Labyrinths are not new, having been a part of our human history for several thousand years. They are both ancient and transcultural. Examples have been found in prehistoric, Hopi, India, Crete, Ireland, France, Italy, Scandinavian cultures. 1 . Being found in different parts of the world with differing cultural/religious backgrounds suggests there is something universal in their appeal for people across the world. However, we can only surmise what some were used for, while others have an ongoing history.
Why walk a labyrinth?
..one of our good friends asked. She had heard Max rabbit on about them over the years but never walked one. She's a counsellor, a psychologist with years of experience and plenty of knowledge about the helping profession. What did she need to know to give it a go?
Walking the single path, with a purpose, can help people slow down and be really present where they are. It keeps the left side of your brain occupied, but not working hard, while the creative-problem-solving side is free to do its thing. Apart from a nice walk, and at Fosterton Retreat in a lovely place, research has shown benefits in numerous areas: relaxation, stress management, chronic pain, insomnia, mental health, illness, substance abuse, self awareness....... the list goes on.
Below is a list of research we have found on the use and role of labyrinths. To find out more or experience them for yourself come to a labyrinth retreat or book something in with us.
To find our more about labyrinths visit our blog post: "Labyrinths are not mazes but they are amazing!
Of course if you ever want to discuss labyrinths, give Max a ring.
compiled by Max & Bronwyn, updated 2022,
with the help of The Australian Labyrinth network
& The Labyrinth Society
Bandiera, N. A. (2006). The medieval labyrinth ritual and performance: A grounded theory study of liminality and spiritual experience. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, Austin. (ProQuest Digital Dissertations database. Publication No. AAT 3221357).
Bigard, M (2005). Walking the labyrinth: Enhancing spiritually sensitive clinical practice. Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping. Special issue: Spiritual Diversity in Social Work, 113, 84-95.
Bloos, I. D. & O'Conner, T. S. (2002). Ancient and medieval labyrinths and contemporary narrative therapy: How do they fit? Journal of Pastoral Psychology, 50(4), 219-230.
Boardman P. (2017). Investigating labyrinth walking as a tool for stress relief in the workplace. Ph.D., Health Promotion and Wellness. Dissertation: Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions.
Burt, V. (2014). Labyrinth Found. Landscapes (Toronto), 16(2), 47.
Carnes, V. B. (2001). Walking the labyrinth to peace. Not-for-profit report, Nursing Homes Long Term Care Management, 50(10): 41-42.
Cook, M., & Croft, J. B. (2015). Interactive mindfulness technology: A walking labyrinth in an academic library. College & Research Libraries News, 76(6), 318-322. Retrieved from http://crln.acrl.org/content/76/6/318.full
Dalley-Hewer, J., and Knowles J. O. (2015). A creative alternative to reflective writing: Promoting skills of reflection through walking a labyrinth. Physiotherapy. 101, p.e766-e767.
Densford, L. (2007). The path to healing. Behavioral Healthcare, 27(9), 2829. Rhodes, J. W. (2006, November). Perceived effects of labyrinth walking on a variety of physical and emotional traits. Presentation at the Labyrinth Society Annual Gathering, New Braunfels, TX.
Els, Lishje. "The Labyrinth as a Symbol of Life: A Journey with God and Chronic Pain." Hervormde Teologiese Studies 73, no. 4 (2017): 1-11.
Fairbloom, L. (2003). Walking the labyrinth: Its impact on healthcare professionals in a hospital setting. Unpublished master’s thesis, University of Toronto, Canada. (ProQuest Digital Dissertations database. Publication No. AAT MQ84321).
Fisher, M. (2001-3). The therapeutic use of labyrinths. Spirituality and Health International, 4(1), 30-34. doi: 10.1002/shi.139
Francisco, J. (2006). Into the labyrinth: Excursions and applications for creative process. Unpublished master’s thesis, Buffalo State College, State University of New York, Buffalo, New York.
Goode-Harris, L. (2001). What matters to the heart?: Exploring the psychological significance of the labyrinth. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Institute of Imaginal Studies, Petaluma, California.
Griffith, J. S. (2001). Labyrinths: A pathway to refection and contemplation. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 6(5). 295-296.
