea!

Margaret Rappaport

Healing Meditation in the Labyrinth

Meditation is widely recognized as an adjunct to therapies and other healing strategies in health settings. There are examples of meditation that enhances relaxation in prolonged treatments. Praise abounds for the clarity of mind that meditation induces for understanding and bearing chronic illnesses. Meditative visualization allows healing to proceed more quickly and consistently because it encourages people to imagine a premeditated scenario of health. Meditation connects people to their intuition and mobilizes their spirituality to help meet health challenges.

Illnesses and their treatment often result in people feeling lost. They are cut- off from the spiritual purposes of their lives and the meaningfulness of their life’s journey. Opportunities to connect to God and to spiritual experiences become fewer and farther away from the events brought by illness and treatments. People may recognize the need for changing their mindset and their circumstances but in some ways usual behaviors are no longer useful to accomplish those goals. It takes every bit of energy simply to cope with the problems. Another approach such as walking or using the labyrinth must be introduced.

Walking the labyrinth or using a finger labyrinth for meditation is remarkably effective in promoting healing. It frees people to focus in a unique and different way. It inspires new outlooks. Positive feelings and hopes spring from quiet reflection in the labyrinth. Expressing renewed commitment to personal wants and needs is easier during a contemplative time in the labyrinth. Trusting as a result of being in the labyrinth ignites self-worth and creates an enhanced perception of one’s value in the world. The shortages of energy, money or companionship inherent in dealing with ill health and the healing process suddenly seem less consequential with the help of meditative walks in the labyrinth.

More and more labyrinths are being built on hospital grounds and in mental health facilities. Healing gardens are appearing in communities all over the world. People are bringing life to the labyrinth. The labyrinth is a space that renews life, even rekindles the life of the spirit, with heartfelt use.

Margaret Rappaport

Simple Action Yields a New Attitude in the Labyrinth

The simple act of walking the pathway of the labyrinth has remarkable consequences. When you take the initiative and persist in regularly scheduled follow-up walks, the action results in new momentum for your life. This newly acquired attitude quickly begins to foster perspectives and goals that were not even on the horizon. Outlooks are expanded. Outcomes are facilitated. In other words, you become a new you.

People who say it cannot happen should recognize those who have done it and are doing it!

There was a woman, for example, who long ago gave up on persistent weight gain. As her body mass increased her health deteriorated. Still she wasn’t motivated to get control of the issues that were contributing to her obvious problem. Once she began to acquire the discipline of walking the labyrinth, the issues became more apparent. Then she felt on the brink of addressing some of them. Persevering, she sought both spiritual and practical advice. Finally she made plans for changing her way of living. She kept walking until she succeeded.

There was a man whose self-imposed loneliness caused him to try walking the labyrinth. The first few attempts made him feel uncomfortable but he valiantly kept coming to the labyrinth at his church. Most of his walks were solitary, so he wasn’t walking for company. He developed a habit of talking to God on his walks. Gradually, he was able to examine some of the unexamined feelings he had stored inside and had left un-communicated for years. Finally he joined a men’s coffee club in his town. A few friends and a predictable social calendar raised his confidence but he is still walking the labyrinth. He has acknowledged that he may be a spiritual seeker of sorts.

Well, if any and all of us are sincere seekers, walking the labyrinth is a simple action that provides a gateway to growth and change and vision.

Finding and Giving in the Labyrinth

“The meaning of life is to find your gift; the purpose of life is to give it away,” said Picasso. I often think of his remark when I stand at the edge of the labyrinth before stepping into a walk. The labyrinthine design draws me to recall Picasso’s paintings at certain periods of his work. Looking at these paintings has a similar effect on my thoughts and feelings as walking the labyrinth affords.

Finding our gifts is not easy. We have to reflect on our possibilities and potentials. We have to practice our choices. We have to grow into our excellence. Finding our gifts and their meanings is a task for us as individuals as well as a communal effort. No one finds his or her gift alone. The world in which we live helps to form our self awareness and our self appraisal. We succeed in a context, whether in spite of it or because of it.

Sometimes, as we go about living and working our gifts come naturally to us, or so it seems. Sometimes something stops us in our tracks and we have to take the time we need to consider our gifts. Walking the labyrinth provides an opportunity for discerning and for envisioning our gifts. The experience of walking forward to the center and returning clarifies the direction of our lives, its meaning and purpose when we seek it.

