The purpose of this blog is purely educational. It does not advise any reader to forgo medical treatment for any condition. It describes methods that have not yet been proven effective through widespread scientific testing. Readers who are concerned about their health are advised to contact their physician.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Teaching bioenergy healing and chasing the American Dream

So let's say you have discovered you are a healer and that you have a method to teach. How do you now go on to disseminate it?

If you are altruistic and not overly ambitious, you can teach a number of people to do it, and a number of people to teach it, and let them loose. This would be the "trickle down" model, where the originator teaches the method to several people, who then go on to teach several others, and so on and so forth. You, the original teacher, would not benefit financially from the teaching done by the others; you also don't get to control how your method is disseminated.

If you want to make some money and exercise a certain level of control, you can use the "pyramid" model, where the originator teaches several others, whom he then authorizes to teach, who then also teach and authorize others, and so on and so forth. Here there is an effort at creating a central authority and a portion of each teacher's income is funnelled back to you, the originator. This guarantees a certain level of income, especially if the method is widely taught.

If you wanted to make lots of money, you would go for the "American mass-market self-help seminar" model, where the originator teaches ever larger groups with the aid of authorized helpers, until the groups get so big as to be unmanageable, at which point a number of the helpers split off and start teaching their own authorized or unauthorized versions. With this model most of the income goes back to the originator, who then gets to buy expensive sports cars and real estate and then chiefly uses his talent to live the American dream.

The problem with all three models is that teaching gets more and more diluted the farther away it gets from the original teacher and the larger the group is that is being taught. (It could be argued that this may be true of all healing models -- after all, Jesus taught the apostles how to heal, and what happened after that? You hear of very little healing going on in the Bible after Jesus, and successful "laying on of hands" did not seem to pass down through the generations of Christians that followed.)

With the current systems, Reiki follows the "trickle down" model, Quantum Touch the "pyramid" model, and Matrix Energetics and Reconnective Healing the "self-help seminar" model. All four produce practitioners of varying qualities.

Bill likes to say that healing talent, like musical talent, is distributed unevenly in the population. Some people are Mozarts, others are like the tone deaf kid down the block playing Chopsticks on the piano, and most people fall somewhere in between. If you teach enough people, the reasoning goes, you will get a few Mozarts. So the trick is to go for volume. And of course volume benefits the teacher, especially with the "self-help seminar" model. If you do a few weekend workshops with 300 people each at $325 a pop, that can translate into some serious money. You can tell yourself that everyone will get something for their money, and it's really not your responsibility to make sure that they really get the method, as there are too many of them. That's what your helpers are for. Your helpers get to attend the workshop for free, so you don't have to pay them anything, but you also don't really know how good they are. A number of people will walk away satisfied and a number of people will feel stymied and confused, but then that's the way most things are. The truly important thing, this being America, is to entertain them, and to give them something to take home. And you are doing good, because you are after all teaching them something that could awaken those potential Mozarts -- however few of them there may be.

Most of the systems produce books (and now DVDs) to promote the teachings. There are many Reiki books out there, most of which say "this can't be learned from a book, go find a reputable teacher in your area". Quantum Touch has a book that says it teaches the method, which is indeed very easy to follow, and claims that a number of people have learned the method from the book alone. Books from teachers who follow the "mass-market self-help seminar" model focus on how the teacher found the method. They also claim that some people have learned the healing technique, pretty much by osmosis, just by reading the book. The purpose of most of these books is to put the teacher's name out there, to get the bodies into the workshops. (Of course the sale of books and DVDs also generates a certain income.)

What's wrong with this picture? Lack of accountability, that's what. When you go to your local MD and see his or her diploma from X University, you know that your doctor has gone through a rigorous program of instruction and testing that guarantees a certain minimum level of competence. Your basic energy healer's certificate guarantees no such thing. Mostly it guarantees that he or she was a warm body at a workshop for which he or she paid a certain amount of money. This is why it's so hard to get any respect as an energy healer, unless you are known for producing results.

Quantum Touch and Matrix try to get around this by requiring practitioners to attend a minimum number of workshops and put in a minimum number of hours of practice. But the practice is unsupervised, the hours self-reported, and there is an assumption made that a minimum number of workshops attended will guarantee competence. There is no testing of candidates.

After the first Bengston workshop we held, someone asked me if they could now add the certification to their list of modalities. That made me think. Here we were teaching a method that purportedly cured cancer. The people who came to the workshop, which at that point was only 1 day long, had had at best a few hours of instruction in a method that Bill had been practicing for 35 years. They would now go out there and claim that they "did" the Bengston method, people with cancer would come to them for healing, and how could I even begin to guarantee that they could actually do anything? The conclusion I came to is that no one should be certified as a practitioner in the method, let alone as a teacher, without producing at least one documented cancer cure.

There is, by the way, another teaching model. It's the model practiced by actual schools, where there are multiple teaching levels, extensive supervision, and testing and mentorship programs. If we are going to take energy healing seriously, that's where we should be headed.

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