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A Review of Karen Wenzel’s (2018, Sept. 13). Exploring the Labyrinth: an evidenced-based mindfulness Karen Wenzel’s intervention


Wenzel, K. (2018) Exploring the labyrinth: an evidenced-based mindfulness intervention. Presented at the American Therapeutic Recreation Association Conference, 2018, Grand Rapids, MI: American Therapeutic Recreation Association


By: Danny Pettry, M.Ed., LPC, NCC, CTRS-BHS



Danny Pettry has been a good-standing member of ATRA since 1999. Pettry is not a hired spokesperson for ATRA. Pettry is not an elected ATRA Board member. Pettry is a Lifetime Member of ATRA who volunteers his time to assist with several ATRA committees.  Note: Danny Pettry provided his best efforts in summarizing this session. Danny Pettry’s review, views, and interpretations of this training session might not be the same views of the presenter or ATRA.


Left: Karen W.; Right: Danny P.

Karen Wenzel, MS, CTRS presented, Exploring the Labyrinth: an evidenced-based mindfulness intervention during the pre-conference institute at the 2018 American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) conference on Thursday, September 13, 2018.


Danny Pettry had an opportunity to attend this pre-conference session with Karen Wenzel. This blog entry is a summary of Wenzel’s presentation.


History of the Labyrinth:

Oldest found in Spain/ India, over 5,000 years old.

The labyrinth symbol is used in many cultures.

A labyrinth is not a maze. It is one path. There is only one way in and one way out.

The children’s game Hop Scotch may have been inspired by Labyrinth’s.


Here is a TedTalk by Eliza Pillsbury titled: Finding Meaning, not Minotaurs: A Beginner’s Guide to Labyrinths.

Danny Pettry: Karen played a brief video. I regret to say that I didn’t write down the video she presented. It may have been the one provided below:


Wenzel discussed a lavender labyrinths that provide a mix of aroma.


People who walk these use them for gratitude, prayer, and meditation.


Some outcomes:        

Many people find them relaxing.

Feeling relaxed

Feeling peaceful

Feeling grounded

Decrease stress and decrease anxiousness

Exercise: a full labyrinth is 1/3 of a mile. There are positive aspects after a walk.

Who could benefit: many people could benefit. Children with ADHD, people suffering grief are examples.

Spiritual Practice: Mindfulness Based Stress Reeducation (MBSR) is an 8-week intervention.



Evidenced-based research:

Wenzel shared that there are three decades of research. It is a mindfulness based technique. There is plenty of research on mindfulness.


Cortisol levels prior to entering the labyrinth and after the labyrinth have been used in studies.


The American Psychological Association in Washington D.C. has a labyrinth on the roof for the public.


Some ways to use labyrinths:

Community re-integration outing to a local labyrinth can be beneficial.

One could be created for a group room using painter’s tape.

Finger labyrinths can be used as well. It consists of taking your finger along the path (into the center) of the labyrinth and back out.  Light music could be played.

Danny Pettry: I ’d even suggest having younger children color that path in with one color (like yellow) and coloring the path back out with another color: like blue)


Large roll out mat for walking. Note – picture makes this look a lot smaller.

Practice activity:

Wenzel provided a large roll-out labyrinth. People who attended this training had an opportunity to walk it. There were many people walking the path at the same time (which caused some distraction for people). It is noted that this training was limited in time. Some participants suggested they’d enjoy it more if they had an opportunity to walk it on their own.


My experiences: I enjoyed it. I took one step at a time. I found it a great way to distract my mind from all of the other worries in the world. I was focused on one thing (the moment) and it provided some stress relief. I didn’t set an intention when walking the path. I passed people walking out of the labyrinth who had entered before me. I walked close to people alone the path who were walking in different directions. I had abstract thoughts: all people enter life (the labyrinth) at different times. I briefly pass by people in life at different intersections (childhood, adolescents, and young adulthood). People are on their own paths in life. And I must walk my own path and make it purposeful. (Those are just my thoghts).



Karen Wenzel shared several books and cards on the topic.

Visit these resources from Rec Therapy Today’s amazon affiliate links:

Some resources can be found here:


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Wenzel, K. (2018) Exploring the labyrinth: an evidenced-based mindfulness intervention. Presented at the American Therapeutic Recreation Association Conference, 2018, Grand Rapids, MI: American Therapeutic Recreation Association