By Jason Menard
The mind is a powerful thing and sometimes it can be a barrier to belief, even when believing is something you want to do very strongly.
There are so many things out there that people want to believe in: a deity, the concept that love conquers all, magic, The Force… It’s a basic human need to believe in something, anything, that’s greater than ourselves.
Unfortunately for many, the rational mind conquers what is basically an irrational desire.
I’m not one that needs to see something to believe in it. I can honestly say that I know nothing of Vanuatu — I’ve never seen a picture of it, I’ve never had it come up in casual conversation. In fact, I can safely say that there are few things in life that have had as little of an impact on my life as Vanuatu. That being said, I believe in it.
Belief requires faith. Faith precludes proof. If you believe in a god, you don’t need that god to walk up and shake your hand. However, people still feel the need to justify their faith — whether it’s through attributing miracles to less-than-common phenomena or blind adherence to words on a page. Why? Because our rational mind needs to compartmentalize — we need to have at least the semblance of a reason to believe.
This thought came to mind today at work. Every year we have a health fair, which is designed to get our employees to learn about the ways in which we can lead a healthier lifestyle. It’s a great program and one that I support wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, despite my desire to believe, there are still some things that my brain won’t accept.
One of those is Healing Touch. We had a practitioner in today and we were able to spend 15 minutes going through a trial of sorts of the treatment. Yet, much like Reiki, I have a hard time coming to grips with the procedure.
Conceptually, I totally am on board with it. After all, our bodies are nothing more than a collection of molecules bound together to create a whole. Our movements, our feelings, our thoughts are little more than electrical impulses directed by our brain to control our behaviour. With that in mind, it only makes sense to think that those electrical impulses can be manipulated in a way that benefits our overall well-being.
Yet I remain a skeptic.
Maybe it’s because I’ve encountered practitioners who make outlandish promises that seem to have little hope of actually working. For example, one Reiki practitioner once claimed that she was able to perform treatments from literally thousands of kilometres away, just by projecting positive energy to balance out my chakras, or auras… or both.
Now, the U.S. military, with all of its technology, satellites, and advanced capabilities can’t find Osama Bin Laden in the mountainous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, but I’m supposed to believe that this person, working out of her house, can sift through the millions of people — all forms of energy — and ignore all the competing frequencies, ranging from radio and television antennae to microwave ovens, to specifically target my relatively small energy field?
I’m sorry, I just can’t buy it.
Add to that the utter passivity of the procedure. I mean, they want me to pay $100 or so to not be touched, yet expect to have medical miracles performed? Really? If I want to be in a room with a bed and another woman and not be touched, I can get that on a nightly basis — after all, I’m married (rim shot. Thanks, I’ll be here all week. Remember to tip your waitress and try the veal!)
I’m not opposed to alternative therapies. I see a chiropractor a few times a year and I’ve enjoyed significant relief from residual pain from a long-ago auto accident. I’ve seen and felt the impact that both positive and negative thinking can have on a person’s overall well-being. I fully believe that a negative mentality, whether it’s through attitude or thought, can have a very real impact on one’s physical condition. That’s why exercise works so well — it’s not just the muscle-building or cardiovascular improvement, but rather the production of endorphins that improves one’s overall feelings.
I also believe that like attracts like. If you are negative all the time, negative things will happen to you. If you harbour negativity or look for the worst in people and life in general, that will manifest itself physically, through pain or injuries.
Some people say they’re a born skeptic, but that’s just not true. We’re born as a clean slate and we spend our early years believing everything we’re told. And, as children, we look for the best in life. From the tooth fairy to Santa Claus, we’re drawn to those ideas that bring us joy — and we share in that joy unconditionally.
For many years, I’ve considered myself an atheist. But, like all things, as you grow older your perspective changes. I wouldn’t say it mellows, but we learn to temper our certainties with a greater volume of knowledge and understanding. I still don’t believe in a god as presented in the Bible, the Koran, or any other tome of spiritual knowledge. However, I’m more than open to the concept of a greater power. Let’s consider me a spiritual agnostic at this point.
So like my experience with Reiki, I did get some relief from Healing Touch today. A raging sinus headache was somewhat alleviated. The spiritualist in me would love to believe that this woman was able to manipulate my aura or realign my chakra just by infusing me with positive energy.
Yet, that pesky skeptic in me thinks it’s probably because I spent 15 minutes with my eyes closed, relaxing, and focusing on breathing. I want to believe that’s not the case, because as the Bard of Sydney, Rick Springfield, once sang (three times per chorus, actually) “We all need the Human Touch.” (In that same song he sang the equal-parts-awesome-and-cheesy lyric, “[Sally]’s got that love monkey riding on her back,” so take it for what you will)
I want to believe. It’s just my rational mind seems to have my spiritual consciousness in a firm headlock and it’s totally choking my chakras.