Embodied spiritual pathway: Experimental, applied, & cross-cultural studies of labyrinths & flourishing
TWCF Number
Project Duration
August 15 / 2024
- August 14 / 2027
Core Funding Area
Big Questions
North America
Amount Awarded

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Kevin Ladd
Institution Indiana University

Daniel McIntosh
Institution University of Denver

Need: Walking or tracing a labyrinth is a mini pilgrimage and is a semi-structured meditation involving mind and body, two systems relevant to flourishing and transformation. Labyrinths are ancient and global yet also newly popular for use in geriatric care, physical healing/rehabilitation, prisons, and educational institutions. However, evidence supporting their utility is largely atheoretical, anecdotal, and accompanied by non-experimental, underpowered designs. The breadth and global popularity of labyrinths show they have promise as a spiritual exercise that is accessible, applicable to varied populations, and scalable across traditions and situations. The project team's theoretically and contextually based, scientifically rigorous studies can provide empirical foundations for effective uses, spurring wider adoption and success in applied settings.

Aims: The project uses experimental designs with self-report (e.g., spirituality) and objective (e.g., physiology) measures to provide data addressing effects, mediators, and moderators of labyrinths. It examines labyrinth practice, uniting embodiment theory and existing literature with attention to research on “place.” The goal is to better understand the spiritual exercise of labyrinths and provide a strong basis for meaningful application and extension.

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