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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Lights are On and the Motor is Running Part Two





(from Part One)

Now, on to the meat and potatoes of this piece.  My weekend workshop with Panache Desai.  Having worked like a dog 7 days a week up to 18 hours (on and off) a day for a good 18 months straight, and having sweated financial bullets for years prior to that, I finally earned the time and ability to take a three day break.  I bounded off for Port Authority and bonded with others waiting in line for our bus up north, which was late.  Finally, the lady standing in front of me checked outside and said, “Well, the lights are on and the motor’s running.”  While our driver was still missing in action, this was nonetheless a very promising sign.  I was in great spirits when I arrived at my destination.

I wasn’t sure who Panache really was, other than a smiley, young, New Age guy.  Same as every other personal growth leader with an over-bright grin.  What was he selling?  It was impossible to determine from class literature, sounding as vague as the “messages” of his smiling, soulful competitors.  New Age catalogues are full of classes taught by smiling teachers with loving messages.  Why should I give any of them my shekels?  I can smile in the mirror and love myself without their tutelage. I based my decision to study with him on a very short Internet interview with him and past life regressionist Brian Weiss in which he seemed appealing, positive and open-minded. 

I thought, “Ah, now I know who he is.”  When I found he was offering a class near me, I decided to go.  I trusted my intuition and fully expected to like this fellow and benefit from his workshop.

End of Part One.

Part Two:

Getting into Gear

Before class even began I saw Panache Desai in the center’s bookshop.  I was pleased and almost blurted out to him as he walked by me, “You’re my teacher!”  But something in me held back.  I remained silent and watched him as he strolled past, hypnotically drawn to his own book, CD and DVD display in the shop.  While the room was empty and he was inches away from me he did not even glance my way.   This surprised me for in my mind, being an open and loving person means being able to make eye contact and comfortably, if not warmly, acknowledge the people around you.  At least some of the time.  And certainly at a New Age joint where you’re considered a leader. I reach out with my eyes and energy much of the time in New York City, choosing to expand into the population rather than contract into myself as most people do, hiding behind their sunglasses, eyes trained on their smart phones. But I found this not to be the case with Panache. 

Interestingly, I kept bumping into him all weekend, or perhaps he kept bumping into me.  This was a large joint I was visiting.  Bumping into someone repeatedly was not the norm.  He spoke to me in passing in the dining hall about the food, later he walked by where I was sitting at the café.  He asked me what time I had and commented with his English accent.  “You’re a bit ahead”.  He was referring to the fact that my watch was 5 minutes fast, but his observation was also prescient.

Despite being happy to be away and excited for class to start Friday night, I was turned off almost immediately by the very energy he claims (or so I found out) is supposed to heal you just by being in its vicinity.  He also affirms that he is enlightened.  Oh dear. 

While I couldn’t argue with about ninety percent of what Panache said, it was stuff that I already knew, having either heard it, read it, thought it, or written it.  He did not take me anywhere new.  It became clear as he spoke that he's all Panache and no substance, a glib, informal speaker whose words were replete with inconsistencies and contradictions.  We did no exercises, nor did we interact with each other, except for some hugging at the very end on Sunday morning.  He said we would dance.  We never did.  He told us we would have fun (that's a big assumption).  I did not.

Panache tried to be funny, jocular, and cool (as evidenced by the loud “popular” music he played at length).  He set himself up as a healer who would "fix us" and "change our lives forever".  A true master would never claim this power over others.  He contended one of his special skills as an enlightened man was his ability to match his (purple) socks with his (purple) sweater.  Ha ha ha.  Some people snickered at his attempt at humor.  The room was filled with his converts. When he continued to drop Oprah’s name, this Pudgy Punjabi (I don’t know where exactly his family’s from beyond India, London and Florida, but the moniker’s got a ring to it) further rubbed me the wrong way.

Did Jesus blow his own horn? If he did I like to think that he did so in a healthy manner. You can be confident and comfortable at the same time.  You can know your worth. Like a math genius simply stating the fact that he is a math genius, as Alan Turing does in The Imitation Game.

