LABYRINTH CIRCLES No. 11
An occasional newsletter from Labyrinth Enterprises

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Labyrinth Facilitator Training: May 27-29, 2005

I give only one or two labyrinth facilitator trainings each year. These events are packed with the kind of informaion that I feel is required knowledge for any serious labyrinth person, especially someone hoping to effectively use the labyrinth in their work. The only training currently scheduled for this year will take place May 27-29 at Summer Hill Country Inn and Retreat Center, near Albany and Syracuse, New York. Limited to 20 participants, there is still time to sign up.

Our training is very different from the one given by Lauren Artress at Veriditas. I have taken that training. Numerous Veriditas accredited facilitators have also taken my training. That's because my training is not for beginners. We don't spend time introducing participants to labyrinth walking. We take that as a given.

In a way, my training reminds me of the empowerment trainings given by Gail Straub and David Gershon for the past 20 years or more. One of their programs is designed to help you become personally empowered. The other is called the Art of Empowerment, teaching how to help empower others. My feeling is that Veriditas does a great job in inspiring and empowering people to become facilitators. My training is more like the Art of Facilitation, assuming that the participants are now graduate students. That's not to say, however, that a serious person new to the labyrinth wouldn't benefit from my training. I have designed it with many lists and resources and descriptions which can be retained and utilized later at the appropriate time.

Because the number of attendees is purposely kept small, there will be time for personal interaction that will assure that participants receive the attention and benefit for which they came. Further, my training includes a skill that I think is essential: How to construct a labyrinth. If you think that you are too math phobic or too intimidated by geometry to learn how to make a labyrinth, you are in for a big boost of self-confidence. This training demystifies labyrinth building and breaks it down into a series of steps which any attentive person can follow. With a little practice, it will become second nature

You will find information about the training on my website at training. To register, contact Judy Thomas at www.summerhillretreat.com.

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Labyrinth Society and Locator

In the summer of 1997 and 1998 I sponsored two meetings in St. Louis that let to the founding of The Labyrinth Society. I was actively involved in leadership positions for a number of years and have now retired to be a committee member. Great things are happening at TLS. It is financially sound and is now being led by the next generation of officers. Our original attention was placed on organizational considerations, but now the focus is on service. If you are not currently a member of TLS, you should give consideration to joining. See information at http://www.labyrinthsociety.org. While you are there, please notice the worldwide labyrinth locator. This feature is provided in conjunction with Veriditas, and is contained on both websites (see also http://www.veriditas.net). If you have a labyrinth, please enter it on the locator.

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Our Latest Technologies

Concrete and pavers remain the most common choices for permanent labyrinths, and so here at Labyrinth Enterprises we continue to develop new possibilities and variations. Our specialty is a modified cementitious product called polymer concrete. Normally, it is used to resurface concrete. It bonds tenaciously and becomes part of the underlying concrete. Essentially, we resurface only the pattern, resulting in a durable, low-maintenace labyrinth. Up to now, the decorative concrete world has always relied on sand blasting and stain. We consider our technology to be far superior.

Also, for a number of years we have been addressing the high cost of labyrinths made from concrete pavers. The materials and hard costs are rarely more than about 15% of the cost. The rest is labor. Cutting each piece on site is demanding and meticulous work that can take weeks. We have looked for an alternative in the water jet cutting industry. Water jets can cut through many materials, including pavers. The cost for materials increases considerably, which includes the cutting, but the cost of labor is substantially diminished. As a result, we can offer the following two products, both being Chartres Labyrinths, complete with petals and lunations. The first is 40 feet in diameter. The turn-key all-inclusive price of an installation is around $50,000. The second is a 47-foot Chartres pattern, which is almost 50% bigger in area, for $60,000. In addition, our paver labyrinths are installed by Marty Kermeen, the world's greatest paver labyrinth artist. Our standards are the highest in the industry.

We are very pleased with these new developments and look forward to providing excellent labyrinths for schools, hospitals, churches, and others. Photos of our work are included in the gallery section of our website: http://www.labyrinth-enterprises.com/gallery.html.