Finding, however, is not keeping. That brings up the matter of giving our gifts away. Walking the pathway of the labyrinth we may dare to consider “if” and “how” we are to share them. Gifts are not important when they are hoarded. Gifts are of no benefit if they are scattered. Our gifts have a purpose to serve when they are given in gratitude to others whether in formal or informal ways. Walking the labyrinth provides encouragement for finding and giving.

Margaret Rappaport
Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator

Recollecting By Walking the Labyrinth

“When the mind, divided and torn, is drawn into so many and such weighty matters, where can it return to itself, so as to recollect itself…?” Pope Gregory the Great was guiding us to prayer in sacred spaces by acknowledging our desperation. He was pointing us to our inner spirit of serenity that comes as a gift from God and is always on offer to us. Only our choice to access it is limited, never the potential to experience it.

Walking the labyrinth encourages us to bravely link our human desperation and our God given sense of serenity. Attaching ourselves to God’s presence and promise in prayerful contemplation becomes an active, heartfelt choice. As we retreat from specific daily cares into meditation on our walk, we encounter strengthening thoughts and feelings. Desperation may frankly be seen as an all too human “sickness” that comes as a result of emotions that have no ready spot in our life situation. Serenity may be recognized as courage, a cardinal virtue manifested by many others in times of peril. We may reflect on our heroic but limited capacities for human struggle. We may humbly enlist God’s power through the wisdom and revelation of Scripture.

Changes in our perspective are the experiences we seek in bringing our lives into the labyrinth. With God’s help we may be as startled as St Paul or as relieved as occasionally being glad we are alive. Change of any kind, however, may be counted as success. Recollection doesn’t result in all or none or sick or well, miserable or happy. More likely we experience more or less, better or worse. We only do what we can to handle something better, to suffer less. To gain the most from walking the labyrinth and gain it more quickly, we must have the heart and will to keep going forward in our lives, in conversation with God.

Margaret Rappaport Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator

Is the Labyrinth Useful?

You may have heard the labyrinth called a tool. I know I have used this idea to guide people in understanding the reasons we walk the labyrinth in a variety of settings. I’ve also suggested that the labyrinth is a metaphor. I have asked people to consider the labyrinth an imaginary and mystical space. I’ve told people that artists and gardeners claim the labyrinth as part of their work in the world. Obviously, the labyrinth can be seen in many different ways.

Today, I’d like to comment on what it means to use the name “tool” in the context of describing the labyrinth. I think the labyrinth is a “tool” because it it’s something that can be adapted at whatever level that might be appropriate for those who seek to benefit from it.

Walking the labyrinth can be an exercise in meandering relaxation. It can just as well facilitate concentration or aid clarification regarding some issue or problem. It affords contemplation time without interruption. It can be an attractive meeting place for purposeful activity.

In sacred settings the labyrinth can be used as a meditation tool that tunes prayer and more broadly spiritual growth. Walking the labyrinth clears the mind of the extraneous and the everyday matters as a broom, a mop or more efficiently a vacuum would do.

In secular settings walking the labyrinth focusses the mind like a camera or microscope. When I’ve asked groups to free-associate to thinking of the labyrinth as a tool to use for transforming their experience, they offer wrench, hammer, drill, screwdriver and other common mechanical tools. Often their imaginations take them in an electronics direction. The bottom line: the idea that the labyrinth can be useful is familiar to people.

Finally, I think seeing the labyrinth as a “tool” gives it a more every day appeal. The easier it is to feel comfortable walking the labyrinth, the more often people will seek out the benefits of doing it. Responding to the appeal and popularity and usefulness of labyrinths is bound to motivate people to include them among life’s best things. as they have proven to be over thousands of years.

Margaret Rappaport
Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator

What Led Me To This Place?

I’ve been thinking about “bringing life to the labyrinth” as a theme for facilitating people’s meditative walks. This week it occurred to me that the labyrinth is particularly suited for pondering where we are in our lives and how we got to this place. All of us have found our lives to “be” far from where they should have been. We all have experienced the realization that our lives are not exactly what we wanted them to be. Most of us, however, give little time and attention to what decisions or circumstances led us to the place we find ourselves now. Often, even less attention is given to growth and change, as we are busy with the demands of simply living our lives as they have turned out.

