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The difference between reiki and theta healing (TM)

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Both involve combing the fingers through the air above the body, but theta healing (TM) is approximately $60 more expensive.

Having a gong bath

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Back when I wrote for gentlemen’s mags, some wag in the art department took a break from Photoshopping out ingrown pubes and assigned us all with superhero nicknames. Mine was Nicotina Stains, a mantle I accepted with some resignation.

Times have changed; I’m an upwardly mobile woman in her thirties with new teeth and a born-again liver, and I need a persona more befitting of a gracious lady.

Meeting K, a kundalini yoga teacher who wafts into the room dressed head to toe in radiant white, just reinforces this notion. Having grown up with a hippy mother outside Byron Bay, she’s practiced yoga from a young age and has gone on to learn from top yogis from across India. Unsurprisingly, she exudes calm.

Kundalini yoga was once the exclusive practice of royalty, before Yogi Bhajan (the master of ‘tantric energy’) brought it to the West in 1969. One of K’s specialties is gong healing, so she agrees to run me through an abbreviated session.

We sit in the lotus position while K talks me through some breathing and meditation, asking that I consider what my intention is. I’m supposed to focus on this intention throughout the gong bath, but I’m put on the spot, so I come up with the epically lame “to be good”.

That sorted, I lie flat on my back under a sheet while K stands at my feet and rhythmically bongs a 28-inch symphonic gong so that the sound waves shimmer and recede like the surf. It’s incredibly loud; I was feeling nice and relaxed up till that point. The gong, K tells me, aligns both the planets and the chakras and is infused with the spirit of the elephant god, Lord Ganesha – the remover of obstacles. I’m unsure, even after an explanation, of how the planets are aligning as a result of the activity in this room on Brunswick Street (I hope I’m not fucking anything up for the rest of you), but my chakras are feeling ace, so I let it through to the keeper.

I remember my intention, and try to imagine a bunch of typically vexed people in my life looking delighted with me. K tells me to rub first my hands and then feet together, to stimulate the nerve endings, and cup the base of my palms over my eyes sockets. She stands in front of me and crowns her hands on my head, asking me to imagine a gold sphere inside me, and shimmering gold around me. And then we’re done, and I’m feeling good. I’ve always had a thing for hands on heads, though – I used to have a terrible crush on the vicar.

In yoga classes I always find that my head says deliberately outrageous things to wind me up when I’m supposed to be focused, but there are plenty of other people – people with sinewy limbs and an omnipresent serenity – who credit yoga with changing their lives. I’m not under the impression I’m special – I think they’ve just had more practise at zoning out that wittering voice, which sounds like a plan.

“It’s a living philosophy,” K reckons. “The ‘yoga class’ isn’t at all what yoga is about. It’s about living in alignment with your truth, fulfilling your destiny, living in love and happiness.”

In other words, you get out what you put in.

Perplexing and intriguing search engine terms that have brought people to my blog

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I like to try and imagine the author of each of these as they tippety-tap into their keyboard – what kind of room they’re in, what they’re wearing and their facial expression.

blade stabbing threw a heart

think I was a snake in past life

david icke wife

da id icke help me

genital reiki

genital glands acupressure

tony robbins kiss oprahs knee

wild women sex

luke skywalker electrocuted

snake oil for sex

people who like to intellectualised their experience

ts eliot spirituality david icke

theta healing is crap

eye tattoo’s above vagina

spoilers for ghost hunter 2012

touch me snake oil

what is really vague

eckhart tolle is it rubbish

women vaginas

david icke lyer

homeopathy buboes

picture Olympic in past

power chair and unicorn

why old men get jealous of a young rich man

joan of arc pictrues of kids

“by sex our hymn drops all the time

“maria cups” coffee maria psychic

head explosion

universe eyeball

can I use a tuning fork on my pineal gland

nlp snake oil crap

tantrisk sex

characteristics of a possum

A Venn diagram showing the crossover of wealth coaches, new age gurus, Oprah endorsees… and Mystery the Pick Up Artist

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I was curious as to how a Venn diagram of new age and motivational coaching gurus and gizmos would overlap. Essentially, the former devotees strive for enlightenment and the latter for financial gain.

