Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sully Versus the Reiki Practitioner

In everyday life, I try my best to gently push back against the general superstition and woo that are scattershot throughout my human interactions.

Since magical thinking is ingrained in everyday phrases and metaphors, I like to think that my off-the-script responses will prompt some kind of scientific epiphany in those who I meet over the course of the day. I don't believe this, I just like to think it.

For example, people at work often remark that I must've been "the one praying for rain", and I've taken to replying "If I believed it would make a difference, I certainly would." This general policy of assholery brings about many conflicts of interest. Like the tale I'm about to tell you about.

I have an aunt who is awesome - easily the nicest woman I've ever met. She's an incredible host, a wonderful cook, and is generous with her time to an unfathomable amount. Knowing the story I’m about to tell makes me fret that I'm about to misrepresent this fantastic woman, but tragically, certain elements of her personal philosophy clash with mine.

Let me start with a tale to introduce this woman and what she's about: A few days after my cousin's grandmother died, he answered a phonecall from his neighbour, and later reported that he initially believed the voice on the other end of the line to be that of the recently deceased. When my aunt heard this, she told my cousin that it was his granny’s way of checking in on him. She told this story to a roomful of relatives (as the older generation nodded sagaciously, the young 'uns exchanged confused looks).

My aunt is a humble person, and when she talks about how 'science can't explain everything', it sounds as though it is motivated by sheer humility. I think it's clear that anybody who immediately grasps for the supernatural explanation rather than accepting human error is not interested in sensible exploration into life's biggest questions. She wants it to be true, and will share her take on the mysteries of life with anyone who’ll listen.

I can’t remember the comment I made that set her off, but I felt the regret as soon as I began to utter it. Whatever the case, she began with her tirade about how science can’t explain many things, like the energy channels in the human body that only her reiki crystal can detect. I attempted to talk to her about the ideomotor effect, but by this stage she had whipped out her crystal, unwrapped it from its protective cloth, and was insisting that I lay back on the couch.

I didn’t want to insult this nice, albeit deluded soul, so I heeded her wishes and threw myself on the sofa, looking up at the ceiling. She started talking to me about the seven chakras, their locations and effects on the functions of the body as she began with the ritual. Starting over my feet, she dangled the popsicle-sized crystal from a foot-long chain, and told me that the speedy revolutions it was making were caused by my energy chakras, and not by her hand. As she moved through my lower body and abdomen, she told me that I had good energy, a fiery spirit, and various other attributes that somehow related to the bodyparts the crystal hovered over.

When she got to my chest, she tutted. The crystal had stopped spinning.

“Oh dear. Your heart.”

“What’s the matter?”

“You’re lonely. You miss your love”

Somewhat vexed by this allusion to the fact that my girlfriend was currently 4,000 miles away, I barked my response with somewhat more ferocity than I had intended.

“I saw her just a few days ago – I’m not a bit lonely”

The crystal immediately returned to its usual level of oscillation.

“Oh – I see. I spoke too soon”

As she brought the crystal over my face, I got a good look at the hand controlling the chain. She was clearly making a pinching motion with her thumb and index finger, as if milking a tiny cow.  Either my outburst had kick-started my heart, or it jolted my aunt into rethinking her approach.

She was pontificating about my health habits, my lack of exercise and poor diet, and telling me that the crystal was divulging these insights. I wondered if the previous-ten minutes of observing my greedy inhalation of triple-chocolate-fudge cookies in the kitchen whilst using my pot-belly as a coffe-table had more impact on the diagnostic process.

I was waiting for a break in the psychobabble to share my observations when my younger brother entered the room. I was supposed to be taking him on a driving lesson. Visibly intrigued, he asked what was going on.

My aunt beamed over her shoulder at him as she continued with the practice: “I’m using the ancient practice of Reiki to teach your brother about healing. See how his flow of energy is moving the crystal?”

He stuck his head in and had a good look, slack-jawed. I watched with a great amount of anxiety, worried that he’d find such nonsense compelling. My aunt continued: “You can see that I’m holding this big chain – there’s no way my hand is moving the crystal, it’s his energy field that’s doing this, and I can use Reiki to rebalance his energy flow”

My brother, still seemingly mesmerized by this, could only utter a simple “Cool”.

My aunt turned away from me: she had found an easier crowd.

“Would you like me to try it on you?” she kindly offered.

“No thanks, I really need to practice for my driving test next week”

As we were getting into the car, I was worried about my little brother. He holds little respect for the pursuit of knowledge, and I was worried that his lack of a scientific education would make him easy fodder for charlatans down the road. I checked to see if any damage had been done:

“What did you think of that?”

“What a load of rubbish! Sure you could see her hand spinning that yoke.”

Nice to know that I don’t have to be my brother’s keeper.


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Sully said...

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Jason said...

But is it really spam?