A project led by Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing PhD students Wendy Arena, Elizabeth DelSignore, Caitlin Healy, Elizabeth Terhune, and Amelia Toye, who say:
Labyrinths have been constructed by humans for thousands of years across cultures and religions with a broad variety of purposes. The winding pathway of the labyrinth in context here might be symbolic of the non-linear journey your life has taken, or it can be utilized as a walking meditation, a few moments away from your work, school, or general life routine to re-set your mind and clear away any racing thoughts or worries you may have. We have constructed this labyrinth and the surrounding nature sound recordings to give you the opportunity to “re-set” your brain activity and potentially improve your attention when you return to your regular routine.
This project was developed to apply theoretical constructs from nature to health. We read and discussed the book The Nature Fix by Florence Williams, becoming interested in the theory of attention restoration and how nature can impact cognitive functioning and attention, especially in light of our experiences as nurse clinicians (a nurse practitioner, three staff nurses, and a clinical nurse specialist) and doctoral students. Exposure to nature has been cited as a health-promoting intervention since the late 19th century, providing “refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole system.” (F.L. Olmstead as cited in Williams, p. 48). This reinvigoration has been tested empirically using attention restoration theory (Kaplan, 1995).
What we are trying to achieve within our humble means is nicely captured by Kaplan and Kaplan (1989, p. 183), “A person might, for example, get away from distraction. Although this may bring to mind a retreat on a faraway hillside, in the literal sense of escape a quiet basement lacking a telephone could serve just as well.” Rather than a basement, we have a portable labyrinth with accompanying nature-sounds to help you re-set your brain and improve your attention for your next life activity.
Kaplan, R., & Kaplan, S. (1989). The Experience of Nature: A Psychological Perspective. Cambridge University Press.
Kaplan, S. (1995). The restorative benefits of nature: Toward an integrative framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 15, 169-182.
Williams, F. (2017). The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative. W.W. Norton & Co.
The labyrinth mat, a painted canvas rug, is able to be checked out for a week from the Library Service Point.
3 wooden boxes containing wound cord labyrinths and stones to explore mindfulness tactilely. Checks out for a week, available from the Library Service Point.
Publication Date: 1989-07-28
In this volume concerning the natural environment, people, and the relationship between them, Rachel and Stephen Kaplan offer the first research-based analysis of the vital psychological role that nature plays in our lives. Over a period of twenty years, the authors have sought to understand how people perceive nature and what types of natural environments they prefer, what psychological benefits they seem to derive from wilderness experiences, and why backyard gardens are especially important to some people. The book examines the satisfactions and advantages that various natural settings bring to us. While many readers may have little doubt that the natural environment makes a difference to them, they may be surprised to discover the pervasiveness of its impact on people of diverse ages and cultural heritages. Beyond the awe-inspiring mountains and waterfalls, many comparatively simple natural settings foster tranquility and well-being. The book explores questions such as: Is the effect of nature on people as powerful as it intuitively seems to be? What makes natural settings so compelling? How do settings restore bodily health? Are some natural patterns more effective than others? Are there ways to design, manage, and interpret natural environments so as to enhance their beneficial influences? A wide audience will find this analysis of our natural environment compelling and insightful.
The Journal of Environmental Psychology is the premier journal in the field, serving individuals in a wide range of disciplines who have an interest in the scientific study of the transactions and interrelationships between people and their surroundings (including built, social, natural, and virtual environments, the use and abuse of nature and natural resources, and sustainability-related behavior). The journal publishes internationally contributed empirical studies and systematic and meta-analytic reviews of research on these topics that advance new insights.