Entering the labyrinth we sense a “place-less-ness” that clears our way to take a fresh look at life. In the labyrinth it doesn’t matter how much money we have, how healthy a body we have, how nice a home we own, or how intelligent and clever we are. Status and many of the identifying characteristics we possess are left at the gate. In this place for a period of time, we are spontaneously let loose to create new perspectives. We may not be able to fully transform our lives but we surely can discover the means to reform choices and behaviors for our own benefit.

Walking the labyrinth we also have the opportunity to acknowledge the important connections we have to other people on our life’s journey. For some of us, our relationships are a big part of why we are where we are in our lives. None of us lives life alone. Whether we see ourselves as rugged individuals who control our destinies or we are compliant followers in families and communities, in the labyrinth our views of ourselves can be reshaped, if we desire.

Margaret Rappaport, Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator

Making the World Our Own

Walking the labyrinth with a point of reference such as prayer makes a sacred space for meditation and pious contemplation. The time intentionally set aside for praying creates a yearning for an opportunity to connect with the divine while traversing a human space. Encountering the magic and mystery of personal existence leads to joy, meaning, hope and peace as we walk in and out of the labyrinth absorbed by prayer.

When the focus is prayer, walking the labyrinth is a significant statement of faith in God. The walking becomes a journey in Christian symbolism in anticipation of meeting God on the spiraling path of the labyrinth and of life. Walking acts as a meditative service equal to reciting the psalms, canticles and the reading of scripture. Meditation highlights the continuity in time between finite, human experiences and the infinity of God.

It is not unusual to experience encouragement, gratitude for blessings, even startling inspiration while walking the labyrinth. There is frequently increased calm, clarifying insight, release, and rejuvenation and healing. Combining walking and praying yields both dark and light moments just as living does. Being perplexed is followed by joyfulness, confusion follows hope, and sometimes hurt and hope tumble over each other until there is simply curiosity at the power of God’s spirit.

Walking the labyrinth in prayer is like planting a fairy garden with seeds collected from other spiritual events in life. As with any garden venture, at first the garden sleeps, then it creeps and later, God willing, it leaps. That’s is precisely why some people walking the labyrinth start to dance, some get up on tip toes and some are apt to skip. The spirit moves everything: plants and flowers, wind and water, human minds and hearts. All that people have to do is walk and pray.

Margaret Rappaport Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator

Assessing Your “Grit” While Walking the Labyrinth

There isn’t a more necessary modern skill than resiliency. We live with challenges that in the best circumstances require courage and risk tolerance. In more traumatic circumstances, we must come to terms with our feelings and behaviors even when we haven’t yet absorbed them. Modern living is hard and complicated.

I’m thinking particularly of the information we get from political and social situations in war zones. A report or story about horrific events such as school shootings or the slaying of zoo animals calls forth thoughts and feelings that must be managed. Even the awareness that our technological heroism may be mistaken, such as the “Jade Rabbit” “dying on the moon, may cause us consternation and concern. Add to the situation the fact that some of this information isn’t even personal but we know about it in detail anyway. Things are simply just out of our control.

It may be hard to believe, at first, that regularly walking the labyrinth can help us manage our reactions to the sensations and perceptions that bombard us in our information saturated environments. Believe me, it can, because walking the labyrinth builds resiliency.

Resiliency guides and protects us. It makes us feisty; it helps us have confidence in our abilities to lead self-sufficient lives full of puzzles we can attempt to solve, to use insight and spiritual strength to live stable and rewarding lives. Often it is our personal resiliency that encourages us and allows us to ask for support and help. This is especially true when we ask God, through prayer, for perseverance.

Walking the labyrinth we may find in its spatial patterns and its time demands a successful response to the matters we wrestle with in our hectic and distracting lives.

Margaret Rappaport, Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator


One day soon, I know, Winnie will call me by the first syllables of a name. It might be “Gram,” which is what I’d signed up for before she was even born.

And then The Winter of 2014 descended upon us. This grandmother hoisted a shovel, albeit an ergonomically designed one, and hasn’t put it down yet. It’s become an appendage. I’m thinking of buying it a bracelet.

More than a few times Winnie has been here as I cleared the walks in my slightly obsessive (but actually ice-preventing) way, and she’s heard her parents rename me; “Gramboni” has become my seasonal name.

