Archive for June, 2010

ABC News takes a critical view of the self-help think-yourself-healthy industry….check this out!

Remember this famous quote?

Morpheus from the Matrix: You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

What “The Secret” gurus, the so-called self-proclaimed “Law of Attraction” experts have been selling you is actually a blue pill that they’ve dipped in red dye. Sometimes that red dye may be some of that stuff left over from Easter; other times it may be actual human blood. Metaphorically speaking. Yes, life can get that complicated.

You go to their seminars. You-the-container who is hungry for the wealth that has so-far eluded you in life, choke down these gigantic (blue) pills (painted/tainted with a brilliant red). “I won the lottery in life. It happened to the untrained me, it can happen to you.” Somehow you miss the small print: “Results not typical.” And, “My big money maker is actually selling this junk/jism to you.”

You wake up in your bed. And you believe whatever you want to believe. Like, say, that you can become rich through the mere act of thinking. Like, say, that you create the universe and thus you can shape it entirely to your liking. Like, say, that abundance exists entirely for your ego (the part of you that wants to acquire things).

The red pill is actual quite different. First, it’s free. Second, it’s quite small.

The real Law of Attraction works like this: when you become open to a possibility, you start to see the existence of that possibility around you. But (and here’s the key) to see that possibility, that possibility has to first exist in the universe beyond “you.”

I had a roommate, Karen, who once bought a new car. It came in a new selection of colours, a metalic bronze. She’d never seen it around before and wanted to assert her uniqueness to the world. Funny thing happened though. After Karen bought this car she started to notice that this car colour was already out there. There were a few. Quite a few actually. She felt as if she literally couldn’t turn the corner without seeing her car colour reflected in another car.

Same thing happened to me when I got pregnant. Suddenly, there was an abundance of people out there on the streets (women actually) who were as big-bellied as me. So many that I actually wanted to start doing the “motorcycle wave” (like waves to like) to the others in the street.

Same thing happens to drivers of Volkswagen vans. Parents of twins. Job seekers with University degrees. Name your category.

The peddlers of the blue-pill-painted-red would have you believe that that you have created these entities. And likewise, you can create money. Just stick a million dollar bill in your wallet, and “feel the joy” at least twice a day. Do a vision board. It will come to pass. You can create your universe.

Wrong.

In noticing, you can become aware of what is, what has always been.

Accept for a moment this: Each of us is essentially invisible. We can only become visible when something causes us to be noticed. Pretend for a moment you are a traffic cop stationed on your local highway. A million cars pass you by every day. You “see” them in that they are right there before your eyes. But you don’t really notice them. Thus, they become invisible. What you do notice is the occasional speeder or the occasional person not wearing a seat belt or the occasional person talking on their hand-held cell.

In other words, you notice what it is you are looking for.

So, you can set your sights (continuing with the traffic cop metaphor) on cars with babies in the back seats, or cars pulling trailers, or cars with bicycle racks. And then suddenly you will notice them, those that have previously invisible while you were attuned only  law-breakers. And you will notice them not because you have created them but because they actually exist out there on the road. They were there before you noticed them, and they will continue to be there after your shift is over.

But, dammit, you can’t start suddenly seeing trains on that same stretch of highway. I don’t care how much you “feel it,” how many such trains you’ve slapped on a vision board, or how many trains pictures you carry with you in your wallet. If they ain’t there, hun, you’re not going to see it or receive it. Believe THAT, baby.


The origins of this blog entry are a springboard from another excellent blog article from RoosterMoon. Thank you, Michel Fortin, for the example of the vehicle purchase and your excellent blog article!

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“At 10 p.m. (Eastern) next Tuesday, June 29, ABC 20/20 will air an hour-long special devoted entirely to James Arthur Ray, magical thinking, and the oft-overlooked dangers of the New Age.” See Steve’s Shamblog for more information, and tune in (on all levels, folks!).

I’m really interested in this piece. I’m of the mind that JAR is taking the fall for the entire industry. He is not the only one to do the firewalks, board breaking, walking into the arrow, etc. What happened at the JAR event could have happened to each of them. And you can bet that they are all stepping away from the edge of the cliff that they’ve ALL been sending their followers to. I sure hope they are sending him condolence cards, and thank you cards as well. Although I doubt it. It’s an industry where the duplication of information and techniques is rampant, yet never acknowledged, referenced, or cross-referenced.  It seems important that the student believe the guru is self-made.

Funny that, following the directions, the teachings of an uneducated teacher. By which I mean a self-taught, directionless teacher. Who is actually a plagiarist, not a messiah.

23
Jun

Wrongful Death

   Posted by: Britt    in On James Arthur Ray

For those of you following the James Arthur Ray sweatlodge incident, here’s a link to a blog posting by the Dolan Law Office in Chicago. Having said that, I’m not too sure if the Dolan Office is actually representing any plaintiffs or if they are just posting out of a desire to communicate. The Dolan Law Office does dabble in wrongful death suits.

