Labyrinths in Higher Education

The first time I’d ever heard of a labyrinth (outside of the movie, of course) was during my first summer working at Project Transformation (PT). PT members lived on SMU’s campus and, in our downtime, oftentimes found ourselves aimlessly wandering the beautiful campus. Several of my friends and I found SMU’s labyrinth on one of these occasions. Without knowing anything about the maze look-alike, I began walking its path and experienced a few very relaxing minutes. Since then, I have LOVED labyrinths. I returned to the one on SMU’s campus countless times that summer and in the two following summers that I served at PT. Since then, I’ve enjoyed many small road trips on my way to find other labyrinths.

Labyrinths, from my personal reading, symbolize the journey of finding oneself in relation to solitude and the world. Walking into the center of a labyrinth represents our own, personal journey of self-discovery. The center represents, well, feeling centered and finding peace. Leaving the center and following the path back out symbolizes a journey back out into the world, into community. All three of these parts are interconnected; no one part can exist without the others. There is only one entrance/exit, differentiating it from a maze. This single entrance/exit shows that our path to center still leads us back to our self and the world around us – our journey to personal peace and our connection to the world around us are deeply relational and symbiotic in nature.

Whether you look at labyrinths in this way or not, they are still highly recommended from me. In my anxious moments, I regularly find myself walking a labyrinth to ease racing thoughts. When uncertainties around me feel overwhelming, I like to walk the circular pattern as I bring my worries back down to size. Even in my happy and exciting moments, I still return to a labyrinth to slow down and appreciate all I have to be thankful for.

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