Celebrate World Labyrinth Day

ImageMay 3rd is World Laybrinth Day.  The following article first appeared in our  March/April 2012 Family Caregiver Grapevine:

A labyrinth is a simple circle made up of curving inner paths that lead toward the centre, then away, then back again. Following the twists and turns helps many people match the physical act of walking with the mental and often spiritual practice of meditation. Labyrinth walking is catching on in health care settings, where the quiet mindful activity is being used to complement conventional medical treatments.

Labyrinths have been discovered in early cultures as far back as ancient Egypt, and are found in some of the oldest churches in Europe. The most well-known of these is in the Chartes Cathedral in France, which is believed to go back as far as the 13th century. Unlike mazes, which are designed as puzzles, the path of a labyrinth is meant to lead people on the journey. Some view following the path of the labyrinth as a type of pilgrimage or a mirror of life’s journey.

In recent years labyrinth walking has become increasingly popular, the circular patterns appearing in a variety of places, on church grounds, in public parks, in hospitals. Today they are used as a tool for quiet contemplation or mediation for those who have difficulty with conventional meditation or who cannot afford to attend classes.

Medical research, so far, indicates that walking a labyrinth produces health benefits similar to those of traditional meditation. That includes all the physical benefits of walking, such as stress reduction, lowered blood pressure and breathing rates, improved circulation and muscle tone.

In 2009, St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, 220 West 8th, built its own labyrinth. It was the shared dream of church members Deborah Foster and Wendy Middleton, who dreamed of bringing one to their community.

Ms. Foster says the labyrinth, which is marked out in white paint and outlined with blue u-shaped lunations, is well used by the community. She points out that on any day she sees a variety of church and community members winding their way along the path—moms with toddlers, groups of teens, or elders.

The experience of walking the labyrinth is different for everyone. Foster states that people don’t often share much about their experiences. “They hold in their heart whatever takes place,” she says. Those who do share report a range of experiences, from mild relaxation to profound peacefulness and self-awareness.

Deborah Foster believes spirituality can be interpreted I many ways and that the labyrinth at St. John the Evangelist is open to all. “It’s a way of offering contemporary spirituality to the neighbourhood,” she says. “Labyrinth walking is universal. You don’t need a religion.”

In addition to the labyrinth at St. John the Evangelist, there are a number of public labyrinths in the Lower Mainland. Check out labyrinthlocator.com to find the surprisingly numerous labyrinths across in our area.

How to walk a labyrinth
There is no wrong way to walk a labyrinth, but generally, there are three stages:

Release: stand at the entrance of the labyrinth and take several slow deep breaths. Be aware of your feet on the ground. Deborah Foster suggests thinking of the thing that most concerns you and then actively let it go as you start into the labyrinth. Follow the path at your own speed and continue to let go of thoughts as they re-enter your mind.

Refresh: when you reach the centre, you may want to pause and reflect on your walk or continue to the outside of the labyrinth.

Return: continue to follow the path at your own pace. Feel free to walk the labyrinth as many times as you wish.

 Posted by JP


Tips on Journaling

I’ve always enjoyed journaling, ever since I was 13 or so. It’s a good way to get in touch with your authentic self, and also good for problem-solving. If you want to start journaling, I recommend the following tips:

1. Treat yourself to a really nice journal, blank ones at arts supply stores are good if you want to draw as well as write. On the other hand, if you write often, dollar store journals are good too.

2. Start a journaling ritual: make yourself a nice cup of tea, dim the lights, put on some music.

3. Write for at least 5 minutes without stopping. Don’t worry about grammar.

4.After you’re finished, do something calming for a few minutes, then go back and read what you wrote. Maybe write a sentence or two on some insight you got from your reading.

For more tips, visit the following website on journaling

See also the book ‘The New Diary’ by Tristine Rainer.

Good luck and happy journaling!

Calm Pond

Dog-ear the pages!

Library? Yes there is one!  We have a resource library here at  our agencyImage. Caregivers who are registered in our system are invited to borrow books.

We have books, relaxation CD’s, articles and DVD’s on various topics related to caregiving, well-being and growth. Some of the categories include: Caring for aging parents, Dementia care, Grief and loss, Self-care, and Inspiration. A few recent additions to our library are listed here:

We would enjoy meeting you if you haven’t yet joined any of our sessions! Please stop by to say hello and see the library.  -KD

Communicating with the Elderly: Some Useful Tips

I’d like to share with you some useful tips on communicating with the elderly.  More tips can be found at the following website. In addition to the tips, the authors give useful advice on communicating with:

  • hearing-impaired older adults
  • aphasic older adults
  • vision-impaired older adults
  • confused or disoriented older adults

Some suggestions when communicating with the elderly are:

  • do not be condescending, speak in a tone of voice appropriate for communicating with an adult
  • do not speak more loudly than normal, but do emphasize key words
  • give the older person time to respond in conversations. Be comfortable with silence

Many older people have great stories to tell.  Each person has their own unique history, story, and life experience. Ask questions about sports, hobbies, school, work, travel, family, pets etc.

Often times I ask my Dad questions about his childhood and he seems to enjoy sharing little tidbits of his life with me, or perhaps he’ll sing a song or a jingle from a product that was popular back then.  Also, older people are great at quoting poetry or lines from Shakespeare because they had to memorize a lot in school.

Speaking for myself, I love to hear stories about past times… maybe you do too.

Calm Pond

Bridging the sibling divide

Siblings can be a great support to each other when one or both parents require care. In some cases one sibling takes on most of the caregiving duties because the others are out of town or are otherwise unavailable. This can set up challenges for both the caregiving sibling and those not as directly involved. Several years ago we held a webinar with Clarissa P. Green to discuss this issue. She offered some powerful insights into how and why resentments can develop and she also shared some advice on how families can preserve family ties. The information she shared also became the basis for an article published in the North Shore Outlook. To read the entire article, click on Caring for aging parents: bridging the in-town out-of-town sibling divide.