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Body and Soul

Before every kid in America was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADD, behavioral optometrists were upping their reading scores and getting them off Ritalin with "vision therapy." Channelers and psychic healers were performing at the Convention Center, and there was at least one specialist in "entertainment medicine." Maybe it really worked. Maybe we just wanted to believe. Here’s some of what we wrote:

From "Rosalyn Bruyere: Seeing, touching, healing," by Celeste Fremon; March 1, 1979

Rosalyn Lee Bruyere can reconnect a damaged optic nerve with psychic surgery and restore a woman’s eye to sight before an astonished crowd of 500 at the Los Angeles Con vention Center. She casually dissolves a tumor the size of a large lime in the throat of an oil-company executive by running energy into it for 15 minutes. She can accurately diagnose illness by gazing at the pulsating colored lights around people’s bodies that are as visible to her as clothing is to the rest of us.

But what really knocks you out is the realization that this 32-year-old ex–supermarket checker and divorcée with two kids who dresses like some uptown San Fernando Valley housewife may genuinely have the capability to bridge the yawning chasm between the objective world of science and medicine and the subjective nether regions of the metaphysical and the miraculous. The former motorcycle racer nicknamed "Razzle Dazzle Roz" (because when she speaks in public she sounds more rock & roll queen than psychic) can explain what she does just as easily in terms of quantum physics as she can in the classical traditions of ancient mysticism. In doing so she has drawn the attention of the dubious but fascinated medical establishment. Rosalyn Bruyere is making psychic healing respectable.

From "Muscle Magic"; February 1, 1980

One fascinating diagnostic technique used by many holistic practitioners is "muscle testing," or determining blocks and weaknesses in various body areas by testing the strength of related muscles. You can try this at home yourself. One fun test is with L.A.’s tap water and the effects it has on the body. Hold your right arm out straight in front of you and ask someone to push down on it firmly but gently. Brace against the push as much as you can until you get a sense of how strong is the muscle that holds your arm stiff.

Now take a mouthful of L.A. water and hold it under your tongue, so that the chemicals in it can be quickly carried to the rest of your body by your blood system. Ask your friend to test your arm again while you hold the water in your mouth. If you notice a difference in your ability to resist the pressure, a sudden weakness, you might relate that to all the chemicals and pollutants in our water.

For an interesting comparison, try the same test with clean spring water from a bottle. You can use the same test with sugar, tobacco or junk food treated with preservatives. If the responses surprise you, you might begin to understand how muscle testing works as a diagnostic technique, with skilled practitioners able to diagnose any and every organ of the body.

From "Leonard Orr and the Purification of Planet Earth," by Barbara Bottner; June 13, 1980

Death, Leonard [Orr] says, is just a learned experience, part of our programming. If we can rid ourselves of the idea that we will die, the certainty of it, if we can clean out those negative expectations, maybe we won’t die after all. Death is just another case of thoughts creating reality.

How did a trained Presbyterian, a Bible major in college, come up with such a strange twist to religious thought?

It started one day while Leonard was sitting in a sauna and disobeying the warning that limited the experience to only five minutes. When he crawled out, an hour later, fighting for consciousness, he decided it wasn’t only the heat but the memory of being in the womb that was blocking off consciousness. This was the beginning of rebirthing . . .

From "Mobius — L.A.’s Twilight Zone Corporation," by Mary Beth Crain; December 3, 1982

There are some facts that, even when they are fully, unimpeachably, "scientifically" documented, still stretch the limits of the human belief system. Here, for instance, are three:

1) Aided only by psychics, a Los Angeles– based corporation was able to locate, in an area of 180 square yards on a chart covering 1,500 square miles, the 80-to-90-year-old wreck of a wooden ship not even known to exist.

2) Again utilizing psychics, the same corporation located objects from the lost city of Marea in Alexandria, Egypt — a find that had eluded archaeologists for more than 100 years.

3) The corporation was contracted by the district attorney of an eastern state, who requested psychic help in the investigation of the kidnap/murder of a 14-year-old girl. According to the district attorney, more than 90 percent of the information provided by the psychics was accurate. "In light of the limited background you gave your respondents," the district attorney wrote, "their findings were very impressive."

The name of the corporation is Mobius; its founder and president is a 40-year-old author and parapsychologist named Stephan Schwartz. In the five years since Mobius’ formation, Schwartz has rapidly risen to the forefront of the scientific community with a series of stringently controlled experiments in the field of psi research.

From "20/20 Doesn’t Always Mean Good Vision," by Carolyn Reuben; January 21, 1983

Research indicates that a child’s learning ability is inversely proportional to the amount of time he or she spends watching TV. Does that surprise you? We learn to coordinate the focusing of our eyes by moving our bodies in relation to space, as a child does naturally when playing outdoors. But when the young child constantly watches TV, the eyes are focused on a two-dimensional plane regardless of the action on the screen, and he or she is not learning the same visual skills.

