ITHACA, N.Y. -- A labyrinth is not a maze but a spiral-like, purposeful path that meanders to a center and provides personal and spiritual benefits, advocates say. This spring, the Cornell University community will be introduced to the concept of labyrinths and their use for walking meditations.
A special exhibit, "Labyrinths for Peace," will open Friday, April 23, in Room 3330 of the Carol Tatkon Center in Balch Hall, with an opening reception and refreshments at 3:30 p.m. and presentations beginning at 4 p.m. Speakers at the event will include: David Gallagher, the executive director of the national Labyrinth Society, founded in 1998, who will discuss the origins and history of labyrinths around the world; Janet Shortall, associate director of Cornell United Religious Work (CURW), who will recount her experience with the labyrinth concept; and Wai-Kwong Wong, a psychotherapist at Gannett: University Health Services, who will discuss the psychological and health benefits of walking a labyrinth. The Tatkon Center exhibition will be in place through May 22.
During the April 23 event, landscape architecture students will present a proposed design for a Cornell labyrinth to serve as a memorial for the 21 Cornell alumni who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A temporary ribbon labyrinth also will be set up for people to walk through.
Two large panels showing labyrinth designs will be on display in the Tatkon Center, and on April 28 the exhibit will increase to 22 panels with 153 photos, depicting 120 different labyrinths, 40 illustrations and an original work of art.
On Tuesday, April 27, the newly established Cornell Labyrinth Society will install a 50-foot diameter canvas labyrinth in the One World Room of Anabel Taylor Hall, available for public use from 1 to 4 p.m. The Cornell labyrinth initiative is the brainchild of Cornell undergraduate Cheryl Yeoh, who walked her first labyrinth at a leadership camp last year. "I was amazed when I felt a discernable calmness come over me," says Yeoh, a sophomore from Malaysia majoring in operations research and industrial engineering in the College of Engineering. "I liken it to life's
journey. Sometimes you may think that you are heading in the right direction, but then suddenly life's path changes 180 degrees and you feel apprehensive at the shift of your direction. The labyrinth invites you to trust the journey, and in doing so, you ultimately reach the center a place of balance and peace. I find that the labyrinth teaches us to leave our single-mindedness at the entrance and embrace life from different angles and perspectives."
Yeoh says that she had been saddened by student suicides on campus, particularly since she herself felt overwhelmed by a heavy workload, exam stress and the loneliness of being so far from home and family. "With these experiences in mind, I sought to create something that might directly address stress and came upon the idea of creating a labyrinth."
Yeoh explains that, unlike a maze, which is meant to puzzle with dead ends and multiple paths, a labyrinth "is a specific mathematical construct in which one enters, reaches the center and exits by the same path." A labyrinth, she notes, is an example "of a moving meditation." She says she hopes the exhibit will generate enough interest to support a permanent labyrinth on the Cornell campus. Nationally, 50 hospitals and more than 100 schools have labyrinths, including Boston College and Harvard University.
Yeoh formed the Cornell Labyrinth Society this year and obtained permission from the Cornell Law School and CURW to use the courtyard between Myron Taylor and Anabel Taylor halls for a future labyrinth site. She also put together a design team to plan the campus labyrinth. The team at Cornell includes Dennis Osika, director of the Department of Grounds; John Ullberg, landscape architect with Planning, Design and Construction; Marvin Adleman, professor of landscape architecture; Kent Hubbell, dean of students; Alice Green, assistant dean of students; and several of Yeoh's fellow students.
The labyrinth exhibit is supported, in part, by the Cornell Labyrinth Society, the Dean of Students Bartels Fund, CURW, the Buildings and Grounds departments, Campus Life, the Cornell Malaysian Association and the Engineering Student Council.
For more information on the Cornell Labyrinth Society, contact Yeoh at (607) 351-1426 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Related World Wide Web sites: The following sites provide additional information on this news release. Some might not be part of the Cornell University community, and Cornell has no control over their content or availability.
o The Cornell Labyrinth Society: http://labyrinth-society.homeip.net
o The Labyrinth Society: http://www.labyrinthsociety.org