Panache asserted that everything about us is divine and perfect including our moods (no matter how miserable), our pain, foibles, and inconsistencies (he should know about that one).  “If you’re feeling rage or despair just sit with it”, he advised. “Stop thinking and simply be in the heart”.  He assured us that doing this was all very simple. Without explaining the nature of the simplicity.    

I agree that every bit of us is divine, but not with his directive to simply sit with your pain and neither express nor analyze it.

Personal problems are not simply released.  You have to determine what is wrong, and why. When you don’t deal with toxic emotions they fester and multiply.  In order to heal something has to shift into a new gear.  Something has to move. He provided us with no tools with which to help ourselves, but presented himself as the tool that would uplift us, just by being in his "vibration”. He was the drug his followers would continue to need.  No better than Big Pharma.

Pain is a signal that something is wrong, either in what is happening, or in our reaction to it.  If I’m furious I alleviate my distress either by changing the situation I’m pissed about or adjusting my response to it.  If I’m sad, I work to mitigate that mood.  I seek relief.  There are reasons for everything we feel and do. Our feelings are the result of our beliefs about an event.  We have the ability to analyze our thoughts, beliefs and behaviors and to make changes in our lives so that we feel better.  We can stop stepping in land mines and we can also avoid creating them. You don’t stand in quicksand and simply wait to be sucked down.

While people don’t necessarily need years of therapy for everything, a certain amount of processing is required to move through stuff. You can use tools like books, friends, therapists, and you can meditate and journal.  Once you start to trust yourself, you master and utilize your own inner resources.  After strides have been made in the loving and accepting of yourself, sure, then you can make quicker, easier switches out of despair into relief, a swift right turn down the road to release instead of a hard left toward resentment. 

But when we first learn a skill it requires effort, and that can frustrate us impatient modern-day types. Toddlers don’t get upset when learning to walk because they don’t have judgments about not doing it perfectly, or have fears of failure. They just pick themselves up and try again.  We adults, however, trip ourselves up.  We can learn how to get out of our way over time by consciously changing behavior, including mental habits. You don’t get in a car and take a pro spin your very first try.

And while we in the West may think too much and get stuck in our heads, God didn’t give us a brain and logic for nothing.  The head and the heart are designed to work in concert, just as the body and the spirit are.  They are a team. 

Panache’s suggestion that we “let it be” is akin to acknowledging poop as a normal, healthy bodily function.  While this is true, it is not advisable that one sit in it. 

You could perhaps blame some of my irritability in class on the fact that I did not sleep terribly well in my bunk bed near the bathroom (convenient for a nocturnal pee-er like myself, but noisy) and right by the (glaringly bright) red EXIT sign, and also due to the fact that someone in our large dorm room saw fit to rearrange her entire velcro, bubble wrap, tin foil and zipper collection at 5am.  Breakfast was not for another two hours, and I was now decidedly awake, agitated and starving.  I hate being hungry.  I might as well have scheduled surgery and put the starvation to good use. 

Something had also awakened me after midnight, and after I rearranged my bedding and my thoughts I took in my surroundings.  I twisted around to stare out the cold window at a sight I’m not privy to in Manhattan, a November sky brimming with stars.  While much of my gratitude and joy at being away was now out the window, a little bit seeped back in with the starry vista.

At dawn, of all things, I wet my bed.  No, I didn’t pee.  As I dressed, the contents of my water bottle seeped onto the mattress.  I’d been so assiduous about not committing noise crimes like Velcro the Ripper and the other noise philistines in the room that I refrained from creating excess noise by not screwing my bottle completely shut. Fortunately, the room was sauna-like enough to dehydrate my mattress by nightfall.

I raced to the dining hall and nibbled ravenously (is this possible?) on a “healthy” pumpkin muffin with a mystery ingredient I finally concluded was sand.  However, all this was not the true source of my ultimate crankiness.  My “class” was. 

