Monthly Archives: January 2014

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