By Matt Oakes
For most students, the last few weeks of a semester are generally defined by an all-encompassing feeling of anxiety. The term papers and readings that were neglected over the last three months must now be dealt with. The time has come to peel the plastic off the textbooks that are collecting dust on the shelf. Yep, it’s crunch time. You can see it on the faces in the hallways–no smiles, all frowns.
Coping with the stress of exams can be very strenuous for students.
Nevertheless, this year students have help. A service will be provided for students and staff to relax and focus all of the negative energy that has built up over this stressful time. The Dance Department, in conjunction with the Chaplains’ Centre, plans to set up a "Labyrinth" in the Dance Studio (Kinesiology A163) for five hours a day during the examination period (Dec. 12-21, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.).
The Labyrinth is a winding path on the floor of the studio that students walk along in silence and without footwear. Students are also invited to sit quietly along the sides of the Labyrinth.
"[It is] a form of meditation, stress relief and to focus the mind," said Reverend Tim Nethercott. "Walking the Labyrinth helps you clear away all the mental clutter so you can increase your capacity to concentrate."
"It is very calming," adds Anne Flynn, professor of Dance and one of the coordinators of the project. "The path only goes one place and does not force you to make any decisions–you can’t get lost. There is something really nice about just putting one foot in front of the other and knowing that you are going to get to the destination."
The concept of the Labyrinth is not new. Labyrinths appear in the artifacts of ancient religious traditions around the world. They were once a part of Minoan, Greek and Christian practice. Like the Buddhist mandala or the Native Canadian medicine wheel, they are symbols of wholeness and healing. A labyrinth is not a maze. A maze has dead ends while a labyrinth is a single winding path into the center and out again. In recent times, labyrinths have been installed in hospitals, churches and public spaces throughout North America and Europe.
Both the Reverend and the Dance Department emphasize that all members of the university are invited and welcome.
"The thing about the Labyrinth is that it is secular and is not attached to any particular religious denomination," stated Flynn. "You don’t have to believe in God or anything–you just go and walk."
"The spiritual dimension of this is hard to describe and is extremely individual," elaborated Nethercott. "It is something that invites people into a spiritual experience but doesn’t alienate."
Information about the Labyrinth and directions for walking it will be posted outside the studio and someone will be there to help and answer questions.