In a move headed by Robert Ferre, Director of Labyrinth Enterprises of St Louis, USA, a range of projects have been initiated to use labyrinths in US hospitals, cancer centres, hospices and clinics. Results, particularly in reducing stress and promoting wellbeing and inner healing, have been encouraging.
A labyrinth offers inner healing, which is complementary to technological outer healing. Hospitals benefit from labyrinths specifically because they are not scientific.
The first hospital labyrinth was built at Californian Pacific Medical Cenre in San Francisco, and is situated close to the entrance.
Patients, staff, care-givers, visitors and the outside community can all benefit from a labyrinth within a hospital complex.
The labyrinth is a healing space, a place-to-be, where people can renew themselves through mediation, prayer or relaxation. It is a place for centring oneself. This is true even though the sound of nearby traffic and other noises associated with a hospital could be held to intrude. Complete silence is not a pre-requisite.
On a labyrinth patients can gain a positive attitude towards their healing process and treatment. Often they feel left out and powerless, lost in the medical system. By participating in their own healing process they are more likely to be empowered, making them more likely to follow through with their responsibilities.
The labyrinth offers families and friends a place to find relief for their concern about the ways in which one person’s illness can impact on the whole family. It is an appropriate place to pass time while a loved one is receiving medical care particularly in emergencies or high stress situations where the outcome is uncertain.
Through walking the labyrinth the experience of illness or injury can be realigned, particularly in cases where the outcome falls short of the desired medical outcome.
Being on the labyrinth is an excellent place for people to begin their grieving process after experiencing a loss. Walked by a family at such a time it assists them in the process of regrouping after the loss of a family member.
The labyrinth can be used for memorials, and to recall loved ones on anniversaries.
The labyrinth can also help employees handle the anxieties and tension of their work, and give them space to focus on highly demanding precision work ahead such as in paediatric surgery. Walking the labyrinth can also help with relaxing and unwinding after a demanding day.
The labyrinth can be appreciated passively by watching others use it. It is a similar experience to watching the movement of water, such as in a waterfall, as the labyrinth becomes a living sculpture while in use.