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Virtual Labyrinth Facilitators Wanted!

Help bring the power of the labyrinth to those who are suffering

LabyrinthOur web site on walking the Virtual Chartres Labyrinth has received hundreds of hits (click here to go to my articles on labyrinths, physical and virtual). We are calling for you who want to learn the walk to work together with us to become Virtual Labyrinth Facilitators.

The problem with present day labyrinths is they are not convenient to walk regularly unless one has their own or they live near one. The number of walkers is limited by the size of the design. This opens a new ministry, The Virtual Labyrinth Facilitator. The Virtual Labyrinth Facilitator can lead any size group any time, in any place and under all conditions. Those they lead do not have to learn the walk, only to follow the one in front of them. Later the facilitator can teach others to learn to walk the virtual labyrinth on their own.

A major step in recognizing the power of the labyrinth as a tool for healing had been documented by the research conducted at Harvard Medical School's Mind/Body Medical Institute. They found Labyrinth walking is not only one of the simplest forms of focused meditation, but it is highly efficient at reducing anxiety and to offer a sense of control and efficiency in one's life. These demonstrated health positives have significant long term health benefits.

Up to now very few institutions have labyrinths. They are either too expensive or take up too much space. Now every facility can have their own labyrinth experience led by a Virtual Labyrinth Facilitator. Most institutions are hesitant and even suspicious about bringing in a new program that has not been tried. Those who become Facilitators would find places where they could demonstrate the efficacy of the labyrinth. It might be where they work or where they volunteer. It might be during a lunch break, or when ministering to others. In a more secular facility, inviting others to go with you on a "Peace Walk" in place of a "labyrinth walk" might be less frightening. The results would speak for themselves. Start small and build up. You never know where this ministry will lead you.

Imagine how Virtual Labyrinth Facilitators can be more effective in these many areas.

HOSPITALS

Springfield Hospital is a psychiatric hospital in South West London. Chaplain Cathy Wiles: "The labyrinth is helpful in stilling unquiet minds for patients, staff and careers alike. The labyrinth offers people to walk a path that is a journey into recovery."

Boone Hospital labyrinth offers experience of peace. "The labyrinth isn't just a place, it's an experience. It takes us inside, a deeper place in ourselves where people don't necessarily go very often."

A woman has breast cancer that's spread to her bones. She lives with daily pain. She schedules time before her appointments to walk a labyrinth.  "It has a very calming effect. It helps to put life in perspective. People are under a lot of stress. They deal with some unusual situations." It is a tool to focus the thoughts for their patients, families, and staff.

"My little brother was hanging onto his life. I stayed at the hospital day and night. Walking that labyrinth pulled me through the darkest times of my life. The feelings I have for this labyrinth cannot be expressed in words."

What difference would having a Virtual Labyrinth Facilitator in those hospitals that do not have labyrinths and how they can complement the permanent labyrinths where hospitals that do have them?

HOSPITAL REQUIREMENTS FOR THERAPY

A major hospital group was fined millions of dollars for not providing adequate mental health care and therapy to patients,

This failure resulted in significant and unnecessary suffering by patients, many of whom are coping with serious trauma and were in acute need of timely care.

Hospitals use labyrinths to help people find the strength to deal with natural fears, worries, doubts and questions which arise in the face of illness. They are an essential part of healing. Science has lots of technology for healing the body, but nothing for healing the soul.

Hospitals are talking about healing, not curing. We can't cure everybody, but we can help in healing people. Healing has to do with the total person, the mind and spirit as well as their body.

Labyrinths are in hospitals, rehab centers and places of healing so patients and families can benefit from the meditative time and space they provide.

Think how a Virtual Labyrinth Facilitator Team can provide immediate and long term therapy.

HOSPITAL LABYRINTH COMMENTS

"The walk allowed me to feel that where I am is fine."

"It felt safe. I needed this,"

"I was relaxed, all tension and stress was gone for the first time in a long time. I can cry at my grandfather's closeness to death,"

"You don't feel quite as down as you did when you started. You realize things can get better."

"I would love to own a house for ... having a labyrinth."

