Max often says "Scratch me and I'll bleed labyrinths. "But what is that really about?
Here Max explores this further.
A labyrinth is not a maze or a puzzle, it is a path or pattern with a purpose. There is one way in and the path leads to the centre. While you can leave the path at any point, you usually gain some insight by completing the journey − inwards and outwards. They are so user-friendly: all ages, cross cultural, gender or worldview.
Among other things, research has shown that walking a labyrinth can be helpful when under stress ; they can be therapeutic, even for those dealing with trauma; and can help the creative process. The Labyrinth Society lists more research.
I work as a counsellor and use labyrinths in my work. If a client wants some clarity I will often give them time with a labyrinth; I say “Even a muddy puddle of a mind will clear if given time to settle.” That has certainly been my experience.
There is no right or wrong place or way to use a labyrinth. I've worked in schools, parks, at Fosterton Retreat, inside, in the bush, at Hunter Art Bazaar. Kids will often skip, jump, play and enjoy. I just say "The only rule is: Don't push others".
Sometimes I make temporary labyrinths on beaches with a stick and more lasting ones while on holidays using seaweed or pumice to make the lines. It might take me six hours to create and every day there is some ‘maintenance’. Starting the day with a sunrise walk is a really nice treat, of course any time is good.
It's also very satisfying to watch others as they encounter the labyrinth. When I can, I encourage people to walk it first and then talk about how it works. It's experiential. It's a personal thing and I make no guarantees. Once at an Art Bazaar, I had sprayed one on the grass and a lady walked it, then said: "Well that was a waste of time, all I got was a sense of peace."
I apologised to her saying: "I'm sorry that you think that's a waste of time."
Some people have been too scared to try, once I suggest that they may go into their own heart as they walk towards ‘home’, yet I have never witnessed anyone having a negative experience.
There's also a creative connection for me, as I make finger labyrinths from timber and find the creating therapeutic. There's an Irish saying, “If you want to know the Creator − create.” I have been making them for many years and have had orders from schools, classroom and well-bring teachers, community groups and therapists, well different people.
After the Global Financial Crisis a friend had lost their multimillion dollar business and their home, every day was difficult. So, we gave them a handheld labyrinth and they found it helped them centre at the beginning of each day, as they faced the loss and the clean up.
We've put 3 different types on our property but my favourite design is from Chartres Cathedral in France, a classic 11 circuit path. It was inlaid in 1201 and you can usually access it on a Friday when they move the seats. For me, it's a common prayer and meditative tool- whichever form I use.
There are generally 3 phases:
Surrender - a releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. An act of shedding thoughts and emotions. It quiets an
d empties the mind.
Illumination - is when you reach the centre. Stay there as long as you like. It is a place of rest, of meditation and prayer.
Union - joining the creative healing community in the world / God.
Labyrinths have been part of our human history for thousands of years. How were they used? One can only surmise. That they have been found in different parts of the world with differing cultural and religious backgrounds – Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, India, the Americas − suggests there is something universal in their appeal.
If you'd like to experience walking or using a labyrinth there are a few options we can offer:
· Visit Warners Bay Uniting Church, Lake Macquarie, there's one in their carpark (if you are from somewhere else in Australia, find your nearest labyrinth with help from The Australian Labyrinth Network or from further afield see The Worldwide Labyrinth Locator.
· Visit Day 4 of our Stay at Home Retreat that looks at change and uses a printed labyrinth
· Arrange to visit Fosterton Retreat- either on one of our retreat or open days. Retreats are throughout the year, our next one is A Walk Toward Healing, or a privately organised retreat and our Open Day is early in the year,
Of course if you're interested in one of my handmade ones contact me email@example.com