Navigating Overwhelm with the Labyrinth
If you're feeling overwhelmed, stuck in a rut, or unsure of your direction as a small business owner, you're not alone.
But what if there was a tool that could help you navigate life's challenges with more clarity and purpose?
Enter the labyrinth - an ancient symbol and spiritual practice that has been used for thousands of years to represent the journey of self-discovery and growth. In this blog, we'll explore the difference between a maze and a labyrinth, the features of mythical labyrinths, and how you can apply their spiritual meaning to your own life. So if you're ready to walk the path of the labyrinth and find peace, clarity, and direction, read on!
If you're a small business owner feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, or stuck in a rut, you may think of yourself as being in a maze - unsure of what direction to take; feeling like you’re always backtracking and hitting dead ends, or maybe even resisting venturing too far into the maze in the first place for fear of getting lost in the unknown dark twists and turns.
So may I offer up a simple reframe - to swap the feeling of being in a maze for one of walking a labyrinth instead?
At first glance, mazes and labyrinths may seem interchangeable. They're both intricate designs made up of winding paths and dead ends, right? Well, not exactly. While a maze is designed to confuse and challenge the person trying to navigate it, a labyrinth is a single, winding path that leads to the centre and back out again.
In other words, a maze is meant to trap you, while a labyrinth is meant to guide you.
For thousands of years and across many cultures, the spiritual significance of the labyrinth is one that has been used as a metaphor for life’s experiences and whilst the ideas of mythical beasts and legendary heroes have slipped into the land of fiction, there is much that we can learn from these stories.
Here are some common features in labyrinth stories that can be applied to modern life:
The journey: Walking the labyrinth is a journey, and the journey itself is often seen as a metaphor for life. The journey can represent the process of self-discovery, the search for meaning and purpose, and the spiritual quest.
It can even represent the creative struggle, the journey of creating a new service in your business or pursuing a career change or new relationship.
The challenge: In many myths and stories, the labyrinth is seen as a challenge that must be overcome. This can represent the challenges we face in life, the obstacles we must navigate, and the courage and determination required to overcome them. Often, the challenge is what needs to be overcome so that we can reach the next stage or level of the journey.
The centre: The centre of the labyrinth is often seen as a sacred or mystical space, reached at the pinnacle of the journey (but not its end!). In life, the centre can represent our innermost self, our soul, or our connection to a higher power.
It can also represent the truth of what you are looking for - hidden at the centre and only revealed when you have truly trusted and followed the path laid out before you and overcome the challenges set before you.
The transformation: Walking the labyrinth is often seen as a transformative experience. This can represent the personal growth, spiritual awakening, or inner transformation that can occur when we face our challenges and journey to the centre of ourselves. This is something only possible when we choose to walk the path of the labyrinth, face its challenges and reach the centre. This is something that cannot be easily achieved but must be earned.
The guidance: In some myths, the labyrinth is seen as a place of divine guidance or intervention. This can represent the guidance we receive from our intuition, our inner voice, or our higher power as we navigate the twists and turns of life.
There are often helpers in the labyrinth too (like Ariadnae and the thread that guided Theseus) - mentors, guides and wise ones who are there to impart knowledge that can help you to navigate the challenges and build courage and self-trust to keep going. The helpers and guides cannot complete the labyrinth or the journey for you, but they can certainly make it easier!
By understanding these features of mythical labyrinths, we can apply them as metaphors for our own lives, finding guidance, inspiration, and wisdom as we navigate our own personal journeys.
Walking a labyrinth can be a powerful spiritual practice that can help you find peace, clarity, and direction. Reframing feelings of being stuck in a maze as simply a challenge in the labyrinth can support you to lean into self-trust. In a labyrinth there is only ever one path - it's impossible to get lost and you can only get stuck if you give up.
The way out of a labyrinth is simply to keep going - to follow the path and trust that it will lead you first to the answers you seek in that hidden, dark centre and then out once more into the light.
Remember, the labyrinth is not a test of your intelligence or your ability to solve puzzles. It's a tool for self-discovery and spiritual growth. Trust the process, and trust yourself. You have everything you need to find your way.
Interested in exploring the labyrinth further? Here are three practical ways you can apply the spiritual meaning of the labyrinth:
Walking a physical labyrinth: Find a labyrinth in your area or create one in your backyard or a quiet space in your home. Walk the labyrinth with intention, allowing yourself to be guided by the path and focusing on your breath and the present moment. Use this practice as a way to release stress, connect with your inner guidance, and find peace. (fun fact - my local church has one in the serenity garden and I have been known to walk it!)
Drawing a labyrinth: If you can't physically walk a labyrinth, you can still benefit from the spiritual practice by drawing one on paper and tracing it with your finger. This can be a calming and meditative practice that can help you connect with your intuition and release stress. You can find more about doing that here.
Applying the metaphor of the labyrinth to your life: Even if you don't have access to a physical labyrinth, you can still apply the spiritual meaning of the labyrinth to your daily life.
When you feel overwhelmed or stuck, visualise yourself walking a labyrinth and trust that the path will lead you to where you need to be.
Think about your life journey so far. What twists and turns have you had? What have you learned from them?
Picture yourself walking the labyrinth. What's at the centre of it? What would it feel like to reach it?
How could the labyrinth help you transform your life? What changes do you want to make?
Who guides you in life? Could you connect more deeply with your inner guide or a higher power?
What challenges are you facing right now? Could you view them as part of your journey, rather than as obstacles to overcome?
I hope this blog has given you a fresh perspective on the labyrinth and how it can help you navigate life's challenges. I also recommend reading Creatrix by Lucy H Pearce (affiliate link), built around the labyrinth as a metaphor for the creative journey.
Whether you walk a physical labyrinth, draw one on paper, or simply use the metaphor to guide you, there are plenty of ways to use this ancient symbol as a tool for self-discovery and growth.
If you're struggling with overwhelm, people pleasing, or burnout, and you're ready for more support, I invite you to book a call with me as I would love to be your guide in exploring the labyrinth further.