Labyrinths for Mental Health

Labyrinths are maze-like designs that date back to ancient times. They were thought to be used for religious, as well as healing purposes. Today, as Western medicine is combining with complementary therapies to help patients heal, people are turning back to the labyrinth.

When Donna Rickelman was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago, she made a vow. “I decided way early that cancer was going to come along with me, I was not going to go along with the cancer,” says Donna.

A healthy diet is one way she’s managing the disease. A labyrinth is another. Donna says, “I really felt like I was calmer and more centered.”

Chaplain Jeanne Miller-Clark of the South Seminole Hospital in Orlando, Fla., believes these feelings are key to living healthy. “We know we have to care for people’s mind, body and spirit if they’re going to heal completely,” says Jeanne.

As people walk to the center of the labyrinth, they’re encouraged to examine their life. The middle is a place to stop and reflect on the experience. As they follow the same path out, there is time to consider the new thoughts and plan for changes.

Jeanne explains, “It actually takes you out of your normal life and helps you stand back and take a look at what’s staring you straight in the face or weighing on your shoulders.”

While there have been no medical studies proving the labyrinth’s effect, many medical doctors encourage it. Medical oncologist Clarence Brown, M.D., who is also the president/CEO of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando, recommends it to his patients.

“As an adjunct to the treatment that a cancer patient is receiving, it’s perhaps very helpful, certainly not harmful,” says Dr. Brown.

Donna speculates, “I think it’s something that’s inside you that connects with you.” Whatever it is, Donna says it’s helped her find order in life and recommends others give it a try.

Labyrinths are becoming a trend at hospitals nationwide as well as at schools, prisons and nursing homes.

Source: Ivanhoe News

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