The hum of an air-conditioning unit might actually help those who visit a nondescript parking lot near North Logan Health Care and Provena United Samaritans Medical Center.

The parking lot, however, offers something special.

Late last month, Dr. Andrew Peters and some cohorts created what he believes is the Danville area’s only public labyrinth.

The circuitous path in green spray paint offers those who walk it — and are willing and able to feel its power — a way to relieve stress and promote health.

Peters calls it a “moving meditation.”

“It’s a physical analogy to the inner journey when we try to become calm and centered,” he said.

Peters runs Central Illinois Natural Health Clinic, at 1012 W. Fairchild St. The clinic offers chiropractic, homeopathic and naturopathic care. It opened in May 2005.

Peters admits the parking lot at his center doesn’t offer the most serene setting.

“In Danville, this is as close to an urban jungle as you get,” he said. “But you’ve got to start somewhere.”

The external distractions — the air-conditioning unit, rushing ambulances and persistent traffic — are actually symbolic of the distractions we all face in our stressful everyday lives.

Peters welcomes anyone who wants to try the labyrinth to visit anytime.

He insists the personal quiet some people can achieve there is essential.

“Most of us lack a connection to the quieter parts of ourselves,” he said, adding time on the labyrinth can help with general stress and allow users to sort out more serious situations in their lives.

“Just let your feet do the walking … and surrender yourself to the journey,” he said.

Just 20 minutes on the labyrinth, at the least, can help ease the impact of the continual stream of input many get from television, the Internet, radios, cell phones and iPods, he said.

“We’re always doing something,” Peters said.

He employed the power of the labyrinth this week as he was getting a root canal.

“I pictured walking the labyrinth. And when I got to the center, I did some yoga there,” he said.

“It was like a virtual version of the labyrinth.”

Peters is quick to point out the difference between a labyrinth and a maze.

A maze features dead ends.

A labyrinth is a continuous serious of twists and turns leading to the center.

People often choose to spend time in reflection, prayer or contemplation before moving out of the center.

A friend of Peters’, Susan Dancing Star, was instrumental in the labyrinth’s creation. Jim Griner of Hoopeston designed it.

Peters knows some will consider his labyrinth strange.

“It’s definitely not something that fits into the mainstream of American society,” he said. “If they can’t wrap their minds around it, that’s fine.”

Labyrinths, however, have been used for thousands of years in religious and secular settings.

Chad Bryant, owner of Danville Health Club, agrees keeping your stress level in check is important.

“It affects everything — hormonal balance, sleep patterns. It creates a cascade of events,” he said.

Bryant said a little bit of stress is normal, even healthy, but severe, long-term stress can cause health complications.

Anyone seeking more information about the power of labyrinths can contact Peters. He plans to offer workshops and other sessions centered on the labyrinth.

An information box resides near the labyrinth, as well.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Dr. Andrew Peters recommends these books for those interested in labyrinths:

--“Exploring the Labyrinth: A Guide for Healing and Spiritual Growth” by Melissa Gayle and Gayle West .

--“Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Practice” by Lauren Artress.

For more information, contact Peters at 443-4372, drpeters@illinoisnaturalhealth.com or visit http://www.illinoisnaturalhealth.com.

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