Message with a spiritual touch
It started as a normal massage with a practitioner I’d stumbled on while travelling. I had gently requested no music. I can’t tolerate the sound of weeping whales, Enya or Simon and Garfunkel’s El Condor Pasa on Peruvian pan flutes during treatments.
But she insisted on music. “It helps me to do my job,” she said. Fair enough, but can it please be on low? She agreed and I mounted the table face down. I had serious pain in my back, I explained. I wasn’t sure why — carrying the weight of the world, I guess. Recent issues had left me feeling like Sisyphus rolling a rock up hill. “Much sadness. Much exhaustion?” she asked in broken English. “Yes,” I said with a sigh.
The massage was fantastic. So much so I didn’t even notice the music in the beginning. But the chorus suddenly got me. “Jesus, show me the way.” I love gospel. I used to be in a gospel choir before my voice went raspy. I’m not a God-on-acloud person, preferring to believe in an unseen energy force akin to Eastern beliefs. I don’t care what name other people call divinity when I sing my thanks.
‘Heal this woman. Take away her pain. Make her well. Take the bad spirits from her body’ FAITH HEALER
My back was feeling better. But the songs were getting worse, a soppy compilation of country love songs to Jesus. Nevertheless, we were halfway through — and she was good. She had climbed on to my back, Thai style, and was pushing her knees into the really bad sore spots. It was an amazing relief.
But then she started praying on top of me. Whispering in what sounded like a charismatic Christian preacher giving their congregation the healing hand. “Lord, heal this woman. Take away her pain. Make her well. Take the bad spirits from her body.” She was rocking and praying as the music warbled on. Then she went quiet, got off my back, turned off the music and continued massaging my arms and legs for another 10 minutes as if nothing peculiar had happened.
Turns out I had stumbled on a well-known faith healer. It was par for the course for her to invoke the Lord and her spirit guides. She concluded that I had “a very bad energy” in my back. She felt it and had lifted the load. “Drink plenty of water,” she said casually as I fumbled for my keys. Rightio, then.
Faith healing is a tricky business. I recently met a credible woman who told me she had regained total movement after a bad skiing accident without surgery. Her partner said he’d been sceptical when he took her to a spiritual healer: “Me and another man carried her in on crutches. But she walked out on her own legs.”
A friend, Michelle Mahrer, recently made a documentary on Brazilian healer John of God, A Quest to Heal, Beyond the Physical, which was aired on ABC’s Compass. It explored some of the unexplained success stories of spiritual healing, with Western doctors concluding that placebo plays a significant part. We are more powerful than we know — and our own capacity to heal, if we believe we are being healed, is itself mystical and remarkable.
As for my health, whatever unseen magical force is within me or out there in the universe (maybe it was just those strong knees), I have thrown away my own crutches — painkillers. I feel great. A big “Amen” to that.
Placebo plays a significant part in healing