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Moving to a New Studio

For ten years the studio in which we make all of our portable labyrinths has been located in the gymnasium of an art school in St. Louis. The building is now being sold and we must vacate the premises. After a search that took months, we have found a new studio, for which we have signed a five-year lease and look forward to occupancy on July 1. Known as the Carriage Works Building, it was constructed in 1885 for working on the horse-drawn street cars. We will occupy the second floor, which is 8,000 square feet. It has tall ceilings, brick walls, and clerestory windows for lots of light. The owner is currently renovating the space for our use. As soon as they are available, we will post photos of our new space.

We remain the world's foremost producer of hand drawn and painted canvases. We have made more of such labyrinths than anyone in history. We can say that, because portable labyrinths seem to be a 20th century American invention. There is only one other company that makes as many labyrinths as we do, but they are produced on computerized plotters. In other words, printed. So, we like to point out that buyers can get an original work of art, or a print, for the same price. We are hoping that they will choose our products, the works of art. Now that we will have a beautiful studio capable of much more volume, we expect that aspect of our business to grow. As a result we are training more painters, and preparing some very interesting new designs.

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FAQ Column: Examples of answers to your questions
This issue's topic: Art, awakening, and healing.


Dear Mr. Ferre,

I will be teaching a class on art, awakening and healing and will have the students walk the labyrinth. They are social work students studying medical social work. In your journey and with your wisdom, can you think of any thing meaningful that I may say to these students so they may compassionately introduce others to the Labyrinth. A hospital is being built in our community that will have a labyrinth. Having sacred presence while introducing one to its path as well an understanding of its measure of healing beauty is needful in explaining its wonder. But can you suggest any pre or post questions? As a member of a profession that is in a paradigm shift, intersecting with much change and knowledge I would like these students to experience it so that they may translate their experience in a healing manner. Please forgive me for asking you this when you do teach a course, which I would love to take. I just feel an obligation to these students and the patients they will be working with.

Sorry this is so long. I realize you are very busy. If you are unable to reply, again I would like to thank you for all of your good works toward community and peace.

Sincerely,
K.W.

My response:

I visited Three Rivers Community Hospital in Grants Pass, OR, a while back. They went through a process to determine the appropriate paradigm for healing. They asked the most basic question, "Who are we?" Science might ask "what" are we, but their question was more broad. They are a secular hospital, not associated with any religious organization. Yet, in the end, they decided that we are by nature spiritual beings. Science and technology alone are not sufficient to address the whole person. As a result they have incorporated a number of complemantary and alternative treatment modalities, most of them well-known, such as Healing Touch and massage. They have an out door labyrinth. But most of all, they make an assumption that all patients have spiritual as well as physical needs and it is their responsibilioty to respond to them accordingly.

Often I receive emails from people who are writing a dissertation or want to bring a labyrinth to a hospital and they ask me if I know of any studies that offer scientific proof that labyrinths make a difference in patient outcomes. I always respond that there is little such evidence of that nature, and there need not be. There are two natures to life, the visible and invisible, the physical and the spiritual (including psychological and emotional). Science specifically addresses one of these natures and deliberately excludes the other. Science is not the appropriate measure for spirit. In fact, the two aspects use completely different languages. That's not a problem. It is, in fact, a benefit because labyrinths are an accessible way to enter into an inner dialogue. It can be religious or not. It has the capability of using the experience of illness for personal transformation. That's not the case will outer healing, which involves the suppression or elimination of symptoms or observable conditions (tumors, etc.). By using labyrinths, hospitals offer a different set of tools, or opportunities, to help patients become more whole.

Science believes it has an explanation for things, but in the end, it only explains "how" things work. Yes, a tumor grows out of control or the brain does this or that, with certain identifiable results. The psychological equivalent is to identify someone by their behavior and label them as, say,"introverted." Then, when asked to explain why a person avoids social situations, a psychologist may say, "It is because she is introverted." But that isn't the cause, it is just the label, the observation. Beneath all of science lies the unanswered question, "Why." Yes, cells behave in a certain way, but why do they do that? Science would quickly say that such considerations are for philosophers or theologians, and are not a matter of their concern. My point exactly. The why of things is a spiritual matter, which is the unseen cause for all phenomena in the physical world. Without addressing this, medical facilities are missing a huge and critical aspect of who we are and how we function.

