Port Stephens Suicide Prevention NetworkBuilding awareness and making connections
What is a Labyrinth
The PSSPN team is working to establish a labyrinth in the Port Stephens area.
A labyrinth is a single, circular, winding path that gently guides the walker into and out of the centre, and is designed to soothe, calm and focus the mind, unlike mazes which have multiple entrances, paths and dead ends that are designed to confuse, frustrate and distract the mind.
They are often used as a walking meditation practice. Research at Harvard Medical School and elsewhere has shown that simple activities like this can reduce anxiety, high blood pressure and insomnia.
The Port Stephens Labyrinth as a walking, mindfulness meditation will offer all people the opportunity to quieten the mind, relax the body, find balance, gain insight, find solace, contemplate, heal and restore, open the heart and celebrate life.
Benefits of Using Labyrinth
A growing body of research is indicating that depressive disorders are now the foremost cause of disability in middle and high income countries and can be precursors for chronic physical health problems.
More than 8 Australians every day are choosing to take their own lives. We need to strengthen our efforts to promote preventative mental health strategies and a labyrinth is practical and effective tool for communities to use.
The highly regarded Ontario Health Study demonstrated in definitive ways the potential restorative impact on people psychologically and physiologically through using labyrinths:
- Through promoting good mental health
- Through reducing non-accidental deaths
- Through reducing blood pressure and stress levels,
- As well as through the promoting of physical activity
Helen Malcolm, a GP and senior lecturer in rural general practice at the University of Melbourne says the scientific evidence is well established that meditation helps physical and mental health, and the labyrinth is a walking form of meditation. “The response by patients is hugely variable,’’ she says. ‘’For some there is a sense of calmness, some come out feeling like singing, and some certainly emerge with a solution to a problem, or feeling stronger. For staff it is extremely good as a stress management tool.’’
Westmead Children’s Hospital has installed a labyrinth and in the United States there have been more than 200 labyrinths built in hospitals alone.
They’re also being built in universities, parks, schools and thousands of private gardens.
Recent years has seen communities in Tumut, Barossa Valley, Blue Mountains, Canberra, and Campbelltown establish