March 6, 2014

Is the Labyrinth Useful?

By Margaret Rappaport

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