I recently went to Brazil to visit John of God, a healer for the past 44 years who daily performs the impossible. Modern doctors, standing right beside him and watching, exclaim "That's impossible. You can't do that." Yet they see it being done. John of God takes no credit for what he does. He is a full trance medium with no recollection of what he does while spiritual entities use his body and hands and voice. The more cynical medical scientists try to explain away such phenomena as being the placebo effect or some kind of mass hysteria or psychological suggestion. But that's not the case. The fact is that compassionate spirits are doing their work as a result of a very unique combination of circumstances. They explain that the real purpose is not the physical healing. It is not to make the cancer go away, or vision return. The purpose is to show us that the spiritual world exists, and is available to help mankind if we are to atune to it, welcome and accept it. Webore our eyes we saw miraculous healings which were verified back in the U.S. by medical technology. There is no place for such a paradigm such as this in modern medicine. To find it, we had to travel thousands of miles to a remote site in central Brazil. But the lesson is unmistakable: To heal only the physical is inadequate, short-sighted, and doomed to failure. And so we waste 300 billion dollars trying to find a magic bullet that will cure cancer, and can be patented to make its discovered rich. We're looking for answers in all the wrong places.

Of course, some patients won't be interested in spiritual approaches or labyrinths. They just want to be given a pill or an operation to make them feel better, so they can go back to work. It is the prevelence of that attitude that has led to imbalance on the side of physical technologies, with little emphasis on spiritual technologies. I would hope that medical social workers would use the labyrinth as a way of re-framing the entire experience of health and illness. I think that any sensitive way of encouraging the students to make the same effort for themselves, to be aware of and function on both levels, visible and invisible, in their own lives, including the use of labyrinths, would help to prepare them to share the same possibilities with their patients.

The essence of spiritual experiences is that literal language is insufficient. That's why science, which speaks only literally, is unqualified to be its standard, or even its interpreter. The inner world is one of feelings and emotions and perhaps images. My wife teaches Focusing, a technique for identifying felt senses and learning what they have to teach us. If the person in a focusing session quickly comes up with words or an explanation, that's never it. It's just an intellectualization, but not responsive to the inner feeling. For the best results, they must search deeper, beyond the intellect and rational mind. Thus, I would support your class, because the language of spirit is indirect, through metaphor and images and emotions. Art and music and poetry and dance and other such approaches are a far better language for the inner world, and thus important in a medical environment. I know of one hospital that has an Art Cart, bringing around art works for patients to hang on the walls of their hospital room. Each patient can change the art to something that they find meaningful or inspiring, whether it is a great master or Elvis on black velvet. There are similar programs to bring appropriate music to patients. Labyrinths, in my mind, are a step further because they are active rather than passive. Patients feel good about doing something on their own behalf.

There is no one that I am aware of that offers a training such as you are organizing for medical people. I would love to develop something, but I think it needs to be done by someone with medical qualifications, probably a doctor or nurse, and probably a woman.

I did have a related experience, when I was living in France. I met a medical doctor, Dr. Christian Almayrac, who healed people with happiness. His spiritual path was to be happy. In doing so, he reached a highly enlightened state. Patients would come with medical problems, but instead he would teach them how to be in touch with their happiness. Then the medical problem would fade or go away. It was just a physical symptom of their unhappiness. Of course there is Patch Adams and some efforts to lighten things up in the hospital wards. I brought Dr. Almayrac to the United States in 1991 and for two years we traveled and taught happiness. A session would generally start by him giving people his simple process for immediately experiencing their happiness, and telling them the law of happiness: Experiencing your happiness is the best thing you can do for yourself and everyone else. Then the rest of the evening would be spent fielding people's objections, as one after another they gave all of the reasons or circumstances of their lives which they felt prevented them from being happy. In a similar way, I think the modern medical paradigm throws up many roadblocks to the process of healing, which is supposed to be the ultimate goal.

Labyrinths are, I believe, perfectly suited for medical institutions. Together, labyrinths and technology can treat the whole person, inside and out, visible and invisible, body and spirit. He have made many hospital labyrinths. If the hospital you mentioned needs a labyrinth builder, please bring them to the attention of our website. Many thanks.

Robert