Debbie Ford, whose primary claim to fame is as a proponent of bringing forth our shadow self, that is, the parts of us that we don't want others to know about, came out just before 8:30am. I can be seen in the 2nd row of the picture below wearing my Buddhist-monk-wannabe orange long-sleeved shirt. Debbie is standing at the keyboard next to a redheaded musician.
There was an even smaller percentage of men in Ford's clinic than there was for the conference at-large. Nonetheless, I was quite interested in learning about the Dark (Shadow) Side. I wasn't as taken with her humor as others, but that's probably because her jokes favored a different sense of humor, the type that women typically get more out of.
One of her main points is that if we repress any part of ourselves, that aspect seeks to be expressed in some way. It's best, she said, to claim that part of yourself and to let it speak. Over the last 20 minutes, we did an exercise where we took a part of ourselves that we didn't like and told it that we loved it, that we understood why it did the things it did. I could hear tears being shed as the meditation continued.
The most cathartic was the ending when Ford told us to embrace the person next to us and say, "My love for you is unconditional". I melted into the young lady next to me and we held each other for at least 30 seconds. I didn't know that person, but I couldn't help but feel deep love for her. It was remarkable. Ford then told us to hug another, then still others. The room was healing before my very eyes and I could now see why so many felt that Ford was da bomb.
Afterward, I had her sign my copy of her first book, a book that I never finshed, but may complete now that I've seen what she's capable of. She asked what I thought of the exercise. I said, in a somewhat clinical tone, "It was very effective. Thank you".
The next big shot I was scheduled to see was Michael Traub, a guy who was said to be able to channel a spirit named O'Brien. I wanted, however, to see Michael Tamura again. He had given me so many laughs the day before that I wanted more. Walking to where people were letting him in, I saw that it wasn't just any old volunteer looking to see if the people coming in had Tamura's name on it. No, it was the lady in charge of the whole kit and kaboodle.
Not wanting to mess with her, I headed over to see the other Michael. I found a seat in the 3rd row and looked forward to seeing a real-life channeler. Traub described how he cultivated the ability to do this, to allow a spirit to take over and speak through him while he, Traub, was in, as he described it, some type of blissful netherworld.
We were warned that O'Brien had a very playful sense of humor which was more than fine with me. Traub said that people shouldn't ask him after it was over what he thought about the session as he would have no idea what they were talking about. When he opened his eyes, he said, it would be like if someone woke you up from a nap, but with dozens of people looking at you. The more he talked about the process, the more I wanted to experience O'Brien and let me tell you it was quite a treat.
At first, just a few hands went up, but when the audience realized that they might be able to get answers to spiritual questions they'd been having about their life and loved ones, more than half the room had their hands outstretched. I raised my hand not once the entire weekend. I had no questions at all. I was, as the kids like to say, "Good".
One thirty-something black man asked what he might do to have a more rewarding life. O'Brien said that he doesn't typically say this, but that the man would benefit most from a long-term relationship. A lady who came with her twin asked if they had been together in previous lifetimes. O'Brien said, "Yes", and that they would continue to do so, that having a twin was one of the closest relationships possible. An older lady was wondering if she'd ever find Mr. Right. O'Brien said, "Are you familiar with ----?" (the man who needed to get into a relationship pronto). Another asked if her family's business would be up and running by 2011. He said, "Yes, you will get the business off the ground before the world is destroyed" (alluding to the 2012 predictions). I laughed heartily at that one. He talked about going "on-line" as if he were only vaguely familiar with it, almost as if it were still a somewhat unknown thing in the spirit world.
Someone asked about a car accident and O'Brien said that sometimes "accidents" happen, that the person who died in the crash hadn't intended to. This was news to me as I'm of the belief that nothing happens without the soul's permission, if you will. Something happening that's not supposed to, would, in my mind, make it seem as if God had made a mistake, which I don't think is possible. But that's just me. I was all smiles as Traub came out of the trance to much applause. I was asked later if what Traub did appeared to be authentic. I said that it did.
After a light lunch, it was time for another 90 minutes with Neale. Again, he came out early to greet others. I was pleased that he had some stuff I hadn't heard before. He mentioned "The Secret", probably the biggest-selling "spiritual" book of the last few years. He felt that it relied too much on getting material things. It showed a guy manifesting a new car, a woman getting diamonds, and even a kid getting a shiny bike. I chuckled as he said these things as I'd had the same problem with the book. Neale asked where the wishes were for world peace, for loving everyone, for sharing with others as opposed to obtaining.
He concluded with three ways that the kingdom of God could be brought to the Earth: first, by looking into another's eyes for more than three seconds. Just then, I looked back at a woman for a few seconds. I didn't really do it the way Neale intended, though, as I also tilted my head a bit like Larry David does when he's looking into a person's eyes to see if they're lying to him. Guess I'll have to work on that. The second step is to smile at that person. "This is dangerous stuff", he said. Finally, if appropriate, touch that person. A simple touch on the shoulder can do wonders for the recipient, especially if they are having a rough day, or life, for that matter.
As he signed books a short time later, I asked if I could have a pic taken of he and me. His wife said, "Do you want the three of us or just the big guy?" I said the three of us would be great and so it was done.
As I waited in line, a short time later, for Deepak Chopra's keynote, I struck up a conversation with a young teacher. She said it was the first time she'd been at the event and was so glad that she came. The sweetness of the people I met over the weekend just cannot be overstated.
Deepak's speech would be the end of the road for most of the people there; only a few hundred would be staying for the post-conference workshops. I'd seen Chopra two summers before, but he brought some new stuff to the table.
In particular, he had a chart on what specific things made people happy. At one point, he asked, "What makes people more happy, shopping or sex?" I shouted out, "Chocolate". He also showed a twenty minute video of a brain scientist who had a stroke and was privy to what it's like to let go of the analytical mind while it was occuring. Her bliss was so great as her brain was hemorraging that she was tempted to not seek help. She said we can access this place of peace anytime and wrote a book about it called "My Stroke of Insight". Once his keynote ended, I had him sign a book of his called "The Way of the Wizard", a work that my mother had given me in 1995!
I headed back up to my room for a short time where I sought to relax before going out for a bite to eat. I looked out at the spectacular pre-sunset. Planes flew back and forth in the skies, Lombard being but a dozen or so miles from O'Hare airport. I felt a surge of bliss as I simply laid on my bed looking out from the fifth floor.
A half hour later, I set out for Popeye's. Having my first taste of it three days before, I wanted to experience it once more before leaving Illinois. I'm not sure if it was the food itself, the spiritual high I was on, or some combination of both, but that meal was one of the best I've ever had. I took at least 15 minutes to eat a breast, a wing, and a corn on the cob. I was in awe at just how good it all tasted, "Wow" being the word that was going through my mind most frequently.
I walked back into the hotel lobby a short time later and looked to see if anyone I knew was at the bar. On the way in, I noticed Neale sitting at a table in the hotel's restaurant with a number of other guests, having a jolly good time. I also noticed Michael Tamura and his wife near the entrance. You gotta love the accessibility that the conference offers. I was tempted to go up to Tamura and tell him how incredibly funny I found him, but felt an email would suffice.
I walked back toward the ballrooms to see where the following day's conference would be. While strolling there, I noticed a lady breast feeding her baby, but with her breast fully exposed. Not wanting to do a double take, I continued on my way. After reading some more of "Kick Me" while seated in the lobby, I headed up to bed for my last night of pleasure at Celebrate Your Life.