Introduction to the Labyrinth
As Within, So Without
by Christine McCullough
A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The Labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world.
A labyrinth is a container in which emotions, insights and awareness are held and alchemically transformed into healing. Healing itself is a moving into an awareness of grace. Nothing is “cured” by this experience, but a process of change does begin. Perhaps we change the way we look at a particular situation in our life. Perhaps we change our relationship to a child, a partner, a co-worker or even ourselves. Perhaps we change our perception of our connection to our world or our connection to the Divine source.
Walking a labyrinth begins a process of reacting to the world differently and moving into a conscious state of awareness as to our inward feelings and the way these feelings interact with our outer world. In awareness, as one begins to honor the beauty within the self, one can truly begin the process of creating beauty without. As within, so without.
This particular phrase, “As within, so without”, paraphrases the alchemical creed, “As above, so below”, pointing to the interconnectedness of Spirit and matter. Most individuals come to a labyrinth armored from the pains of life. The armor both protects them from continued hurt, but also blinds them to the grace which naturally surrounds them and could be both their comfort and their strength. The left brain, with seemingly logical explanations and excuses, continues to keep them boxed off from connection with the richness of dream, vision and possibility which lies within the right- brain function. Without the balance of the right-brain, imagistic mind with the left-brain, manifesting mind, individuals may experience the world through the lens of fear and restriction. Both hope and motivation are gone, and they walk through life as through a maze, lost and confused, looking for a way out.
The labyrinth can be an invaluable tool within the creative arts to bring individuals out of themselves and into reconnection with their world. It is a gentle, non-threatening way of balancing both hemispheres of the brain simultaneously and effortlessly and has never failed to stimulate reactions that can be expressed through color, form or words.
Working with the labyrinth involves rhythmic movement, sound healing, meditation, ritual and art to give people a full expressive experience. Because the experience is primarily self-directed, participants set their own intentions and actively work through the process to come up with their own insights, becoming fully empowered in the process of their healing journey. They own their inspiration and the physical result—the art they create.
As a container for the healing experience, the labyrinth is immensely flexible. The labyrinth can be used:
• to celebrate rites of passage
• to actively solve problems, inspire and increase awareness
• to promote nonviolent interaction
• to build community and team cooperation
• to explore the grieving process
• to balance energies
• to explore and heal addictive behaviors
• as a meditative tool for centering
The labyrinth can be used for individuals or groups, elders or children, and can be applied cross culturally, applicable to both secular and spiritual experiences. Brain synchrony is created which encourages artistic expression to flow naturally. Individuals physically, as well as psychically, come into natural balance. From that sublime set point, all answers are available.
Christine McCullough is a multi-disciplined holistic counselor in private practice (SoulWisdomHealing.com). She is a trained certified labyrinth facilitator and leads labyrinth walks, assists in the design of labyrinths and has been instrumental in creating labyrinths for use in private homes, churches and spas. She will be facilitating a labyrinth program and walk at the upcoming Integrative Mental Health Conference, February 16-17, 2019, at Canonicus Conference Center, in Exeter.