© 2024 Aspen Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Valley View Labyrinth Helps Patients And Community Members Find Peace With Life's Twists And Turns

Christin Kay
Aspen Public Radio

Once a month at Valley View Hospital, the tables and chairs of a conference room are pushed aside. Candles are lit and a giant canvas labyrinth is unrolled on the floor.  It has a single path, white on a deep blue background and about a foot wide, that winds its way toward an open space in its center. It’s not a maze; the path is always in full view, and there are no dead ends. It’s open for any patient, staff or community member to walk.


Rifle resident Kate Andreatta is slowly making her way around the circular path of the labyrinth here today at the hospital.  Head down, hands behind her back, she stops every few steps to close her eyes and breathe deeply.

Andreatta used to walk labyrinths regularly.  But today, she says, "This is the first time since the love of my life died six years ago."

When Andreatta’s partner Charlie passed away suddenly from complications from pneumonia, she couldn’t even bring herself to go to his funeral.  She’s here today to help her process her grief.


"They’re happy memories, but it still makes me cry," she said.

Andreatta says that for her, walking a labyrinth feels almost like prayer.  And today, she felt Charlie with her as she walked.

"When I got to the center, it was a sense of peace," she said.


Jessica Armstrong is the mindful movement therapist at Valley View. She sets up the labyrinth and facilitates these walks, making sure that only one person is on the path at a time, so they don’t feel rushed. After people finish, she’s there to listen if anyone wants to talk about what they experienced.  

Armstrong says that researchers have found exactly what Kate Andreatta felt, that walking a labyrinth quells stress.


"There have been studies where they’ll take the blood pressure before and after, and it’s invariably always lowered," she said.

Armstrong says there are physical benefits of walking a labyrinth but also a spiritual aspect. A labyrinth offers a chance for walking meditation, forcing someone to slow down and focus on just their next step.   

"That can be very meaningful and very powerful when you’re going through trauma or getting the news that you get on a day when the day before you didn’t have that perspective, and now your whole world is turned upside down," she said.

It can also help those who are just dealing with everyday life.

Kathy Springer-Lechuga is a tax accountant. She came to the hospital today to walk the labyrinth.  She sees a metaphor for anyone, hospital patient or not, in its twists and turns.

"You keep going back and forth, getting closer to the center and farther away from the center, and I think our lives are like that," she said.

Springer-Lechuga says that everything else fades away as she takes her steps.

"When I’m walking, I can stay focused on the path. It helps me stay focused by moving," she said.

Lots of people have felt those benefits. Nearly 10,000 labyrinths have popped up all over the U.S. in the last twenty years, many of them in hospitals, cancer centers and other health care facilities.

Kate Andreatta’s partner Charlie hated hospitals.  She says that having a labyrinth here, might help people feel more comfortable.

"It shows people that hospitals aren’t just for dying, but it’s also for a place of healing," she said.

The labyrinth is open again on Friday, offering a place for anyone to find peace, by finding the center.




Contributor Christin Kay is passionate about the rich variety of arts, cultural experiences and stories in the Roaring Fork Valley. She has been a devotee of public radio her whole life. Christin is a veteran of Aspen Public Radio, serving as producer, reporter and interim news director.
Related Content