A Sacred Path

More than a month ago I wrote about taking a picture of the labyrinth at Mt. Irenaeus and how that invited some comments from friends that sent me on a journey that included reading Dan Pink’s, “A Whole New Mind.”  Actually, I downloaded the book and listened to it on my iPod Touch. I listened to it more than once and went so far as to buy a finger labyrinth from the Labyrinth Company. The labyrinth arrived this week and in the past several days I’ve used it a number of times.  The very first time I used it I had the sensation that there was some movement in my brain. I could almost feel my brain move. I know that sounds strange and I wouldn’t have believed it myself had I not experienced it.

Yesterday, while visiting a friend’s home and returning a computer to her that I had recently restored to original condition for her I shared this story. She didn’t think I was losing it and instead recommended a book which I began reading last night. The book is, “Walking a Sacred Path,” by Dr. Lauren Artress. I’ve only read a couple of chapters, but I am really enjoying this and from the stories therein I realize that my reaction to the labyrinth was anything but strange. I intend to keep using the finger labyrinth and see where it leads me. Each time I experience the labyrinth it is a bit different but each time I come away renewed.

Finger labyrinth

I remember the first time I ever walked a labyrinth. It was at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, AZ. I remember how calming and centering that was. Since then I’ve had an attraction to labyrinths. A month ago while attending an Evening of Re-Creation at nearby Mt. Irenaeus I snapped a picture of their labyrinth. The picture posted to Facebook invited a conversation which saw me read Daniel Pink’s book, “A Whole New Mind.” It was from Dan Pink’s book that obtained a web link to the Labyrinth Company and now I’m the owner of my own finger labyrinth.

I ordered it last week and it finally arrived in today’s mail. It’s very exciting and restful to know that I now have my labyrinth and that I can use it whenever I might. I took it out of it’s case today and traced the path with my index finger. I had a peculiar sense as I moved my finger around that path. A sense of peace and stability ensued. I’m going to keep trying to use my labyrinth everyday. I want to bring it into my classroom at school but I’m going to wait for an opportune moment.


Maybe most people already knew this and maybe I’m just catching up but Daniel Pink’s book has been a real insight for me.  What chance that I would take a picture of the labyrinth at Mt. Irenaeus, upload it with my Blackberry to Facebook an that it would invite a conversation that would lead me to read and listen to “A Whole New Mind.” If people like me will rule the future that’s great, but its less important to me than the fact that this book and some of the concepts in it help explain a lot about me that had puzzled me for years.

My brother is very left brained at least according to the book. He’s even got an MBA. I enrolled in an MBA program a couple of years ago and then un-enrolled before classes started because the whole idea of learning about what was being offered really didn’t appeal to me. I’ve always been the dreamer and the contemplative. I read Carlos Castaneda thirty-five years ago when few had heard of him. I remember reading Sri Chinmoy, Edgar Cayce and other mystics when I was serving in the US Navy.  It is simply amazing to have this book handed to me as it were as I’m ready to embark on more graduate learning. The program I’m entering would seem to be more left brain oriented but my own approach to learning and even educational leadership is decidedly right brained according to Daniel Pink. Whatever the outcome of my studies “A Whole New Mind” has set me on a path to look at myself and life itself with a whole new set of eyes.

Contralateral or what?

“A Whole New Mind,” has given me a lot of whole new thoughts which I find enjoyable. I like learning new things and being exposed to new ideas. One the terms that Dan Pink uses early on in the book is “contralateral” which means that functions on the left side of the body are controlled by the right brain and right side functions by the left part of the brain.  The left brain is more about analytical thinking and the right brain more about high touch.  Right brainers are more in touch with the feminine aspects of their personalities and left brainers are more into the masculine side.  Could it be that gay people are more in touch with the feminine side? I’m not gay, but I’m decidedly more right brained and I’m decidedly more accepting of gay people and gay culture than some of my friends. I’m not sure that my premise is valid, but it’s a thought I’ve had in the wake of reading the book.

One of Pink’s premises is that right brain oriented people are what our economy is looking for. It’s the left brainers, the MBAs who are the new blue collars. The “artsy-fartsy” people as Pink calls them are ascendant. If Dan Pink is correct then the future belongs to women and those men more in touch with their feminine side. The future belongs to gay folks or at least their sexual orientation might pre-suppose them for success. It’s just a thought.

A whole new paradigm

Wednesday night found my wife and I on our way to Mt. Irenaeus for an Evening of Re-Creation. Diane doesn’t usually accompany me and so having her along was special for a number of reason. We were a bit late getting there in time for the Mass that began Wednesday’s evening. As we walked from the parking lot near Holy Peace Chapel we passed by the labyrinth. I pulled my Blackberry out, snapped a picture and shared it on Facebook with my friends. We enjoyed our evening very much. When I returned home and logged into Facebook I could see that two of my friends had commented on the picture of the labyrinth. One expressed delight and the other mentioned that Daniel Pink mentions labyrinths in his book, “A Whole New Mind.” I respect both of my friends a great deal and so a conversation is begun about the labyrinth and Dan Pink.

I did some googling and became interested in purchasing “A Whole New Mind.” At work the next day another of my friends had seen the picture and discussion too and she volunteers some insights which further pique my interest in both labyrinths and Pink’s book. Rick offered to bring the book to work the next day, but when I get home on Thursday, curiosity gets the best of me and I decided to purchase the book from iTunes and so that’s what happens. I began listening to the book immediately and in short it’s been great to listen to. In fact much of my experience with the collaborative nature of this story is very right brained. I’m amazed too that my own experience at Mt. Irenaeus and my spiritual journey have left me advantaged once again. In the past almost ten years I’ve become increasingly aware that I’m a contemplative and a mystic, so Dan Pink’s book resonated very much with what I’ve experienced at the Mountain and elsewhere.

The very first labyrinth I ever experienced was at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, AZ.  A year or so later the friars built the labyrinth at Mt. Irenaeus. In that time I’ve found myself walking both of them at different times and each time I found the experience grounding. Pink’s primary premise is that success today comes from a right brained paradigm. Labyrinths promote or facilitate right brained thinking which may hold the keys to success in today’s marketplace and society.

I highly recommend “A Whole New Mind,” it’s a very interesting book with  great insights.  Pink’s book has led me to topics like Laughter Yoga and more reading on labyrinths and how they are being used in hospitals and schools. Here is a great link to a virtual labyrinth at Grace Cathedral.  I’ve lalso learned of Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness site.

How did all of this happen? It was a smartphone photo sent to Facebook which invited a collaborative response or responses. These technologies didn’t exist five or ten years ago and like Dan Pink’s book they make possible changes in the way we work and learn. Maybe we should change schools and teaching in general to a more right brained paradigm.