More Labyrinths Added to Seton Family December 3, 2008

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Labyrinths are a part of Seton Family of Hospitals' culture. Our first permanent labyrinth was built in 2000 at Seton Southwest Health Care Center near Oak Hill. Today, labyrinths have been added at three more Seton locations and the Seton Cove provides a canvas labyrinth that is set up quarterly at Seton Medical Center Austin. Visitors are invited to use the labyrinths whenever they are at one of our facilities.

"People have been walking labyrinths for more than 3,500 years," says Phyllis Carlisle, Labyrinth Coordinator at The Seton Cove, a spirituality center open to people of all faiths. "It's an ancient archetype that symbolizes wholeness and life's journey. In our stress-filled contemporary times, a growing number of people have been using this form of walking meditation to promote relaxation, deeper breathing and release of stress."

"It's a way to get in touch with the inner self and provides an opportunity to listen and search for your own answers. There's nothing magical about it but it is a spiritual tool to remind us that life is sacred. That's why it's use is popular in connection with healing and health care. Eventually we would like to offer access to a labyrinth at each of Seton's sites."

Seton Family labyrinths are located at the following hospitals:

Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas

Dell Children's has a permanent full-size 11-circuit Chartres labyrinth, based on the one found at Chartres Cathedral near Paris, France build around 1200 A.D. Experts believe several European cathedrals had labyrinths that were used by Christians throughout the Middle Ages for symbolic pilgrimages to the Holy Land. The design takes into account principles of sacred geometry that affect the proportion of the center to the rest of the labyrinth and the concentric circles of the path. It features an intricate pattern made from concrete and interlocking pavers with different colors. "It's beautiful and tranquil," comments Phyllis. "We are excited that it is being used regularly. It is located in the Healing Garden, which is accessed through inside doors on the second floor . Doors are open from (morning to 7:30 p.m. Regular hospital parking is available for visitors.

Seton Medical Center Austin

Four times a year, the Seton Cove installs a temporary canvas labyrinth in the hospital's McFadden Auditorium. It features a full-sized 11-circuit Chartres layout. "When we bring the labyrinth, it creates a sacred space. We have music and dim the lights to create a very tranquil environment. While it is there, it is used regularly by Seton associates, visitors and patients," says Phyllis. She regularly hosts Labyrinth Walks at SMCA, which are posted on the Seton Cove Web site. The Labyrinth is next scheduled at SMCA on Friday, December 12, 2008. Hours for the labyrinth differ, so check the schedule. Parking is available in the hospital's South parking garage.

Seton Medical Center Williamson

The landscape architect for the newest facility in the Seton Family donated a permanent three-circuit labyrinth outside the facility's Chapel. "It's a beautiful labyrinth located in a natural setting that reflects the ambiance of the whole campus," comments Phyllis. Made using a crushed stone boarder, it is landscaped throughout with small grasses and bark mulch. The labyrinth is open dawn until dusk. Visitors can use regular hospital parking.

Seton Northwest Hospital

Hospital leadership and the Seton Northwest Volunteers were instrumental in adding a labyrinth to their campus. Located under a stand of trees, it features the Santa Rosa design, a 7-circuit pattern with rounded paths. It has Chartres-like turns, but the ends of the lines are circular, taken from an old technique used during the Middle Ages by manuscript illustrators. The same principles of sacred geometry apply. The Santa Rosa design includes equal-armed quarter markings and a small space on the fourth path where no one walks, called the 'heart-space, which is approached from all four directions. "This is a wonderful outdoor space in a natural, peaceful setting," adds Phyllis. "The path actually goes around and encloses some of the trees." The stone and mulch construction also includes a large rock in the center and a comfortable bench nearby. The labyrinth is open 24-hours a day because parking lights illuminate it. Visitors coming south on Braker should turn left into the Seton Northwest complex and then take the first right into the parking lot and wind around to the labyrinth.

Seton Southwest Hospital

This labyrinth was the first permanent installation within the Seton Family, but it recently was moved to a new location because of construction. Thanks to supportive volunteers, the original labyrinth is being reinstalled. The 7-circuit Chartres pattern of the original structure will be joined to a second 7-circuit stone and mulch labyrinth in a stylized classical design. The two labyrinths combined will create an infinity symbol. "A New Year's Eve dedication is planned to officially open the new location," says Phyllis. "Watch for more information on the Seton Cove Web site." Once dedicated, the labyrinths will be open dawn to dusk and located next to a convenient parking lot.

University Medical Center Brackenridge

Currently there is no labyrinth at UMCB because there is no available outdoor location and no indoor space is big enough to house the portable version. Visitors and others at that facility are encouraged to use the labyrinths at the other sites whenever possible. The closest labyrinth to the hospital is several blocks south and west at St. David's Episcopal Church, 304 E. 7th Street. Public hours are 8 a.m. - 6 p.m., MF; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday; and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Labyrinth Walks

The labyrinth is an archetypal pattern laid out in a circular form, with one path in to the center and back out. Visitors enter the labyrinth and walk along the path's twists and turns toward the center during which time you can release yourself from the daily details of life. It is not a maze and there are no dead ends or trick turns. Labyrinths have been used throughout history as a way to reconnect the spiritual self to the mind and body. Several times during the year, Phyllis hosts facilitated walks that are open to the public. The Labyrinth Walk schedule can be accessed on the Seton Cove's Web site.

More information on Labyrinths can be found on In addition, The Seton Cove provides a full catalog of classes and activities online or by phone at (512) 451-0272.

Labyrinth Walks currently scheduled include:

  • Nov. 25, 12 - 2p.m., Dell Children's Medical Center
  • Dec. 9, 1 - 3 p.m., Dell Children's Medical Center
  • Dec. 12, 10 a.m. -3 p.m., Seton Medical Center Austin, McFadden Auditorium
  • Dec. 23, 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., Dell Children's Medical Center
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