Then I decided to throw Oprah and pickup master Mystery (creator of The Mystery Method/Love Systems, and subject of Neil Strauss’s manual for men, The Game) into the mix, just for a giggle.

No expense spared.


New Age + Oprah endorsees

Dr Doreen Virtue: A “spiritual doctor of psychology”, “fourth-generation metaphysician” and angel healer.

Gangaji: Former divorcee from Texas-turned- spiritual guru.

Louise L Hay: Author of You Can Heal Your Life and spin-offs. Her company now publishes Deepak Chopra.

Indigo children: Coined by psychic Nancy Ann Tappe, Indigo children were born in the early eighties, are spiritually superior, and identifiable by their indigo auras. They are recognisable “by their unusually large, clear eyes.”

Byron Katie: American speaker and author who founded self-inquiry method ‘The Work’ after hauling herself up from alcoholism and a stint in a halfway house.

M Scott Peck: Psychiatrist and author of 1978 tome A Road Less Travelled – a personal take on spiritual growth.

Eckhart Tolle: German author of The Power of Now and A New Earth which utilise many Buddhist teachings.

New Age + Oprah + Motivational Coaching

Jack Canfield: Motivational speaker and co-creator of the Chicken Soup For the Soul books. Advocate of The Secret; founded the Transformational Leadership Council.

Deepak Chopra: A leader of the mind-body-spirit movement; a doctor with many published papers and self-help books. Time magazine opined: “Of all the Asian gurus … Chopra has arguably been the most successful at erasing apparent differences between East and West by packaging Eastern mystique in credible Western garb.”

James A Ray: Motivational speaker and author of Harmonic Wealth, advocate of The Secret. Convicted of negligent homicide in 2011 when two people died and 18 were hospitalised when a sweat lodge he was overseeing at a $10,000 per person Spiritual Warrior retreat was over-packed by participants who had not drunk any water for two days.

Vision boards: Pasting images of what you aspire to own or achieve to a bit of board.

Motivational Coaching + Oprah endorsees

Dr Phil: Former psychiatrist and current Oprah guru. In his twenties, presented Pathway Seminars with his father. Also said to take some of his ideas from Landmark Forum.

Anthony ‘Tony’ Robbins: Motivational speaker and alpha friend to heavyweight celebs. According to his own website, he has for over 30 years “dedicated his life to modeling the most successful people in the world”. Has authored the books Unlimited Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement and Awaken The Giant Within and his seminars – including Unleash the Power Within (UPW) and Mastery University – utilise firewalking as a test of faith. Guest lecturers have included Deepak Chopra.

New Age + Mystery Method

Cold reading: Technique used by psychics, mentalists and magicians to deduce certain information about people by their appearance, behaviour and mannerisms.

Motivational Coaching

Stephen Covey: Motivational speaker and author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Mentored by James A Ray.

Pathway Seminars: Intensive, expensive personal development courses.

Justin Popovic: ‘Success coach’ and internet entrepreneur.
Mind Dynamics: The forefather of Large Group Awareness Training (LGAT) programs – any program that portends to overhaul a person’s way of thinking and make them more wealthy in a few exhaustive days of training.

Motivational Coaching + New Age

EFT: Emotional Freedom Technique, or ‘tapping’. Involves tapping on meridian lines of body while chanting statements intended to, say, bolster income or dispense with trauma. I thought Oprah would have to be all over EFT, but when I had a search, all that came up was website after website of EFT fans wishing she’d get into it. Because think what she could achieve THEN.

Landmark Forum: Four-day personal training seminars of up to 150 people run by Landmark Education. Aggressive approach is designed to strip down psychological defenses and build a person up anew.

Motivational Coaching + New Age + Oprah endorsees + Mystery Method

Law of Attraction: Essentially, visualising health, wealth and happiness will attract them to you. The Secret is a book penned by Rhonda Byrne – Australian TV writer and producer (portfolio includes World’s Greatest Commercials and Marry Me) – that’s widely accepted as THE handbook.

NLP: Reprogramming the brain using linguistics and hypnotherapy. Anthony Robbins and Mystery use it heavily.