"There is no difference walking a permanent labyrinth or following a virtual labyrinth.  The power is in the walk with its loops and curves."

VETERAN'S HOSPITALS

The most commonly identified psychological clinical disorder stemming from the war is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or combat operations stress reactions (COSR).  At Walter Reed Army Hospital nurses, psychologist and physical therapists help soldiers to walk the labyrinth. Sometimes the vet may carry a rock with them, representing the burden they want to put down. The journey is short but the impact is great. Another current focus is on helping vets who come home from the war zones and have to adjust to civilian life and family relationship.

Wonder how much more could be done by a Virtual Labyrinth Facilitator even in a hospital with a labyrinth by leading small groups unhindered by permanent spaces, places or set ups or even more at those hospitals with no labyrinths available.

THE PRISON PROBLEM

The expanding prison population continues to grow as a major national crisis. More than 2.2 million Americans are incarcerated. This population of hundreds of thousands is released from U.S. prisons each year to try to make a go of it in a world where they have failed before. More than two-thirds will be rearrested within three years.

The development and expansion of labyrinth walking in correctional institutions has signaled a milestone in the treatment of offenders.  Prisons are using them as tools to help prisoners cope with incarceration and to gain new insight into old life problems by creative problem solving insights.

The Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction in Northampton is the first labyrinth at a jail or prison in the United States.

In a Du Page County Jail a woman found taking a walk along the winding paths of a labyrinth changed her life.

The labyrinth at Donovan State Prison creates an atmosphere of peace and calm not just with individuals but in the community as a whole.

The Labyrinth size does not matter. You can walk over the virtual lines. Imagine the impact on those who are alone 23 hours a day as they walk a virtual labyrinth in a four by eight cell.

The Virtual Labyrinth can be walked virtually anywhere in any place and under any conditions.

LABYRINTHS IN SCHOOLS: Kids on the Path

In 10 elementary schools permanent labyrinths were introduce.  Children immediately loved them as they raced to the center and out again.  Some labyrinth facilitators have used the labyrinth for games or for art and some emphasis has been on enriching and improving the lives of children and their families.

The children enjoy walking the path of the labyrinth.  Some kids have used the labyrinth to deal with grief at the loss of a loved one or a pet; others have used it for problem solving or conflict resolution; many use it to calm down when they are angry or upset.

Imagine how one Virtual Labyrinth Facilitator could impact the atmosphere of the whole school by leading a fifteen minute walk with as many children who chose to follow during a mid-day recess.

LABYRINTHS AND CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES

There is now enough research pointing to the positive impact the labyrinth has on children, including those with ADHD. Recent results of research done with finger labyrinths for ADHD children suggest that the intervention caused an effect in a greater reduction in ADHD symptoms. A Classroom Support Instructor uses finger labyrinths in her class.  Her comment is "until we get our own walkable labyrinth – let your fingers explore these designs to see the difference they make!" For the first time we now have virtually our own walkable labyrinth.

A teacher who works with ADHD students asked me to lead her class in a "Peace Walk".  There were about twelve grade school children.  Before the walked I was warned by the secretaries in the office to beware of one of the boys.  He was known to act out and had visited the office twice that day.  We had our walk. Many had stimulating responses. The next day the "problem" boy came up to his teacher and asked, "Can we take a Peace Walk Today?"

Imagine the impact a Virtual Labyrinth Facilitator would have by holding classes for parents and their children to teach them to take the virtual walk together as a family.

LABYRINTH WITH CORPORATIONS

The labyrinth is used to support corporations in their group process. Programs with the labyrinths include: Corporate team building, Stress Management, Rejuvenation, Creativity, Decision making, Meditation. The labyrinth blends Corporate Visioning and Strategy. Labyrinth walks assist members of groups in finding their own inner wisdom, which then supports the circle of the group.

The Labyrinth can be used by walking in with a question, taking a walk as a group or a community, using the labyrinth as a place of prayer and contemplation, focusing on new ideas and creativity or simply just walking in to relax and let go of any stresses of the day.  Corporations use the labyrinth to include flow, life balance, stress release, forgiveness, creativity and effective decision making. The labyrinth sets the mind free by providing both a clear path and an environment of trust and liberty. There is something very powerful about the fact you are walking a design that many have walked for centuries.

