Last weekend 5 tons of cobblestones were delivered to my meadow. Over the next three days a small team of three carved a space out of the woods (no trees were sacrificed!) and created a Chartres Cathedral style Labyrinth. It was very hard work carrying all that stone and laying it down — my hamstrings still ache from pushing that wheelbarrow around.
When we completed the 11 “circuits” and walked the path for the first time, I emerged with some insights about a challenge in my life I’ve been confronted with. It felt like magic.
Now for the skeptics among my readers let me just say that I was where you are, and not so long ago. For a few years I really didn’t get Labyrinths at all. My friend Joe Miguez has constructed temporary Labyrinths at the CPSI and CREA conferences for many years. It was something to do, so I walked them — and didn’t understand what all the buzz was about. I felt no transformation, I had no brilliant insights. I thought I was “doing it wrong” and then rejected it for a few years as a result.
I had a change of mind over time. It probably helped that I removed “big expectations” from my mindset. Orientation, courtesy of Joe, also helped. I now view the Labyrinth experience as something that is highly useful. It works to bring you closer to your own spirit and desires, and you have ideas about what you might do. It’s another thinking tool in my pocket for creative effectiveness. Couple this tool with the simple tools of journaling and idea note-booking and you are amplifying creative effectiveness.
How? That’s harder to say, but let me orient you. Labyrinth enthusiasts may disagree, but here’s my view.
A “lab” of the classic medieval variety has four quadrants and they are accessed in sequence. It is not a “maze” to figure out, you simply walk the pre-defined path. The first quad is for Awareness, the second is for Letting Go, the third is for Vision, and the final quad is for Realization (source: Joe Miguez). You enter the lab with an intention, or a problem to solve, a challenge to meet. As you pass through each quadrant, walking the path, you steer your thoughts in the direction of Awareness, Letting Go, Vision, and Realization. It’s a very organic method that blends meditation with physical movement. The magic is in the mix of kinesthetic action and a combination of right and left brain thinking. It’s relaxing. New thoughts and insights tend to arrive (like taking a sort of spiritual shower). Once walked, sit with a notebook and jot down ideas and notice your thought flow, “think about your thinking”.
It’s not fool proof of course. One can walk a lab and come up empty at the end. What have you lost? A bit of time.
So what’s the value? In a word, insights. Innovators are often blocked by too much left brained thinking. Trying to work something out logically in your head is natural, and, sometimes it’s not logic that gets us to a solution. So, for those cynics and skeptics who think of this as too touchy-feely to be useful, let me suggest that you try it before you knock it. Creative effectiveness happens when a person bridges what their spirit desires into action — and a labyrinth is a good tool for doing just that.
And by the way, if you need help building your own lab, don’t call me, call Joe Miguez (Joemiguez@aol.com). Joe is also the man to talk to for a lab workshop experience.
I’m quite happy the building of it is all done. If I have to pick up another 5 inch cobblestone I may have a heart attack on the spot.