A talk and presentation by Sandra Wasko-Flood, August 19, 2017 at The Carnival For Life by Help Outreach Taos, Kit Carson Park, Taos, New Mexico
Good Afternoon. It is a great honor to be with you this afternoon, for this Celebration of Life for suicide victims. I am Sandra Wasko-Flood, labyrinth artist, poet, and teacher. Today, our organization, Living Labyrinths for Peace, invites you to walk this labyrinth we have created for your healing and peace. I wish to thank all the volunteers who helped make it. Stand please. And, especially, I wish to thank our organization’s Development Director, Julia Pyatt. How many of you have walked labyrinths? Let’s have a show of hands. Today I wish to share with you: What are Labyrinths, why do people walk them, and how Living Labyrinths For Peace can help you.
What are labyrinths? You can lose yourself in a maze, but find yourself in a labyrinth. Mazes have many false paths and dead ends, but labyrinths have a single, meandering path to the center and back, which many find slows the breathing, focuses the mind and induces a peaceful state of being. Over 4000 years old and found worldwide, today labyrinths are having a Renaissance. They are found in churches and schools, hospitals and prisons, parks and recreation centers, and backyards: even the backyard of the U.S. Capitol, where in the year 2000, I directed the Labyrinth Society’s first project: a labyrinth walking demonstration for inner peace on the east lawn of the U.S. Capitol.
No one knows where labyrinths originate, but the oldest one, the classic 7-circuit labyrinth is the Path of Mercury in the sky. The Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth, was built in 1201 CE for pilgrimages because the Arabs had Jerusalem. Some public labyrinths in Taos are: Mabel Dodge Luan House, First Presbyterian Church, Greater World Earthship Community, Adobe and Pines Inn B & B. And, you may visit one at my house in the pine forested mountains of Angel Fire, NM.
Why do people walk labyrinths? In the past, people walked them for major life celebrations—birthdays, marriages, funerals, as we still do today. The labyrinth is a form of meditation that represents life’s journey, the cycles physical, psychological and spiritual of Life, Death, and Rebirth. You enter it with some “Life” concern or intention for walking. You rest at center – “Death” – dying to an old way of being, as you listen with your mind and heart to that higher force in which you believe. You walk back out “Reborn” with a new way of seeing to give to the world. At the center of our labyrinth, you are welcome to write your offering or wish, for a suicide victims or any deceased person.
Research shows that labyrinths have these benefits:
- Physical: Helps autism, dyslexia, Parkinson’s, high blood pressure.
- Psychological: Helps anxiety, to resolve conflicts, make better decisions, and helps PTSD by balancing the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
- Spiritual: Centers the mind and stimulates the pineal gland, enhancing the connection to one’s higher Self.
How can Living Labyrinths for Peace help you? LL4P is a national organization based in Taos, NM and Washington DC areas. Our mission is to inspire healing and transformation within and among people in the schools and the community. Our “Labyrinths for Creativity and Peace” workshops relate to every subject or mode of learning—all of the Harvard educational psychologist’s nine intelligences. They are helping to improve the school system. Students create “Hands of Peace” labyrinths making peace wishes for themselves, family, friends, community and the world. Grants from the Washington Performing Arts Society, based in the Kennedy Center, fund the DC programs, and, in Taos, they have been sponsored by El Ranchos Elementary and TISA (Taos Integrated School for the Arts.) Past community Taos programs are: Labyrinth Sacred Spaces (2010) co-sponsoring the Labyrinth Society’s Gathering with Mayan Ach Tah new World Peace Labyrinths (2011); Vietnam Veterans Memorial Day Celebrations, DC and Angel Fire (2013).
LL4P’s priority is to establish a Labyrinth Light Peace Museum in New York City and New Mexico, based on the vision I had in 1991 sitting in the Great Kiva at Chaco Nature National Historical Park, NM. There I saw ceremonial dancers of all cultures, races, and beliefs, peacefully ascend an underground spiral to do a labyrinth dance on the kiva floor and ascend a spiral to the skies. The museum will combine natural elements with safe technology. You can bring images for any occasion, choose a labyrinth design to project on the floor, surround images of where you wish to walk – ocean, mountains – and overhead images for the astronomical dome. This fall, I teach Middle School students at Taos Academy who will help do this. I will also present at the international Labyrinth Society’s Gathering this October in Bainbridge, Washington: “Co-creating Peace with Technology and Nature.
We of Living Labyrinths For Peace (LL4P) invite you to walk our labyrinth, and peruse our table where you can find copies of my book of art and poetry: The Labyrinth Path to Light and Peace. To help you on that labyrinth path, I wish to share with you these poems:
“Find Yourself in a Labyrinth” – About that path of Life, Death and Rebirth.
“Dance of the Labyrinth” – Turning the negative into the positive: hate into love, fear into joy, anxieties into peace.
“Labyrinth Light” – The darkness into the light.