Image how a Virtual Labyrinth Facilitator can impact their corporate work environment.

CHURCHES WITH LABYRINTHS

A church labyrinth can support and enhance the life of a congregation and its mission in many different ways.

The labyrinth is a spiritual tool. Faith deepens over time as we walk the labyrinth. The labyrinth makes spirituality accessible to everyone. The labyrinth is used to reach people who don't relate to the church as an institution.

The labyrinth for pastoral care ministries: Labyrinths have healing qualities on many levels, emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual. The labyrinth has been very effective in addressing grief, during periods of crisis and to pray the labyrinth on behalf of those in need. Sunday school classes for adults, youth and children all enjoy using the labyrinth

Labyrinth walking builds community. When walking the labyrinth with others, a joining takes place. Community is formed.

During different liturgical seasons and feast days.

Walking the labyrinth deepens a person's spiritual life as well as finding guidance and Wisdom that being in His Presence offers.  There are special labyrinth events such as weddings, funerals, baptisms and teaching confirmation classes.

Congregational leaders have successfully used their labyrinths for discernment, conflict resolution, and celebration.

Imagine how a clergy who is a Virtual Labyrinth Facilitator can impact their congregation or when meeting with a calling committee.

THE PROGRAM IN SHORT

A few years ago I discovered how to walk a Chartres Labyrinth virtually.  There are many "virtual" labyrinths that are in the category of "finger" or "digital" labyrinths. This is the first and the only one that is actually walked. There is a psychology that goes along with the labyrinth.  The Facilitators do not have to be therapist, because the therapy is in the labyrinth.

The Chartres labyrinth is the most intricate, elegant and symbolic of labyrinth patterns.  In learning to walk the Virtual Labyrinth the Facilitators start with a design that is based on the Chartres Labyrinth minus parts of its three connectors. It contains over ninety percent of the original Chartres.  After one gets comfortable with the basic labyrinth, the parts of the three connectors can be added one at a time. The Chartres Labyrinth can be circular, square, or rectangular in form.

THE SELF CORRECTING THERAPY OF THE LABYRINTH

We must discover what we are looking for inside not outside ourselves.

The Three Principles of the Therapy that is in the Labyrinth:

Rational Thought creates our negative feelings about past events. As one enters the Labyrinth, moving towards the center, they begin to examine the negative feelings and struggles their thoughts create about past events.

Conscious: The loops and curves of the labyrinth open one's conscious mind to sense their innate Presence within.

Presence: At the center their open consciousness senses the Spirit of their inner Peace.  Walking out the feeling of Peace creates a positive thought and Wisdom not about but in the same past events they started with. These positive feelings create new insights they can only have when they are in this experience.

THREE THINGS BEFORE YOU START TO WALK

TREAT THE LABYRINTH WITH RESPECT: It is sheer arrogance to start right out walking the path. This design has been worked on for generations. It might look simple but its purpose is to screw up our rational mind so that our conscious senses can be opened.

STUDY THE LABYRINTH: Before you start walking get the big picture in your mind. Treat the labyrinth like a map if you were going on vacation. Study the route going into and then coming out of the center. Trace the design with your finger and get a feel for the movement of the curves and loops.

TRUST THE LABYRINTH: The Therapy is in the labyrinth. It is pure grace. It is unconditionally and inclusively given to everyone. What happens to those who follow your lead as a facilitator is not up to you. Sometimes it takes several times around for a walker to open up.

There are too many details to put all the material in here. There are also the ongoing insights that make most of the material presented in the past tense. I will coach one or more persons in an area. You would form a core group of Facilitators. Your group would lead and teach others in the walk.

Labyrinths are undergoing a great revival, if for no other reason, because we need them. Virtual Labyrinth Facilitators have a new and wonderful opportunity for ministry and to bring the labyrinth and its Peace to more than anyone can imagine.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Virtual Labyrinth Facilitator contact,

Fr. Paul Edwards at paulnanita@sbcglobal.net

Copyright 2008-2011 Paul Edwards