My son is suffering from earworms. Not that I mean to imply that he is the victim of some aural parasite, simply that the most bizarre and unlikely of songs have been taking up residence in his consciousness this week and refusing to leave him in peace. The sheer randomness of the music he is playing in the jukebox of his mind is staggering and has been cause for much merriment.
For the past month or so, my son has had no bathroom. As he still has neither floor nor door, he is obliged to ablute chez moi. This state of affairs seems set to continue for a while, but the routine to-ing and fro-ing between his home and my bathroom is usually enlivened by conversation along some weird and wonderful lines. Driving him home the other day, he admitted to the latest earworm… a popular song from his childhood by the Spice Girls. As if that was not bad enough, he then informed me that he had changed the words…
“If you wanna be my mother…” he sang. I knew the tune and, as earworms go, this was a bad one. It would also be contagious. I sighed. The damned thing was going to get stuck in my head now too. I missed the next line, but caught, “…making lunch forever…”
“Slavery never ends…” I chimed in. He laughed so much there was no getting any sense from him for a minute or two.
“How did you know?” he spluttered eventually. “Those are the exact words I chose…” I shrugged. This kind of thing is a daily occurrence.
“Be afraid…be very afraid…” we said in perfect unison.
“How do you do that?” My sons have never grown used to my apparent ability to read their minds, often at the most inconvenient moments. The plaintive note in his voice spoke volumes.
How do I do that? The same way as most mothers do… we know our children. Subtle signals, facial expressions, body language, experience and a shared history…and just being ‘on the same wavelength’… can give the impression of uncanny ability. There is no supernatural talent involved, just that ‘sixth sense’ that parents develop in self defence and for the preservation of their young.
That there are ways in which we can communicate wordlessly goes without saying. Look into a lover’s eyes and no words are needed. Emotions are writ large on the faces of the angry, happy or sad and we do not need to know the cause to be able to read the result. Add a little awareness and a dash of empathy and most of us can read a good deal simply by looking at another person.
We can feel atmospheres change too, when someone in the throes of strong emotion walks into a room. This can probably be explained simply through the extended use of our physical senses, particularly the unconscious ability to pick up and read subtle scents, such as pheromones or hear the difference in a person’s movement and breathing. Even a footstep sounds different depending upon the emotion that is in the forefront of consciousness.
We have constant access to subliminal clues and cues that we have, over the course of both human evolution and our own lifetimes, learned how to interpret and which may form part of the armoury of self-preservation. These are the talents and techniques that are used and elaborated upon by stage magicians, mentalists, scam artists and psychologists alike. A natural gift for picking up such signals can give a person the appearance of being able to read your mind.
But does that gift mean that there are no such things as telepathy, psychic ability and thought transference? Just because most things can be explained by physical phenomena that science can accept, measure and replicate, does not mean that there are not ‘more things in heaven and earth’ than we have yet understood. If such things do exist, then the laboratory is probably the worst place to test them. Many people have had experiences of knowing something they could not know, whether it is how to navigate around an unfamiliar city, the incontrovertible knowledge that someone has died or is in trouble, or something as simple as an ‘I was just thinking about you…’ when the phone rings.
A good many years ago, I took part in some experiments with a friend who was both a scientist and a confirmed sceptic. His students had been asking questions and he had no first-hand knowledge upon which to base his answers, so he decided to investigate and asked me to help. Oddly enough, I too am a sceptic by nature and will only accept what I can prove for myself. Scepticism is good… as long as it keeps an open mind and does not believe its own disbelief to be the defining factor of what is possible. In the Silent Eye, we suggest that students retain a healthy scepticism, believing only what they can, in some manner, experience for themselves. Scientific and empiric proof are not always the same thing. When you are convinced of something by personal experience, you do not need the kind of proof you can put in a glass case on display and such confirmation is unique for each of us.
My friend and I conducted a number of controlled experiments with telepathy, choosing a quiet time when, miles apart, we could both turn our minds to the moment and write up any impressions. We ‘sent’ images of random, unrelated objects and symbols of which the other had no prior knowledge and the results were convincing. Although we only had one instance where we ‘received’ the exact image, we were both picking up the essence of the images and the meaning of the symbols and finding that they related very closely to the thoughts we had in those moments and the actions we took immediately afterwards.
Not as clear-cut as the Hollywood version of telepathy, perhaps, but it could well explain how people ‘pick up’ random thoughts or become aware of events from a distance, or how our thoughts might influence others for good or ill. We probably do it all the time, but only notice when we get a stark confirmation, such as news of a death, or when we deliberately ‘tune in’ to someone, as my friend and I had done.
The practical and personal application is pretty obvious: if we can affect others through the power of thought, then we can equally use it to effect change in ourselves, and perhaps that is one of the prime purposes of such a gift. The levels of our own being operate independently, yet ‘meet in the middle’ to allow us to be who we are, influenced by both our subconscious reactions and the qualities of our higher selves. The mind is the ‘telephone exchange’ where communication between the levels takes place, and what thoughts we allow to enter there will, of necessity, affect the whole.
It may, as the old tales suggest, once have been a more acknowledged ability, now set aside by proximity and drowned by interference. It could explain how global leaps in culture and technology were made across vast distances when traveling was done on foot, how a society bonds with a common spirit and character or how knowledge was shared before technology complicated matters. The old tales hold many clues to such possibilities.
The gifts which might once have had us burned at the stake may sometimes seem supernatural, but that only means that they are beyond our current scientific understanding… and science is a slow learner by choice, requiring proof for even the unquantifiable. Such gifts are, I believe, a natural part of our human birthright and inherent in all of us. But please, don’t tell my son and spoil the fun.