With BMCC’s De-stress Fest kicking off on May 1, we invite you to unwind your mind by walking the Library’s projectable labyrinth.
What is a Labyrinth?
While sometimes used interchangeably, a labyrinth is not a maze. The latter is a multicursal path with many, often confusing, choices and dead ends. The former is unicursal, with one path to its center, designed as a meditative, centering and calming journey. Humans have been creating and walking labyrinths for thousands of years across myriad societies and cultures. With renewed and growing interest in contemplative and mindfulness practices, labyrinths have become more common in recent years. Research demonstrates both the mental and physical benefits of meditation, including labyrinth walking. Labyrinths can now be found in corrections settings, hospitals, counseling centers, and colleges and universities, where there is increasing interest in contemplative pedagogy and practices (see recent blog posts on Mindfulness for Faculty and Mindful Classrooms by BMCC faculty member Shane Snipes).
The Library Labyrinth
The BMCC Library’s projectable labyrinth was created by Matt Cook, Head of Emerging Technologies at the University of Oklahoma. The labyrinth is located next to the spiral staircase in the center of the Library and consists of an iPad, theater light, and projection unit. The use of projection allows community members to choose a labyrinth design to walk from among six traditions: Pima (Native American), Serbian, Celtic, Vedic, Medieval, and literary (Tolkien).
To walk the labyrinth, choose a design by tapping its image on the iPad; the image will then be projected on the rug in front of the iPad. Before walking the path to the center of the design, pause and take two or three deep breaths. Some labyrinth walkers hold an intention or thought as they walk; others focus on their steps and the physical sensation of walking the path, while others may focus on releasing their worries and stress with each breath or each step. After walking to the center, pause for as long as you need while breathing deeply. When ready, turn and retrace your steps following the path out from the center.
As a meditation practice, labyrinth walking may help reduce stress and University of Massachusetts students in a study of the projectable labyrinth reported positive outcomes. We invite students, staff, and faculty to take advantage of the Library’s labyrinth, especially during the hectic and often stressful end of semester activities, and walk one or all of the labyrinth designs when you visit the Library. We also encourage faculty to consider offering extra credit to students who walk the labyrinth and reflect on their experience. If you do, we hope you and your students will share your experience with us. May the labyrinth walk bring you a few moments of respite and peace.