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Finger labyrinths point the way to age-old meditative stress relief

If the effects of a busy work or life schedule are making you tense or if you’re just looking for a new way to reduce stress and feel energized, a portable finger labyrinth may be a welcome addition to your desk or work station.

A labyrinth is an ancient, meditative technique where participants follow a meandering path from the outside of the labyrinth to the centre and then back out on the same path. Unlike a maze, the way is always visible so there is no need to figure out how to get to a destination point. This allows  users to be free of distractions and to focus internally.

“We live in a society that glorifies busy-ness and taking 10 to 15 minutes for one’s self is considered counter-culture,” says Sula Anne Kosacky, Osler’s Spiritual Health Therapy Coordinator. “We spend so much time outside of ourselves focusing on the next task that our own thoughts are drowned out.”

The benefits of meditation and labyrinths

A finger labyrinth is a portable version and the meditation is generally from a seated position, tracing the labyrinth from the non-dominant hand.

This forces the mind to focus on simply following the pattern and quiets other thought processes creating what Harvard researcher and physician Dr. Herbert Benson named the “Relaxation Response.” It can help improve conditions such as anxiety, high blood pressure and insomnia.

A portable labyrinth can be made from wood or stone, can be a tactile labyrinth that sits on a table or desktop, can be painted or drawn and you can also download one here.

“Everyone experiences a labyrinth differently but what many people report is a sense of peacefulness afterward and some experience less anxiety,” she says. “Your senses focuses on what you are doing and everything else is blocked out.”

Having the time, free of the external distractions is an effective way to focus on your thoughts.

“It can help solve a work problem or a specific contemplation,” Kosacky added. “Whatever needs to arise will; if you need to ‘blink out’ and rest, you will.”

How to do a finger labyrinth meditation

  1. Take deep breaths to begin to relax and focus on the entrance to the labyrinth.

  2. Place your pointer finger from your non-dominant hand on the entrance of the labyrinth. If you find this too awkward at first, use your dominant hand. However, over time, keep trying your non-dominant hand. This helps keep the mind focused on the meditation due to the challenge it presents.

  3. Slowly trace the pattern of the labyrinth with your finger allowing your mind to clear from extra thought and focus solely on following the path of the labyrinth.

  4. “Walk” to the centre of the labyrinth and rest momentarily, taking deep breaths observing how you are feeling.

  5. Retrace your path out of the labyrinth.

  6. Sit back, breathe deeply and relax. Observe how you are feeling again.

Rev. Sula Anne Kosacky has completed training by the Canadian Association of Spiritual Care and is now a qualifying psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapy in Ontario. She is the department coordinator for Spiritual Health Therapy and has been with Osler since 2013.