For students at the University of Victoria, exam time, which gets underway next week, can be one of the most stressful periods of the year.
For people without tests on their minds, the Christmas holiday season can be equally stressful. This combined scenario is what prompts the Interfaith Chapel at UVic to remind people of the availability of its labyrinth.
The winding circular design, which is painted on canvas and spread out on the chapel floor, is patterned after a 12th-century labyrinth on the floor of the Chartres Cathedral, 50 miles from Paris.
"The winding paths that take people to the centre of the labyrinth become a metaphor for their own spiritual journey," said Chaplain Henri Lock of UVic's Multifaith Services. "People report feeling more peaceful or having new insights or getting new perspectives on a personal issue after walking the labyrinth."
At one point Monday, Lock said, 30 people were seated in meditation on the labyrinth. For those unfamiliar with calming the mind, instructions are posted at the door.
"There's really three phases to it. You let go and focus on your walking, focus on bodily movement and any anxious thoughts that come up, you let them go," he said, noting people can walk or sit in the labyrinth. "On the way out, note the calmness that may have come, while still focusing on the walking, one foot after another, and let that inner change settle in."
The labyrinth is available from 9 to 11 a.m. and from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays now until Dec. 15. Candlelight sessions are available from 6 to 9 p.m. tomorrow (Dec. 1) and Dec. 8.
A meditation workshop led by Lock happens Monday (Dec. 5) from 7 to 9 p.m. To register, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 250-472-4159 or visit web.uvic.ca/multifaith/practicing/labryrinth.html.