I received a meditation catalog in the mail yesterday. Or, rather, a catalog advertising meditation products guaranteed to “unleash your health, wealth and power.” Feeling a little unhealthy, unwealthy and powerless lately, I thought I’d give it a gander.
The woman on the cover of the 16-page, full-color catalog looked blissful. She was a young blonde with creamy complexion, curly eyelashes, sensuous lips and a look of serenity on her face. The only thing that marred her gorgeousness was the chunky black headset strapped to her head and to which she clutched with one hand.
These were no ordinary headphones, according to the catalog. They were an integral part of a machine that would zap my stress and boost my brainpower. By simply listening to the 5 meditation programs installed on the headphones my fears and anxieties would disappear. I would feel renewed vitality and when plugged into the machine I would hear the soothing sounds of Tibetan bells and underground streams. These images seduced me into paging through the catalog to review its glossy interior.
And what an interior it was! Inside was a photo of a happy, middle-aged fellow describing his experiences with these meditation headphones. While listening to the programs, he said his “spine tingled with the force of 220 volts,” he started having a long conversation with a voice in his head and eventually experienced angels flying around inside his skull.
Good Lord! The trippiness of angels potentially banging around inside my head perplexed and kind of frightened me. I don’t like it when visitors show up unannounced at my house, so how would I deal with them in my brain? I’m not the neatest of housekeepers, either physically or brain-wise, so I’m not happy at the thought of angels being exposed to my messy tangle of neurons, synapses and half-baked dendrites. I was beginning to realize this new high tech meditation wasn’t at all like the “AH” and “OHM” chanting I was used to.
As I looked over the descriptions of the meditation programs included with these headphones, I was captivated by program number four, entitled, The Cetacean Mind Link. This meditation allows you to have the experience of linking your consciousness with that of a whale or dolphin. Sort of like swimming with them without getting wet.
This sounds vaguely like Mr. Spock’s Vulcan mind meld from Star Trek. I had no idea technology had advanced to the point that we can now lapse into deep meditation and communicate with whales and dolphins. I am skeptical about the advisability of this, however. Given how horribly we human beings have mucked up our oceans with pollution and overfishing, I’m not so sure I want to have a mind link with any of our ocean dwelling neighbors. With my luck, I’d meld with a cetacean from the BP oil spill region. Boy, wouldn’t I get an earful (er, mindful?). Between the angels already rattling around in there and these newly acquired whales and dolphins, it seems like it’s getting a bit crowded in my cranium.
However, it’s the fifth and final program in this evolving consciousness mind series that’s the real humdinger. It’s called (I kid you not) the “Near Death Experience.” By exposing certain areas of the brain to special harmonics and sound frequencies, this audio program purports to “give you the ultimate transcendental experience by taking your consciousness through the aural landscape of the 5 stages of near death simulation – and bring you back recharged, renewed and enlivened.”
Holy guacamole! Could this be true? Could I really plug into my headset and meditate my way to a near death experience? Less than two months ago I was holding my father’s hand in a local nursing home as he was having his very REAL death experience (nothing “near” about it). Given the physical and emotional discomfort he was undergoing, I can’t fathom why anyone would pay $99 plus shipping and handling to have a simulated one.
Still, I have read many stories of people who have had NDEs and claimed that the experience was comforting, enlightening and life affirming. The catalog appears to support these claims and certainly doesn’t seem to be saying that the pain of death would be included as part of this mind-blowing package. I mean, really, how many takers would they get if this were the case? No amount of fancy PR and marketing could get me to take the bait!
My curiosity got me to wondering about this whole scenario. Say I were to undergo one of these near death meditations. Would I float out of my body and encounter the white light everyone talks about? Would I be drawn to it like a moth to a flame? Could I sort of poke at it a bit, maybe slip my metaphysical hand through to the other side just long enough to get Dad’s attention? (I wouldn’t want my whole metaphysical body to go through. That would be creepy. Just enough of me so Dad would know it was me. My metaphysical hand should suffice.). Could I give him a high five, thumbs up and a quick pat on the back? Sort of like: “Hey Dad, it’s me, I’m OK, hope you’re OK. See you later, alligator!” And then zip lickety-split back into my non-ethereal, real-life body that I’m still quite attached to and still like quite a lot?
Hmmm, maybe? Maybe not.
As I peruse the rest of this catalog – which, by the way includes products for remote viewing, beating the stock market with 5 minutes of work each day and a $279 pendant that protects the wearer from the stresses of EMF radiation – I notice something shift inside me. The ground underneath my feet, which has been a bit spongy lately, seems to be a bit more solid. I can take a deep breath and don’t feel the need to hold it. Something silly, strange and wonderfully weird has distracted me for a few minutes and given me a brief respite. And then the thought flits across my mind: Maybe grief doesn’t last forever?
I love good old-fashioned American hucksterism and this meditation catalog definitely falls into the keeper category. It’s reassuring to know that with American ingenuity and some imaginative ad copy you can produce, buy and sell just about anything. Vulcan mind-meld with whales and dolphins? Check! Angels swirling around in your skull? Check! The 5 stages of the near death experience? Check, check, check!!!
I feel better already.