Saturday, April 12, 2014

Labyrinth Walking at any Age

Recently a local architect approached our small group and asked for some more information about labyrinths "for seniors".  He has been following the progress of the creation of our labyrinth with interest - and felt drawn to proposing that a labyrinth be incorporated in a new project that he is currently working on with a landscape architect and client.

I first reached out to a master labyrinth builder and fellow labyrinth facilitator Lisa Gidlow Moriarty for some information.   She provided photos of a couple of labyrinths installed in senior settings: a senior centre located near Chicago, Illinois and a nursing home near Minneapolis, Minnesota:
Wheelchair-friendly labyrinth at Senior Centre near Chicago - crushed granite applied to pre-tinted concrete
Accessible labyrinth at Nursing Home near Minneapolis - design applied with a soy-based concrete stain
There are important considerations needed in choosing a proper design for this setting/audience, including: size, path width, wheelchair/walker accessibility in materials and design to name a few.
Crushed granite product (blue) applied to form the labyrinth pattern

Of note - when we were designing the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth accessibility was a very important consideration.  If someone is not able to walk on the turf path - they can circle the labyrinth on the outer contemplation ring or walk the labyrinth using the finger labyrinth on the granite bench.
Sit quietly and trace the path of the labyrinth with your finger - you will be touched by the experience!
I also reached out through the Veriditas labyrinth facilitator network regarding this subject and was heartened to receive the following responses.  If anyone else has other experiences or information to share - we would love to hear from you!

Hi all:
If this is an architect asking, I would gather he would be interested in accommodating some of the challenges that come with seniors.  If space allows, slightly wider paths to accommodate walkers, and even wheel chairs would be helpful.  Just yesterday, we had an older woman come to our monthly walk at Trinity Cathedral.  She required a quad cane but was anxious to walk for the first time.  The first few walkers to enter all knelt at the gateway and she was concerned she had to do so.  I reassured her that whatever she wished to do and was able to do was appropriate and that she could use her cane.  She went ahead and walked.  I don't know whether she had answers to any issues, but she was much more relaxed when she completed her walk.


Whilst I appreciate that many seniors are physically very able, it's possible that some of the issues in designing a labyrinth for a hospice setting may be relevant. I'm thinking here about mobility, carers, bereavement, other particular issues that older age can bring. Lizzie Hopthrow has written about labyrinths for hospices in the recent (2013) book edited by Ruth Sewell, Di Williams and myself: Working with the Labyrinth. (Published in the UK, but there's a pdf and downloadable version too)

Warmest wishes

Dear Christine and all,
Some other installation issues to consider are that pavers can be a problematic for wheelchairs, walkers, and people with balance issues. Also remember that when you widen the paths, especially in a nine, eleven, or even in a seven-circuit labyrinth, that it can make the walk a lot longer to complete.

It is so wonderful to hear how the facilitators here are sharing their stories of how they are holding the space for their senior walkers. These are beautiful stories!

Thank you everyone!

Hi All
I am attaching a photo of a ‘family’ labyrinth walk. 4 generations of family gathered on Cape Cod.

Family labyrinth walk on Cape Cod
As you can see the older person (matriarch) in wheelchair was included. Everyone was glad to have her on the walk, wheelchair and all. The pavers presented no problem and the older person was happy to be included. If installed correctly the pavers are easy to navigate, but support from others is always helpful!

Dear Donald and all,
You are right. If the pavers are installed properly it does make the labyrinth more accessible to wheelchairs and walkers. But as you point out here, the paver installation must be made with this in mind. I think what I was also thinking of was the hospital paver labyrinths that I've seen that have not been installed properly and the problem with people trying to walk and bring along their IV cart, as well as wheelchairs and walkers. So thank you for making this distinction.

This is a beautiful picture. Thank you for sharing it with us!

Thanks, Lea, for this.
In senior facilities it is so very important to understand the clients/users. There are many kinds of pavers and other hard surfaces. While wheelchairs with large wheels find pavers less problematic, using a walker, a 4-legged cane or IV cart is another issue.  Some elders tend to shuffle when walking, so an uneven surface may pose a challenge for them.

Being aware of surface texture is important. Concrete can be stamped to resemble stone, but when stamped too deeply, the surface is uneven and dangerous for people with walkers or balance difficulties. It might also hold small puddles of rainwater, adding yet another challenge.