"Panache has an ability to help people to move through their sadness, anger, or fear to once again come back to their infinite potential. No matter your life experience, your spiritual background, or role, Panache can help you.” (from his website)

Contrary to his claim of being able to offer relief, I saw many people bottled up with frustration as they tried to express their concerns only to have him shut them down mid-sentence so that he could talk.

Also to my shock and dismay, Panache casually admitted to being full of shit and then accused us all of being the same. I don’t appreciate being insulted by teachers, be they tap or happiness coaches.  Had the course description divulged that he was an “enlightened” guru who was full of shit, I could have saved some money.   Panache complained that being enlightened was both boring and bland.  Then he jokingly challenged us to join him, “If I have to do it then you do, too!”  Where do I sign up?  Was Jesus bored?  The Buddha?  They never mentioned it.

At the Q&A after the screening I attended of The Imitation Game the cast was asked “How do you deal with poorly written roles?”  Sophisticated Charles Dance apologetically offered,  “There’s just so much you can do.” Also with a delightful English accent (the lot of them had, the movie takes place in England) handsome Matthew Goode piped up, “You can’t polish a turd”.  Okay, not so sophisticated.  However, ever the brilliant wordsmiths, the Irish, Allen Leech (of Downton Abbey fame, the chauffeur turned widower) chimed in with his brogue,  “No, but you can roll it in glitter.”

Touché. 

When I’m confronted with such substances, I don’t polish or dress them up.  I don’t wade, wallow in or play with them. I flush. 

I sat by myself at lunch, but sought out two nearby classmates and joined them.  “Are you enjoying yourselves in class?”  They both nodded, then one came back with, “Are you?” Pause. “I’m not.”  The older gal seemed miffed.  “Well, you’re not supposed to enjoy yourself!” she returned.  The younger one was pretty, blonde, and Russian.  She remained mostly mute during the following exchange.  “I’m not?” I replied, genuinely shocked. “No, you’re not. It’s not about that.”  “Oh? What is it about?” “He’s changing us on an energetic level.”  He is?  What’s he doing?  I didn’t sign up for any mystery modifications.  “How does he do that?”  I queried.  She practically rolled her eyes at me. “Just by being with him.”  Oh, he’s that special.  Doesn’t even have to touch you. Doesn’t even look at his followers, like Braco does.  We have to look at him.  I’m paying the money and I have to do all the damn work?

“Well, I came here to have a good time. “ I persisted. “I like to enjoy my classes, and I certainly like to like my teachers.”  She pounced on me again. “He’s not even a teacher!”  This lady was contrary, plain and simple.  Clearly he hadn’t cleared her cranky ass energy field, and she’d been to his seminars numerous times.  There’s no guru powerful enough to clean up a sour personality that refuses to work on itself.  Inspiring people is one thing.  Overhauls are for car mechanics. 

“He just vibrates!”  As if that explained everything.  “So do you.” I replied.  She was even angrier now, her vibrations approaching the ferocity of a space shuttle launch. My insides were gripping.  So much for a healthy lunch.  There’s not enough kale in the world to override a WWF match in your stomach. 

“You don’t understand. He just is. He fixes us with his vibration,” she continued, to which I replied, “Well, I didn’t come here to be fixed.  I came here to have a good time, and I’ll appreciate your not telling me how I should experience my weekend or my class.” 

She breathed out with heavy exasperation, “Ugh! This is not supposed to be fun!” “You just don’t get it!” she deposited into the thick air, then got up to leave, her Siberian sycophant in tow.

People in class yearned for relief, you could hear it in their quavering voices, in their questions, but he cut them off after a sentence or two with a facile response.  One lady complained about being hit up for money by a friend.  “Just say no!” he blurted.  While in fact that is a terrific response, the fact that, by her own admission, it was a recurring issue in her life, that she felt used, unappreciated for who she was but only what she could offer financially, just saying no was a glib suggestion.   When someone asked about karma he dropped, "karma is a mind fuck" without explaining his bomb.  

