Health & Wellness

UCSB Labyrinth

The UCSB Labyrinth

Click the image above to view the UCSB Labyrinth information.



Photo Credits: Kitty Currier and Alan Glennon

The UCSB Labyrinth

Labyrinth Trail--in Brief

Location: Lagoon Island between Manzanita Village and Campus Point.
Design: Modeled on the 11 circuit Chartres Cathedral style labyrinth in France.
Construction: Tolosa Gardens & Landscapes of San Luis Obispo
  (Bill Coryell)
Land Restoration: Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration
  (Jennifer Thorsch, Lisa Stratton, Darwin Richardson)
Project Development and Supervision: Campus Planning, Design, and Construction
  (Marc Fisher, Tye Simpson, Shari Hammond, Paul Gawronik, Jon Cook, Jerome Ripley)
Sponsorship: Division of Student Affairs
  (Michael Young, Yonie Harris)
Vision and Funding: Dolphin Consulting
  (Carol Geer)
Dedication: April 13, 2011
  ("To Student Affairs Staff who provide support and challenge to UCSB students along their path to scholarship, leadership, and citizenship.")
Current Activities and Information: UCSB Wellness Program
  (Mark Shishim, Michael Takahara)

UCSB Labyrinth Press Release

Carol Geer is hoping that the new Labyrinth Trail on UC Santa Barbara's Lagoon Island will be the most serene and inspirational six-tenths of a mile you'll ever walk.

Geer, who retired from UCSB in 2000 after 21 years as the director of Counseling and Career Services, and executive director of Student Development Services, suggested building a labyrinth somewhere on campus several years ago. She's also the driving force who worked to make it happen. And, she's the donor who generously provided the funds to pay for it.

"The notion of this grew out of our work in Student Affairs," Geer said. "We observed how difficult it was for students, staff, and faculty to find a quiet place on campus to be alone just to think and sort out things. The campus is an exciting place of learning and living, but even positive stimuli can be stressful. The goal was to provide a place and a process for finding the serenity and balance that comes from the interaction of mind, body, and spirit with nature."

The labyrinth was constructed over a two-month period, but it took nearly five years to clear all of the hurdles that might have blocked the project. "The Labyrinth would not have happened without my former colleague, Carol Geer," said Michael Young, vice chancellor for Student Affairs. "There were several points where the idea looked like it was dead, but Carol resuscitated it each time. She held fast to the vision she had, and she overcame each obstacle."

Those hurdles included finding an appropriate location and gaining approval from various campus and governmental committees, including the Coastal Commission, which oversees environmentally protected open spaces near the coastline. Geer initially was hoping to have the labyrinth built on Campus Point, but the area is considered sacred Native American ground, so Lagoon Island was the next logical choice, according to Lisa Stratton, director of ecosystem management for the Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration (CCBER). Stratton supervised the clearing of the area and is guiding the two-year restoration of native plants surrounding the labyrinth - another project funded by Geer.

The Division of Student Affairs was the campus sponsor of the labyrinth, working with relevant offices and departments at UCSB to help get the project through the various reviews and approvals, as well as the actual construction, according to Yonie Harris, dean of students. "The labyrinth seemed to capture the hearts and minds of everyone who heard about Carol Geer's vision for her gift to the campus," Harris said.

Made out of decomposed granite and river rocks, the labyrinth is built to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) specifications, according to Stratton, with paths wider than a normal labyrinth, to accommodate wheelchairs.

Geer explained why she was determined to have a labyrinth become a part of the campus. "Intuitively, it just came to me that a labyrinth would provide a pattern and a process for respite and renewal that would be beneficial to its users," she said. "The labyrinth is a universal cultural symbol used since ancient times for contemplation and meditation. It is often viewed as a metaphor for life's journey."

Harris added: "When a person walks the labyrinth, he or she finds a place of calm that allows meditation, reflection, and rejuvenation. The beautiful location of the labyrinth –– on the bluff above the Pacific Ocean –– invites an appreciation of nature in a very special way. There are sights, sounds, and scents of nature that have tremendous restorative power."

"I hope that the Labyrinth Trail walkers will carry the peacefulness of their experiences in their memories to sustain them through the presses and stresses of daily life," Geer added.

The Labyrinth Trail is free and open to the public. Access to lagoon island is via a path southeast of Manzanita Village, which is located on the southwest portion of the campus.

UCSB Labyrinth Map


By Cailen Wright (UCSB class of 2010)

Calm. Follow the circuitous path of the UCSB Labyrinth and literally unwind. Put your worries aside as you move through a place where there is no right or wrong way to travel, no decisions to be made, no challenges to overcome. Block inner and outer disturbances and delight in a relaxing walk where you can only go forward. This ancient custom has proven to help quiet the mind and balance the right and left brain functions as you meander from the path’s ever changing direction.

Relax. Not a maze, the labyrinth will take you on a stress-free journey with no dead end. It is a spiritual experience that does not challenge the mind, rather it is a place to quiet the mind. The labyrinth will gently lead you to the center of a sacred point that represents the journey to healing. Historically used as a tool to promote the healing process, the labyrinth helps to blend physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels to foster a sense of wholeness as you reach what can metaphorically compare with the center of your life.

Revive. Arrive at a place where the psyche meets the soul. The body’s movement along the pathway can promote a sense of well-being and may boost the immune system. It is a restorative process that will enable you to let go of stress and worry, and focus on the simple act of physical and emotional freedom. Select a mantra if you will, and find that this experience will leave you invigorated and more balanced. Leave knowing that you can come back whenever you like, the UCSB labyrinth is a safe place to let your mind and body wander. The origin of the labyrinth dates back as far as 4,500 years and these sacred pathways are created for a reason. Whether you have an epiphany or simply a gentle stroll, you will leave invigorated and empowered for you have given yourself a gift – the gift of time.

The UCSB Labyrinth - find it, walk it, experience yourself.


In beauty may I walk.
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With dew about my feet may I walk.
With beauty may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty below me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.

What is a Labyrinth?

A labyrinth is:

a walking meditation that has been used since ancient times and across cultures to calm the mind, relax the body, and revive the spirit by following a single circuitous, uninterrupted path to a center and back.

a sacred path that has been both symbol and ritual in Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist religious traditions.

a metaphor for life that has unexpected turns in the pathway moving toward and then away from the goal as in one's life experiences.

a stress reducer that focusses the mind on walking the 1000 steps to the center and the 1000 steps back out at one's own pace and in one's own time without pressures of expectation or performance since there is no right or wrong way to walk it.

a healing resource that allows one to let go of grief and loss and trauma to discover the comfort and strength from the calming process of walking this timeless path in the beauty and inspiration of the natural environment.

a special way to appreciate nature that comes from remaining in an outdoor space for an extended period of time to experience the balance that comes from the interaction of mind and nature. The multi sensory experience of the sounds of the ocean waves, sights of the birds and animals, the touch of the breezes, and aroma of the flowers deepens the effect of the labyrinth experience.

a land art work that respects the beauty and fragility of the natural environment while encouraging human engagement with it, providing an example of one of the oldest artistic creations to be inspired by the human imagination.

a gift of inner peace and renewal that can sustain the walker through the stresses and presses of daily life and produce well being. "Go placidly amid the noise and the haste..." (Desiderata)

Contact us at