Will Winnie repeat this name bestowed upon her strong and determined, ice-phobic and salt-pellet- dispersing grandmother?

No matter what she eventually calls me, she will know that I am undaunted by weather, shovels, and a foot of snow. And when she skates at her first ice skating rink, she will smile and perhaps even giggle at the machine whose name she’s always known, and think of me.

Try Something New: Walk the Labyrinth

Personally, I don’t entirely endorse the never-ending quest to try something new or exciting or even creative. Living a rewarding life in a busy world is difficult enough without an over- load of choices and activities that demand time and energy, in my view. So, it’s exceptional that I would ask others to consider walking the labyrinth on a regular basis. Let me, however, assure you of the benefits.

There is a spirit of active, imaginative adventure that derives from a walk in the labyrinth. The adventure may be internal but it is deeply exciting. It is a kind of ingenuity that motivates new outlooks and new goals. It is ingenious play that spontaneously explores novelty in the corners of living. It is an alternative form of exercise that engages mind and body in fresh ways. It is magically habit forming!

Without a doubt walking the labyrinth opens doors to more robust wellness. It alters attitude. It uplifts mood. It clarifies perspective. It calms feelings. It stretches the muscles and soothes the nervous system. There is some recent research that suggests that this type of walking meditation results in positive changes in gene expression. All of this may help explain the sudden popularity of labyrinths and the practice of walking in them.

Trying something new is not always successful, as we all know. Trying out the labyrinth, however, doesn’t require an investment in equipment. Walking the labyrinth usually occurs in relative privacy. Silence often prevails so critical comments of others are at a minimum. Manuals and lesson books are nonexistent. Abundance, enthusiasm and self-love are plentiful and available on-demand in the labyrinth. Wisdom, both secular and sacred, is accessed as we encounter the challenges and risks of our personal experiences in walking the labyrinth. Well in this case, new may be better.

Margaret Rappaport
Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator

Time, Not Timing

Unless you were completely risk adverse, 2013 turned out to be a fantastic year for many of you stock market investors.  Gains of +20 to +30% were made in stand-alone or retirement accounts. Congratulations. But as we all know, past performance is no guarantee of future success, so we must turn the page.

2014 has started out very differently from the end of last year.  Much more volatility, bigger swings up and down for major stock market averages. The FEDERAL RESERVE’s recent policy move to begin tapering its bond buying has indeed begun to impact capital flows in the emerging markets. Countries from Turkey, Argentina, South Africa, along with Venezuela and the Ukraine are having difficulties. This has caused a surge in the major currencies such as the Dollar, Yen and Euro, and a rally in major bond markets.

When all is said and done, 2014 may be lucky to record anything above a +2% growth rate. This will play out at a time when the FED is mostly likely to continue its tapering policy. While the impact on the domestic economy is likely to be small, if it in anyway contributes to problems in global markets, then our exports will be impacted which would be a negative for growth.

Consequently, January ended up as the first down month for equities in almost a half-year. Without sugar coating it, this will be a tougher year for all asset classes, but stocks remain the best alternative. Bonds, emerging markets, commodities all have much higher risk profiles.  The good news, is that we have the advantage of hindsight. We have seen gyrations in capital markets before. The key is to stay calm and ride out the volatility.  As my mentor at Morgan Stanley once told me, “time, not timing is what wins for investors”.  

I Thrive By Walking the Labyrinth

I sometimes think I was born in a Library! Words ignite my imagination and pique my curiosity; reading is one of my greatest pleasures. Writing about the labyrinth has become one of my most satisfying achievements.

Preparing this week’s post I got lost in juxtaposing two words that rhyme and signify much of my life’s journey. They are ‘strive’ and ‘thrive”. Consulting the Thesaurus, I enjoyed the related words for thrive: flourish, prosper, bloom, blossom and succeed. Related words for strive were very different and more complicated: struggle, make every effort, attempt, try hard and do all you can. Both words, however, seem to proclaim that in my life I should pull out all the stops. Whether I am striving or thriving I should hear a boom!

I chose ‘thrive’ to take into a walk in the labyrinth this week. Those related words seemed better suited to the mood that settles over me when I walk there. Almost from the outset, I feel growth and renewal beckoning. A spirit of joyousness surrounds me. I sense a divine presence urging me to connect with all creation. Deep gratitude flows inside me. I thrive to the fullest while I walk.