He advised folk to "just let it go", "sit with the rage",  "it's all because your father didn't pay attention to you" (which the speaker never referenced).  You could see the hurt, disappointment and frustration in people's faces when he interrupted them while they were sharing.  They needed, at the very least, to be heard, if not understood or helped. It takes courage for most people to stand up in a large group of strangers and share personal problems, but their bravery went unrewarded.  He even encouraged one woman who was afraid of sinking into a depressive state again to consciously seek depression out.  This is not professional advice.  Facing your problems is different from running toward them. Like heroin is the solution when you're trying to quit.  He invited questions, but as soon as someone started sharing a sensitive issue he silenced them with a facile response or, "Come here.  I'm going to hug you."  As if his hug was a cure-all.  His groupies went up doe-eyed for their blessing. The class catered to his ego, not to the participants who sought relief from this perfunctory "master".  I sat in the front row every day, arms crossed, and refused even to look at him.  I said nothing.  I wasn’t there to teach him, or challenge him.  It was his “class”.  Or “energy event”.  Or whatever the hell it was.

He also came up with the brilliant, "the more love you feel, the more fear you'll feel". How does that work?   And why would anyone want to become more loving if they’re going to become more fearful? This is contradictory to every spiritual tenet not to mention my own personal experience. The more love you feel, the LESS fear you feel. They cannot exist in the same space.
     
He ended class with a big hug-in.  First by offering his own to individuals, as a healing modality, of course.  A big pacifier.  “I’m having feelings of deep unresolved guilt involving my father, who recently passed away.  I want to…” someone started to confess before he cut her off with, “Come here. I’m going to give you a hug.”  Wow, one hug and everything gets washed away?  I was edging toward the back of the room by now, determined to escape early and participate in a Skype session with my friend Nicole, the channeler (http://www.teachingsofthemasters.org).   He had already hugged about five people at the front of the room, when he encouraged mass huggings among the participants. 

I noticed a man in the back, glasses on, with an urban, artistic air to him, who didn’t quite look as if he belonged in the granola-ish group.  When a woman approached to hug him, he briskly backed away.  “I’m not a hugger,” he declared, then abruptly walked out.  I followed him minutes later, an hour before class officially ended.  

When I finally got Nicole’s two cents on the situation, via her guides, I was yet again bowled over by the unexpected nature of Spirit’s observations.  Nicole said,  “You’re gonna laugh your pants off and want money from this man, but you’re there to help him, that’s the reason you’re there.  You’re helping him energetically.  He’s not going to acknowledge you or compensate you for it, but you have something he needed to get to his next level.  He called to you energetically, and you answered the call.  You worked with him in another lifetime.  He rubbed you the wrong way now just like he frustrated you in the past.   But he needs your consciousness for his growth.  This is a teacher student relationship and you’re the teacher. There is greater purpose beyond what you can see, a real reason you’re there this weekend.  Your consciousness is going to help him to grow.  On a higher level he thanks you, for he needed your help.” 

Son of a gun.  I guess that “being in the presence of someone’s energy” stuff that he claims to do works, cause that’s apparently what I did for him for three days.  Gratis.

Nicole’s guides continued, “You’re looking for something to delight you, but it’s not in these classes.  It’s time for you to do the inner work, and stop seeking answers outside.”   Shit.  They told me to meditate and write, and that I need to energetically feel my way through life, and vibrate higher.  They challenged me, “If you are the Master, then what do you know?   You need to be hell bent on developing your own class, curriculum, books and channeling, and stop seeking out others.  Be like Madonna, and follow the beat of your own drum.  Madonna listens to Madonna and nobody else. It’s time for you to do that, too.  You have her potential if you want it, but you can’t achieve it if you think others know more than you do.  You’re an amazing coach.  It’s time to coach yourself.”

I was not there to seek acclaim, or tenure.  I was simply someone who wanted to have a pleasant weekend, and ended up as the gal grumbling in the back.

