Update: Summer 2017
Just beyond the Kitchen Garden, thanks to the outstanding vision and hard work of Jim, Hannah and some of our volunteers, we now have The Ashburnham Labyrinth! It was officially opened and ‘dedicated’ as a sacred space on Sat July 1st 2017.
Introduction to the Ashburnham Labyrinth
During the last 30 years, labyrinths have sprung up all over the world: permanent additions to churches, parks, retreat centres, hospitals or more transiently on beaches, mountain-tops, in fields and gardens. Although of different sizes and complexity, they all have a typically sinuous path. One of the joys of the labyrinth is it’s ‘open’ circle shape, symbolising welcome, embrace, inclusion, movement and the cycles of Nature. As a place of healing it offers clear boundaries (sense of safety) and absolute clarity and ease of access, in and out. The labyrinth is NOT a maze, there are NO dead-ends or traps; instead the labyrinth offers the invitation to ‘be found’, to gain direction, to embark on a journey of transformation…
The communal significance of The Ashburnham Labyrinth
Whilst walking the labyrinth alone is perfect for personal prayer and reflection; walking with others offers the opportunity to express friendship, unity and our interdependence. I have heard of a labyrinth in southern Africa where it is only walked when all the village are present and walking together!!
Whether you arrive alone or with others, please be sensitive to other people walking the labyrinth, be respectful, be kind and intentional. Consider the labyrinth as a place of prayer and healing. It may be appropriate to wait until others have finished, there is currently one bench available to rest on (in the future there will be more).
If you would like to visit to the Labyrinth as a group and be hosted by myself (and/or Jim Payne, its creator) please enquire by filling in the contact form on this website.
The therapeutic significance of The Ashburnham Labyrinth
The Ashburnham Labyrinth is now also being used for specific therapeutic work. Around the world labyrinths are being sensitively employed as tools for healing and recovery. Please be aware that visitors to the labyrinth may therefore be on deep journeys of healing, from trauma or ill health. If you see any of the therapists working there, please keep a respectful distance along the path.
There has been much research on the usefulness of the labyrinth. Below are some study findings to encapsulate some of how labyrinths are beneficial in personal and therapeutic contexts:
facilitating spiritual experiences with the Divine, finding inner knowing, feeling of walking on sacred space, gaining meaning of events / life plans / problems / situations, creating intention (Bandiera, 2006); creating a container for recovery of trauma victims (Bigard, 2005); they can form part of a comprehensive model in cancer care (Abdallah-Baran, 2002); enable short-term calming or meditative state, relaxation and relief from anxiety and agitation (Carnes, 2001); bring shifts in perception, restore personal equilibrium, help access inner wisdom (Compton, 2007); increase a sense of well-being and communion, and aid in finding insight into early memories and conflict (Compton, 2001); be a tool for changing directions and letting go of the past (Diaconis, 2001); offer time-outs in hectic workplace environment, re-energize, nurture the soul, seek clarity (Fairbloom, 2003); allow for play, create decoration, and lower pulse rate (Kollas, Miller-Clark, Deputy, Desart, & Roberts, 2009); increase right brain activity (Bosbach, 1998); lower somatic stress and raise levels of peace, love, and thankfulness (Mariscotti & Texter, 2004); assist renewal for caregivers as well as those experiencing life-changing illness (Densford, 2007); be utilized in treatment for alcohol and substance abuse issues (Rice, 2004); integrate mind and body to implement change (Peel, 2004); broaden ideas of prayer and lay groundwork for generations to come (Petz, 2008).