To better understand how walking a labyrinth might affect our psychological, physical and biochemical process it may help to know a little anatomy and physiology and what research has been able to demonstrate. These articles have been sourced from peer-reviewed journals and scientific websites.
anatomy of balance
1. This 2 minute neuroscience video on the vestibular labyrinth, the sensory system in our inner ear, which sends information via nerves to the cerebellum and to nuclei in the brainstem which then pass the information on to a variety of targets, ranging from the muscles of the eye to the cerebral cortex .
2. A very complex neuronal network and neurotransmitters in the vestibular system which include networks that influence a broad range of stress responses and play a role in balance and anxiety disorders
3. This report from the Department of Neuro-Otology Charing Cross Hospital, Imperial College London titled "Vestibular Functioning and Self-Motion Perception Can Modulate Behaviour". It demonstrates the wide-ranging influences of the vestibular system and self-motion perception upon behaviour which can impact upon cognition, human affect and body awareness.
labyrinths & psychology
4. Short-term autonomic nervous system and experiential responses during a labyrinth walk from Health Psychology Alberta Childrens Hospital is a systematic investigation of the short-term physiological and self-reported effects of a walking labyrinth meditation. Results indicate that walking a projected light labyrinth was an emotionally and psychologically engaging practice for youth and young adults, with an overall effect of greater relaxation and calmness. Results suggest that the availability of stress reduction tools similar to, and including the labyrinth, could have wide benefits for those undergoing physical and mental duress.
5. This article from Comprehensive Psychology "Using the labyrinth as a teaching tool in Psychology" demonstrates the various ways in a which a finger labyrinth can be used as an inquiry-based, hands-on teaching tool in psychology courses.
6. This article from National Library of Medicine Walking the Labyrinth: Considering Mental Health Consumer Experience, Meaning Making, and the Illumination of the Sacred in a Forensic Mental Health Setting
7. The evolution of a labyrinth walking program in corrections from National Library of Medicine has signalled a milestone in the treatment of offenders, particularly those incarcerated for substance abuse related offenses.
8. "Labyrinths, yesterday, today and tomorrow - Implications for education" This article looks at the historical background of the labyrinth as well as definitions. Then a modern view details the various ways it is being used today including an overview of a school study. Finally, some questions for the future are raised. Download the full PDF from Missouri State University .