This was a rather heavy charge they were saddling me with. You mean I can’t just sit in class anymore?  I gotta take the stage?  Yup.  While daunting, their message makes sense.  I’m smart, funny, comfortable speaking, teaching, entertaining, and I’ve been a “student” of enlightenment, happiness and personal growth my whole life.  It’s time for me to step up to the plate.  Gulp.

They continued, “Start working with your Guides one on one.  Stop looking outside of yourself.  Masters consult with other Masters.  Work within, there’s no need to go to Tibet.  You are determined to believe that “they” all have something you want.  Just because someone has a following or fancy ad does not mean that they know more than you or can help you.  

If you like what they do, then start your own course.  Your own spiritual class, your own channeling.  Write your next book, your next play, audition people to be on staff for your next project.  Go within!  Your former students are coming to you for instruction.  What does this tell you?  Where are you?  Who are you?  You are, in fact, the Master.  Start to believe it, and gain more confidence in this area.  Meditate.  Write what you receive.  You will channel your own prose. Not with your logical mind, but you will feel your way to the higher energies.” 

Shut off the mind?  Try telling that to a fast-paced smarty pants New Yorker.

They concluded, “Stop being a spiritual groupie.  They are few and far between that have something to teach you.  Meditate.  Meditate.  Meditate.  Listen to your own Inner Voice. “

This unsettled me.   I have to go back to school.  Rather, I have to start one. 

As a final insult on my last day away I got a huge piece of the driest, cheapest, stringiest dental floss stuck in my teeth.  And who provided me with this flimsiest of floss?  My freaking dentist.  Someone offered me a toothpick and advised me never to use waxed floss, only unwaxed.  “It was unwaxed, that’s why it got stuck!”  That and the fact that it was thinner than optical fiber.  While ephemeral enough to disintegrate on the job, when lodged in my mouth for hours it felt like a mile of nautical rope.

Before I left I said goodbye to my bunkmate and asked her to pray for me.  “For your mate to appear?”  “No, for the floss to dislodge.”  It took pliers and a piece of waxed floss to get the rope out of my mouth when I got home.

Despite my disappointment with the “class”, I rallied my mood.  It was, after all, my weekend.  So I put my “tools” to use, adjusted my attitude and had a good time anyway.

My quest for inspiration and fun landed me squarely back at my own door, just like Dorothy with her ruby slippers.

I don’t need to be hugged, stared at, or energetically knocked down by someone else.  Neither do you.

My motor’s running.

My lights are on.

© 2015 Valerie Gilbert, All Rights Reserved. 

My third book, SWAMI SOUP, is now available in print, e-book, and audio book,  narrated by me!  RAVING VIOLET and MEMORIES, DREAMS & DEFLECTIONS: My Odyssey Through Emotional Indigestion are both available in print, e-book and audio, also narrated by me.




Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Lights Are On and the Motor's Running



Part One:

Warming Up The Engine

“Sucking or blowing?”  I inquired.  My doorman looked up at me, simultaneously confused, perturbed and amused. “What?” He queried with his English accent. I had returned home late at night after a screening of the amazing new film “The Imitation Game” about British math genius Alan Turing, who broke the German code Enigma during WWII, and invented the world’s first computer in so doing. The film stars sixth Beatle Benedict Cumberbatch, who was there with the director and cast for a Q&A after the film, and then exited the theatre to embrace his lucky fiancée when all was said and done.  I am a fan of Cumberbatch and his body of work, and this film is fantastic. 

I was all misty after the film, not because I saw Benedict, nor because he is getting married (to someone else), but because my father fought in the war, and was stationed as an airman in England.  As well, it seems (this is relatively recent news) that my father may have been doing covert work, and this film was all about “covert”.  I downgraded my crying from downpour to drizzle and wiped at my eyes as I approached my building, shifting from pensive and sad to puzzled and curious.  I could not discern what my night doorman was doing outside the building.  He was using a gadget on the sidewalk that looked like a leaf blower, but he then utilized it inside the lobby where there were no leaves.  So I asked.  “Is it sucking, or blowing?  I can’t tell.”  His bewilderment gave way to laughter.