In my busy working life there are many opportunities to strive. Those offer distinct satisfactions. Professional activities that include a variety of contacts with people are a source of wonder. I look forward to each day. Opportunities to stop and appreciate how striving and thriving are linked in my life, however, have to be shaped; the labyrinth’s very structure reminds me to do it!

Commitment to walking the labyrinth guarantees I will make the time and space in my routines to pause my striving in order to spend my life beautifully and “thrive”.

Margaret Rappaport Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator

Bringing Life to the Labyrinth

Walking the labyrinth becomes devotional when it is frequent and purposeful. Often that doesn’t mean having an agenda or set of goals for each walk. It means being open to new thoughts and feelings whatever they may be and however they may come to you as you walk. Bringing your life to the labyrinth with an attitude of hopefulness and trust is freeing. It is also courageous. Making time and space in your life for growth, renewal, insight and transformation is risky!

Walking the labyrinth is a place to rely on for inspiration which is why it lends itself to devotional practice. Like other opportunities for prayer, worship and meditation, walking the labyrinth creates an environment for transcending, uplifting, and enriching life. A sense of abundance pervades every walk. Enthusiasm for fresh possibilities and unimagined potentials flows through and in and around every walk, every time.

Devotion to walking the labyrinth has an obvious effect. It invites with regularity the spiritual, the divine presence into your ordinary experience. In that way walking the labyrinth becomes a pilgrimage, a journey towards personal expansion and knowledge of God. Walking the labyrinth promotes a greater awareness of the meaning and purpose of your individual life in relation to God’s plan for humanity.

My personal experience after eleven years of devotion to walking the labyrinth has led me to author a book. “Bringing Life to the Labyrinth”(TM) shares images of labyrinths, discusses mystical and wellness uses of labyrinths, and brings together ideas and concepts of the contemporary importance of labyrinths. It is written to be a companion to walking the labyrinth. It seeks to connect people to one another in their devotion. Its resolve is to pilot the formation of a labyrinth community. I am humbly grateful for the inspiration that underlies “bringing life to the labyrinth.”

Margaret Rappaport, Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator

Walking the Labyrinth for Personal Transformation

Signals from just outside our ordinary awareness are faint. We can barely recognize them. Personal change is nearby but rarely are the messages blaring. We may begin with thoughts and feelings but we have to make more of an effort to connect with our inklings and intuitions. We have to let go of preoccupations with the “whys and wherefores” of everyday life. We have to spend some time being receptive to the unconscious, the macrocosmic mind, the artistic mind that creates images. Wishing to transform some part of ourselves requires imagination and a mobilizing of personal creativity.

We may be seeking education or guidance. We might want our everyday life and relationships to be different but can’t envision it. Our sexuality may be puzzling. Our ambitions might seem out of reach and still they don’t let us alone. People’s progresses aren’t determined by our DNA and so we constantly need updating. That is easy to say, not very easy to make time and design a place for doing it. Transformation is especially hard because it demands that we take a different route from those we use to solve problems or design our plans. If we desire personal change we have to take the risk of being inactive, quiet and wait for what occurs to us. The two outstanding risks lie in not anticipating or liking our own creative outcomes and having nothing occur to us for a long time. And furthermore it’s something we have to do for ourselves.

Happily we can make use of the labyrinth as a meditative tool. Walking the labyrinth for personal transformation centers our attention and presents the ambience for reflection. It is amenable to secular or spiritual attitudes and therefore it is personally customized. The labyrinth is a secure physical place to let images flow slowly or fast and furiously because it contains and embraces us. We are free to wander in body, mind and spirit. Whether we meet ourselves, each other, or the divine spirit, we can be assured that what happens will have meaning and will be important. A flash of insight, a sunlit image, a whispered sound, a breeze might convey a treasure for us. Another’s smile, a hug from someone passing us on the pathway, a pleasant glance across the labyrinth may offer all the support we need to confirm our transformations.

Margaret Rappaport, Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator

One Thousand Books, Grandma?

Winnie is approaching her sixth month and already she has favorite books. Though she can’t articulate her criteria, it’s easy to see how the colors and texture and repetitive phrases delight her. Her family is careful to select books that respect her intelligence, her sensibilities, and her growing attention span. But if the books just decorate her shelves she’ll never reach the 1,000 mark.