Getting electrocuted by reiki

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I think I’ll draw up a couple of DON’T TOUCH stickers to put on the two inexplicably intense points on my body that people should steer clear of, because even when I warn a New Ager not to go anywhere near them for risk of a knee to the nose, they do. I’ve been told they’re the result of a jealous lover’s arrows in a previous life.

Seems like nobody’s quite sure what reiki is. Try a little experiment now – open a window and ask somebody.

Here, in a woody ‘burb in the city, I’m given crystals to hold and there’s some touching and waving going on. The practitioner has very warm fingers and it feels kind of nice. Then she sends me shooting 10ft in the air by craftily going for one of the verboten points while I’m lulled into a false, floppy sense of security by the Native Indian chanting and wafty smell of jasmine. It’s like Luke Skywalker being electrocuted by The Emperor. It takes me ages to relax again.

“How’d you go?” I ask her after, when I’ve climbed back off the table and regained my composure. “Can you feel anything when you’re working on someone?”

“You can feel blockages of energy,” she replies… And there’s a bit of a pause.

“Did I have a blockage, then?”

“You actually had a guardian child standing at your Sacral Centre,” she chuckles. “She had her arms folded and she was saying, ‘Nup,’ so I couldn’t get to it. I thought I’d just sneak around the side, but she wouldn’t let me. That’s when you jumped.”

I respond with, “Mm, that makes sense,” which is my default thing to say in these situations.

“It wasn’t like she was sitting in the corner crying,” the practitioner says. “She was quite feisty. In the end I persuaded her to take down your natural shield, and together we put up a pink shield with gold sparkles in it. You’ll find that it protects you, but it will get a bit ragged if you have too much emotional stress – and that’s when you’ll find you need another session.”

I leave feeling thoroughly manipulated. And not by cleansing violet light.

Letting go (a bit) at a 5Rhythms orgy of ecstasy

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It’s been a while since I said anything positive about a new age activity (to wit there has been positivity about tai chi, healing, singing about angels and, to my eternal shame, thetahealing), but despite my innate fear of new age men, turns out I rather enjoy 5Rhythms movement meditation.

5Rhythms originated in the 1970s and uses tenets of shamanistic, ecstatic, mystical and eastern philosophy – although to the uninitiated it looks like flailing around to music. There are now three different weekly events in Melbourne alone. Today there are around 150 of us, on a fire-hazardly hot day at Abbotsford Convent.

A DJ is spinning languorous ambient music, causing one woman to roll around on the floor, showing her knickers. Others wave their arms around like trees in the wind. We’ll be doing this – to varying BPMs – for the next few hours.

First things first, I get as far away from my cohort Esther as possible (“no touching, please – we’re British,” she mutters) and plonk myself in the corner.

Ten minutes in, I’m still grimacing at ground level. At some point I’ll have to get off the floor, upon which I am trailing the odd limb, and get jiggy with it. The BPMs are rising, and in response, people are running around the room like aeroplanes or bucking their hips wildly, as though reenacting the voodoo sequences in Live and Let Die.

I get up and get stuck in, and after some initial dying inside, I find I’m completely forgetting myself – and pulling awesome shamanistic dance moves, hitherto unseen. Cop THIS, fire twirlers. I sneak a peak at Esther. One minute she’s interpretative prancing through the air with her frock sailing behind her, the next she’s raving to an internal munt0-mix, happy as Larry.

An hour goes by. I love this. I’m secretly dying for someone to gasp of my chops: “You mean to say you’ve had no formal training?” However, I can’t quite lose the “Get fucked, seriously” attitude whenever someone comes whirling dervishing into my space. Especially new age men. They’re creepy, aren’t they? They really are. Just don’t make eye contact – that’s my advice.

One shirtless man with an unruly beard and orange fisherman’s pants curls up in the foetal position on the floor. Another man drifts over to him in a non-threatening manner and slowly reaches out a hand to touch his shoulder. They remain in this chilling tableau for many minutes.

