The Relax4Life finger labyrinth story began almost 25 years ago with a pledge to create finger labyrinths that are unique, well-crafted and affordable. We were the first and still the only labyrinth creator that makes their finger labyrinth designs with wide, adult-sized finger paths, comfortable for every age group. Based on feedback from teachers, counselors, parents, therapists, clergy etc. as well as our own expertise in counseling, relaxation and meditation, the Relax4Life finger labyrinth story has frequently changed so that our products could continue to meet and exceed our customer’s changing expectations as well as our own high standards for quality and affordability.
We started out making our single finger labyrinth designs in finished maple with a notch for hanging and engraved suggestions for use on the back. The process proved to be a bit expensive so we decided to offer a less expensive material alternative to our economy conscious patrons; plain recycled compressed wood. This less expensive material was appealing to many of our customers until they accidentally dropped labyrinths made from it on the floor or spilled something on it. When this happened, we were getting reports of small chunks of wood breaking off or the labyrinth becoming permanently discolored when accidentally spilled on. Aside from the occasional customer having the wood working skills to repair it, the compressed wood material turned out to be economical but not very sustainable. While on the lookout for a more sustainable, rugged material, it took a few more years before we came upon HDPE, a highly durable, substantial and colorful (albeit somewhat expensive) plastic material that is used to make cutting boards for the commercial food industry. As such, it is virtually indestructible and therefore highly sustainable and sanitizeable, maintaining its form and looks for many years to come. One of the big limitations with making labyrinths in either compressed wood or maple was the ability to be sanitized between uses. This need was voiced many times by our customers who worked in schools, hospitals, churches, rehab centers, nursing homes etc. where sanitizing between uses was essential. Our finger labyrinths made with HDPE solved this issue most elegantly as well as giving folks, looking to provide a finger labyrinth for outdoor use (such as in signage for a walking labyrinth on the premises), a solution that was virtually impervious to the elements of nature.
Around 20 years ago, while exhibiting our finger labyrinths at a new age tradeshow, we were approached by a woman who had taken two of our Cretan finger labyrinths and rather than using them one at a time, placed them side by side with both entrances pointing down. She then proceeded to use them both simultaneously. When finished, she asked if we had thought of creating a double finger labyrinth design (two finger labyrinths connected together for use with both hands together) and that began the process of developing and patenting our unique double finger labyrinth design known as the Intuipath®.
We created this finger labyrinth design (with the entrance to each labyrinth facing down and directly across from one another) and began trying it out with folks at tradeshows to see what would be the result of running both hands through a mirror image labyrinth design at the same time. The response was very positive as everyone found this design very calming which supported the occupational and physical therapy research we looked into that indicated that moving both hands at the same time created a balance between right and left hemispheres of the brain, thereby leading to greater peace, creativity, problem solving and adaptive responses.
Soon after, we realized that by rotating the entrances in this design ninety degrees away from each other, two people facing one another could easily sit across from each other and improve their intuitive communication and connection with each other; in other words, both people’s thought energy coming together and harmonizing on a similar frequency. This in turn could be valuable in helping people solve disputes (where each is entrenched in their own viewpoint) as well as simply being more comfortable while in each other’s presence. As such, their use in individual and couples counseling began. This design then became known as the versatile two-handed, two-person Intuipath® design where counselors sat across from their clients and used their half of the device while their clients used the other half. As a result, greater levels of communication and trust developed between clients and therapists and therefore problem resolution occurred much quicker than simply using conventional talking therapies. In 1999, we applied for a design and function patent on this design and in 2004 we received one.
Taking the Intuipath® idea a step further, we later experimented with a 5-person Intuipath® design where five people could use this connected labyrinth device at the same time (say in a group therapy situation, research and development department, think tank environment etc.) to gain new insights, heights of creativity and harmonious thought. This Intuipath® design proved too large and not easily used, so we discontinued it.
A number of years and several published articles later, The Reverend, Dr. Lauren Artress, the woman who is single-handedly responsible for the labyrinth revival in the US (especially their widespread adoption in churches, hospitals, schools etc.), suggested to us that children with ADHD might benefit from the Intuipath® design and why don’t we create a scientific research study to determine if that was indeed the case. We’d certainly been getting many reports prior to this time from teachers, school counselors, social workers, parents, nurses, hospital administrators, occupational and physical therapists etc. as to the benefits of finger labyrinths and the Intuipath® design but we had nothing to back up these claims scientifically. We therefore took up Lauren’s challenge and created what turned out to be a four-year, national research study to determine the effects of the Intuipath® design with children diagnosed with ADHD. The study and the results can be found on our website by clicking here.
To accommodate smaller children that would participate in the study, we significantly shrunk our original Intuipath® designs and made what became a whole other line of products which became known as the Children’s Intuipath® line. Soon after the study was completed, we realized (based on customer feedback) that the Children’s Intuipath® line had finger paths that were not as friendly for the most part to adult-sized fingers and so we discontinued the Children’s line and created a universal Intuipath® design that has finger paths that are comfortable for every age group in a smaller, overall size. These are what we currently offer.
We will continue to create our single and double finger labyrinth designs in both HDPE plastic and finished maple until our customers decide they need some new variation. When that happens, Relax4life will stand ready to bring those new ideas to reality…