I’ve Gone All Woo-Woo On Myself

I’m supposed to be such a scientist. I mean okay, yes, a social scientist, not a physicist. But still. I know how to run a randomized controlled trial. I understand regression discontinuity design. I’m good at statistics. I read ethnographies and case studies and find interesting insights in them, but with skepticism of their ability to show causal relationships. I like empirical data and statistical controls. I like to look therapies up in research journals and then bring the results to my doctors to discuss them.


I’ve changed. Not that I think it’s bad to be a scientist. But over the past year or two, I’ve stepped outside the zone of the empirically testable and into the realm of metaphor and imagination. I’m surprised, still at how effective it’s been for me. And how deeply moving, at times.

My latest example comes from Friday’s session with C, the mind-body therapist I work with about twice a month. I haven’t written much about my work with her, in part because I don’t know what to say. And that’s in part because the work with her is not about words. It’s about body and breath and image and mind, but not the rationally thinking mind.

On Friday I told her that I’ve been trying to talk to E about sexuality and being present. I said I can accept that dissociating is not “bad” per se, but that I’d like to reach a point where I have the option of staying present. Also, I’m wondering whether my pelvis isn’t still tight and I don’t know, maybe even somewhat traumatized by last spring’s surgery.

Body work with C entails lying on the floor, wearing yoga-type clothes, on top of a wonderful warm mat. I breathe slowly and deeply while she presses on the inside of my hip bones, gradually going deeper until it almost hurts. Then she puts a hand flat over my lower abdomen and slides another under my low back. “Imagine, if it seems appropriate, a ball of healing golden light between my hands.”

And I do. I see and almost feel this warm light, moving in a golden sphere among my pelvic organs. I breathe into it and feel my muscles release a bit.

She goes on to use some Thai massage strategies to help me achieve deep stretches in my thighs and hips. My muscles release even more, and as my body relaxes, so does my spirit. And the golden light seems to have grown inside of me until it fills me up.

On the drive home, I think about all the times I have made fun of anything that I thought was “touchy feely.” Ha, just more evidence that the point of life is to continually expand your conception of what is possible.

May you all experience a golden ball of light in your pelvis–or anywhere else you might need it.



  1. Many scientists, engineers and highly logical people are spiritual. I myself, a philosopher by major, thought I could just think my way through things and discern truth. But while we may find the “what” of things we can’t know the why. Sure you can answer a few whys in a row to close in on the true nature of something, but ultimately you will, after several hundred, or thousand or more whys come to the absolute why. Why is there a warm light when you cast the world aside for a few minutes, let go and breath? What is this breath and why is it so sustaining beyond the physical properties? To cut to the chase, you are drawing toward your maker that gave you life. I came to realize this quite late; that all the logic in the world cannot answer why we are here and our purpose.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your willingness to embrace the woo woo-ness of it all. Whatever brings you hope and comfort and healing, right? I’m a pretty cerebral person and one of my friends once mentioned that you can’t reason yourself out of depression… I think she is right otherwise we wouldn’t need therapy and it’s woo woo. šŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Same – I thought meditation was pretty much just hippies in hemp shirts who were kidding themselves and I didn’t even believe the research. Right up until I found it had actual effects on me (both positive and negative). Now I’m a little more open to alternative treatments, accepting that I (or the practitioner) may not really understand the mechanism of action. But if it works, it works. I’m very glad this is helping you.


  4. This definitely resonates. So there’s me – a retired software engineer passing through Thailand on the way to Oz to see family and a Thai friend of a friend takes me for a massage. And this guy with whom I have about ten words of shared vocabulary throws me around a mat for two hours and completely transforms me. So I go back a couple of years later to study myself, just out of curiosity, and I find that dishing it out is even more transformative than receiving. That wasn’t supposed to happen either.


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