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International Labyrinth Day

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Today was International Labyrinth Day and people all over the world walk labyrinths in churches, spiritual centers, parks and private facilities in honor of world peace.  David and I recently built a Labyrinth at Heartwood, so we opened it to the public today in support of this cause. I gave a short lecture with a nifty PowerPoint presentation on the history, purpose, meaning and metaphor of walking a labyrinth so people could see the potential in something as simple as a walk, if done with intention and an open heart . We had about 20 people in attendance, some who are new to labyrinths, and others who have walked the pattern all over as they travel and explore different communities.  The weather couldn’t have been more perfect and the positive commentary and warmth we receive from those who joined us today made for a poignant afternoon.  On days like this, I love what I’ve done with this chapter of my life.

Last night David and I were out there hanging heavy iron decor on a structure by the labyrinth and working to maintain the grounds nearby. David installed a marble shelf in the entryway, which later will include a kiosk with more information on labyrinths so people can learn more. We created a guest book so people who come to visit can sign in and their names can be included in the world wide count of people who walk for peace. We also created a community journal that will be kept out there inviting those who wish to share insights or encouragement with others to leave a few words behind. Sometimes all people need when they are facing challenges is to know that they are not alone and that others have walked the same path.   Like all of Heartwood, the labyrinth project is unfolding slowly, depending on what resources and effort David and I can spare, but it is deeply rewarding to stand back and see we have made something special to support those seeking answers and personal peace, for no other reason than because we can. Walking a labyrinth is free, good for the heart and soul, and it keeps people unplugged and connected to nature and their best self. Everyone should give it a shot just to see if such an endeavor has anything to offer them.

We’ve had visitors walk the labyrinth before today. One woman came in a wheelchair, and she did the entire path on wheels to contemplate her life. Her mother walked behind her, giving her space, yet feeling a part of her journey at the same time.  We considered this  a very special initiation for our project. We’ve had groups walk the labyrinth together, and couples, as well as solitary people with issues they wanted to contemplate. Several people today decided to pick up our “Journaling the Labyrinth” worksheets, where thoughts can be written in the path of the labyrinth on paper. I asked if they would mind my taking a picture (from afar so their thoughts remained private) just to share what this looks like. One woman introduced herself as a mental health counselor and she asked if she could return with a few of her clients, one on one, whom she feels would greatly benefit from the experience. Of course, we said, “anytime.” After talking, she and another health care professional (cranial therapy) decided they really should bring a few of their patients to my journaling workshop as well as to visit the labyrinth. We believe everything we do here, writing, yoga, spiritual meditation etc… is connected so when one of our free programs or activities opens the door to another (also free) program, we can’t help but feel our work counts and touches lives.

About an hour after the lecture, and after most people had walked the path, I couldn’t help but smile to note that all three of our hammocks had people resting in them. A few others were writing in the garden or had taken one of my labyrinth books out to read a bit on our benches scattered about the grounds. One group of women, people who just met today, decided to share a ride (parking is difficult) to Pickin’ in the Park in Bradenton to enjoy the art festival and music. It is an amazing thing to watch community form and support each other and know you have positively encouraged it through acts of good intention. David and I are honored to be a part of an ongoing process to create something special here, and tonight, not for the first time or last, we will walk the labyrinth together to reflect on our own journey as a couple and as partners in creating a small, but meaningful, retreat center that, on a good day like today, touches lives.


About Ginny East Shaddock

Ginny is the owner of Heartwood Yoga Institute. She is an ERYT-500 Yoga teacher, C-IAYT Yoga therapist, RCYT & Ayurveda Counselor who loves nature, gardening, and creative arts. She has an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University, and a BA in Business Administration from Eckerd College. She teaches writing and is the creator of the memoir writing program, "Yoga on the Page" combining the teaching of yoga to writing personal stories with integrity, intention, and heart.

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