Labyrinths as Tools for Transformation

Two Perspectives on Personal Transformation

Two Perspectives’ is a bi-monthly column with two different perspectives from two different continents, genders and cultures on the same topic viz.

Dr Janet Smith Warfield (based in Florida, USA) and 
Dr Amit Nagpal (based in New Delhi, India).


Dr Janet Smith Warfield's Perspective, USA


Labyrinth at Institute of Noetic Sciences
Petaluma, CA

            Labyrinths appear throughout history, beginning as early as 2500 B.C. in Goa, India. Later, they emerged in Greece, Egypt, Italy, France, and Native American cultures. The word labyrinth is derived from the Lydian word labrys, meaning double-edged axe.

            The significance of labyrinths differs from culture to culture. Grecian labyrinths were believed to house the minotaur, a mythical creature that was half man and half bull. Other cultures associated the labyrinth with death and a triumphant return. Today, labyrinths serve as a form of modern pilgrimage for those with no ability to travel to distant lands. They are walking meditations, allowing each of us to sort out the chaos of modern life and find the spark of divinity that resides within.

            The walk into the center of the labyrinth provides a wonderful opportunity to meditate on our life purpose. Who are we? Why are we here? What are our unique gifts and talents?

            Once we reach the center of the labyrinth and the core of our being, we know who we are, what we're here to do, and what our unique gifts and talents are.

            As we walk out of the labyrinth, the questions change. How can we serve? How can we give back to the world what has been so freely given to us? How can we allow the gift we have been given to flow through us and back out into the world?

            Both the path in and the path out twist and turn. We think we are reaching the center of the labyrinth and the core of our being, when suddenly, we find ourselves on the outer edge of the circle, far from where we expected to be. We walk next to another spiritual seeker, then suddenly, our paths turn in opposite directions and we separate. As we follow our own path, we pass the same people over and over again and see the same archetypal patterns from new perspectives.

            If you've never walked a labyrinth, try it. I think you'll find it offers new insights into who you are and what your purpose is on this planet.

            For more information about labyrinths, see www.labyrinthsociety.org/. To find a labyrinth near you, see www.labyrinthlocator.com/.
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Dr. Janet Smith Warfield serves wisdom-seekers who want understanding and clarity so they can live peaceful, powerful, prosperous lives. Through her unique combination of holistic, creative, right-brain transformational experiences and 22 years of rigorous, left-brain law practice, she has learned how to sculpt words in atypical ways to shift her listeners into experiences beyond words, transforming turmoil into inner peace. For more information, see wordsculptures.com,janetsmithwarfield.com, and wordsculpturespublishing.com.

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Dr Amit Nagpal's Perspective, India


The word 'labyrinth' reminds me of the character ‘Abhimanyu’ and the song, “Abhimanyu, chakravyuh mein phas gaya hai tu.” (Abhimanyu, you are caught in the labyrinth.) In the battle of Mahabharata in India, Abhimanyu, the son of the great warrior Arjuna was caught in a labyrinth (refer picture on the left) and died since he did not know how to come out. I wonder if the entire humanity is caught in the labyrinth of the rat race and exhausted in the process.

There is something about life which is difficult for an average mind to understand. Call it the good karma vs bad karma, call it positive energy vs negative energy or call it the cycle of Satyuga vs Kaliyuga (The Age of Light and Dark Age), whatever makes sense to you.

The terms which I use to define life are virtuous cycle vs vicious cycle. Though the term cycle is used, but they are more like positive and negative spirals. Once you get into a negative spiral (or vicious cycle), you become more and more cynical and one day after reaching the bottom, you have no option left but to seek positivity. As they say, it is darkest before the dawn. 

The positive spiral or virtuous cycle is similar to 'The Secret' or the law of attraction. You become more and more positive and over a period of time, more and more successful also. Since they are not simple cycles but rather spirals, it is difficult for a cluttered mind to understand these concepts.

I once wrote, “The mind puts us into vicious cycle. The soul puts us into virtuous cycle” In simple words, the soul is nothing but the deeper self. The solutions to the problems of humanity, will come only from this deeper self. As Daniel H. Pink, rightly points out in his book, “A whole new mind”

“The future belongs to a different kind of a person with a different kind of a mind: artists, inventors, storytellers- creative and holistic ‘right brain’ thinkers.”

Is there a difference between maze and labyrinth? Wikipedia points out, “In colloquial English, labyrinth is generally synonymous with maze, but many contemporary scholars observe a distinction between the two: maze refers to a complex branching (multicursal) puzzle with choices of path and direction; while a single-path (unicursal) labyrinth has only a single, non-branching path, which leads to the center. A labyrinth in this sense has an unambiguous route to the center and back and is not designed to be difficult to navigate.”

If you are caught in a maze or labyrinth and want to come out, I have one quote for you to ponder over, “When we speak, God listens. When we become silent, God speaks.” Simple, the answers can only come in silence. Your labyrinth is unique and the inner voice can answer best- how to navigate it.
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Dr Amit Nagpal is a Personal Branding Consultant & Deepest Passion Coach. He is based in New Delhi, India and specializes in personal branding with a holistic touch. His philosophy is, "Enlarge as a Human Being, Excel as a Social Media Being and Evolve as a Personal Brand"

To know more about him, click here. 


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