April 2013 Archives

What's Beyond Science

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I am torn about writing this. It puts me deep into a class of people I have shunned for so long. The New Age Hippie Freaks. And yet my time in the circus opened my eyes to some things that I have long denied and usually hide about myself. 
Let me start with a disclaimer:

Science is important. It grounds our understanding of the world and makes sense of things. I love the beauty of math. I have a basic grasp of quantum physics (the Feynman kind, not the new age kind). I am delighted when our interplanetary explorations make discoveries. I dig big machines that make experiments. l get excited over microscopic pictures. I dream about e-paper and 3D printing being part of our daily lives. I read science history for fun. I am not a scientist, but I think like one.

But there are things beyond science: energetic planes and the healing arts. Things like crystals, divinations, vibrational energies, bodywork, chakras, connection to the collective unconsciousness, meditation. Without science to back up claims, all of these are considered nonsense at best, dangerous at worst. 

I saw this clever Venn diagram the other day and was sort of ashamed that I knew about almost all of the things in it. Not that I trust in them all but none of it made me say "What's that?" 

For an even more detailed version, go visit the original post: http://crispian-jago.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-venn-diagram-of-irrational-nonsense.html

But I dare to declare, in the face of this diagram and the cultural attitudes behind it, that not all of this is bollocks.

For example, acupuncture and its related healing practices (reflexology, moxibustion, and shiatsu) based on the Chinese concept of energetic meridians are effective for treating symptoms of all sorts. Perhaps it is a placebo effect, as some studies say, but my first hand experiences say otherwise. 

Divination techniques like tarot, astrology, numerology, and palmistry might be faked with social engineering and cold reading techniques but not all readings are intentionally faked. Divination gives people insight into their lives and that has value. But science can't measure how it works when it is real, therefore it can't be real.

Vibrational energies have been described in many forms - chakras, ghosts, auras, feng shui, reiki, qi, turtles on elephants. Science hasn't decided to study them seriously for a very long time. Experiments were carried out on some of these topics in the 18th century, the heyday of scientific awakening. Most of them failed at the time and haven't been repeated. In the world beyond scientific thought, some people are sensitive to these energies. Others aren't. I'm one of the moderately sensitive ones.

So there. I've said it. These things work for me, add value to my life, and I experience them personally. Maybe I have a new calling as an energy worker or a healer.  Time to face up to the bits of me that are beyond science. 

But I question myself constantly. Are energy workers and healers deluded? Are they faking it? Is it real?  Am I starting to believe in this because my brain is breaking down with age? Well, I have had weird psychic experiences since I was about 3, so I can't blame age. I squelched the ability for a long time, but it is still there. I see ghosts and auras. I have divinatory dreams. I feel tree energy. It is freakish and uncontrolled and 100% unproveable at the moment.

Without science backing any of it up, faith is required to uphold belief in the unmeasurable. Having strong faith like that is a huge challenge for me. A Venn diagram will throw me off course. Reading the fundamental texts of these arts can make me cringe; the language is awful and there are so many weasel words that it is almost impossible to pick out hard facts from wishful thinking.

Regardless, I feel it is time to explore this and see where it goes. I have felt the incredible power that moves through the world. Let me see what I can do with it. I have a tarot deck. I wear crystals and stones for their energetic properties. I know how to meditate. There is a portal into this for me, if I am patient and practice what I know.

Will I lose friends? Will my science-minded circle abandon me to tarot cards and crystals? I hope not.

Doing Without in 2013

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I returned from Spark! Circus with a renewed distaste for consumerism. We don't need everything that is offered to us, and there are some ridiculous things being sold. Walking through the shopping districts of Tokyo was painful. I started to avoid going into areas of town where every nook and cranny is dedicated to selling something.

Having lived out of a small backpack for four months while touring with WHD Dance and in the circus, I realised I can be happy with very few resources. 

But my apartment is overfull of things that I have succumbed to purchasing. So much stuff. After returning from Thailand, I spent days clearing things out that I didn't need or want any more. But it is hard and there is just so much stuff that we do use, but infrequently - 2 tents, 2 spare futon, and 20 china party plates, for instance - that I couldn't achieve the stark emptiness that I wanted to surround me. And then there are all the things that are Tod's...

Even my desk is untameable. The pencil cup overflows. Why do I have so many pens? Do I need four Sharpies? Three pairs of scissors? Yes...? No? I use them if they are there. Would I miss them if they were not there? Argh. Don't get me started on hoop workshop materials or art supplies.

So, frustrated by my inability to pitch all of this kipple, I remembered my 2009 experiment in "No Shopping" and decided to give it another go for the rest of 2013. At least I won't be accumulating any more things. My personal guidelines at the time were:

  1. No accumulation of things
  2. Purchase only consumables
  3. Become mindful of my consumption
  4. Exercise creativity by repurposing what I already have
  5. Improve skills in repair, maintenance, & construction
  6. Build networks through bartering and trade
  7. Reduce my "ecological footprint" by decreasing waste and increasing the life of my things
  8. Refocus my desires to meaningful things like learning, rather than an LED hula hoop
And I am adding one more this time:

9.  One in, one out. 

For 2013 I am also putting more emphasis on giving things away, including things I love. I will be clearing out my clothes, coats (ouch), shoes (oh!), kitchen cabinets, hula hoops and flow toys, books, and all the little things that weigh me down.  Assessing what is important to me and what I really don't need.

And then I will try not to shop. 

To keep myself honest, I will report here monthly. If you are keen to play along, there is a closed group on Facebook called "Make Do, Do Without 2013". Drop me a PM over there and I will add you.

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