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Walk the labyrinth

Practice modern mindfulness using ancient-inspired exercise

Practice modern mindfulness using ancient-inspired exercise

There won't be a goblin king, puppets or David Bowie — but there will be a little music and a chance to de-stress using a popular mindfulness practice.

On Friday, Sept. 21, SAIT will host its first labyrinth in Macdonald Hall to recognize the United Nations' International Day of Peace — and you're invited to walk it.

If you're picturing a maze — like the one in Jim Henson's cult classic — picture instead, well, the opposite. A maze is designed with twists and turns to help you get lost. A labyrinth comprises a single path into and out of the centre.

"The labyrinth is a pattern that shows up in artifacts starting many of thousands of years ago, all over the world," says Tim Nethercott, chaplain, SAIT's Interfaith Centre.

The labyrinth has been — or may have been — many things over the years, including an ancient map of the cosmos. It's also a pattern associated with a type of prayer known as pilgrimage and representative of something called the hero's journey — both symbolizing a journey outward to a place of illumination and then a journey back home again.

More recently, people have started to perceive the labyrinth as a journey to self.

Mindfulness and well-being

That journey to self is connected to our modern concept of mindfulness — the ability to be actively aware and fully present in the moment. Mindfulness practice has been linked to a variety of benefits, such as decreased stress, increased focus, improved patience and better sleep.

According to Nethercott, the most common way to conduct a mindfulness practice is to do one thing — not to shut your mind off completely but to focus on a single something.

Breathing exercises and sitting meditation are some typical techniques used in mindfulness. But Nethercott suggests that walking provides a much easier introduction for newcomers.

"Everybody is accustomed to going for a walk to ‘get a grip' on themselves," he says. "People are accustomed to walking as a way to enter a mindful state — and it doesn't take as much instruction or training as breath meditation does.

"You can use the labyrinth as a walking meditation and you've got a pretty good form of mindfulness practice."

Take a mindfulness break and drop by Macdonald Hall any time between 10 am and 2 pm to walk the labyrinth, reflect on the International Day of Peace or to just sit and enjoy a cup of tea.

Remember to focus on well-being

Being a student comes with a whole new world of demands and opportunities. Finding wellness and balance in all areas of your life will help you achieve what's important.

There are supports on campus that can guide you, plus lots of tools and resources that offer great tips and easy advice. Take a flip through Student Health 101 magazine, attend a Stress Less Workshop (Sept. 18 and 25, Oct. 2) and/or visit the Student Development and Counselling web page for more.

Advice from #SAIT students

"Don't stress and take care."

"Take a break."

"Don't be afraid to ask for help. SAIT has a ton of resources to help you out when you need."

"Don't put so much pressure on yourself."

"Stay active."

"One day at a time!"

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