Labyrinths in Places

Labyrinths are found in many places. Some are permanent and some are brought in temporarily for events. The challenge for labyrinth enthusiasts is often how to get permission to introduce a labyrinth into a specific environment. This section of the website examines some of the places where labyrinths may be found, the benefits of having them there, how they are used, and how people were able to install them there in the first place!

Labyrinth Prison Ministries

The U.S. prison population has just reached the 1% mark.  With 1 out of every 100 people in the United States behind bars, prison volunteers of all kinds are more important and more needed than ever.  A handful of TLS members in various parts of the country have had on-going labyrinth prison ministries for many years.  Mostly the programs occur once or twice a month for a couple of hours.  And mostly they are sponsored by the Chaplain or the Counseling departments.

In presenting a proposal for a labyrinth program to either a Chaplain or a Counselor, it is necessary to remember that security will always be the number one concern that any decision maker has to consider.  For example, while we are used to thinking that temporary labyrinths made with rope, stone or paint are easy, quick and inexpensive, you will not likely be able to get any of those things into a prison.  A portable canvas labyrinth or finger labyrinths on paper will be a better option.

It is important to outline the benefits of the program to the institution, which are simple.  A busy inmate is a happier inmate and a happier inmate is easier to manage.  Benefits for the inmates can be simple as well.  The biggest may be stress reduction.  Prisons are stressful places to live and work, and they are noisy and crowded. Having some quiet time, perhaps with meditative music, is often reason enough to attend a labyrinth program. 

Inmates may range from white collar criminals with advanced degrees to the mentally ill.  Statistically, most inmates have minimal education, and many are serving sentences for drugs. They may be far from family who cannot afford to travel for a visit and often have children being raised by someone else.  An unexpected “side effect” of a long standing program is that it gives the inmates a group of “labyrinth friends” with whom to socialize. 

If you feel called to bring the labyrinth into a prison setting, it is important to be patient as it can take months to get a new program approved.  You will be expected to attend an orientation where the rules will be explained and the necessary paperwork, fingerprinting and background checks will be completed.  You will need to pay attention to the rules as your program could be halted at any time for a violation of them.  You may be required to undergo drug testing as well.

Once you have been approved, you will need to be consistent.  If you say you will be there twice a month, it is important that you keep this commitment.  When planning your programs, you will need to be flexible. Your program may be canceled at the last minute, or not start on time, for a variety of reasons.

Each of us who have had the privilege of sharing the labyrinth with those who are in prison have left feeling blessed, and grateful for our freedom, and believing that we have received more than we have given in the experience. 

For more information on labyrinth work in prison settings, TLS members are invited to post a request on the general forum and search the membership database to reach those with experience in this realm.

Those who are not members of The Labyrinth Society can contact the TLS Educational Outreach Chair for more information.