Since you’re affirming your life anyway …

In this month’s column in The Meta Arts online magazine, which may be found at, I wrote the following, which i think may be of value to many.

by Frank DeMarco

It’s funny. The workshop was about using energy work, but the most valuable thing I got out of it was a sudden realization of what I have been doing all my life, and shouldn’t be doing, and am not going to do any more. You might find yourself making the same resolution.

It was a weekend conference titled “Energy Works,” held in January at the headquarters of the Association for Research and Enlightenment, the Virginia Beach organization founded by psychic Edgar Cayce in the 1930s. The main speaker was my friend Robert Bruce, author of the classic work on astral projection, Astral Dynamics (as well as Energy Work, Practical Psychic Self-Defense, and, with Brian Mercer, Mastering Astral Projection).

Robert has been studying and practicing and teaching about energy work for a good long time now, and he has had enough experience as a public speaker on three continents that he is able to be his authentic relaxed self even while presenting the most esoteric information. A very personal and personable speaker, he uses stories and questions to good advantage as he covers the terrain.

Public speaking is always an interesting challenge, in that the speaker is faced with the task of making himself simultaneously understood by people who are at very different states of understanding. Beyond that, public speaking on esoteric topics requires the ability to put forth concepts clearly without oversimplifying them on the one hand or obscuring them with jargon or with elliptical references on the other hand. Robert is very good at doing this.

Of course, a conference on energy work that included only talk about the subject, rather than offering practical experience, would have little value for the participants. An ounce of first-hand experience is worth a ton of theory. And offering the means to first-hand experience is Robert’s very strongest suit.

I will never forget, when I was editing Astral Dynamics years ago, being nearly dumbstruck with admiration at the simplicity and effectiveness of the exercises that he described and, of course, I experimented with. Those exercises were designed to assist the reader to come into direct contact with his or her energy body, perhaps for the first time. They work.

(In fact, a comic note. I mentioned to him at supper on Saturday night how brilliant I thought one of those exercises was — and he could not remember having ever used it, let alone written about it! But I have used it over the years to introduce people to their energy body, and the only two people for whom it didn’t work were people who were determined that it could not work. More fool me, for trying to overcome prejudice with experience.)

As an example of one of the exercises through which Robert led us, he had us use one hand to brush the other hand from fingertips to wrist, back and forth, back and forth, and then had us cease to do the actual brushing, but remember and continue the sensation in the hand that had been brushed. In other words, he had us use the physical body as a link to the energetic body, and then once we were in touch with the energetic body, it became possible to directly manipulate it. Then he had us do the equivalent with the feet and, over the course of the weekend, through the entire body.

An interesting feature of his work, though, is that there is not much point in trying to get people to experience certain things until one clears the way enough mental shrubbery to allow them to tentatively believe that it may be possible. My words, not his, but I understood the logic and the necessity, having found myself in the same position occasionally. I used to say that Hampton Roads published books that gave people an excuse to believe what they already knew. That is, our society’s materialistic and reductionist beliefs have crippled us somewhat, in that many aspects of reality that are commonly experienced are nonetheless commonly denied because they are not quite “respectable.”

And speaking of not quite respectable, Robert describes himself as a mystic. Mystics seek oneness with God (or, in our squeamish society, oneness with Source or oneness with All That Is or oneness with whatever word allows people to avoid using the word God that makes them uneasy because it reminds them of an old bearded man sitting on a cloud, as though that had anything to do with spiritual or religious reality rather than with their own reaction against childhood training). He had a cute way of demonstrating his point of view. He said, point to God, and of course some of us pointed toward the ceiling for whatever reason — but then he said point to wherever God is not, and that made his point. God is everywhere.

Now, if you come to a workshop that claims to be about energy, and you hear the speaker talking about God, you may at first wonder if you have wandered into the wrong place. But it won’t take a lot of experience for you to realize that the concept of oneness is at the heart of all healing, psychic communication, nonphysical interplay, or indeed any other aspect of life beyond what seems to be merely physical. Note, I say “seems to be” merely physical.

This emphasis on oneness is not incidental. It is at the heart of magic, which in effect is what we are doing when we work at self transformation or healing through affirmation, intention — any direct energy work. And magic, after all, is at the heart of all religious ritual, whether or not understood as such by the congregation. Our society teaches us that magic is superstition, but on the other hand it also teaches us that religion is superstition, and that belief in anything other than mathematics is superstition. As John Anthony West says, our society could be termed the Church of Progress.

Well, if you are going to do magic, you had better learn how it works, how to do it, how to protect yourself from inadvertent side effects and from someone’s deliberate malice. Our society’s accepted beliefs — its “official” beliefs, so to speak — leave us all but helpless in the face of forces that are no less real even though society claims they do not exist.

Do you want to change your life? Do you want to heal whatever is broken within you? Do you want to continue to grow? Do you want to live your life more fully? Or is your paid-up membership in the Church of Progress more important to you? Your choice. It’s always your choice. And you can change your choice anytime you choose to.

The principles behind manifestation are not complicated. Robert demonstrated the art of verbalizing an intention — that is, creating affirmations — and extensively discussed various aspects of how this plays out in real life. In this discussion, he was largely guided by questions from the audience, which implies that his discussion is different every single time he gives his workshop. And that’s as it should be. That means he is right there in the moment, and the material arises from the moment.

Affirmations should be in the present tense, active, now! “I will regain my health” doesn’t work. “I am well, and in perfect health,” does. The former example tells the subconscious mind, in effect, “Sometime in the indefinite future I hope to be better.” The later says, “This is the pattern: Manifest it.” Again, my words, not his, but that’s the idea.

Discussing this with a friend afterwards, suddenly I realized: It works both ways! Negative affirmations affect our lives, too, and we’re uttering them all the time. No wonder our lives get so hard!

“I’m no good at that.” “Well, not with luck like mine…” “Everything I do backfires.” “I’ve never met a man I could trust.” “I’m not [smart/good-looking/popular/rich/lucky/diligent, etc.] enough.” Worse, “I’m just too [lazy/dumb/ignorant/sloppy/careless, etc].”

You get the idea. It’s just as well to restrain our egos, and self-deprecating humor has its charm. But it’s a short slippery slope to making negative affirmations about ourselves day in and day out. And we never even notice what we’re doing!

I’ve spent a lifetime polishing self-deprecating humor, but it ended with that workshop. I hope to keep the humor, but lose the self-deprecation. I can’t afford to go around making negative affirmations. And neither can you.

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