I go in spurts with my assorted activities, from tap dancing to spiritual seeking.  I regularly get messages from Nicole Gans Singer, a superb medium and channeler (teachingsofthemasters.org).  After being left high and dry time and again by the various and sundry “spiritual” events I attend, I’ve asked for feedback from Nicole’s guides regarding these events, as there’s often more (or less) than meets the eye.  Maybe I did benefit from something, even if it seemed like a boring bust.  It’s all in one’s perspective, and I like mine to be challenged.  I keep an open mind, but am often flabbergasted by the unexpected insights Spirit has about my daily comings and goings.

I attended an event led by “energy worker” Abdy “Electriciteh” (a made up last name if ever I heard one). I’d heard about him from a “chatty Cathy” in a trance mediumship class I took, or “trance camp” as I liked to call it.  She glowed ecstatically, “Abdy looks in your eyes then knocks you down with his energy!”  Sounded like a barrel full of monkeys.  There’s another guy named Braco (pronounced “Bratzoh”) who just stares warmly and intently at crowds for extended periods of time.  It’s supposed to be healing.  Or loving.  Or something. 

Anyone who’s come close to their favorite movie or music star knows the electrifying phenomenon that Abdy was selling.  What did people get from Jesus?  The Buddha?  What do they get from Bono?  Heck, performance artist Marina Abramović made a splash at the Museum of Modern Art not long ago doing the same thing as Braco.  A little eye contact goes a long way.  It’s increasingly rare in our mobile device obsessed culture.  Comfortable eye contact, inner peace and social ease are antidotes for “text neck.” 

I was at a guy’s free channeling event in New York City when I learned that Abdy “Electriciteh” was going to be in New York City.  Actually, I have to stop right there.  I used to attend this guy’s channeled events regularly in years prior, and while all channeling sessions can be weird (it’s awkward on occasion when Spirit takes over your body) this guy’s sessions were weirder than most. 

I’ve been in dark, quiet rooms filled with reverent, meditative types when a channel’s sudden booming made me hit the ceiling. In the weekly development circle I led in my home for years, a one-time guest channeled spontaneously, and I nearly jumped out of my skin.  I didn’t know she had that psychic trick up her sleeve.  Actually, I didn’t know if she was a girl, either, despite her overblown feminine façade.  When you’re over six feet tall and have no hips, big tits and a lot of makeup become suspect. 

I’ve been with soft-spoken channels, loud channels and channels who babbled intergalactic gobbledeygook (hey, I don’t speak Arcturian, it could have been coherent.) I’m open to it all.  I don’t have to prove it.  It’s not a test.  It’s an experience.  I get what I get.  And you get it from me.  Some of it’s real.  Some of it may not be.  But there’s only one way to find out.  Go to the group.  Or go to Arcturus.

The guy whose channeled sessions I was going to weekly would gesticulate and spasm while he boomed.  Weird?  Yes.  Fine.  But years later, now that he’s a big channeling star of sorts, all of a sudden his guides had taken on an English accent and a bit of Irish flair.  The two accents phased in and out during his Big Free Public Appearance.  This would seem flagrant proof that the fellow is faking, right? (You’re barely with me as it is, I know.) 

See, the thing is, I’m a substance over style gal.  I’ve learned to overlook a lot of stuff over the years, as there’s often a pearl of wisdom embedded in the debris. Because someone has some flaw or distortion does not mean they don’t also have valuable gifts.  You’ve just gotta decide on a case by case basis how much detritus you’re willing to pick through.

So, the guy’s channeling is not in question for me.  His messages are powerful, incisive, insightful, specific, commanding and astute.  They are also not very fun or uplifting.  A bit dreary and Old Testament for my taste, which is one of the reasons why I stopped going.  However, what’s with the accents?  No, really, what’s with the accents?  Were Shaw and Shakespeare now trying to get in on the action?  Why did they take years to make their presence known?  Were they waiting for green cards? 

