LIFE DOCTOR

THE 23RD Mind Body Spirit International Festival started yesterday. Hundreds of beards, flowing robes and assorted "expert" life philosophers descended on (transcended on?) London's Royal Agricultural Hall to chant, bang drums and talk about their past lives.

In weak moments, I can accept the weirdest of complementary therapies. But gathered together, in a stream of alternativism, the complementary thing starts to look like farce. Shamanic wisdom, Tibetan wisdom, Mongolian wisdom. How refreshing it would be to find an ancient culture that was indisputably stupid.

Publicity photos show the gurus as deeply content, with a faraway look suggesting a permanent state of Zen. Message: I'm damn happy and I want to share it with the world - for a price.

En masse the faces look rather scary. "World famous" Jill Purce, who teaches Mongolian overtone chanting, has hair like a brunette Rick Parfitt. Dick Sutphen (Psi-Mind Power) is at first glance corporate American with expensive silver hair and sharp suit. But the smile looks slightly deranged. My favourite, though, is Don Conreaux Gong Master - "feel free to bring your own gong, bell bowls, blowing shell horns and other tone producing instruments". Don's photo has the sinewy ageing muscled look of a pro. He has long brown hair, a grey beard. His eyes are closed. You can't really tell what he's doing but it's clearly lots of fun - for him.

Giving up your soul-destroying job to start selling your past lives or your abilities with a gong is a great way to make yourself happy. So many complementary therapists were doing something really boring beforehand.

Renowned healer Geoff Boltwood, for example, was a bus driver before he discovered his healing gift. A reflexologist I saw at the Hale Clinic muttered darkly about being in "administration". Getting pounds 40 a hour for making profound comments about feet must be more interesting.

At the festival you can catch European Iaido Gold Medallist Fay Goldman. I don't know what iaido is but it involves waving fans. If it's anything like t'ai chi it won't be much of a spectator sport.

Madi Nolan will be "recalling her memories from a previous Tibetan lifetime". I'm sure if I had a good long think I could remember something. I dreamt recently (really) that I was in a room with an en-suite time machine and I dialled to go to 17th-century Holland. I could tell you all about it. Just send me a cheque.

Complementary therapy is great. It makes us all feel better. And if you pick the right one it need involve very little training. "Rebecca" went on a past life regression training weekend. Forty-eight hours later she was fully qualified. "I found I was a natural," she says with just a hint of a smile. "I had to learn self-hypnosis and then look for dominant guides. Among a mass of characters I discovered that in my past I've been a member of the French resistance, an Egyptian medicine man and a lizard. It was great fun. I could now sell my knowledge I suppose but I'm a bit embarrassed. It's hard to stand in front of an audience and talk about your past lives without looking like a charlatan."

Tip to guarantee that any therapy works for you:

Become the therapist. Sarah Ferguson certainly thinks so. She's set to earn $2m for her new novel based on her "transcendental thoughts". And for God's sake, if her wisdom is marketable then surely there's hope for anyone.

Mind Body Spirit International Festival, The Royal Horticultural Halls, 22-31 May, 0171 938 3788.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Health and Social Care NVQ Assessor

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: It is also essential that you p...

    Recruitment Genius: Service / Installation Engineer - South East England

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful Service Engineer...

    Recruitment Genius: ICT Infrastructure Manager

    £27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Edinburgh city centre scho...

    Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

    £12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

    Day In a Page

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

    Education: Football Beyond Borders

    Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
    Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most