Labyrinth As Meditation

Power, Play, and Possibility: labyrinth accessibility for the blind community and all

MFA@CIIS alum Maia Scott discusses the development of her new book,“Finger Walks” — a guidebook of 16 tactile, high-contrast finger labyrinths, in print and Braille.

Labyrinth excerpt from “Finger Walks”

Ever since I walked my first labyrinth, I was hooked. What could be better than meditation in motion, following a winding journey in community. Not only did they let me walk around on top of an amazing piece of art, I found myself invited into a gentle choreography that welcomes all bodies to work in synergy. Add to that some unexpected life lessons that nudged me to explore the potential of witnessing art in action rather than simply watching.

When I discovered that some labyrinths evolve from a seed pattern, a series of dots and lines that connect to form an unbroken path, I fell in love with these elements as creative constraints for developing my own labyrinth images. While at CIIS, my peers and professors challenged me to not only use the labyrinth seeds as the heart of my work, but also to consider channeling labyrinth-ness itself as a spark for my creative process. Exploring the labyrinth archetype blossomed for me into some fun and interactive movement scores, written pieces, and visual art creations in text and mixed media.

Maia Scott & her guide dog Gleam at Grace Cathedral

As a visual and performing arts instructor for adults with disabilities and as a visually impaired person myself, I see more and more that the universality of the labyrinth walk does not reach all populations. For one, I have visited labyrinths that I was not able to enjoy without the intervention of a sighted person.

Cover Page of “Finger Walks”

With this in mind, I submitted a project proposal to the American Printing House for the Blind. I suggested a tactile labyrinth collection along with a guidebook. As I answered their extensive list of questions about how the product could benefit core curriculum among other things, I discovered this product would not only act as a great meditative tool for the blind population, it also had potential to support integral teaching practices benefiting people of all abilities. To my delight, they accepted the project and I had the opportunity to work with them on the development of “Finger Walks.”

Image from “Finger Walks”

I wanted it to contain labyrinths that span cultures, time, complexity and design. I wanted each to be paired with a concise selection of facts and resources. Researching the pattern selections led me on a quest exploring social justice, appropriation, myth, and healing. When asked to describe each pattern and its unique properties, I learned how labyrinths can support the young and newly blind in enhancing spatial awareness skills.

It delights me to ponder the potential uses for labyrinths as a tool to level the playing field in so many ways. I am humbled and awed to know this long-lived symbol for creation and that the journey through life still has so much to gently teach us today.

“Finger Walks” will be available at APH.org once business resumes.

Image from “Finger Walks”

Maia Scott is a teacher, bodyworker, labyrinth designer, and 2014 alum of the MFA program at CIIS. Follow our Medium to keep up with all the happenings of the MFA@CIIS!

Blog of the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Writing program at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, CA, U.S.A.