Feel free to comment.

13
Jun

A One-Hour Exclusive on Dateline

   Posted by: Britt    in On James Arthur Ray

On Saturday, June 12 2010, Dateline broadcast a one-hour special on the “Deadly Retreat” hosted by James Arther Ray at Sedona in 2009. It’s worth watching.

Deadly Retreat – Dateline

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2
Jun

The Two Types of Cults

   Posted by: Britt    in My Story, On Wealth Seminars

I just finished reading a fictional novel by Kathy Reichs, called Death du Jour. It’s a really well written mystery novel based on a character is a forensic Anthropologist Temperance Brennan, who divides her time between Montreal, Quebec, and Charlotte, North Carolina. (K. Reichs is also a forensic anthropologist, PhD, who divides her time between Montreal and Charlotte.)

As riveting as the novel was, what struck me the most were the definitions.

I’ll let the fictional Red Skyler explain:

Cults are not just a group of crazies who follow weird leaders.  … [T]hey are organized with a set of common features.

… A cult forms around a charismatic individual who promises something. This individual professes some special knowledge. Sometimes the claim is access to ancient secrets … sometimes it’s an entirely new discovery to which he or she alone is privy.

… In a cult, it’s this charismatic leader who eventually becomes the object of devotion.

… And often there is a double set of ethics. Members are urged to be honest and loving to each other but to deceive and shun outsiders

… Cult leaders use a variety of psychological processes to manipulate their members. Some leaders are fairly benign, but others are not and really exploit the idealism of their followers.

… The way I see it, there are two broad types of cults, both of which use though reform. The commercially packaged “awareness training programs … user very intense persuasion techniques. These groups keep members by getting them to buy more and more courses.

Then there are the cults that recruit follower for life. … They are manipulative, deceptive and highly exploitative”[1]

A little later on in the book, Tempe runs into Sam again, and they continue the conversation, focusing on the former.

“Unlike the cults we discussed [for-life recruiters], these programs don’t intent to keep people forever. They exploit participants as long as they are willing to buy more courses. And bring in others. … The coercive influence that these so-called self-improvement programs exert is amazing. It’s the same old thing, behavioural control through thought reform.

… It’s known as large group awareness training.

… They’re packaged to sound like seminars, or college courses, but the sessions are scripted to get participants emotionally and psychologically aroused.

… Most programs last four or five days. The first day is devoted to establishing the leader’s authority. Lots of humiliation and verbal abuse. The next day pounds in the new philosophy. The trainer convinces participants their lives are crap and that the only way out is to accept the new way of thinking.

… Day three is typically filled with exercises. Trance inducement. Memory regression. Guided imagery. The trainer gets everyone to dredge up disappointments, rejections, bad memories. … Then the following day there’s a lot of warm fuzzy group sharing…. The last day is fun and happy, with lots of hugs and dancing and music and games. And the hard sell.

… You take the course, then you’re told that you’ve performed so well you’ve been singled out to go to a higher level, or meet the guru, or whatever.[2]”

When asked who falls for these things, “Red” replies that it’s those dealing with depression and “broken affiliations,” those in transition who are lonely and confused.

Have you noticed that we are in the midst of an economic meltdown? That an incredibly massive number of people are in transition, broken, who are feeling they have lost everything? Is it any wonder that we are chomping at the bit to the incredible promises made by these slick snake-oil salesmen?

[Ironically, in my email today was a note from Robert G. Allen telling the tale of Matt Morris, who only 12 years ago (he must’ve been nine at the time) was broke and desperate and living out of the back of his “red beat-down honda civic” — it’s those personalized details that clinch it! Anyway, in the email, my “good friend” Robert was saying that he discovered 7 closely-guarded online money making secrets (yeah, right, sent by mass mail to thousands NAY tens-of-thousands of us) and he’ll give it to us free in return for a name and email address. I registered (with a junk email I use for these very fine special occasions) only to get the message that he’s already over capacity but will contact me for the next series of freebies. HEY, wait a minute here! My good friend Robert just sent me this email… What’s up dude?]

The common pain is an economic one. Which is why it’s so goddamn easy for the likes of Jack Canfield, T. Harv Eker, James Arthur Ray, Robert Allan, Anthony Robbins, Bob Proctor, and Robert Kiyosaki (to name just a few) flourish in these times[3]. Have you ever noticed that their messages are exactly the same? Have you noticed that no-one references the others, and seem to imply that they have by whatever god-given decree stumbled upon this notion? That when one (James Arthur Ray) gets cooked up for a legal dinner the others don’t rally around their fallen star to help him back on his feet? That their berth is extremely wide from each other, even though they sing each others songs … ALL THE TIME[4]?

It’s getting really bad. At least in my world. Many of the people I know have dabbled in these courses. One I know has done exceedingly well. The others have all dribbled, then dropped.