At any rate, while at this American/Irish/English channeling convention, I got a flyer for Abdy from the channeler’s agent, for Abdy is represented by the same agent.  Yes, I know how that sounds.  It sounds like that to me, too.

Abdy is an “energy worker”, someone who toils in the diffuse realm of that which is invisible to the naked eye, like any physicist does.  We may not see the energy itself, but we know it by its fruit, like wind chimes animated by a breeze.

My interest in the ethereal spheres challenges me to rely on my own knowing. To come into my own Sovereignty.  My Mastery.  I invite you to come into yours, too, as Luke did in his “blind” light saber training with Obi Wan Kenobi against a remote in “Return of the Jedi”. This does not mean that we cannot benefit from others’ teachings and skills.  They can trigger our own understandings, even if they are frauds.  We have to be discerning, and not dumb ourselves down in deference to someone else’s alleged status or power.  If you “feel nothing” in response to a healing or teaching it may be because there was nothing there to feel.  On the other hand, even if you do “feel something” how do you know it’s really from them, and not from you?  And if you don’t feel anything, it’s still possible that something (either good or bad) still took place. It's a slippery slope when it comes to interpretation.  The only one you should really trust at the end of the day is yourself.  And that is the lesson.  That, and to keep an open mind.  I’m not advocating distrust of others, but too many people defer to others and give their power away.  This is a cardinal sin. 

Before Abdy started to work the packed room, he said, “There is no name for what you receive.”  I’ll say.  But there is a name for what he receives.  $40.   Now, I liked the guy and his “energy”, and he certainly didn’t hurt me.  But he didn’t knock me to the ground with his electricity.  On the other hand, people around me were swooning and screaming.  I felt rather like I was in a madhouse, a classic insane asylum. Now, to be fair, most of the folk in attendance were well-behaved.  But some of the “loosy goosy” types were flapping and flailing, convulsing and twitching Salem witch trial style. I was feverishly looking around for an exorcist and an exit.  

One guy with a beard and a big belly broke out in maniacal laughter, rocking and rolling on the floor while the waistband of his sweat pants hovered tenuously around his crack.   Others hooted, cried and wailed.  Some even whimpered.  An occasional moan or shriek rang out and echoed in the high ceilinged room. Good god.  A couple of women sounded like they were having orgasms, and another like she was giving birth, all on a cold church floor.  Do I know how to have fun on a Saturday night?

Abdy told us to lie down once we were “touched” by him.  But this was too good a show to miss, so I sat right back up to survey what was going on, and to make sure no lunatic snuck up on me and had a rabid seizure, convulsion, or gave birth in my personal space. When one loonie started wailing, another would too, as if in manic competition.  A crazed chain reaction would ripple through the room.  

Listen, it’s easy for me to make fun of them.   I don’t know what was going on, or what he opened up for them.  I don’t think it was bad.  There are a lot of messed up people who are not in touch with themselves.  So, they let Abdy touch them instead.  He said, “If you are sad, the energy will release sad.  If you are mad, the energy will release mad” I guess I’m wary, cause that’s what released.  Actually, that’s not true.  I went in desiring to have a mystical experience, not wanting to rag on lunatics (or to be with them, frankly).  I wanted to love Abdy and our “electric exchange”.  I wanted to be bowled over by his energy and to have an ecstatic adventure.  While I did feel something the second time he touched me (a light tingling in my head when he looked intently in my eyes then touched my third eye with his thumb) overall, I was left cold.  I cut out early. 

When I asked for feedback about the event from my channeler friend Nicole, she focused within then declared, “Well, he certainly knows how to move energy.  But frankly, there are very few people from whom you can benefit at this time.  You’re more evolved energetically than most of the people you’ve been seeking out.”

