'It is ironic that Christianity, the religion of the rational West, is, in fact, completely irrational, inconsistent and even absurd, whereas Buddism, the religion of the mystical East is completely rational, consistent an even practical – not a creed requiring a leap of faith into absurdity, but a method that can be shown to work.'
While there are exceptions and I’ve been given plenty of “advice” during my time in the Far East which was quite absurd (being refused ice in my water as it would cause early death stands out here), there was a great deal that made sense. Something I have particularly taken on board is that you see doctors in order to stay well and not wait until you are ill.
It’s like the example of your car. You service it in the hope of averting problems. Rather than rebuild your engine periodically, you keep the oil topped up. We should take a similar view to our health. I’m far from getting it right all the time but I know that Oil of Evening Primrose helps my eczema so I should take it daily to prevent flare-ups rather than wait until I need to medicate a flare-up. Similarly, I’ve been very stressed since starting my new job and my back still isn’t completely right from July’s car accident so I decided to tackle that before I developed a stress-related health problem.
Now I’m generally a pretty sceptical person, particularly when it comes to alternative therapies but my experiences have actually been positive. I used to think that acupuncture was pretty daft but a friend of my mum’s qualified as a practitioner and asked to treat my carpal tunnel syndrome. I don’t know how it worked and I went in rolling my eyes but it did work and the massage she taught me to follow up with has kept it mostly at bay for several years now. When I was in KL I went for reflexology on the recommendation of a friend and was not only amazed to see one leg turn red and the other white as my blood flow was energised (or something) but that when different parts of my foot were treated, I could feel the effects in different parts of my body. Including somewhere that surely counts as sexual assault, or at least a lack of professionalism!
So when I met Vicky at a tweet drinks I tried to keep an open mind when she told me about reiki (it helped that she dresses stylishly rather than like a hippy). And it while it was several months before I got around to making an appointment, once I decided I needed to address my stress levels she was still at the forefront of my mind. I had got a sense that she does what she does because it works and not because she’s looking for a belief system to give her life meaning. So far, so Buddhist.
I booked a head massage with reiki. The head massage eased the headache I didn’t know I had and relaxed me enough to try and lie back and give reiki a chance. Crystals are an area I particularly struggle with but Vicky was relatively relaxed about that. Rather than wanting to find the stones that I had an emotional connection with she seemed perfectly happy with me choosing the pretty ones.
I laid back and she asked me to imagine energy and toxins flowing out down my shoulders and through my feet which would feel numb. Ten minutes in I was feeling rather daft and was tempted to open my eyes to see whether she was moving her hands mystically over me or whether she’d popped out for a cup of tea.
Then suddenly it was as if my skull was being pulled apart; as though my head had been in a vice and then suddenly released. The feeling left almost immediately and I was again left with my thoughts until a weight was lifted from my chest and I actually started gasping. It was all getting rather weird. My stomach was another tension place like my head and Vicky actually laid her hands on me (a palm on my forehead and a palm on my stomach). She said later that she wanted to calm me from being so tense in those places. My feet were numb by this point and I tried to wriggle my toes to find that I appeared paralysed. When Vicky touched my toes it was as though the tension throughout my body had formed into a piece of string that she then pulled out through my toes. Utterly surreal!
My feedback was that I carry tension in my head (I think too much it seems) and my stomach and that I don’t breathe properly (hence the sudden ability to breathe once I was... um... opened up?).
Writing this up now, I find I’m already resorting to a degree of scepticism since I lack the language to frame the experience but there have been profound changes in me. I feel oddly depressed this week and am thinking things through that previously I’ve bottled but rather than fighting this I’ve been confiding in the fiancé and am taking a short road trip tomorrow to get some fresh perspective. I’ll be visiting the coast and staying in a gorgeous hotel. I’ll swim, jacuzzi, eat regional food (they are award winning on local produce) and drink cocktails by a log fire or wine in my room or a pint out in the star filled garden.
The point is that I have no real plan. I’m taking my camera and a notebook but no preconceptions. I’m not going to fight the change in me but embrace it. And I’m going back next Monday!
Above Bollywood Brows, Eastgate Shopping Centre, Gloucester