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Labyrinth

“Your life is a sacred journey… [of] change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path... exactly where you are meant to be right now... And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing of courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity, and of love.” —Caroline Adams

The Labyrinth is the official symbol of Blanton-Peale. It is based on the design of the historic labyrinth at the Cathedral of Chartres in France, built in 1220. Known as an “eleven-circuit labyrinth,” it consists of eleven circles that must be walked to reach the center. Combining the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path, the labyrinth represents a journey to each person’s own center and back again out into the world.

The history of the labyrinth dates back thousands of years. Many religious traditions incorporate labyrinths, including Judaism, where the Tree of Life, called the Kabbalah, is an elongated labyrinth, and the Hopi medicine wheel, which is another form of the labyrinth. In the middle ages, labyrinths were built in a number of large European churches to enable worshippers to make a symbolic pilgrimage to the Holy Land by walking the labyrinth.

Long used as a tool for meditation and prayer, the labyrinth is an archetype that invites its users to have a direct experience by literally walking it. As such, the labyrinth serves as a metaphor for life’s journey. It is a symbol that enables its participants to create in themselves a sacred space that is a liminal, outside of ordinary time, a place of transformation.

The labyrinth has often been confused with a maze. A maze is like a puzzle to be solved. It has twists, turns, and blind alleys. It is a left-brain task that requires logical, sequential, analytical activity to find the correct path into the maze and out. On the other hand, the labyrinth has only one path—it is unicursal. The way in is the way out. There are no blind alleys. The path leads you on a circuitous path to the center and out again.

As such, the labyrinth requires right-brain activity, involving intuition, creativity, and imagery. While with a maze many choices must be made, and an active mind is needed to solve the problem of finding the center. With a labyrinth, there is only one choice to be made: whether to enter, to engage, or not and in so doing to walk a spiritual path. A more passive, receptive mindset is needed. At its most basic level the labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey to the deep center of the self and then out again into the world with a broadened self-understanding and awareness. This mirrors the goal and purpose of the journey on which Blanton-Peale invites all who come through our doors to journey with us—our clients as well as our students, teachers, therapists. All are transformed by the experience of spiritually sensitive psychotherapy.

(Adapted in part from “The Labyrinth: Walking Your Spiritual Journey,”
at http://www.lessons4living.com/labyrinth.htm.)

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