Let your fingers do the walking
Finger labyrinths have been around for some time, but this year they have come into their own (along with ZOOM!) and have become the perfect go-to tool for all kinds of purposes and benefits. So while it’s often been difficult to get out onto an outdoor or indoor walking labyrinth (and I don’t need to elaborate on the reasons!) the scaled-down finger labyrinth has offered an invaluable alternative. Not only that, ZOOM technology has made finger labyrinth group walks and workshops a reality.
Initially, I sat down to do some mindful drawing today – having excitedly signed up for an online course. And just as I gathered the necessary tools, found the ideal spot to settle into and make a start, I found myself drawn to one of my finger labyrinths (I have a few!) and subsequently writing a blog instead. I generally listen to my body! So what exactly have finger labyrinths got going for them? Try this for starters:
they’re portable and so you can create favourite spaces to “walk” them
they’re instant, accessible, at hand when you need one
can be personalised using favourite colours, textures, materials
are easy to make with minimal materials, but you can also get really complex and creative, eg check out this Pinterest page
there are lots of design choices for the walking path
no one is going to judge your efforts
Using Finger Labyrinths with Students
In addition to being a great personal and professional support for you (more about that later), they are perfect for individual use with students, small groups or whole classes within the social-emotional learning program of the school. Initially they can be introduced as a calming, de-stressing mindful activity at the start of the day, between lessons, or after breaks. When students recognise and experience the benefits they seek out finger labyrinths of their own volition. Classroom culture needs to support this, of course, like having a safe, dedicated space that students can access. Teachers are reporting that finger labyrinths have been particularly successful with ADHD students who return to class with a calmer, more willing approach to participate in activities.
Introducing Finger Labyrinths
One way to introduce an individual student, group or whole class to finger labyrinths is to download and print a variety of designs and explore the different forms. Invariably, there will be preferences. Once choices have been made, start with some calming breaths. Allow them to trace along the path to the centre, pause there, and retrace the path back to the start. Ask what it was like for them. With individuals a discussion can take place. For a group or whole class it could be more appropriate to invite them to draw an image, or symbol, or write a word that came to them while they were walking or at the end of their walk. There are no right or wrong responses here, and responding should be left open-ended. No response is also a response. Some like to circle the perimeter several times before starting their walk, or at the end. All kinds of preferences emerge, and different things on different days. Be a learner with your students!
Benefits of Using Finger Labyrinths
What are the benefits of walking finger labyrinths? Well, for adults and students alike, just like a full-scale walkable one, labyrinths can contribute to:
relaxation, and so aid in calming and de-stressing
the practice of mindfulness
meditative and prayer practices
releasing tensions and concerns, worries or troubles
thinking about creative ideas
being thankful and grateful
reflecting on situations, issues, conflict, professional practice
Using Finger Labyrinths with Staff
As a personal and professional development support for staff, make finger labyrinths available and create a quiet space for reflection (by the way, making finger labyrinths is a great staff workshop idea!) An excellent way of using finger labyrinths is in helping open up our inner wisdom when working through particular challenges, changes or issues, and walking with an open question, eg
how might I….?
in what ways could I…..?
how open am I to…..?
how ready am I to….?
what might I need to…?
Downloadable resources can be found on our enodatio Self Reflection Pathway page
Just as for students, creating a place of peace and tranquility for staff is hugely beneficial. Sitting with a buddy, side by side or facing, each with a finger labyrinth at the end of a rugged day, can work wonders! Another place I’ve found that works really well as a de-stressor is a passage or corridor (but not a busy thoroughfare) where a line of laminated A2-sized labyrinths are attached to the wall and are readily accessible in passing. Different designs have particular attractions at different times.
NB: the gorgeous colourful labyrinth posters shown in the main photo and throughout this blog post are a set of Adrian Kezele -designed Celestial Labyrinths featured here and available from High Castle publishers in Zagreb, Croatia - who can be contacted here
Labyrinths really are a tool for our times. Resources to answer your what, where, when, why and how questions can be found on enodatio Learning with Labyrinths, and facilitators to help with all-things-labyrinth can be sourced through our Contact page. Following our Facebook page will keep you up to speed on all the latest happenings, including an upcoming series of finger labyrinth workshops in January. Keep an eye out!