Windber Medical Center Labyrinth
Meditation labyrinths have existed for hundreds of years, although their existence may not be common knowledge. More and more hospitals and organizations are using these as a beneficial healing tool. Labyrinths aid in enhancing wellness, reducing stress and lowering blood pressure.
One local example of this can be found at Windber Medical Center. On the campus there are two walking labyrinths, with visitors able to choose between walking it themselves or attending a WindberCare facilitated walk.
Rachel Allen, Certified Music Practitioner (Institute of Integrative Medicine) at Windber Medical Center, explains, “We offer guided programs for the community and specific groups and can incorporate the feel of two different labyrinths, one in more of an enclosed setting with trees and the other in a wide open space with a fabulous view of the horizon. Both are part of a walking trail with gardens and healing herb beds.”
Ms. Allen also notes that several “Heathstyles” Yoga classes have taken place at the labyrinth, followed by a meditative walk. She has enjoyed leading walks in the labyrinth as well, “I have facilitated over 100 walks including regularly scheduled community walks and groups such as adults with mental illness, parochial school teachers, participants in a spiritual retreat at WMC, corporate wellness, meditation groups…”
Hospitals, including Windber, have been using these labyrinths for their health benefits. Family members can walk the paths to reduce anxiety levels, many patients use the labyrinth to relax prior to a medical procedure or hospital admission and staff members also use the labyrinth to alleviate stress. Windber Hospital also has hand-held labyrinths for those visitors unable to walk.
A labyrinth is not a maze, there is only one path to follow – a single, non-branching path. Traditionally, people have attributed the calming back and forth pattern in the labyrinth to its healing potential. Without having to worry about following the correct turns, the visitor is able to focus on the path, which has a calming and centering effect, in addition to quieting the mind.
Patients have enjoyed the calming and reflective nature of the labyrinth walk, commenting, “I really enjoyed the labyrinth walk because it was very relaxing and allowed me to not think about all my stresses.”
Another participant shared, “I came here to support a close friend. He hasn’t had an easy life. Neither have I. But there are times when he needs my shoulder and there are times when I need his. I’m thankful to have him in my life. Thank you for this opportunity. It was a cleansing experience.”
Typically, the labyrinth is open seasonally, with guided tours beginning in May. More information is available at the Windber Medical Center website.
If you would like to participate in a walk or schedule a facilitated walk for your group, call 814-467-3768 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.