Right about now, most of the planet is experiencing “cabin fever.” After almost two weeks of confinement, we’re sick of having no where to go but the grocery store and the pharmacy. Well, if you were part of the New Age “vision board” craze, you would simply hang pictures of fun things to do on a poster board along with uplifting positive words like, “go shopping” and “have a party” and – poof! – this whole coronavirus mess would be over. Can that really work?
For those who never heard of a vision board, it’s a visualization device similar to a child’s cut-and-paste exercise. A person focuses on their goals and desires, then gathers pictures from magazines and pastes them on a poster board. They also select positive phrases such as, “you can do it!” or “achieve your dreams!” to add to the collection. They then focus on this board several times and day to keep their goals in the forefront of their minds.
What happens next is explained by the New Age hub, MindValley: “There is power in focusing on the details of how to represent your desire. The process of making those choices sends a very specific and personalized message to the universe about your desires.”
What they’re describing is a classic example of the Law of Attraction. It’s a quintessential New Age belief, that has its basis in the 19th Century’s New Thought movement. Essentially, it professes the belief that we can attract into our lives exactly what we are focusing upon just by focusing on it. New Agers refer to it as a “mystery of the universe” that most of us aren’t aware of – unless, of course, we buy one of their bestselling books such as The Secret, or Think and Grow Rich.
The catechized Christian quickly realizes that this whole idea is based on an old heresy known as Gnosticism, which is the belief that certain people are given special knowledge. In the early days of the Church, gnostics believed that Jesus’ humanity was just an illusion, that the crucifixion never really happened, and that people are saved through the acquisition of special knowledge that was revealed only to the initiated.
The New Age has simply repackaged this heresy to make it look like something new. They even throw in some (pseudo)science, such as MindValley’s claim that the way visualization works is not just by attracting the power of the universe, but also because our brains train our bodies to realize what we are visualizing.
Is this true? Three guesses.
There is no scientific evidence to support this statement, or any of the other (pseudo) scientific claims such as how our thoughts vibrate at a certain frequency that attracts what we want from the universe.
There are even some theories that claim the universe only recognizes nouns rather than adjectives and qualifies (I’m not making this up).
Think about it. If it was really this simple, wouldn’t the coronavirus mess have been over by now? If we could just think away this virus along with the discomfort, fear, and claustrophobia we’re all enduring in an attempt to stop its progress, why wouldn’t someone have done it before it got this bad and cost so many lives?
Perhaps it’s because, as this psychologist states, the only visualization that really works (according to science) is the kind that involves envisioning the goal along with a step-by-step process to achieve it. It’s called a PLAN. I’ll bet everyone reading this blog right now can testify to the fact that making an action plan, and putting it into practice, is how we achieve our goals – not by wishing upon a star (or the universe).
Does this mean a Catholic can’t make a vision board? Of course not! Cut and paste away! But instead of using it to attract some secret power of the universe, use it to ask God’s mercy upon this sadly afflicted world.
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