Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Skeptic's First Experience with a Psychic and Drum Journeys

Sorry, but this is a very skeptical entry. I try to go into things as openly minded as possible despite knowing a ton of science. I didn't go into this thinking that I'd have a paranormal experience as I don't believe in such things. I was expecting something more along the lines of a hypnosis effect. And I also thought it would be strengthened by being in a group.

We got to the place early and many people had yet to arrive. But one of them was a psychic, and the psychic's scheduled readings weren't there, leaving some openings. So, I decided to get my first psychic reading. Now let me tell you something, this is one of the most awkward things I've ever experienced. I'm very much the stubborn skeptic, whom I described in my last blog, when it comes to this phenomena.

I was told to shuffle the cards and prepare any question for the spirits. My mind literally couldn't get past the fact that I was asked to ask a question to something I don't believe exists. So I drew a giant blank. One of the cards fell off the table because it was placed too close to the edge. I was also told this gives it special meaning. A little bit of the information that the cards revealed did apply to me, however, they were the types of things that could apply to anyone. Have you ever felt guilt over something? Have you ever been afraid or have had something holding you back from your dreams? Clearly, if you didn't become an astronaut or ninja, this most likely applies to you too!

I have to admit, part of me really wanted to connect the dots for her. There were things said that I could have went off on a tangent about. But at the end of the day, the psychic is supposed to be telling me "what's up."  And when the time was up, I felt compelled to talk about science. I really wanted to let her know that my skepticism isn't based in cynical thought; I don't believe all paranormal events are simply mental errors, and that maybe, once in awhile, something truly weird happens because the foundations of reality are so strange. I basically ended the psychic reading with a strange lecture on science and logic.

A few hours later and we were reading for the drum journeying. First, we all sat around with native style drums and made beats. And this can be a bit of fun. I played around with some polyrhythms and really added a musical dimension that many hadn't heard before. Although I was told to find my own beat, I really only "hear" what's works best for the music. After that experience, we were told to lay down and relax. And the lights were all but extinguished except for a candle — which also was reflected right at me.

I felt good when the lights go out. I don't know why, but I really like darkness for some reason. The drums start, and I can hear them reverberate off the walls and create this little humming sound. This also modulates in rhythm with the drum and the tone of the hits.

I laid there and waited for my journey to happen. I tried not to focus on anything and just listened to the sounds. The background ambiance had slowly crept in and joined the beat, in a pleasant way. But I wasn't very comfortable and got a slight headache. It got to the point where it reminded me of trying to sleep as my neighbor blasted a loud, repetitive rap track or when construction work was going on.

I was staring at little blotches of color and the light seeping in from the bottom of my eye lids — from the candle. But nothing unusual occurred. When the drumming stopped, I was the first person to get up to my feet. Everyone sort of laid there. The lights slowly came on and people were encouraged to write their experiences down. I had nothing to report, so, I went to the kitchen and raided the snack bar.

We gathered in another circle and people started talking about their experiences. Some of them were wild involving transforming into animals and mythical creatures: Flying around and doing strange things. The people would then look animals up in a reference book. They were all supposed to have special, symbolic meanings. When it came my turn to talk, I felt very awkward. Many had went on these DMT like trips, and all I had was a headache.

I prefaced the fact that I used to be a practicing Taoist and was no stranger to meditative states. When I told them the light was a bit distracting, they told me there weren't any lights. After minor arguing there was finally an admitted, lit candle in the exact spot I said the light was bothering me. Then I talked about the reverberation of the drum causing a humming sound. I was sort of laughed at. I guess the correct response was that it was actually mystical spiritual chanting. But I've done my time as a sound engineer, and it was definitely just an interesting reverberation.

Again, I felt compelled to make things up and add to the discussion. The pressure was on, and part of me felt bad for having nothing to say. I even felt like talking about the ordinary blotches of color I saw and transforming them into things: A monk made of light or a wolf. And as the only true skeptic, I felt like the real weirdo or oddball. But I stayed true to my heart and said I didn't have any experiences and have never had any visions while meditating. I was then told to that I had forgotten to say "yet," repeatedly and that it was believed that I did go on a journey.

At the end of the day, I was a bit disappointed to not experience anything. There is, very much, a large part of me that has all the qualities of a spiritual person. I crave to feel a part of something larger than myself. I feel humbled in the presence of mountains or while I stare at the night sky. But the logic nor a strange, mysterious experience were to be had.

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