What is the 1,000 mark? According to Mem Fox, children’s author and early literacy advocate, children should be read to many times in the course of a day. “,,,read at least three stories a day; it may be the same story three times. Children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read. Or the same story a thousand times.” Whew!

Enter grandparents. What a pleasure to help with this challenge! Sitting with our grandbabies on our laps, watching their fingers help turn the pages, we can read to our hearts’ content. The softness of our voices, our intonation, our delight in certain words, our interpretation of what we see, all wrapped up with loving arms equates the reading experience with softness, delight, and love.

For me, all those years ago, it was Nurse Nancy and Doctor Squash The Doll Doctor and The Pokey Little Puppy and more. Mem Fox wasn’t writing books yet when my mother first read to me, but I’m sure we hit 1,000 hours early on.

So, it’s Goodnight Moon and Alpha Blocks and, yes, The Pokey Little Puppy with Winnie. Books and my granddaughter in my arms. Pinch me.

Walking the Labyrinth for Professional Transformation

I’ve been fortunate to facilitate meditative walks in the labyrinth in breakout sessions at major conferences for professionals in healthcare and in aviation. Over the years I’ve had a learning curve to discover ways to approach professional development in these two unique contexts. I would like to share a general perspective from my experiences.

A majority of healthcare personnel have some knowledge and sometimes familiarity with labyrinths. Physicians, nurses and medical technicians encounter them in hospital settings, nursing facilities and churches. Community labyrinths sometimes figure prominently in their experience. They feel somewhat comfortable conceding to a labyrinth walk focused on change and bringing new perspectives to their professional roles.

Aviation professionals, most often pilots and mechanics, do not initially appear at ease with walking the labyrinth as a way to promote professional growth. That doesn’t mean they are uneasy; it’s only that they find themselves in a novel context for exploring professional transformation. They require some preparation to benefit from walking the labyrinth. Happily they are usually pleased by the new vocabulary and community spirit.

Professional transformation for everyone is a goal to extend work skills. It starts with intention. Although it may be difficult and needs prompting, it is contemplating letting go of the professional roles we have learned and repeated; looking at the jobs we are used to doing and thinking of ourselves otherwise; examining the status and delight in what we have achieved; questioning ourselves as the leader others admire. Transformation anticipates that we might reinvent, even re-envision ourselves. Why would we want to do that? Some outcomes include: setting new work goals for ourselves is rewarding; analyzing our connections to and the inspiration we get from our work life renews our energy to do our work; reflecting on ourselves as professionals contributes to an overall sense of self-esteem. Why, if given the opportunity, wouldn’t we take the time to walk the labyrinth as an impetus to these transformations?

Margaret Rappaport, Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator

The Labyrinth Defined

As 2014 begins I want to let go of my personal objection to defining the labyrinth. Throughout the previous blog posts you may have noticed my preference to describe and to explore the labyrinth but not to offer a definition of what exactly it is. Definitions are often confining and exist outside the imaginative, the metaphorical and the creative. I would rather my readers have an infinitely creative concept of the labyrinth. I’d rather encourage them to discover the labyrinth for themselves as they have their own experiences with it. I favor highlighting the mystery of the labyrinth, as art, as cultural history, as spiritual inspiration.

Enough readers, however, have asked for a definition. They have good reasons for needing one. Wanting to share their interest in walking the labyrinth in conversation they require ways to put their experiences into words. Often they have to start by stating an answer to the question, “what is a labyrinth?”

The most encompassing definition I can offer is, “the labyrinth is a walking meditation tool for personal and professional transformation and community building. It is used in sacred settings for spiritual growth, worship and prayer.” Labyrinth activities include presentations, unguided and facilitated contemplative walks, workshops and breakout meetings during retreats and conferences. Labyrinths are used in supportive healing ceremonies for people challenged by physical and mental illnesses. Labyrinths help to focus and encourage people seeking health and wellness discipline. Labyrinth programs are sometimes tailored to people seeking to unleash their creative potential. Labyrinths can also serve as a core feature of a community, becoming a meeting place and a place of respite in a busy environment.

There are as many reasons for and uses of the labyrinth as people can envision. We are ready to relate to walking the labyrinth in many different ways. In that respect it is a providential resource for all of us to use and cherish.

Margaret Rappaport
Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator