A Week-long Experiment, Day 1: In Which Reservations Are Expressed

Albert Feline-stein

Before I can accept that someone is perfectly OK suggesting something out of the ordinary to me, I take a rational step back and figure out whether this is:
a) worth my time
b) detrimental to myself or to anyone
c) going to make me look like an idiot
d) defy any kind of sound, double-blind-tested logic.

With that said, my new roommate, who is wonderful, introduced me to a book she says was a good read. And by introduce me to, I mean she read me a few paragraphs while I was unpacking to take over her study. It was determined/suggested by this book that my sinus problems were not caused by weather pressure changes, possible new allergens or idiots on the train who can’t cover their damn mouths while sneezing, but rather, an aversion to someone close to me. Sinus problems that…followed me across the Atlantic and have plagued me since childhood, but…whatever.

Other medical insights included the real causes for back pain, tooth abscesses and stomach problems, which included a variety of negative thoughts, money worries and some sort of low-self-esteem issue. As a trained medical scientist, I found the absence of the mention of things like “bacteria”; “viruses”; “pro-biotics”; “hand soap”; “BMI” and “allergens” somewhat alarming.

Usually I dismiss this kind of crackpot, New-Age fluff, but I was willing to give it a go, mainly out of nerdy, scientist-esque curiosity, but mostly out of respect for my friend as it seemed to be working for her. But to soften the blow of doing something for which I’d later make of myself, I questioned the author’s credentials, thinking that she was probably some trust-fund baby who grew up on a massive farm in Connecticut and roomed with Martha Stewart in college. My roommate said that, no, she’d suffered abuse, had cancer, and had pulled through it. OK, then – that was good enough for me to take the book seriously, I guess.

The first thing I was advised to do was to repeat a mind-numbing chant positive affirmation about how love is everywhere and how I am 100% able to love and be loved. The face I accidentally made (cynic reflex) after she first recited it to me made her both burst out laughing and recoil in horror.

Her: Repeat after me: Love is everywhere and I am fully-loved and fully-loveable.
Me: No it’s not.
Her: But if you say that, then there will be no love.
Me: You mean not in this house? OK – I’ll be like a vampire, sucking out all the love. Bwahaha. I took your love away! (pause) Wait. That means I have it now. Damn it!
Her: HAHAHA!!!
Me: (faux-angrily) No!! You tricked me into feeling love!!

She’s a sneaky one, that roommate of mine.

So the idea was that I would recite this affirmation, in my head, on the way to/from the train station every day, for a week, and to see if it works. This was mainly to help me through a post-argument-with-the-moron-husband stress-out as opposed to anything particularly earth-shattering.

She suggested that I try it on my way to the cinema. It didn’t matter that I was on my way to see the 11pm showing of The Nightmare Before Christmas; the affirmation would not run and hide in a corner somewhere. You can still be floating on a cloud of bliss while watching a stop-motion-animated child show his parents that he got a severed head from Santa, but remember that serial killers probably float on that same cloud, too.

On my way out, I started to think it in my head but then realized I had started it after I left the house. Was I supposed to start it while I was still on the property, so that I can carry over some leftover love that my roommate was cultivating? So I went back and started saying it from the moment I stepped out onto the street. But was that early enough? Did I have to say it before I took a step or before I shut the gate? What happens if I say it wrong a few times – do I have to make it up? What about tempo and speed? Did they have to match my gait? I didn’t know the rules!!

Concentrating so hard on this ensured that, through the power of positive thinking, many car drivers, scooter riders and small dogs failed to plow mercilessly into me as I was blissfully unaware of the fact that I may have been in their oncoming path.

That was Day -1, and yesterday (Day 0), I completely forgot to do it, on account of being hungry, stranded and being obliged to miss a tree-decorating party I had been looking forward to (while being hungry and stranded). The practice days being over, I made up for the fact that I forgot yet again this morning by saying it a few times in my head earlier.

My roommate had read the author’s background as given in the book/blurb, so I decided to actually look her up and…I am somewhat appalled.

She claims to have beat cancer through positive affirmations, nutritional therapy and reflexology, but states that there is no doctor left alive who can confirm that a) she beat cancer this way and b) that she had cancer in the first place. How…convenient. I.e., she’s completely full of shit.

Worse still, is that she claims that her reaction to her rape and abuse as a child is what caused her to develop cervical cancer in the first place. Yes, that’s exactly how cancer cells work.

It boggles my mind to see that there is such dangerous information being spread by people like this about serious medical conditions. Cancer cannot simply be cured by thinking nice things. It helps to have a positive outlook, but this kind of sugar-coating, book-shilling tripe is extremely insulting to anyone who has ever been affected by a disease as serious as this. I dread to think of what this author’s views are on things like vaccinations or gay people.

There is something to be said for stress/depression and their physical effects on the body/effects on recovery, but this has been covered by actual medical practitioners in the past, so none of this is groundbreaking information. It’s also just common sense.

Thinking “I’m not going to get this job” before a job interview is obviously a bad idea, but you might not also get that job because you’re a) underqualified b) overqualified c) have a lack of relevant education d) made fart noises during the interview e) showed up to the wrong interview f) someone else just happened to get the job instead, because that’s how life goes.

Thinking happy thoughts is like the side dish to actual, practical solutions and problem-solving; it’s not supposed to be a complete replacement. This author is like an adorable grandma with a head injury telling Albert Einstein it would be nice to write his theory of relativity on bacon-scented calligraphy paper. Having a pretty book to tell you nice things to say to yourself is a nice idea, much like a perma-magazine or a notepad with the pages already filled in with cute doodles, but the fact that this woman has made so much money from basically saying…nothing is astounding.

As for the positive affirmations and all-natural, anti-medical science (I guess you have to be one or the other) sentiments – where were these when this loony bint got her botched face-lift? Or this is the look of shock on her own face when she sees how many trees she’s managed to needlessly murder for every copy of that glorified doorstop?

Against every instinct in my rational mind and body, I will still carry out this experiment over the next week, and completely ignore any minor snags in logic I might find. If I just focus on the simpler parts of the exercises, and keep a genuinely open mind, I can figure out either how this can go wrong/is flawed, or extract some modicum of usefulness for the practical, realistic, tangible solutions that everyday life requires.

A certain amount of scepticism/cynicism is healthy, but blindly believing that simply thinking about money will give me money is not going to work unless I am reciting the affirmation in my head in the dole queue.


2 thoughts on “A Week-long Experiment, Day 1: In Which Reservations Are Expressed

  1. Firstly I have to say “This author is like an adorable grandma with a head injury telling Albert Einstein it would be nice to write his theory of relativity on bacon-scented calligraphy paper,” is one of the best sentences ever written.

    Secondly, this book is yet another copy of a copy of an echo of ancient mystical concepts. Like words in a game of telephone, ideas get distorted the more people they filter through. Someone like her is good for beginners, but as a scientist I would encourage you to go directly to the source where you’ll find something less derivative and narrow down the variables. Ei the Greek Magical Papyri, the Hindi Upanishads, the Egyptian Pyramid and Coffin texts, and, most importantly, Dyhana (Zen) Buddhism. Also, Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

  2. yes all that stuff @ the end is well n fine. have to correct the part which says “most importantly…etc…” “Dihana” is a village in the Punjab. Pretty sure the author meant to say Dyana/Dhyan…which means ‘meditation’ in sanskrit, which is the second to last step in the classical system of Yoga after dharana and before samadhi. It is this system which the famously remembered buddha practiced in order to reach his accomplishments…after which his teachings were collected, interpreted & variously systematized to become “buddhism”. It has nothing to do with Zen other than we are all human, can undergo the same physiological and energetic modes of being, and ontologically Zen encompasses some of those modes.

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