Jung believed that people are drawn towards certain symbols at given points in time. The magnetic pull for me at this point in time is the symbol of a labyrinth. From the first inception of the imagery in my head a few weeks back I have turned on the radio to a discussion on labyrinths, dreamed about them, visited a remote location to see one carved on a wall, had friends randomly mention them, and finally on my weekly jaunt to Southampton Hospital came across the labyrinth the Chaplaincy use there.
Labyrinths (not to be confused with mazes) date back over 4,000 years to the first recorded one in Egypt. It was alleged to have eclipsed the pyramids in its magnitude and beauty as it stood over 240 feet high with subterranean lakes. Since that first known recording they have been found right around the world crossing diverse cultures and religions. They can also be found in mythological tales such as that of the Minotaur, half man and half bull, kept in a labyrinth in ancient Greece and fed juicy young sacrifices every seven years to keep him appeased.
The original purpose of the labyrinth has been lost in the clouds of time but my interest in terms of nature therapy lies in their ability to act as a catalyst for Mindfulness which is a fundamental component of our work. In this example a labyrinth can provide a structured process to promote mindful walking and reflection.
Another aspect to my interest is related to nature therapy providing a mind-body-spirit connection. We have a sound evidence base for the physical and mental outcomes of being amongst nature and we do know that individuals who hold some philosophy over the meaning of life often have better outcomes. However spiritual links can be somewhat glossed over in the majority of therapeutic and therapeutic style activities because of the risk of being seen to promote one belief system over another.
In nature therapy we do not promote any specific belief system, what we do promote is an individual finding their own path. Because they cross all religions and spiritual expressions, labyrinths are an ideal tool to reconnect with our inner selves and find outward meaning to life to help you follow what path is right for you.
This blog is dedicated to the graffiti artist who inscribed the picture above on the wall of a house in Pompeii (A Minotaur lives here). I love this particular labyrinth, not because of its complexity, meaning, or beauty, but because it shows that we are all human with all our human strengths and sensibilities. I imagine a grumpy old man, seemingly just like a Minotaur, living in that house and raging at whoever carved it into the stone - whilst the artist and his friends were laughing at their gesture.
That image survived the devastation which subsequently hit Pompeii most likely killing the grumpy old man, artist and his friends in the process. But just like humanity, the image survived the worst to bring a message of peace and hope down through countless generations. The humour inherent in the image could also be a message not to take ourselves too seriously.
If you want to know more about this fascinating subject and how it links to nature therapy then go to our facebook page (Nature Therapy CIC) to see pictures of our Mindful Labyrinth as it evolves over the coming week.