Empathy Labyrinth, Washington, D.C.

TENTS OF HOPE: one last thought.
As though the Tents of Hope project wasn’t inspiration enough, in the middle of all of those beautiful tents was a labyrinth. Each year I enjoy the privilege of walking the National Cathedral Labyrinth. Walking the circular maze one slips like a soft glove, deeper and deeper inward, to one’s spiritual core, one’s essence. The Empathy Labyrinth at the Smithsonian Mall also allowed for this experience. But there were differences. The Empathy Labyrinth has been created by Marc Weiner in response to the work of Marshall Rosenberg’s seminal book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. Nonviolent communication is described as “the language of the heart.” The premise is to awaken one’s empathy and honesty, to connect with the human spirit, in each person, in any situation, allowing everyone’s needs to be equally valued. More on his book and work at http://www.cnvc.org/

Marc Weiner designed his labyrinth to encourage heart-to-heart connections within one ’s self and with others. One starts with the premise to identify the situation/conflict in which you would like to foster a heart to heart connection. While walking the labyrinth one is encouraged to open their heart, and create compassionate connections with everyone. The labyrinth becomes a tool to learn non-violent communication by better understanding one’s own motives, patterns, ego, thoughts and judgments. I felt like I was walking through a dictionary of emotions, starting with negative thoughts like: discombobulated, disturbed, self-conscious, exhausted, animosity, vulnerable. The next circle used words that connoted needs like: security, inspiration, freedom, integrity, purpose, so forth. Reading all of those written words which formed the circles was Mind-Spirit expanding. The apex of the labyrinth was the center where chairs were placed for contemplation.

Marc Weiner has taken this program, (translated into many languages), about the world. It is used in all of the third grades in Israel. http://www.theempathylabyrinth.com/ will give you much to CONTEMPLATE. Howard and I sat at the center of the Empathy Labyrinth with its blowsy white net curtains billowing in the gray sky. Imagine a world of COMMUNICATION based on empathy, understanding, nonviolence—it indeed would be the “THE LANGUAGE OF THE HEART."

Comments

Molly said…
Wow!! That looks so amazing and must have made quite the impact. I'm might have to make a trip up there for that next year.