Rhymes with Sewage, Part 1: Eating Sushi
Earlier this month, I went to the “New Living Expo” in San Francisco. In plainer terms, it was a new-age fair. Or, as Penn Jillette would pronounce it, “newage” (rhymes with “sewage”). I had been to one of these before, probably in 2004, so I was overdue to return.
The tricky thing about this newage stuff is finding the wheat among the chaff. Yes, there really is wheat there (or at least there used to be). Several things that we now accept as normal made their first appearances in American society among the aura-oozing, crystal-loving, brain-lapse set. Yoga might be the best example of this, but there are others (which I’m too lazy to look up right now).
I also have a fascination with fringe topics. Since I live an evidence-driven life, I love to check out stuff for myself and gather my own data. This led me, for example, to try out self-hypnosis way back in the ’80s. I discovered that (despite James Randi’s protestations to the contrary) hypnosis is very real and not some cheap stage trick (What passes itself off as stage hypnosis is not hypnosis at all but some very powerful group psychology.).
I’m not sure if hypnosis can actually serve a purpose beyond relaxation, though. There are those who claim you can use it to quit smoking or lose weight. I didn’t need either of those, so I didn’t try it.
The hypnotic state alone can be fun to play with. I’m able to go pretty deep, which I guess not everybody is able to do. I can go deep enough to completely shut down all of my tactile senses. I feel like a brain just floating in space. Trippy, man! Who needs chemical assistance to enter an altered state of consciousness? I can do it with sheer brainpower. (Soon I will be able to shoot lightning bolts out of my eyes! Then the world will tremble!)
You don’t have to be a floating brain, either. You can enter any realm your imagination can dream up. My best experience happened one day when I was trying to reach that ultra-deep state. The common induction techniques have you imagine yourself going down, such as riding down an escalator. You have to visualize yourself descending. If you’re doing it right, this will be accompanied by a sensation of sinking.
On that fateful day, I was lying on my bed and talking myself deeper and deeper. I used the escalator visualization at first, but it only got me partway. Then I noticed that it felt like my body was sinking through the bed. I immediately conjured up some visuals to reinforce that sensation. I imagined myself sinking through the floor, under the house, and then down through the ground. I went deeper and deeper until I hit groundwater. I discovered that I was in an underground cavern, with fresh, cool water, glowing walls, and surprisingly fresh air. And what else was in this subterranean aquatic paradise? The only thing that could make it better, of course. Mermaids!
And these aren’t your crappy TV-censored puritanical mermaids with hooter-shells. No! These were real mermaids! With short hair!
The best part of all was that the fish part started just a tiny bit lower than is normally depicted, if you get my meaning.
As you can see, you never know where your explorations will take you, if you open your mind and follow your curiosity.
I need to emphasize that I suffer no delusions that mermaids exist. They don’t. That entire episode was pure imagination.