October is Mental Health Month across New South Wales. Much research from Australia and internationally has proven the links between a healthy environment and a healthy community – and this includes improvements in mental health.
Here at Centennial Parklands we take our social responsibilities seriously. We see the Parklands more than just grass, trees, buildings and wildlife. The Parklands is nothing without people, and it is scant relevant to people without providing a positive experience for those who visit.
With this in mind, we have been very supportive of an initiative that we believe will benefit many, and be a compatible and valuable community asset for many years to come – the Centennial Park Labyrinth.
But first, what is Mental Health Month about?
The Mental Health Association of NSW encapsulate it quite neatly:
“Just like your physical health and fitness, your mental health is worth taking care of and improving. This is true for people who haven’t experienced mental illness, as well as for people who have. Mental Health Month encourages all of us to think about our mental health. It’s an opportunity to ask if we are feeling good about ourselves and our lives, if we have good relationships with other people, and if we are engaging in activities that give us purpose and meaning.”
Now, what exactly is a Labyrinth?
A labyrinth is not a maze. A labyrinth is not (for fans of mid-1980s fantasy movies starring David Bowie!) a place that includes monsters and dungeons. A labyrinth is not exclusively a Christian or pagan concept.
Chartres Cathedral labyrinth design
In short, a labyrinth is a simple contemplative pathway.
Hmmmm….make sense? If not, you can listen to ABC Radio National presenter Fran Kelly’s interview with Robert Ferre and Emily Simpson to hear it from the perspective of two experts and labyrinth devotees.
Unlike a maze, which has several different pathways, a labyrinth has only one path and there are no dead ends, so you can’t get lost. A maze is an intellectual exercise and a labyrinth is a spiritual one.
There are many ways to describe a labyrinth – a path of prayer, a walking meditation or a watering hole for the spirit. It is a universal and non-denominational symbol, used by many different cultures over 4,000 years.
An article from the Sydney Morning Herald in 2010 gave a great insight into labyrinths. If you’re interested, further background can be found on Wikipedia or on the Labyrinthos website.
The Centennial Park Labyrinth
Our Trustees have approved the construction of a sandstone labyrinth in Centennial Park – dependent upon funding being raised from the community. The Labyrinth will be made of sandstone, and be located in a suitable and peaceful corner of the Park, open for all to enjoy and experience.
It will be based on the design of the medieval labyrinth in the Chartres Cathederal in France.
Here is an artist’s impression of how it may look:
Artist’s impression of Centennial Park Labyrinth
The Centennial Park Labyrinth will be the first major public labyrinth in Sydney – celebrating over a century of contributing to community health and well-being.
To generate interest and awareness of the project, a recent event was held in Centennial Park where the outline of the Labyrinth was painted temporarily on the grass and the community invited to take a walk (pics below)! Another opportunity will be coming up in December 2012 (keep an eye out on our What’s On for details).
Funding the Labyrinth requires community support
Although concept, design and location proposals have been approved in principle, the development and delivery of the eventual Labyrinth is contingent upon the necessary funds being raised to complete the project. The total cost of the project is $500,000 (as at the end of September 2012 approximately $320,000 had been raised).
All donations to the Centennial Park Labyrinth project are tax-deductible. If you feel you would like to contribute to this project, please make a confidential enquiry through project proponent Ms Emily Simpson, via the Sydney Labyrinth website.
A contemplative and peaceful place for the community
Just being in contact with nature can bring about a range of mental (and physical) health benefits for us all. Being in contact with nature – and having access to this labyrinth – is something which we here at Centennial Parklands are excited to offer and support. We believe it will become an asset for the community, and an iconic experience for Sydneysiders and visitors alike.
- posted by Craig Easdown
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Have you been to Chartres Cathedral in France? Have you walked a labyrinth somewhere around the world? Tell us about it here.
The Equinox Walk was an open event held recently in Centennial Park
Kids enjoying the Labyrinth as well