By Paul Edwards (Fr. Paul)
PSYCHOLOGY OF THE VIRTUAL LABYRINTH
“Virtual” means "resulting in effect or essence though not in actual fact, form or name"
The benefits of walking labyrinths are growing in use as instruments to advance the healing process. At least sixty hospitals in the United States have introduced permanent labyrinths as a component of their wellness programs. The problem with a permanent labyrinth is that it is permanent. It also is costly, takes up a large space and is limited to how many can walk it at any time.
The Virtual Labyrinth can be walked daily in any place, with any number of persons, under any conditions. Ultimately, those who find it to be effective would soon learn to take it with them when they leave the center. Also, it does not cost anything to install.
THE VIRTUE OF THE VIRTUAL LABYRINTH AS A MODEL IN HEALTHCARE
Walking a virtual labyrinth offers an inventive new way to assist care givers in leading clients to fullness of health.
Core groups are trained to understand the psychological principles of the walk and to lead others in the virtual walk. This means everyone does not have to memorize the design. The trainers lead others as a supportive group rather than individuals walking alone. This builds a supportive community through the sharing of their understanding of the experience of the walk.
The core group trainers would not have to be therapists. The therapy is already installed in the labyrinth. After the experience of the walk, the trainers would share the basic principles of healthy life functioning and how it relates to their particular issues. Once the walk and the principles were put together, the labyrinth would become available as a reminder of what was learned. It would go with them wherever they go after they left the clinic.
THE PARADIGM SHIFT: THE HEALING IS IN THE WALK
There must be a paradigm shift in thinking if the virtual labyrinth is to be used as a health care tool. It takes a paradigm shift of assumptions from both the traditional psychological approach and the concept of a permanent labyrinth to understand the healing power a virtual labyrinth.
In traditional therapy the emphasis is on the skill of the therapist. In the paradigm shift with the labyrinth, the therapy is in the walk. The shift cannot be explained before doing it. It must be discovered by doing it to be understood. You enter into the virtual labyrinth with one assumption and come out with another.
The Labyrinth walk is SELF Correcting. All the walker needs to do is walk. The Labyrinth changes unhealthy thoughts and negative emotions into healthy feelings and positive thoughts without the struggle. The labyrinth is our psychological Immune system. It is the body’s natural defense to fight off deep and painful emotional life issues. When we tap into the power of our immune system we avoid unhealthy thoughts, actions and feelings.
THE THERAPY IS IN THE LABYRINTH
Traditional therapy depends on the therapist teaching clients certain practices.
THE TRADITONAL APPROACH TO THREE MAJOR EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS:
(The acronym for these issues is “A RUT”)
A: AUTOIMMUNE THOUGHTS is when the body’s unhealthy rational immune system attacks the body emotionally. The person’s thoughts are constantly putting themselves down, judging themselves and complaining about how poorly they compare to others. This thinking leads to low self-esteem, attracts bullying and draws one into depression. The traditional approach is to attempt to build up self-esteem with affirmations and positive thoughts. Low self-esteem is the major cause of suicide among teens today.
R: RATIONAL THINKING believes thought creates feelings about life events. A negative thought will create a negative feeling. Changing the thought to a positive one about the life event brings a positive feeling.
Traditional therapy will want to work through past traumas. This approach tries to deal with negative thoughts by turning them into positive ones. If the thought cannot be changed, the life is led down a negative path of irrational thinking. This irrational thinking is the major cause for uncontrolled anger, abuse and broken relationship. If this change cannot be done the client becomes a victim of their past.
UT: UNHEALTHY THINKING believes events create our feelings. This thinking will do whatever it takes to find happiness and love. It leads to looking for love and happiness in the wrong places. Unhealthy thinking seeks instant gratification no matter what the consequences may be. It is the major cause of all addictions.
The traditional approach is to go over the feelings about circumstances that cause the pain created by such irrational thinking. The discussion will center on the consequences of their poor choices. If the root cause of the pain cannot be eliminated, then there will be no closure. They will continue to cover and hide the pain with its anger, guilt and depression.
THE THERAPY OF THE LABYRINTH
The paradigm of the labyrinth is based on a shift from the rational head to the conscious heart. The basic psychological principle for the virtual labyrinth walk is to discover what we are looking for inside, not outside, ourselves. We are not to live broken lives but whole lives.
