Authored by Darin Eich, Ph.D.
A labyrinth is a reflective tool, a moving meditation if you will. It is a patterned path that you walk. While you walk, you think. You think very clearly. You gain insights. You think through things better. This is my experience walking labyrinths and utilizing them for my own personal innovation work. The last time I remember having a similar powerful experience walking and thinking was mowing the lawn which involved constantly moving in a pattern towards the center. My mind was full of ideas and thought during this experience and the labyrinth has generated similar effects for me. The labyrinth is a good weekly personal practice or a good tool for a group to use. Labyrinths can be used for a variety of purposes. The ability to use them individually and with groups for the purposes of convergent thinking, decision making, and innovation have become increasingly pertinent. Some thinking techniques like the labyrinth are ancient but readily applicable today.
I’ve used the labyrinth as a very powerful creativity, thinking, development, and problem-solving tool with a number of different groups of people seeking to innovate their own lives and organizations. When I need to work out a problem or think about something and develop it deeply, I journey to the labyrinth for this silent reflective walk that is very different from a group brainstorming session. This labyrinth walk is a moving, personal and inner thinking tool that I try to utilize on a regular basis. I have also been involved with using the labyrinth at a variety of leadership retreats and with teaching people innovation and creativity. The application can be equally powerful for individuals walking alone as it is for a group walking together. The group silence that typically accompanies a labyrinth activity is a new powerful feeling to experience.
I’ve also noticed labyrinths making their way into popular literature on innovation and creativity. Most interesting to me was seeing a number of pages devoted to the labyrinth in Daniel Pink’s tremendous book, “A Whole New Mind”. This is probably one of my favorite books relating to innovation and how individual thinking can contribute to it. The leadership and personal innovation skills for the new era he is presenting resonate with me. Dan says the keys to success in this upcoming “conceptual age” are in developing and cultivating six senses: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. The tools of innovation and the labyrinth align well with his six senses. How interesting would it be to create new interventions and programs designed to develop these capacities in people? One idea is creating a program designed to help people understand, articulate, and create their own stories. The labyrinth would be an excellent tool that can help people think through their own stories and work towards developing these important capacities and outcomes necessary for success and meaning in the conceptual age.
The labyrinth is starting to gain increased recognition for its role in helping to foster creative ideas, solutions to problems, and the development of innovative concepts. Read the article from Professor and Labyrinth researcher, Katja Marquart, for more information on labyrinths and how some people are using them for enhanced creative problem solving. Why not walk a labyrinth yourself and see how it may help you think more clearly. To find a labyrinth near you, search the World Wide Labyrinth Locator at http://wwll.veriditas.labyrinthsociety.org/