Labyrinths ~ Balancing the Brain

In this time of change, keeping our balance can be quite a challenge. One way that I know to balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain is to walk a labyrinth. On April 9th, I felt a local labyrinth call to me and I answered the call. 

On my travels, I’ve had the pleasure of finding incredible and unique labyrinths. New Zealand had one of the coolest ones I’ve ever seen. After stopping for a bathroom break, we went to check out a historic air crossing sight. Although that was interesting, the labyrinth in the park next door not only drew my attention, it kept me curious and fascinated for over an hour.

Years ago, I wrote the attached labyrinth article. In class, I learned that you don’t need to physically walk a labyrinth, you can trace one with your finger or pen and get the same results. When we are limited with what we can do, labyrinths are a great way to stay centered by balancing the brain. Wishing you peace and balance as we continue to stay home during this pandemic. Be well… Nancy T

Labyrinths ~ by Nancy M. Turcich, NTS, BCPP

          Years ago, I walked my first labyrinth. At the time, I didn’t know anything about labyrinths but it was a positive experience. A few months later, a labyrinth class was offered at the Unity Church in Prescott. I decided to attend. 

          Labyrinths are defined as mazes. To me, the two are similar but very different. With dead ends that halt progression, mazes need to be figured out. They can be a real “head-trip.” Labyrinths are continuous paths that lead to a center with an exit that guides you out through the “IN” door.             

          Labyrinths balance the two hemispheres of the brain. Simply tracing a labyrinth on a sheet of paper improves test scores. Labyrinths are known to furnish internal answers to questions. All of the above have played out in my life. 

          Many hospitals have labyrinths outside their facility. They are sanctuaries where people can process their troubles and concerns. Walking a labyrinth releases tension, decreases stress, and provides space for people who are concerned for their loved ones or their patients. I’m quite certain the hospital staff benefits enormously by walking the labyrinth. 

          Although there is a wonderful outdoor labyrinth at the Unity Church in Prescott, the instructor, Jan, brought a beautiful cloth labyrinth that we laid out indoors. After talking about labyrinths and sharing her history, Jan described how the day would unfold. She shared hand-outs and labyrinth history. Later in the day, we would walk the labyrinth, discuss our experience, create our own labyrinth on paper in a few easy steps, and we would have fun. It sounded like a great game plan to me. 

         Once the labyrinth was displayed on the floor I noticed the texture of the material, how soft yet sturdy it appeared. It nearly filled the entire space. Jan presented simple instructions for walking the labyrinth as a group; step aside when someone is passing; kindly go around someone if you need to pass; take your time; go at your own pace; be aware of your inner dialog; stay in the center for as long as you need; and remember, it’s all for YOU. 

          All of the instructions resonated with me. I felt confident that I was in the right place at the right time. I calmly waited in line as the class slowly entered the labyrinth. To maintain space between individuals, the keepers of the gate allowed entry after each participant reached a specific point. 

         As the labyrinth was filling with people, I became somewhat mesmerized. I noticed how well people were following instructions. There was no agitation, no pushing or shoving. It was rhythmical, almost hypnotic. 

          I approached the front of the line. It was my turn to enter. My intention was clear; being open to whatever came to me. The gatekeepers lifted a cloth veil that puffed up over my head as I passed into the world of the labyrinth. 

          Instead of being an observer, I became an active participant. It was immediately apparent that my progress was an expression of how I walked through life. I was slightly agitated at the person moseying along in front of me. I waited for an appropriate time to pass and then I made my move. I noticed how some people stepped aside for me and others stood their ground waiting for me to get out of their way. My pace was fairly fast and when I reached the center I hung out for some time with questions flashing through my mind. However, the longer I stayed in the center, the more my mind slowed, allowing answers to appear. I took time to file away as much information as possible. 

          Eventually, I cruised out of the center. I made my way through all of the twists and turns. I was nearing the end when it suddenly occurred to me, this walk is like my life; I have been rushing to get through, to get my answers, and to be on my way. I get annoyed, upset, confused, and frustrated all the time. I stood on the path waiting to exit when I imagined the exit as my death, the end of the line. A gatekeeper waited to give people whatever they needed, be it a hug, a pat on the back or a smile. When she noticed my hesitation she said, “Take your time, I’ll be here when you’re ready.” It felt like I was at the Pearly Gates and I realized that I wasn’t finished with my life. The labyrinth reflected how I was moving through life, perhaps a bit faster than I cared to proceed. Visions of my life passed before me. Then a smile crossed my lips and I knew I was ready, not only to exit the labyrinth but to enter my life with an entirely new perspective. Slowly, I took a breath and consciously walked into the arms of the gatekeeper. She embraced me fully as she welcomed me into my new existence. It was like stepping into a fresh, new life. I breathed a little easier. 

          After the labyrinth walk, we were assigned the task of writing ourselves a letter. Jan said that she would mail the letter to us at the appropriate time. These were words that would feed our soul. Months later an envelope appeared in my mailbox. I was a bit perplexed as I noticed my handwriting on the envelope,  Nancy M. Turcich printed in my scribe. I opened it and read the words written to myself. The labyrinth experience as well as the reminder “not to rush through life” burst through my cells. I tucked the letter away. Periodically, I reread the text and reflected upon the time, of discovering life again. 

          For years, I have visited the outdoor labyrinth on many occasions. I’ve shared the space with clients, students, and friends. It’s truly amazing how people are touched and changed by the simple act of walking the path. Of course, I make a monetary donation to the church for the upkeep of this hidden treasure. 

          Walking a labyrinth as a group is different from doing it alone. Yet, I have received great insight walking with others or going solo. It always seems perfect even when I am unaware of what perfect is at the time. 

          A new addition was added to the labyrinth a few years back; wind chimes. High up in the tree air pushes hollow tubes together to produce the most gorgeous sound. It’s angelic. Plants, trees, and flowers fill the surroundings of the Unity Church labyrinth and it is truly a magnificent meditative sanctuary. I am so grateful to have it in my life. 

          Sometimes life feels like a maze, with dead-ends and obstacles getting in the way. However, with the labyrinth, I have been able to find my way with each and every step I take on the continuous path back home to ME.

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Nancy M. Turcich is a therapist and author. For further information or questions, please contact Nancy @ Natural Massage Therapy at nmt1@naturalmassagetherapy.com, 928-717-1251. 

Please refer to Nancy’s books “One Of Eight–my perspective on our brother’s suicide” & “Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life” for more details about her healing experiences.

Reproduction of articles are permitted by Nancy M. Turcich, NTS, BCPP,  author and holistic bodyworker, with acknowledgments and credentials included. 

Disclaimer: All of the material provided by naturalmassagetherapy.com and Bez Publications is for educational purposes only. This information does not replace medication nor present treatment programs. Please consult medical personnel if you are presently under a physician’s care, if you are taking medication, or need additional medical care.