The acronym for the virtual labyrinth therapy is SHIFT.
The basis is the shift from the (R) rational head to the conscious heart. The conscious is not rational. It cannot be explained. The shift must be done to be experienced. Once is it done, the focus is on the innate Presence within rather than the issue without.
In walking the virtual labyrinth the SHIFT is automatic. The walk will (S) Self- correct irrational thinking. It promotes (H) Healthy-thoughts by knowing how to consciously become open to our inner Presence. Within ourselves we have our own psychological (I) Immune-system against autoimmune thoughts. Conscious, innate (F) Feelings create healing (T) Thoughts in our life eventsratherthan rational thoughts creating our feelings about of life events.No time is spent explaining why we should not think one way or the other. In the SHIFT, it is just the common sense way to think.
There is no rational attempt to change from why one should not “think this negative way?” (U). It is an innate automatic shift to, “why not think this positive way?”
Dysfunctional,unhealthy (U) thinking is changed to healthy, functioning (H) thinking. It is not a feeling caused by a negative thought. It is a positive feeling creating a positive thought, insight and Wisdom we cannot have when in A Rut.
VIRTUAL LABYRINTH PARADIGM SHIFT THERAPY
The center of the labyrinth is where the mode of thinking makes the cross over to the new paradigm. The walker starts at the outside entrance and moves into the center. The mull-over of the current issues that need to be dealt with begin at the start of the walk. As the walk continues toward the center there is an automatic paradigm shift from the rational to conscious thinking. We can only think rationally of one thing at a time. Consciously we think of many things at once. The rational only sees the external physical. The conscious senses the feeling of the internal unseen. The loops and the curves on the walk shake up ones rational thinking to open up our conscious sensing. It is the conscious that begins to become aware of the inner Presence by feeling a sense of Peace.
At the center of the labyrinth there is a moment of awareness. We transcend our old issue through a paradigm shift from A RUT to the SHIFT. Here, at the center, we contact our immune system.
There is a shift from the autoimmune thoughts to positive thoughts by feeling the innate Presence of the Love.
There is a shift from unhealthy to healthy thinking in the feeling of the Peace.
There is the shift from rational thinking that thoughts create our feeling about our life to the feeling of the Joy that creates Wisdom in our life.
The SHIFT helps us realize a Wisdom we can never hear when we are rationally out of this conscious Presence.
As the walker comes out nothing has changed physically. The change is in the transformation from the way one thinks about the situation to the way one thinks in the situation.
TWO MEANINGS TO ONE EMOTION
We have two kinds of feelings, rational and innate.
In rational, analytic psychology, our feelings depend on what our rational mind is thinking about our life events. The focus is on the analysis of the thoughts we have formed that create our feelings about our reality. Negative or disturbing feelings are created when we are in A RUT. With this type of thinking, these thoughts about life events must be changed to create a positive feeling about reality. Otherwise we become a victim of our life events. In this mode, feelings are a result, not a cause, of what we think.
In SHIFT psychology, the focus is on our innate feelings of the Presence of Peace, Love and Joy. These feelings do not depend on what we think about our life events. Consciously feeling this Presence creates how we think in our life experience. The SHIFT sees our reality as created by the conscious feeling of the Presence of inner Peace, Love and Joy. Our reality is changed, regardless of the life event.
Walking the labyrinth creates an understanding in the different way thought can work. It is a scientific fact that when we are at Peace, feeling love and joy we will see our life differently than when we are feeling unhappy, unloved and stressed out. This is what the labyrinth does. Thinking rationally outside of the Presence, we attempt to change the event or how we think about the event to feel at Peace. In the Presence, we feel the Peace that changes the thought in and not about the event.
Being in A RUT creates negative feelings about what happens to us in our life when we are not connected to this Presence. The SHIFT self corrects A RUT and creates positive thoughts in the events of our life.
HOW IT WORKS: DOWN AND OUT, UP AND IN
All of the Presence of Peace, Love, Joy and Wisdom we will ever need is already present in all of us. But what does it mean that the Presence is “in us?” In Rational thinking, "in" and "out" are positions. Rationally, the Presence is always "in" us as a position but not as an experience. We cannot get “in” rationally to experience the Presence. The rational is “down” because it can only see the physically seen. It can never experience the innate unseen.