Similarly, granite is beautiful and can have a nice, slightly textured surface, but add rain or water from a nearby sprinkler and it can become a slipping hazard.

Of course here in northern climates we have deep freeze/thaw cycles that cause the earth to move, pushing pavers out.  Accordingly, proper installation requires attention to base material and depth to minimize seasonal movement.

Proper design is also a consideration. When hips or knee issues are present, designs with fewer turns or more sweeping turns are worth consideration. Additionally, patterns with an alternate entrance/exit such as the Baltic Wheel provide options for fatigue, decreased stamina, and varying degrees of ability.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

A New Vision!

I find it hard to believe that I have now been volunteering with the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth since late 2009.  And that I wrote our first blog post in February 2010. At that time we were a small group dedicated to establishing a permanent community labyrinth in Carleton Place, Ontario. And what a wonderful journey it has been!

Over the past four years, some committee members have moved on to other ventures, but a small core group of labyrinth keepers remains.  It is truly amazing what has been accomplished and I am grateful to continue to be involved with this special group.
Committee members (left to right): Karen Kiddey; Ruth Phyllis; Julia Heathcote; Christine Hume and Debby Lytle
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

Recently we realized that it was time to reflect, review and evolve our vision statement. To more accurately capture our committee's role and our hopes and dreams for the Community Labyrinth as we move forward...

So out with the OLD:

Walk the Path with a Group of Labyrinth Enthusiasts Dedicated to Building a Permanent Labyrinth

And in with the NEW:

Celebrating the Labyrinth by Fostering Awareness Through Public Walks and Community Events

We look forward to meeting you on the Path throughout the coming year.  And if you happen to be interested in labyrinths and in volunteering to join our Committee - we would love to hear from you!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Events at the Labyrinth for 2014

While the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth rests under lots of snow cover, we are looking forward to reconnecting with you at the following events during 2014!

  • Weekly walks, Tuesdays from 9 -10 am, June through September.  Labyrinth keeper on site.
  • Earth Day Sunrise Walk Tuesday, Apr 22 (sunrise 6:04 am)
  • Walk as One at One, World Labyrinth Day, Saturday, May 3rd at 1 pm.
  • Walk in Peace, Thursday, June 19th 5:30 PM, bring along a picnic supper for this evening walk.  Speakers TBA.
  • Light up the Labyrinth, September date and time still to be announced.
  • We also spoke about a full moon walk  - full moon dates for 2014 are Wednesday, May 14;  Friday, June 13; Saturday, July 12; Sunday, August 10; Tuesday, September 9, Wednesday, October 8;  Thursday, November 6.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Harvest Lanterns Light the Labyrinth

On Saturday September 21st, the warm glow of lanterns of all shapes and sizes will illuminate the path of Carleton Place's community labyrinth for the 5th "Harvest Lantern Labyrinth Walk". Festivities take place at 7:00 pm behind the Carleton Place & Beckwith Heritage Museum at the corner of George and Baines Streets in Carleton Place.

The Labyrinth Committee of Carleton Place invites you to bring out your lanterns and join an evening walk. Luminaries will be flickering along the labyrinth’s path and colourful handcrafted lanterns will be set aglow in “Labyrinth Park”.

Borrow a lantern from us or bring your own creation!” says TLC Chairperson Debby Lytle. Along with a candlelit path, expect to enjoy music, and refreshments – all chosen for the harvest theme. For those who are new to the labyrinth experience, it’s a perfect chance to visit the site and discover the serenity and simplicity of walking a labyrinth.

The "Harvest Lantern Labyrinth Walk" has become a popular fall event, as individuals and families from across the region bring along their festive lanterns, enjoy a walk in the crisp autumn air, and cozy up to a roaring bonfire. Garden benches and a wheelchair-accessible contemplation ring encircle the labyrinth for those who wish to relax and watch the candlelight.
Thanks to support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Town of Carleton Place and individuals and businesses within our community, this permanent labyrinth exists for people to use at any time.

Volunteers from the Labyrinth Committee are also available onsite each Tuesday from 9 to 10 am. until the end of October to answer any questions you may have.

For more information, or if you would like to help to set up the luminaries prior to the walk, please contact Debby at 613-257-1014

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Reflecting on our "Walk in Peace" Event

While we began in 2008 fundraising and building our community labyrinth, our role has now evolved to that of labyrinth keepers and event planners.  We are striving always to bring awareness of the labyrinth to our community and surrounding area.

