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Campus Culture

Walking the Library Labyrinth to De-Stress

photo of acient stone labyrinth

photo credit: “Lucca labirinto” by Beatrice is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5

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.

 

8 Responses to Walking the Library Labyrinth to De-Stress

  1. Deborah Gambs August 26, 2019 at 10:50 am #

    I appreciated the labyrinth on a break form the Open Pedagogy workshop in June! It’s a great use of technology, projecting a few different paths. It encouraged me to look at the library with fresh eyes, and I saw that there are also two great sculptures nearby by a former BMCC art faculty, as well as a painting of A. Philip Randolph, with whom the library shares a name!

  2. Prof. C. Perry April 27, 2019 at 11:30 pm #

    When can we come use it? Do we need to make appointments? And how does it work – do we request the iPads that have the directions, or are they stationed where the projection is in the library?

    • jean amaral April 29, 2019 at 8:40 am #

      The BMCC community can walk the labyrinth any time the Library is open. There is one iPad next to the light stand, where walkers can choose a labyrinth pattern to walk. There are also descriptions of each pattern next to the light stand. Hope to see you here!

  3. Brianne Waychoff April 25, 2019 at 10:07 am #

    This is WONDERFUL! I will share with students. Are faculty allowed to participate too? I would love to have a conversation about the experience in my classroom.

    • jean amaral April 25, 2019 at 10:24 am #

      Yes! The labyrinth is for all BMCC community members and visitors. Along with the journals and class conversation, we’d love to have you all fill out a very brief questionnaire about the experience; takes only a few minutes to complete. Thanks!

  4. BWaychoff April 25, 2019 at 9:48 am #

    This is a great idea – thanks for making it happen! I am going to put it on blackboard and encourage students to visit and write about the experience in their class journals. Can faculty also participate?

  5. Hollis Glaser April 25, 2019 at 6:26 am #

    Great idea Jean! Have you seen people use it yet?

    • jean amaral April 25, 2019 at 8:43 am #

      Yes, but not many, which is why we’d love help getting the word out. People walking by like the patterns and seem intrigued, but don’t often stop to read about what the labyrinth is and then take a moment to walk one or more of the patterns. So c’mon down, and send your students! Hopefully, we’ll see more folx taking advantage during De-stress Fest.

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