Even worse, copy-cat courses are springing up all over. It’s what I fell victim to. It’s how come I, at 45 years of age, have to start all over again.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I don’t know what the answer is. I’ve never believed that the government is there to protect us. It’s there to collect taxes and run the world’s biggest corporations (aka countries). I don’t think that regulation is the answer. Education is where I’m putting my efforts.

Listen up folks, and do the math. The guru-led self-help industry is generating billions (yes, that’s BILLIONS) of dollars of revenues every year. Since they offer up the path to wealth, the stats say that in turn there should be at least millions (yes, I mean MILLIONS) of new millionaires created each and every month. Instead, we hear of the smattering of success stories. An oasis the size of a child’s bucket in a desert as big as North America.

Whether it’s a famous charismatic guru listed earlier in this blog or some copy-cat or some poor old schmuck who is genuinely trying to impart is misguided knowledge, know the signs.

And hold on tight to your wallet.

Oh, and thanks for asking … Kathy Reichs’ book was incredible! A writer who is both knowledgeable and articulate. She knows how to write a great mystery novel. Highly recommended. Nothing was given away in this little rant, don’t worry!


[1] Kathleen J. Reichs. Death du Jour. New York:  Scribner, 1999. p. 253-254.

[2] ibid, p. 310-312.

[3] Anthony Robbins released his first book, Unlimited Power in 1987;  On Black Monday of October 1987 a stock collapse of unprecedented size lopped 22.6 percent off the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The world mourned, and a guru kindly stepped up to the plate.

[4] Just a brief disclaimer here. I think that there is valuable information offered by each of the gurus mentioned here. Robbins has is “four classes of experience” (a handy word doc download available here) which I find extremely useful to personal growth; Ray has an excellent handle on marketing techniques (which all belong to Robert Cialdini by the way). But I don’t think that any guru has a singular claim on the whole truth (as throughout the times, it is up to the reader to sift through the claims to get at their individual truth), and I don’t think that it’s worth two to twenty (to infinity and beyond) thousand dollars to access the information. Nor should you need to walk on fire or walk into an arrow tip or suffer in a desert or a sweat lodge to get there.

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Here is an excerpt from the chapter, “The (f)Law of Attraction” in my soon-to-be-released book, The Three Strategies of the Unstoppable Woman. Let me know what you think!

When I watched the movie, The Secret, my fear of flying was renewed. Because, after all, as the Law of Attraction clearly states, what you think about is what you attract into your life.

Shortly after seeing this movie, and having been deeply impacted by it, I started becoming more and more aware of my thoughts. Awareness that you are even having thoughts is a good thing! The average person thinks at the “astonishing rate of up to 400 words per minute.”[1] The more you are aware of the inane chatter in your head, the more you can distance yourself from it and realize that you are not your thoughts.

But the Law of Attraction has you thinking that you are your thoughts. So there I was, with a heightened awareness that I was my thoughts. My thoughts did not like it when my body flew in a plane. I had just come back from a personal vacation on a cruise ship, and the only way to return home as quickly as I wanted or needed was to fly.

On this particular day, I was flying home from San Diego to Victoria. The last section of the flight from Seattle to Victoria was particularly rough. The turbulence literally bounced us into the air a few times. “Empowered” with this new knowledge that I am my thoughts, and that all I have to do is to control my thoughts a little better, I found myself entering a panicked frenzy with the following train of thought:

    If I think it, it will come to pass.
    Crap. Was that turbulence? Uh oh. It’s not stopping. I think this plane will crash.
    Damn! I can’t think that, cause then the plane will crash.
    Stop thinking the plane will crash. Stop thinking the plane will crash. Stop thinking the plane will crash.
    I can’t stop thinking that the plane will crash.
    What if others are thinking that this plane will crash?
    Oh my GOD, how many such thoughts are there on the flight today?
    Surely this plane will crash. Why is that man praying? What does he know that I don’t? Does he have an inside scoop?
    Damn! I can’t think that because then the plane will crash.
    Stop thinking the plane will crash….

and on and on the insanity went.

By this time, I had broken into a damp cold sweat. My heart was pounding, and I felt like it would burst out of my mouth any minute now. And if I kept my mouth shut, it would pop out through my eyes. I had almost stopped breathing. I really felt like I was going to die. It was by far the worst panic attack I have ever experienced. And I don’t normally experience panic attacks.

Then, I had an epiphany.

“Wait a doggone minute here,” I scolded myself, “it matters not what I think, but what the G—D pilot thinks! I’m not in a position to bring this plane down. He is.”

And almost instantaneously, I calmed down. (And, no, the turbulence didn’t stop.)

I had this realization, then and there, that you needed to be in a position where you could actively impact the event in order for the event to be realized.

As The Serenity Prayer[2] says:

    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change
    courage to change the things I can
    and wisdom to know the difference.

The first fatal flaw of the Law of Attraction (LOA) is that it is not a law.


[1] Robert Gerzon. Finding Serenity in the Age of Anxiety. New York:  Bantam Books, 1998. p. 108.

[2] Most commonly attributed to the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.

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