Danville man installs labyrinth for stress relief

Danville man installs labyrinth for stress relief

DANVILLE – A parking lot near two busy streets in Danville may not seem like the best place to reduce stress, but Andrew Peters hopes a centuries-old tool can do just that.

Three weeks ago, Peters had a labyrinth painted on a concrete corner of the parking lot adjacent to his office at Central Illinois Natural Health Clinic, 1012 W. Fairchild St. in Danville. It's across the street from Provena United Samaritans Medical Center, Lakeview College of Nursing and adjacent to North Logan Health Care Center at 801 N. Logan Ave.

Andrews said the design has prompted a few calls of curiosity from the health care center and the hospital, which have a bird's-eye view of the green, circular design that's 22 feet in diameter.

"I have walked other labyrinths in the past, and have always found it valuable for calming and centering the mind," said Peters, a chiropractor and naturopathic physician with the health clinic.

A labyrinth is a circular path that begins on the outside and ends at the center. Unlike a maze, it follows a single path with no breaks or dead ends. Labyrinths have been used for centuries as a prayer and meditation tool.

Peters based his labyrinth on the 13th-century labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France. It follows the same path, design and number of circuits as its French counterpart, although they don't share the same dimensions, materials or setting.

Peters, whose wife, Eleanor, is a family practice physician with Christie Clinic in Danville, walked his first labyrinth with some friends. Although he wasn't familiar with labyrinths at the time, he enjoyed the experience and has walked others in various cities since then, including the one at Crystal Lake Park in Urbana.

After talking to a friend, Susan Dancing Star of Danville, who also enjoys walking labyrinths, Peters decided to design one in the corner of his parking lot that would be open to his patients and the public. Since it's near medical facilities, Peters thinks it can be a helpful tool for people dealing with the stress of illness, whether patients, family or medical personnel.

Star first walked a labyrinth during the Easter holiday season in 1996 at Riverside Church in Manhattan.

"I was so impressed and taken in by the whole concept that I proceeded to find more information about them," said Star, who explained that it's difficult to articulate why she liked the experience. "I just really embraced the idea of walking as meditation."

A metal box at the labyrinth at the health clinic contains sheets of paper with some guidance on the idea behind the labyrinth and how to walk it.

Peters said there is no right or wrong way.

Walking the path, he said, can symbolize many things, such as life's journey, a spiritual journey, the inner debate of a problem or just a way to decompress from life's stresses.

Peters said that for some people, it's difficult to relax and put the worries and stresses of life out of their mind for even a short time. Sometimes, physically moving in a relaxed manner through a labyrinth can help them relax.

"For some people, it's difficult to hold still and relax," he said. "Involving the physical body can be a great aid in that."

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