The BPM rises some more. There is clapping. Some people tumble on each other like acrobats. They embrace. Women have, by and large, tucked their dresses into their knickers and are rolling their eyeballs around their sockets. One woman curls into a ball and a man wraps himself around her like a limpet. I try and meet Esther’s eyes so I can mimic a dry heave – I must – but she’s on another fucking plane. Another couple touch each other’s fingers and won’t stop staring into each other’s eyes and kissing. “Feeeeeeeel it” a disembodied voice shrieks over tribal drums. We’re feeling it, we’re feeling it; if only in the form of flashbacks. In fact, as Esther notes later, this seems to be an old ravers’ home, for those who have long since blown a fuse.

My interest starts to wane 90 minutes in and I go and gaze out of the window. The mix falters between tracks and I can hear everyone groaning, like we’re in some soft porn flick.

As we sit in a massive circle afterwards, in various states of undress, I draw one knee towards me to stop it touching the skin of the new age man next to me*. The facilitator is telling us about a mid-week class called “relating on the dance floor”, in which, reading between the lines, we learn to touch each other and dance at the same time.

“You should do that,” torments Esther in a whisper.

Still, for someone whose contribution at warehouse raves in the 90s was chain-smoking and scribbling down illegible horrible thoughts on cigarette packets, this devil-may-care dancing is a remarkable achievement. I’m going back in; god help me.

* This is fair enough, as a friend told me afterwards a mate of hers goes along to these shindigs purely to pick up new age chicks who are helpless to resist a shirtless man dancing to the divine force.

Jonathan Cainer has my number

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Psychometry, somewhere outside Geelong

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The evening’s all a-bluster as we trundle over the West Gate Bridge and point our quackmobile towards Geelong. It comes as a surprise that there’s a psychometry group in this direction. While the Mornington Peninsula is a hotbed of psychic activity and angel guides (there’s a whole newspaper devoted to the stuff), the Bellarine Peninsula is less concerned with esoteric wisdom. Sure enough, our destination turns out to be quite godforsaken looking, and about as spiritual as a sock.

Or is it?

En route to this Monday night gathering, at which we must give psychic readings for other members, Esther and I rehearse our scripts, utilising the cold-reading tips set out in Professor Richard Wiseman’s book, Paranormality: Why We See What Isn’t There.

I practise my double-headed platitudes: “You’re a person with great depths who enjoys pondering the big stuff alone, yet people seek out your company,” I postulate.

“You’re not one to gossip, but people value seeking out your advice,” Esther counters.

For today’s mission, we will need some kind of personal trinket, which will be put anonymously into an envelope and picked by someone else, who will do a reading based on it. Esther has a rummage in the car for something I can use.

“But it’s got to belong to me,” I point out.

She looks at me sharply. “You say that as though makes a difference.”

Oh yeah.

Nevertheless, once we get to the venue, I can’t help noticing Esther has a superstitious riffle through the empty envelopes on offer until she finds one with her favourite number printed on it. Sap!

Terry also notices. He’s the leader of this group, and also – according to my Googling skills – a local performer in the vein of Tom Jones. Right now, he’s lurking under the pretence of handing us nametags, as I stuff an earring into my envelope, trying to duck behind Esther.

Tonight there are 12 of us – all women, including Terry’s wife – sat in a tight circle in a barely lit Masonic hall. We’re not allowed to cross our legs as Marg leads us through a guided mediation, presumably so that the ‘christlight’ in us can seep out unhindered.

After the meditation we’re all asked to share what we saw. Everyone, bar us two interlopers, admits to having had a conversation with their spirit guides. Terry had also conversed with a dolphin “that seemed to know me” and seen all sorts of spectacular wizardry that Ronnie James Dio would have baulked at. Personally, my mind had just wandered down its usual route. I hope the group can’t smell my sexy pheromones.

Next it’s the bit we’ve been waiting for – the psychometry. Terry picks my envelope, and waxes lyrical about a totem animal, an eagle, that is coming to him loud and clear.

I open my envelope to find some kind of necklace with a ‘T’ on it. I pass it from hand to hand, tangling the chain between my fingers.

“I get the feeling this person has been waiting very patiently for their time to come,” I say. “They’ve watched others have their moment in the sun, but they really feel it should be their time now. And it will be. But they need all the support from their family they can get.”

“That was 60 to 70 per cent right; so that’s really good,” says Terry when I’m done. He spends the rest of the meeting trying to unsnarl his necklace.