The concept for our recent "Walk in Peace" event, held on Thursday, June 20th, 2013 was to hold a community picnic supper, starting at 5:30 pm,  in the garden that is situated close to our labyrinth.

A perfect evening for a summer picnic!

We invited speakers to come and present a short talk on “Inner Peace”(Claudia Baker, retired teacher and practicing Buddhist) and “Global Peace”(Peggy Edwards, Grandmothers Advocacy Network).
Claudia Baker shares some inspiring quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh.
Peggy Edwards speaks passionately on behalf of African Grandmothers

We followed this with a singing bowl meditation in the garden (led by Karen Jones), an introduction to labyrinth walking and then a walk.  The singing bowls were played during the walk.
We are accompanied on our labyrinth walk by the healing vibrations of the crystal singing bowls!
There were a few props around, a blanket with children’s books on peace, a bucket of bubbles and wands.  We use shepherd hooks around the labyrinth and hung laminated reflections on “Peace” that people could read prior to entering the labyrinth.  Around our labyrinth are 4 benches framed by gardens (we call these meditation areas).  On each of the benches we placed books on peace and finger labyrinths for those unable to walk.
We set up a table with material scraps for event attendees to write prayers and thoughts about peace on.  These were hung with clothes pegs on a line strung between a couple of trees when completed, similarly to the peace/praryer flags seen in Tibet.  This was a popular activity and the squares have gone home with one of our committee members to be sewn together into a “quilt top”.
Event attendees share their thoughts about peace!
A prayer flag is a colorful rectangular cloth, often found strung along mountain ridges and peaks high in the Himalayas. They are used to bless the surrounding countryside and for other purposes.  Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to gods, which is a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all.

The weather couldn't have been more perfect and the feeling throughout the evening was one of community, unity and peace.  Some people that had arrived frazzled and stressed by their day - left feeling renewed and refreshed!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Blooming Art and Garden Tour

Spend a day in Carleton Place touring seven private gardens, the Victoria School Garden and the Community Labyrinth.

Enjoy the beautiful, individual styles of landscaping and horticulture with the added features of local artists and members of the arts community presenting a variety of artwork, music, and performance art.  Added attractions include samplings of culinary delights and special surprise guests.

Truly a delight for all five senses!

Saturday, July 6,  2013, 10:00-4:00 p.m. (rain date July 7)
Tickets $25.00

For more information visit:
Blooming Tour 
Carleton Place in Bloom 
Arts Carleton Place

Saturday, May 4, 2013

New Sign to be Unveiled at World Labyrinth Day Walk

Walking the labyrinth on World Labyrinth Day is the perfect way to celebrate spring!

Join us on Saturday May 4th for our first public event of 2013  as we "Walk as One at 1 pm" in celebration of World Labyrinth Day.  If you are new to the labyrinth experience, this Saturday walk will be the perfect introduction for you. This year, volunteer “labyrinthkeepers” will unveil a new sign that will serve as a year-round guide for visitors to the labyrinth.

Helpful tips for walking and learning more about labyrinths
World Labyrinth Day, declared in 1998 by The Labyrinth Society, brings people together globally to recognize the labyrinth as a symbol, a tool, a passion, and a practice. This will be the fifth World Labyrinth Day walk for the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth, as we join enthusiasts from around the globe who will walk their local labyrinth at 1:00 pm. in their local time zones.

By walking a labyrinth, we are rediscovering an ancient tradition which is still relevant today. Labyrinths offer a special place in a community for people to come together for significant celebrations, to resolve a problem, to enjoy a meditative walk, or to simply take time out of a busy day. The newly built stone-bordered pathway of the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth is situated in a peaceful garden setting beside the Carleton Place & Beckwith Heritage Museum at the corner of George and Baines Streets.

Labyrinths exist in many forms, in places as diverse as Peru, Iceland, Egypt, France, and the United Kingdom. Some have been built on private lands, while others, like the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth, have been created as a public space for all to enjoy. Labyrinth construction was made possible by the Town of Carleton Place, individual, business  & community sponsors, and a Trillium Foundation grant. Garden benches and a wheelchair accessible contemplation ring encircle the labyrinth for those who wish to enjoy the natural setting of "Labyrinth Park".

Members of the volunteer Labyrinth Committee invite you to experience the good feeling walking a labyrinth can make in your life!  Fascinating information about the history, benefits and unique aspects of the labyrinth will also be available.

For more information contact Debby: 613-257-1014
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