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Labyrinths and their place in antenatal education


Labyrinth Brain & Parenting
Labyrinth Brain & Parenting

Why do I love labyrinths and why have I never come across anyone who isn't intrigued by them?


I am Amy, a Doula, hypnobirthing teacher and 3 step rewind practitioner. During the last few years, since my last child was born in 2017 I have slowly been becoming undone. Not in a scary sense, not in a way that other people would notice but in a quiet, restructuring of the self, kind of way. Having a Doula for my own birth in 2017 made me realise that people deserve to be supported in their fundamental moments and that many people don’t have the deep relationships with their community that leads to this kind of support spontaneously. But why?


As I decided to become a Doula, I became fascinated with how people prepare for the life shift that comes with having a baby. My research showed that in nearly all cases, people felt unprepared, and isolated in the postpartum period. It is hard to understand how, in this day and age, people were facing postpartum being unprepared...how could this be when people have access to information, all the information they could ever want, at the touch of a button?


Labyrinths now enter centre stage. For me, labyrinths provide the vehicle to deepen and arouse ones thinking in a way that maybe hasn’t been encountered for many years. So many people I spoke to were not having these deep conversations. Sure, they had been shown how to change a nappy, but the need here was deeper, spiritual and fundamental. It was related to the undoing, the reconstructing, the unlearning of the control young adults were taught to have at school. Adults who felt they would cope, they wouldn’t cry and they certainly didn’t need any help – yet they did. In nearly all responses people mourned this lack of psychological and sociological support.


I think there are many reasons why people are intrigued by the labyrinth. This piece cannot hope to address them all and in as much detail as I would like but it will give you an idea of some of the ways I find them useful and how that relates to my work as a Doula.

A labyrinth is a path which takes the form of a single path leading to a central point. You then exit on the same path. They are different to a maze which is a puzzle with various entry points, routes, dead ends. It is not something to be worked out and conquered. Their appeal lies in the fact that the thinking is limited and therefore allows the mind to wander elsewhere – being precisely the point – functioning as a sort of walking meditation. Humans are familiar with the labyrinth and are drawn to their structure. As humans we are surrounded by labyrinth and spiral – it is part of the very fibre of

Mother Nature’s work. The Fibonnaci sequence - which is found throughout the animal and plant kingdoms - is seen by the eye as a spiral. Seen in the seed arrangements of sunflowers, in pine cones and pineapples – even in the cross section of an apple. Many animals demonstrate the sequence in their horns, claws, beaks, teeth, talons, tusks, shells – even human teeth curve enough to fit with the sequence. You see spirals and labyrinths are intrinsic to our lives – we encounter them every day of our existence whether we realise or not. Interestingly, the parts of animals where the spiral is seen

tend to be those which help the animal to survive. That being known, we can understand why we feel drawn to the labyrinth and as if we belong there.


Labyrinths are very old and ancient examples are seen the world over. Religion has made use of labyrinths for centuries as a metaphor for one's spiritual journey towards God. The winding path can symbolise the increasing closeness towards spiritual enlightenment, with all its twists and turns, false hope and joy. To reach the centre of a labyrinth is less of an achievement and more of a home coming – a return if you will. That suggests that we have been there before. The centre is somewhere we know, or have known and somehow we have come away from it. The moment of birth can be seen as the centre of the labyrinth – surely at that moment you know everything you will ever need to?


Many adults cry when walking a labyrinth – a longing perhaps, for something that

was, a release maybe from something that is, a return possibly to something that has been. Using the labyrinth is a meaningful way to begin to explore the journey into parenthood with prospective parents – what twists and turns may they encounter, where might the journey take them, how might they become ‘undone’ and what’s to be done about that.


The parent may struggle with unfolding – they may have been so ‘well-educated’ out of their instincts and intuition that they may well feel birth and parenting is a matter of intelligence and effort. The harder you work, the greater the results. Yet this doesn’t hold up, often the most intelligent finding parenting just as tricky as the next man. Reawakening people’s ability to act in a way that feels right to them is the start of transformative work. Often, it will be a long time since people have had these conversations and they may feel scary. After all, we are not used to not being

able to get things right. This may cause some to shy away – calling for their Doula maybe three weeks after birth – for practical help yes, but maybe just maybe, to begin to rediscover themselves and their natural state. This is a pedestal for Doulas and I am not suggesting that all Doulas would be in their comfort zone here and not all clients will need this type of support. But, for anyone working with the labyrinth in this setting – the conversations, changes and restructure can be profound.


Even our own brain structure is labyrinthine and wonderfully complicated – we also see this replicated in the digestive tract and other areas of the body. It has been proven that water that has passed through a labyrinth has a more geometrically regular molecular structure than water that hasn’t. Add to this the fact that we have these structures internally and our bodies are nearly all water, you can begin to see why aligning in this way may be of some benefit – why it may just feel right to trace, walk, draw that labyrinth. Perhaps aligning ourselves more closely to our natural state.


When I use a labyrinth when exploring parenthood with my clients, I see something click in them. Mandelbrot described fractals as simple, complex and open-ended. Maybe that’s what we are. We are very simple beings when we are allowed to act on intuition, life can be complex and more so the further we get from our natural state and it is open ended with everyone being slightly different in their behaviours, hopes, wishes and desires.


Parenting is not something to be taught, contained, measured, reasoned away from.

Real parenting is messy, it changes things, it’s wonderful and chaotic but is always life changing.

 

A beautiful blog from a BPIAB Facilitator Amy Carrott. Find more information about Amy in her Facilitator Profile.




Labyrinths are also available to purchase in the website shop.


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Unknown member
Apr 08, 2023

Incredible 😍

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