“I’m getting bananas,” Esther shouts when it’s her go. “I don’t know why, but I can smell them really strongly … and I can feel a pain in my head, here.”

Carmen reclaims her ring. “I quite like bananas,” she admits politely. “And I get headaches sometimes.”

I notice that there’s a script of sorts being stuck to here. Almost everyone complains of a burning sensation coming off their object, and “I can tell this person has great wisdom” gets bandied about a lot. My overwhelming feeling, though, is that I’m in a room full of curtain twitchers.

We finish off by healing Annie, who – I am deducing – has a serious illness. We stand around her and hold hands as she weeps. Terry warns her about a couple of dubious men in her life who mean her harm, touches her head and gives it a little push. Cured!

As we bid our farewells, two of the women tell me I have a remarkable gift, steadfastly ignoring Esther.

“I actually did see a banana!” she says indignantly as we jump in the car.

I really hope Annie seeks proper medical attention.

Needled by acupuncture

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NOT my back.

Of all the alternative medicines to try, acupuncture could surely ease what ails one. It dates back to 200BC and is endorsed by the likes of the National Health Service in the UK and the World Health Organisation. I head to a practitioner in Melbourne with no particular complaint in mind.

After quizzing me on my relationship with my father, the practitioner massages my back excruciatingly with her nubby thumbs over soothing whale music, and then sets to tenderising my flesh further with some kind of scrapey ‘Gua Sha’ spoon. “You will have some marks for a few days,” she observes cheerfully.

She taps a needle into my freshly pulverised shoulder blade groove and immediately one kidney sings out in horror… followed a second later by the other.

I start to experience that sense of dread and rising panic one feels in a screaming kidney hangover when one considers the prospect of getting up and going to work the next day, before one sensibly pushes the thought aside and flails pathetically for the pizza menu. There are also heady notes of childhood “don’t leave me” agitation and claustrophobic “what if I can’t get up off this table?” alarm.

After the needles are set on fire (or something — she’s a bit vague) I’m left alone to “get in the zone” and immediately the CD gets stuck on one warbly note, at which point I discover it really hurts when I laugh. I raise my head out of its towelly nook with difficulty, a thin strand of drool connecting us still, but decide that calling out feebly for assistance would just be too much to take.

“I don’t have my diary on me at the moment,” I bluff, once safely upright in reception. The practitioner looks at me sadly, as though she knows we are never going to see each other again, despite me executing my most sincere “sure, we’ll stay friends” smile.

The outcome is somewhat confusing. Dyed-in-the-wool skeptics will tell you there’s no stock in acupuncture whatsoever, yet it’s elicited a reaction in me, even if it’s an unwanted one. Maybe, like when I tried on my special $3 acu-sock, it was just the idea of having my organs messed with that made them cry foul.

Tai chi: calming for me; rage-inducing for commuters

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“Ridicule is nothing to be scared of,” said Adam Ant, who should know.

I’m in an extremely central Melbourne precinct with 10 softly-spoken pensioners in sweatshirts, pants and gloves, repulsing the monkey.

And a strange thing happens. Gentle, gentle, I’m feeling so gentle. I’m so used to bowling over pedestrians and skewering my hipbones on the edges of desks, I didn’t know I could feel like this. It’s as though I’m pushing and sculpting treacle instead of air. Warm, lovin’ treacle. I look over at my friend Lou and she’s similarly entranced.

Tai chi is an internal martial art that translates as ‘great extremes boxing’ (it involves ‘yielding and sticking’ to an incoming attack. Maybe this limpet-like tactic repels the attacker into shaking you off). Stay serious, reader – I’m working muscles I never even knew I had as I form magical tigers, snakes and storks with my body, and there’s not an ounce of fat, nor orthopedic shoe, on any of these elderly athletes.

We’re in the middle of a complex leg balancing sequence to a watery Mandarin rendition of Irene Cara’s ‘What A Feeling’ when some huffing bronco in a suit ploughs through the middle of us, scattering old people in his wake. Luckily, I have achieved great mental clarity, so I don’t mind.

Other commuters may smirk, but I know they’re jealous. I’m starting the day parting the wild horse’s mane and they’re … well … they’re not. Definitely going to do this lots. Feel all smooshy.