You may be starting to wonder if I’m going to come across something I don’t enjoy in this series – well here’s the first one.
It started badly with a gaze that lasted too long. You know the type. You say your hellos and then they proceed to look deep into your eyes, nodding their head slightly, perhaps with a little ‘hmmmm’, as if to acknowledge some inscrutable truth that’s been passed between you. I’m all up for eye contact, but the lingering’s a step too far.
Once past this initial awkwardness, I realized I had no idea what I was there to do. The flyer had promised everything from “a journey unveiling the deepest emotions” to an “alchemical process of self forgiveness”, but was vague in its approach. I had nothing to go on but a friend’s recommendation that this was “deep work well worth trying”.
The healer, a fellow Brit with slow, deliberate speech, instructed me to lie down while she sat cross-legged beside me. She said all I had to do was breathe, the rest would come.
What followed was a simple guided meditation, not unlike other meditations I’ve done before, except it was interactive. She was the guide and I had to respond to her questions. What was coming up for me? How did it feel? Does it feel like this or that?
I found the entire thing excruciating.
The essential premise was this. I lay down in a state of relaxation and allowed any negative feelings to come up. The healer would ask what they were and then delve deeper, trying to uncover the layers beneath. Towards the end I had to give sound to those feelings – an exercise in catharsis – and finally imagine the negativity’s opposite, and weigh up both in either hand. The moral of the story: you have choice when it comes to negative and positive thought patterns.
Had I connected with my healer on a personal/spiritual level, my experience may have been different. I can see the value of the meditation, and perhaps the interactive element adds value for some, but for me it felt forced and uncomfortable.
The search for feeling
“What do you feel now?” she inquired for the umpteenth time.
“Um, I guess insecure”
“Insecuuuuuuuure, you feel insecuuuuuuure. Insecuuuuuuuure. I wonder how that feels? I how does it feeeeeel?
“A feeling, give it a feeling.”
Isn’t insecure a feeling?, I thought
“Does it feel small? Is it heavy? Insecuuuuuuuuure”
I finally got the answer right with the word heavy, but not without a fair amount of fishing, and a hefty desire to say anything that might stop her slew of elongnated vowels.
The whole experienced was littered with similar awkwardness. My healer would take my words, repeat them slowly, again and again, occasionally prompting for something more – images, situations, memories – or offering a summary of what had happened thus far.
Under the influence
As I understand it, one of the golden rules of psychotherapy is no leading questions. You can say “How did that feel?”, but never “Did that feel painful?’. Those rules weren’t followed here, leading me to question the authenticity of my responses.
Moreover, a psychotherapeutic relationship is based upon trust, often built up over weeks or months. Through that trust, the client starts to feel safe and is able to open up gradually. It’s sometimes hard to find someone you click with – I had to go through a few in London until I found one I could work with. I would have passed on this lady.
At the end of the hour session, I asked her where she’d learnt this method. From The Way of Mastery, she replied, with the same lingering look I’d been greeted with. “It’s from the teachings of Jeshua and Mary Magdalene. Not from the Bible, of course. It’s all channeled information.” And with that I discovered that the ‘Radical Inquiry’ process I’d just been through was a technique supposedly channeled directly from Jesus himself. Sophia is a member of an Ashram in Ubud centered around a man named Jayem who has channeled books-worth of such information. I looked on their website when I got home and was left feeling uneasy by its messaging. It definitely wasn’t something I vibed with.
One silver lining
So there you have it, the first ‘Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it’ activity I haven’t enjoyed. In fact, the whole thing left me frustrated, which in itself was useful. I found myself wanting to drink coffee, eat junk food and indulge in wine – things that have their place but rarely when borne of frustration. It highlighted that pattern and gave me the chance to say no. For that I am thankful. But never, never again.
How about you? How d you think you’d have reacted? Ever been in a similar situation? I’d love to hear your thoughts.