Sunday, September 24, 2006

Words I can’t say

In college, my best friend decided to do a senior research project on the science of spirituality. To accomplish this, she underwent training to become a Reiki healer.

I don’t even know how to describe Reiki any more, though at the time I could have faked an answer because of her. It’s like a meditative practice where the healer channels some sort of spiritual power to open chakras and your mind to higher spirituality. They use special symbols that are said to hold the power of the spirits to call them to you to heal your recipient. It’s like a spiritual mystical sect with secret incantations and meditations.

We heard through the hippy grapevine in our tiny college town that there was a Reiki Master working at a local natural foods store, and that she would do Reiki initiation. My friend contacted her and made an appointment to go to her house for the initiation rites and education. The Reiki Master gave my friend detailed directions to her very out there farmhouse, in a region we’d never been. Afraid to go alone, my friend asked if I could come along, and the Reiki Master said yes.

When we arrived on the appointment day, the Reiki Master didn’t know who we were or remember making the appointment. We had assumed we’d become Reiki initiates together, but at this point, the Reiki Master said, “It will be $100 each for the ceremony.” I said I didn’t have any money so I wouldn’t be participating. My friend hedged and said that was awfully expensive and didn’t think she could afford it. The spiritual world was suddenly very material when the Reiki Master wouldn’t even pretend to bargain. That was the cost or we left the farmhouse. My friend eventually ponied up, hoping her mom could deposit the money in her checking account in time.

The ceremony was beginning to sound like a fake psychic scam.

We spent hours at the house that day. My friend and the Reiki Master’s creepy boyfriend would go into the Master’s bedroom for a half hour or so at a time, off and on throughout the day. I could smell heady incense seeping out from under the door. I wondered if the initiation rite was just about smoking pot or something. I sat alone at the park bench style kitchen table, playing with bits of string and thinking about how weird this all was, thinking about things I’d like to say to these crazy people. Sometimes the Master’s twelve-year-old daughter sat with me, and I asked her questions about her school and hobbies. She was a nice girl.

During the Reiki breaks, the boyfriend said crazy things to me about spirituality and what certain signs and symbols mean in your life. Like if you stand in the window in your home it means this. Or if you pick up shiny things off the ground it means that. The Reiki Master yelled at her daughter and made her work like Cinderella, while praising her obviously deadbeat teenage son to the spiritual heavens.

I kept silent. Anything I wanted to say had the potential to start a fight or create bad feelings or make it harder for my friend to finish her senior research project on spirituality. I played with my bits of string and complimented the little girl on her dish cleaning and carrot chopping and sweeping skills, hoping to undo a lifetime of emotional abuse in my one afternoon.

At the end of the Reiki initiation ceremony, the Master decided it was time for us all to do chakra readings and spiritual cleansings together to close the day. She seemed relaxed and happy. Creepy boyfriend seemed smug and self-satisfied. My friend seemed anxious to go. I was practically clawing at the door. But when you’re a guest at someone’s home, whether they expected you or not, you’re obligated to comply to a chakra opening ceremony.

My turn. I laid on the bed with my feet toward the window. Creepy boyfriend was on my left, my friend was at my feet, channeling good energy in, and the Reiki Master moved around me. She used a crystal on a chain as a pendulum, holding it over each of my chakra points to determine the psychic state of my body’s soul. All of her readings on me seemed to satisfy her, except my throat chakra seemed very closed to her. She said that this indicated an unwillingness of me to speak the spiritual truth. I wanted to laugh in her face and say I had been holding in all day how much I thought they were all deluded and insane and evil parents to that poor little girl. I said, “I’ll work on it,” or something non-committal.

I thought that leaving her house, my friend and I exploding our frustrations at the surreal day all over each other, my throat chakra would re-open. I thought I’d speak the truth, my own personal anti-bull-shit bible spewing forth all over the tiny college town about how some self-proclaimed spiritual healers were less-enlightened than the most spiritually debased members of our society.

But if my throat chakra opened, it only blossomed temporarily, and closed again right away. Like a rarely-blooming daylily, My mouth would open for the truth, and then close again indefinitely, waiting for the next warm sunshine of fullness to spread my throat chakra petals.

I still suffer from the closed throat chakra. People who are daily in my life say horrible things to me about society, art, culture, politics. Things that lack understanding or uncorrupted thought or insight. Things a person with an open mind chakra shouldn’t think or speak through their open throat chakra.

And my throat blossom closes. I don’t speak my mind. Every time someone says to me—well, my throat chakra won’t let me repeat it—every time someone hurts my mind chakra with their words, I say to myself, “OK, next time, you’ll speak out. Next time, you’ll share your truth and help them open their closed mind chakras. Next time, you’ll defend your beliefs, your self, your thoughts.”

But that moment of expression never comes. The blossom in my throat remains tight as a daylily at night. Only in the presence of an open mind chakra connected to an open throat chakra can my mouth blossom and give my bible. In the interim, I remain silent.

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