New Labyrinth Promotes Relaxation through Meditative Walking

Posted in GUMC Stories

JANUARY 9, 2015–The concrete pad outside of the 2 CCC surgical waiting area at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (new window) is transformed as a meditative space with the help of The Freddy and Diana Prince Labyrinth. Based on the 13th century labyrinth located at the Cathedral of Reims in France, The Freddy and Diana Prince Labyrinth was painted by artists in Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center’ (new window)s Arts and Humanities program using a specially designed stencil created by The Labyrinth Company.

A labyrinth is used for meditative walking to help reduce stress and tension. It is not a maze, but a single walking path from the edge to the center. The same path is used to return to the outside. Individuals who walk the path report that after walking the labyrinth, a sense of renewed calm can take effect.

“This project really was a community effort,” says Julia Langley, director of the Arts and Humanities Program at Georgetown Lombardi. “From former director of Lombardi Arts and Humanities Program, Nancy Morgan; to Father Joe Schad and Christine Tea; to the Arts and Humanities Program artists who painted and Hunter Contracting who donated labor and supplies, we all wanted to make this labyrinth a healing and comforting space for patients, families and caregivers.”

Father Joe Schad says that while the labyrinth does have a spiritual background it is meant for everyone to take a break from their busy day and use it to find peace.

“Just the other day I witnessed a nurse walking the labyrinth,” says Father Schad. “As she continued to walk it, I could tell she became more relaxed and seemed to slow down.”

With the labyrinth right outside the 2CCC waiting area, families of patients are encouraged to pass the time walking the labyrinth while waiting for news of their loved one.

“Gail Thorin, our senior surgical liaison, has told me she regularly suggests walking the labyrinth to family members in the Surgical Waiting Area to pass the time while their loved ones are in surgery,” said Langley.

Patients can also use it as a proactive healing treatment, and Georgetown University students can walk the labyrinth to help de-stress before an important exam.

“The Latin phrase solvitur ambulando, meaning solved by walking, refers to the fact that walking the labyrinth actively involves the mind, as well as the body,” says Langley. “This goes hand in hand with MedStar Georgetown’s culture of focusing on cura personalis, which encourages care of the whole person.”

The Freddy and Diana Prince Labyrinth will be dedicated to the Prince family early in the New Year.

By Hunter Hardinge
MedStar GUH Communications

Adapted from the Georgetown Star with permission from MedStar GUH Communications