Harris, N. (1999). Off the couch: An introduction to labyrinths and their therapeutic properties. Annals of the American Psychiatric Association. March/April 1999, 7-8.
Hong, Y. & Jacinto, G. A. (2012). Reality therapy and the labyrinth: A strategy for practice. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 22(6), 619-634.
Hopthrow, L. (Summer, 2010). The labyrinth: Reclaiming an ancient spiritual tool for a modern healthcare setting. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, 10(1), 55-62.
Hull, S. B. K. (2007). The labyrinth as a leadership learning tool. Unpublished M.A. dissertation, Royal Roads University, Canada. (ProQuest Digital Dissertations database. Publication No. AAT MR27211).
Jesuit Centre of Spirituality. Manresa’s Labyrinth. https://www.manresa.ie/content/manresas-labyrinth
Kollas, B. B., Miller-Clark, J., Deputy, M., Desart, J., & Roberts, N. (2009). Exploring the value of the labyrinth for hospitalized psychiatric patients: A pilot study. Unpublished paper and presentation. M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Orlando Health, Orlando,
Kreitzer, M. J., Gross, C. R., On-anong, W., Reilly-Spong, M., & Byrd, M. (2009). The brief serenity scale: A psychometric analysis of a measure of spirituality and well-being. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 27(1). 7-16.
La Torre, M. A. (2004). Integrated perspectives: Walking: An important therapeutic tool. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care 40(3), 120-122.
London, W. P. (1994). The healing earth project: An update, November 1994. The American Dowser 35(1).
Magee, R. (2014). Living the labyrinth: A journey toward new life in community. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Drew University, New Jersey. (Dissertation Abstracts International No. 3620136)
Mariscotti, J. & Texter, L. (2003, October). Using the labyrinth with those experiencing lifechanging illness: Research and practice. Presentation at the Labyrinth Society Annual Gathering, Hunt Valley, MD.
Mariscotti, J. & Texter, L. (2014). The relaxation effects of labyrinth walking among school age Children. Presentation at the Labyrinth Society Annual Gathering. Duncan Conference Center. Del Ray Beach, FL.
McLean, M. (2016). Steps toward common ground: The Labyrinth’s role in building beloved community. D.Min. Unpublished doctoral thesis, McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL.
Michels, B. Maxwell, D., & Chang, C-W. Labyrinths: Yesterday, today, and tomorrow-Implications for education. 2012. Critical questions in Education, 1 (1). 26-39.
Molina, Olga, Hadidja Nyiransekuye and George A. Jacinto. "The Use of the Labyrinth in Mutusal-Aid Group Work." Groupwork 28, no. 3 (2018): 70.
Muller, M. H. (2000). The classical seven-circuit labyrinth as transcultural phenomenon. Unpublished master’s thesis, The University of North Carolina at Asheville, Ashville, North Carolina. (ProQuest Digital Dissertations database. Publication No. AAT 1400430). Labyrinth of Chartres. Medieval Studies, Loyola University, accessed 9 March 2021, https://www.luc.edu/medieval/labyrinths/chartres.html
Nieves-Serrano, B., Jacinto, G., Chapple, R. (2015). Use of the finger labyrinth in solution-focused therapy. American Psychotherapy Association.
Peel, Jeanne M. "The Labyrinth: An Innovative Therapeutic Tool for Problem Solving Or Achieving Mental Focus." The Family Journal (Alexandria, Va.) 12, no. 3 (2004): 287-291.
Rice, A. S. (2004). The use of the labyrinth in the treatment of alcohol and substance abuse problems. Unpublished master’s thesis, California State University, Long Beach, California. (ProQuest Digital Dissertations database. Publication No. AAT 1421589).
Riera, J. (2013). Walking the labyrinth: Examining the intersection of spirituality and leadership among senior student affairs administrators. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park. (ProQuest Digital Dissertations database. Publication No. 3590656).
Sellers, J. (2009). Exploring the labyrinth. Educational Developments. 10(1). UK: London, 15-16.
Weaver, Meaghan S., Anna Powell, Sue Bace, and Dale Wratchford. "Centering Care: The Role of Labyrinths for Fostering Reflection in Pediatric Palliative and Critical Care Settings," Journal of Pain and Symptoms Management 58, no. 1 (2019): 167 - 170.