I’m not trying to sound big-headed.  I didn’t say it.  She did. On the other hand, I have been studying my whole life.  And I am pretty cool.  You have to graduate sometime.

I’ve received messages from Spirit advising me to stop seeking.  Sounds crazy, right?  Stop seeking teachers, they said.  I’m not seeking teachers, per se, but strong leaders. Interesting people and experiences to ignite my growth and offer unique, new perspectives.  Learning never stops.  What’s wrong with wanting to study with Einstein?  Apparently, there’s a shortage of good teachers.  At least for me.

I’m looking for a good time, and I seek it in Spirit, not in bars (though I do enjoy “spirits”). For example, the aforementioned trance medium I studied with.  He was sweet, simple, and slow (not mentally, but in manner).  Real relaxed like.  When it came down to it, I learned more and pushed myself more when I studied with medium James Van Praagh.  A fast-paced New Yorker like myself, he was chock full of exercises and new ideas that kept me on my toes.  While his ideas were consistent with what I already knew and felt (this was a plus) he also took me places I hadn’t yet been.  That’s why I go to a class, or an event.  I want new vistas and for my world-view to be shaken up.  

This applies to tap class (I go regularly) as much as any spoon-bending workshop (I’ve been to one.  Of course).  A substitute teacher walked into my tap class and I was immediately perturbed by her dour demeanor.  She was “street”, slouchy hip-hop grunge.  No problem there.  However, no eye contact and looking only at her phone as she entered the room was an “uh oh” for me.  Then she plugged her phone into the sound system.  Okay, good.  At least she would be playing music.  Not all tap teachers do. 

She smiled finally (thank god) and started leading our warm up, all the while holding a cup of coffee.  An intriguing prop, though she did spill once.  I wondered if she clutched a cocktail during afternoon classes.  

Class dragged as I kept waiting for her to turn on a tune to spice things up.  She continued to scroll through tunes on her iPod.  Since she made up our routine on the spot, I thought she was probably trying to figure out the perfect piece of music as she improvised.

While lithe, when this gal slammed her taps down the sound reverberated as from a giant’s stride.  By comparison, I sounded like a mouse with paperclips taped to my toes.  “Not bad,” she’d announce. Never a “pretty good” or even “Hey, that was better!” There’s such a huge difference between the two approaches and hers was demoralizing.  She never did play music.  Turned out she was just charging her phone and checking her damn texts.

Now, on to the meat and potatoes of this piece.  My weekend workshop with Panache Desai.  Having worked like a dog 7 days a week up to 18 hours (on and off) a day for a good 18 months straight, and having sweated financial bullets for years prior to that, I finally earned the time and ability to take a three day break.  I bounded off for Port Authority and bonded with others waiting in line for our bus up north, which was late.  Finally, the lady standing in front of me checked outside and said, “Well, the lights are on and the motor’s running.”  While our driver was still missing in action, this was nonetheless a very promising sign.  I was in great spirits when I arrived at my destination.

I wasn’t sure who Panache really was, other than a smiley, young, New Age guy.  Same as every other personal growth leader with an over-bright grin.  What was he selling?  It was impossible to determine from class literature, sounding as vague as the “messages” of his smiling, soulful competitors.  New Age catalogues are full of classes taught by smiling teachers with loving messages.  Why should I give any of them my shekels?  I can smile in the mirror and love myself without their tutelage. I based my decision to study with Panache on a very short Internet interview I caught with him and past life regressionist Brian Weiss in which he seemed appealing, positive and open-minded. 

I thought, “Ah, now I know who he is.”  When I found he was offering a class near me, I decided to go.  I trusted my intuition and fully expected to like this fellow and benefit from his workshop.

Part Two coming soon. 

© 2015 Valerie Gilbert, All Rights Reserved

My third book, SWAMI SOUP, is now available in print, e-book, and audio book,  narrated by me!  RAVING VIOLET and MEMORIES, DREAMS & DEFLECTIONS: My Odyssey Through Emotional Indigestion are both available in print, e-book and audio, also narrated by me.