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A pamphlet at Colorado Children's Hospital informs patients that "walking a labyrinth can often calm people in the midst of crisis. Even Ben Bradlee, legendary executive editor of the Washington Post , had a foot labyrinth built for his wife, Sally Quinn, on their Maryland estate. A labyrinth is not a maze.

Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings by Jorge Luis Borges

There is nothing to be solved, no dead ends meant to entrap the walker. Labyrinths have a clear way in and out. Yet the small amount of concentration required to stay on the path, combined with the repetitive nature of following the pattern, is said to produce a calming effect that can do everything from reduce anxiety to combat chemotherapy-induced nausea.

Dark Labyrinths of the Past - Episode 2. Russian TV series. StarMedia. Thriller. English Subtitles

The science behind this theory is sketchy, at best. But dozens of small studies have hinted that labyrinth walking may hold some real benefits. One study found that walking a labyrinth provided "short-term calming, relaxation, and relief from agitation and anxiety" for Alzheimer's patients. Others show that everyone from pediatric cancer patients to nurses feel happier and less stressed after a good labyrinth walk. Whether a good walk around the block wouldn't produce the same benefits is hard to say.

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But it's also not the point, says Ferrara. Skeptics are invited to join labyrinth fans in a "moving meditation for peace" taking place this World Labyrinth Day May 2, as always.

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You can use the Labyrinth Locator to find one near you. We want to hear what you think about this article. Labyrinths are an ancient archetype dating back 4, years or more, used symbolically, as a walking meditation, choreographed dance, or site of rituals and ceremony, among other things.

Earliest Examples

Labyrinths are tools for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation, also thought to enhance right-brain activity. Labyrinths evoke metaphor, sacred geometry, spiritual pilgrimage, religious practice, mindfulness, environmental art, and community building. Labyrinths are named by type and can be further identified by their number of circuits. Counting from the center, the drawing at right illustrates a seven circuit design.

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You begin a labyrinth walk at the entrance and proceed along the path. Lines define the path and often maintain a consistant width, even around the turns. Generally at the center you have travelled half the distance, where it is common to pause, turn around, and walk back out again.

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