The first week in June 2015 the large canvas, 11 circuit “Chartes” labyrinth was signed out from Presbytery’s Resource Center by two of the Chaplains working with the Spiritual Care Department of the New Hannover Regional Medical Center.
Chaplain Aaron Doll and Chaplain Brett McKey led 30-45 minute labyrinth workshops with six patient small groups as a part of the weekly Spirituality Group programs offered by the NHRMC Spiritual Care Department to the patients in the Behavioral Health Hospital. The workshops took place over two days and gave a basic background of labyrinth history and meaning. Patients were allowed either walking time on the large canvas, or use of smaller “lap” labyrinths or instructions to design their own labyrinth on paper. Each workshop ended with a time for the patients to talk about their experience with the labyrinth.
It was a new experience for all the patients and staff who came, curious to see what this ancient meditation tool was about. The reception was very positive.
One patient shared “It calmed my mind and helped me focus on my prayer.”
Another patient claimed that it was “confusing at first, but then I just relaxed and let the path lead. It’s kind of like following God.”
“The way out was hard. I was more susceptible to distractions. It’s like life when distractions make you forget who you are.”
One patient was present for both days of the workshops and had a different experience each time. They said, “Tuesday it was just a path, no big deal, but today I spent a long time in the center. I felt lonely on the way in, but in the middle it was like I was being found by all these friends. I left all my negative stuff in the middle and felt so light and free on the way out. ”
” It was the most spiritual experience I have ever had!”
Descriptions of “serenity” and “peaceful” were also heard.
Many of patients took handouts and expressed interest in where else they might be able to experience a labyrinth again.
The second day, a number of hospital staff took the opportunity to spend some time on the path. Behavioral Health Staff in particular were pleased with the experience patients reported. So much so in fact that the hospital has ordered a similar large canvas labyrinth to be a permanent part of their available therapy tools. Maggie Cooper, Expressive Therapist at the NHRMC Behavioral Health Hospital was especially impressed by the experiential nature of the canvas. Hands-on (or feet-on, in this case) is always more engaging and interesting to patients, she says. She and the staff send a rousing “Thank You” to the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina for allowing the chaplains to sign out the labyrinth and for taking an interest in supporting Behavioral Health patients.
For information about borrowing the labyrinth or someone to facilitate using it contact the Presbytery office – 910-862-8300 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Stock photo not related to the article.