Labyrinth Helps Many Think, Heal

October 26, 2000

Source: The Baltimore Sun

On October 26, 2000, The Baltimore Sun reported on a Labyrinth located on the Bayview Campus of Johns Hopkins' Medical System. One walker stated that as she "walks the labyrinth, its smooth concentric paths carry her inward like a current. Approaching from the parking lot, she senses energy flowing from the classic design. It's as if she were at the shore, she says, watching the waves. Just looking at the circular formation feels really relaxing to me, she says at the beginning of the path. I wait here until I have an internal cue that tells me it's time to go. Before her, on the ground near the hospital, are seven rings spiraling into a pattern thousands of years old. Ancient people of Crete walked a version of this labyrinth. So did Native Americans in the Southwest. Medieval pilgrims traveled to Chartres to pray and pace the labyrinth in the French cathedral. For many cultures, this pathway represents the journey of life - or of many lives. Walking the labyrinth is a way to gain perspective, confront problems, explore random thoughts...She has decided that this labyrinth is a sacred space. Sacred because people honor it: There is never any litter. Sacred because it is a circle, the most powerful of shapes. Sacred because it challenges her perceptions even as it refreshes her...Labyrinth designer Dave Tolzmann created the Bayview labyrinth in collaboration with Nancy Romita, a Baltimore dancer who initiated the project at Hopkins as a way to promote healing through the movement arts. 'Working with the dance troupe, it became clear to me that designing a labyrinth was moving people through space - that I was designing choreography,' says Tolzmann, who lives in Baltimore and New York. 'It brought home that I have to remember it is basically choreography and that I have to 'walk' it as I design it. When I walk a labyrinth, I always get relaxation or a creative insight. You can call it what you will: a creativity enhancer, stress reduction, a form of prayer, meditation.' Just as therapy is more than counseling, meditation is more than an exploration of wandering thoughts, says Johns Hopkins psychiatrist Dr. Andrew Angelino. For those who wish it, walking the labyrinth is a guided exercise. 'The instructions basically say: 'Stand at the edge. Clear your mind. Step in and begin to walk. Don't rush. By the time you reach the center, come up with a solution. On the way out, think of how you're going to implement it.'"