I'm edgy all morning knowing I'm going to see my Reiki master for a session. As I've been going through months of disbelief in all things spiritual and scientifically unproven, I am nervous about what might happen. In the past it has always helped me and made me feel more expansive and attuned to the universe and myself, but in my present state I think that this was all delusional: wishful thinking in the face of a reality that is not so magical. Stressed into exhaustion, I decide to take a nap.
When I am awakened by the clock radio, it is playing an episode of Radio Lab called "Placebo." The program traces several kinds of healing methods that have been outside modern medicine:
- A man apprentices with Amazonian shamans in the hopes of learning their secrets and debunking them as charlatans. When they teach him a bit of a ceremony involving stashing bloody feathers in his mouth, acting as though he is sucking out an illness from a patient and spitting it out, he thinks he has discovered the truth about them. Through a set of circumstances, however, he is forced to perform the ceremony on a very ill European woman, even though he believes it is no more than an act. Miraculously, she is cured.
- Patients with Parkinson's disease are implanted with electro-stimulants to short out the part of their brains that cause uncontrollable tremors. The electrodes, when turned on, work. However, surprisingly, many times when a doctor tells them that the electrodes are active, their tremors stop, even when the stimulators are not, in fact, on.
- A scientist explains that every drug and medicine humans take already exist in our bodies. If our bodies and brains did not have the receptors for these drugs built in, he reveals, then imbibing them would have no effect. Therefore, if we could find a way to stimulate our bodies to produce and use these substances internally, we would never have to take medicine again.
- Believers in Franz Mesmer experienced what appeared to be real, involuntary seizures when encountering objects they are told have been charged with Mesmeric energy, even when the objects had not. Likewise, believers in faith healers claim to have been cured or freed of pain, simply through the power of belief and prayer.
- A young doctor experiments with hypnosis and discovers that it can cure patients of ailments that were seemingly purely physical, like warts. Finding a challenge in a boy who is admitted to the hospital with a condition that appears to be millions of warts covering, cracking and blackening his skin all over his body, he hypnotizes the boy and tells him that his right arm will heal. A week later, the boy returns. His entire body is still covered, except for his right arm, which is new, pink flesh. The excited doctor takes the boy to a medical conference, where a head of the English medical field, amazed and enraged, informs the doctor that the boy's ailment was not warts, but a congenital condition that is "incurable." From then on, the doctor is unable to duplicate his success with hypnotism. When asked why, he answers that he believes that hearing that word from a man he looked up to destroyed his confidence - his "childlike omnipotence" - and this loss of belief in himself made him incapable of making others believe in, and thus affect, their cures under hypnosis.
If, for example, my animal communication sessions were merely psychological/emotional interactions between me and the human clients, how does one explain the cases where the information would have been impossible to impart through conversation and inference? How did the lost dog return before dying, the words of an epitaph or the entire layout of a house I'd never seen appear to me in detail? How did creatures with no capacity for complex verbal language as we know it change behaviours, even heal, after sessions? Just how far do coincidence and subliminal suggestion go?
I am excited yet fearful of how the Reiki session will affect me regarding this dichotomy - that I will be changed or unchanged, restored to faith or confirmed in "realism". After all that, the session is revelatory. My Reiki master knows me and the fears that limit me. After talking with her extensively and undergoing the treatment, I feel more powerful an open than I have in months. I realize that, although our modern intellectual society instructs us to "put away childish things" and views beliefs in omnipotence or greater powers as childlike, narcissistic and deluded, (except in, say, the case of a particular God - but that's another story), it is the very belief in such a power within ourselves to affect change that makes us capable of doing great things. In other words, belief can affect the physical world, and not just our perceptions of it.
When I return home, my cat follows and clings to me day and night. It's like she has sensed a change, feels a difference. Is it my imagination, my mood? Cleared chakras? Has something in me "opened"?
In the following three nights, I dream:
- I am on an island beset by both zombies and a "perfect storm" at the same time. However, by focusing my chi, I am able to emit blast of energy that repel both the hungry undead and the raging tsunamis.
- I am not one person, but two seemingly identical twins. Although both appear as slightly androgynous women, one is known to be the "masculine" one, while the other is the "feminine." However, they are always together, and take great joy in journeying together using their power: to fly.
- I am a crew member on a photo shoot involving models. The client is a wealthy sheik, and when he comes to visit the set, we are all told to dress in the traditional garb of his culture and act in accordance with its customs. I am extremely irritated as I am covered nearly head to toe in colourful fabrics, complete with head scarf and veil. The outfit reveals no flesh, but clings a bit to the figure - a combination of belly dancer and burqa. An assistant to the sheik passes among all the women - models for the shoot and others - and picks those that the sheik wants to join him for conversation, dancing, or whatever. He picks me and, fed up, I bark "No!" and stomp away. He and the director of the shoot follow me, disbelieving, explaining that it is meant as a "compliment" and that, even though it is not my culture, the sheik's ways should be respected. At which point I tell them, in so many cutting yet intelligent words, to kiss my giant dyke ass.
I have some important decisions coming up, and now is the time for some changes in my life. I must believe in something, and I can start by believing in myself.