In SHIFT, Self-correcting, Healthy, Immune, Feeling-thoughts, “in” and “out” are conditions. Conscious thinking about the Presence "in" us is not referring to a position. It is referring to our condition of experiencing the Presence. The Presence is always “up” and “in” us but we are not always “up” and "in" the Presence. When we are "up" consciously, we are “in” experiencing the Presence. We do this through the paradigm SHIFT. If we are not consciously in the SHIFT, we are rationally “out” and therefore in A “down” and “out” RUT.
Being “up” means we are using our conscious awareness in order to experience healthy thinking. At any time we can choose to be either rationally "down" and "out" or consciously “up" and "in". Which would you rather be?
THE IN “OUT” AND OUT “IN” WALK
When we are walking into the labyrinth, the heart feels what the head thinks. Coming out, the head thinks what the heart feels. When we walk in we are “out”. We think about certain unhealthy negative thoughts that create our feelings that make up our reality. Gradually, the labyrinth walk disregards what we think as reality. The issue is not the issue. The power is in the loops and curves that unwind and wear down our thoughts and thinking brought on by being in A RUT. The maze of the SHIFT brings us consciously into the Presence. There we find our real life.
At the Center we take some time to become conscious of the innate Presence within us. As we journey out, we are “in” the inner Peace Presence. This healthy thinking creates a Wisdom we could never have when we are in A RUT. When we walk out, we stay “in” and connected by wondering what difference being in or out of the Presence makes in our life decisions.
The labyrinth lifts us out of the cycle of inevitability. The process of the SHIFT is the power that separates us from our reality formed by being in A RUT. Coming out from the center, there is recognition that when in A RUT, content is an ever changing reality. Moving from the inside life center to the outside life, one discovers the Wisdom that comes from healthy feelings about the same life event contemplated rationally when going in. Coming out of the center we find it possible to have a sense of Peace, not about the event but in the event. The feelings of Peace, Love and Joy create a Wisdom that enables us to find direction we could not find when we are in A RUT.
Healthy functioning comes when we know the difference being in the Presence makes in our thinking compared to when, under the same circumstances, we are out. Being “out”, negative autoimmune thinking is turned against us. When we are “in”, we rely on the ability of our innate immune Presence to self-correct our negative thoughts. This functioning is available to everyone, any time and under any circumstances. It is the difference between trying to change a thought through rational, head thinking or changing to conscious heart sensing.
THE HEALTHCARE MODEL
Many problems of illness and rehabilitation are caused by Autoimmune, Rational, and Unhealthy Thinking (A RUT). Walking into the center of the labyrinth and out creates the atmosphere that addresses the root cause of all human distress. It precludes any need to “work through” past traumas or “deal with” negative and unhealthy thoughts or emotions. The SHIFT walk brings us out of A RUT.
Getting in touch with our inner Peace reduces problems and stresses that have previously been taken for granted. Walking the labyrinth results in stress reduction. Stress can kill and hence reducing it can heal. Those afflicted with stress conditions have higher rates of unhealthy behaviors, physical health problems and shorter lifespans. Suffering from stress when in A RUT can also impair personal relationships among health care workers. The SHIFT creates an atmosphere of Peace and, in a community, enables all to work together and with more productivity.
The labyrinth brings one back to a state of equilibrium. Individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or autism walk them to achieve calm and focus. The walk also often results in a reduction of chronic pain and increased energy levels. Finding our inner Peace brings closure and healing to those undergoing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
As a therapist, walking the virtual labyrinth with my clients or with a group has ultimate value. The virtual labyrinth walk helps us realize no matter how troubled we may be at any given time, we have the innate capabilities to transform the moment. We find that quiet place within us where we can recognize, through the SHIFT, our paradigm thinking is the source for the Wisdom we seek and need. We discover we do not need to copy someone else’s good ideas. We have plenty of our own. We do not have to depend on learning more tricks or practices because the walk is not a trick. It is not a roadmap. It is a way of life.
For more information on these psychological principles search the web for Health Realization; also Sydney Banks.
For an updated Chartres diagram contact firstname.lastname@example.org