Enter the behavioral optometrist, who does much more than simply issue glasses. Behavioral optometrists are concerned with the behavior that manifests itself as a result of visual problems . . .

Vision therapy can transform lives. [One] 10th-grader, after 12 therapy sessions, improved her grades from D’s to B’s and A’s, advanced her reading level two grades and, her father reports, improved her personality as well. Also, her eyes stopped hurting. Her father tried six sessions himself, and not only improved his tennis game, but found he could read so easily after 40 years of difficulty that he decided to go to law school!

From "Messages From Channel Infinity: The ‘new’ metaphysical rage," by Craig Lee; November 7, 1986

There are many different forms of channeling: automatic writing, painting, dance, music. There are people who say they channel through their computers. There are conscious channelers who listen to and translate the voices they hear in their heads — a famous example of this might be Joan of Arc. One well-known Brazilian psychic channels paintings by the great masters, using both hands and feet simultaneously to create new Renoirs, van Goghs, Degas and Modiglianis by the hour. (It sounds too incredibly absurd, yet I saw some of these paintings, and while I am not an art expert, I instantly recognized the style of the original artists — an extraordinary skill, no matter where it’s coming from.)

But the most popular form of channeling, the kind that is starting to pull in the crowds, is vocal channeling, in which people go through sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic transformations, turning from housewives or former insurance salesmen into ancient Hindi warlords, Irish pickpockets, Chinese philosophers, extraterrestrial friends or, in what must be one of the most unusual spirit forms of all time, the collective consciousness of a group of dolphins.

Yes, people do take this phenomenon very seriously.

From "Break a Leg," by Carolyn Reuben; November 6, 1987

So you want to be a rock star. You want to exist for months on end in a constant state of jet lag; to sleep in a different bed each night; to wait for hours with nothing to do between concerts, unable to walk the streets or sightsee in a new town for fear of being torn apart by fans; to go through the equivalent of an advanced Jane Fonda workout for as many as three hours at a stretch, then to face four hotel walls and a television, your energy sky-high and no place to put it. And then when you hurt yourself during a concert on tour, what are you going to do — look in a phone book for a doctor at 2 a.m.?

Akal Singh Khalsa, a chiropractor and specialist in entertainment medicine, often answers that 2 a.m. call . . .

"Going Native," by Deborah Klinger; October 7, 1988

Over the last few years, various resources for exploring American Indian spirituality have sprung up around Los Angeles, somehow bypassing the New Age hype that seems to accompany so much metaphysical thinking these days. More and more Angelenos are getting spiritual by getting back to nature, much as the natives of this hemisphere did long before Columbus ever set foot here.

Only recently has this path — and especially the Quodoushka teachings, which focus on spiritual sexuality — been made available to the general public. Jim Berenholtz, a visionary artist who utilizes Native American prophecy in his work, says that his studies indicate that now is the time for the ancient ways to be reborn, so that all Americans can become "native" and learn to respect the Earth again. And according to Jan Reynolds, a healer who combines Native Ameri can philosophy with shamanic practices from other cultures, "Shamans all over the world are re ceiving information from their higher sources that Westerners are going to be responsible for healing the Earth and her people."

From "Body Count: Health in a dysfunctional time," by Michael Ventura; January 12, 1990

The statistics are overwhelming: We’re sick.

It’s not just that we have the most overweight population in the West, nor that we have the highest infant-mortality rate of any industrialized country in the world. It’s not that heart disease is the worst epidemic since the Plague, nor that one in three Americans will get cancer, nor that it’s been documented beyond quibbling that most of this pain could be prevented by more naturally grown food, fewer chemicals in the environment, less rat-racing and more exercise. It’s not even that our young people, in addition to being the most ignorant, are also the fattest, the wheeziest, the least physically active and the most neglected (13 million latchkey children under the age of 14) of any developed country on Earth. No, the sickest thing about us is:

That we hear these facts over and over again (the data are undeniable and have been broadcast for years), yet, as a people, we do nothing. And we tolerate elected representatives who do worse than nothing, who collaborate in causing these conditions. Their re-election coffers bulge with dollars contributed by the same corporations that, in effect, sell ill health in pretty packages.

So we’re not just sick — we’re crazy. Because it’s crazy to have had the information for years, and to have done next to nothing.

We’re so dazed we can’t seem to take in two congruent facts. One: The United States is the least healthy major industrialized nation. Two: The United States is the only major industrialized nation without nationalized health care. The American people, their government, insurance companies and the American Medical Association act as though these two facts have nothing to do with each other. Which is to say, the politicians are killing us because they don’t want to make waves; the insurance lobbies are killing us because nationalized health care would gut their power base; the doctors are killing us because they want to die rich; and we’re killing ourselves by letting these bastards get away with killing us.


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