Around Asheville: From Cynic City to Chakra-La
You’re shopping at Whole Foods, thinking about how much you like the place even though it’s owned by Amazon, with whom you have a definite love-hate relationship because while on the one hand it’s insanely convenient — which means a lot to you because you’re so busy that every day mainly feels like you’re treading water in the middle of a tsunami — on the other hand it flows so much money straight out of town that it literally sucks the life out of local businesses like Earth Fare, the very thought of which pangs you like a punch to the heart because you love that store so much that you can’t even believe it’s gone belly up even though there you are shopping at basically the reason why.
“Yes, aligning chakras is a real thing,” laughs the friendly cashier who’s been scanning your food, which you’ve been bagging yourself because you always do that because you’ve got some weird thing about always having to be useful. “And I should know. I’m a Reiki Master.”
This gets your attention, most of which, despite your more than holding up your end of the ol’ cashier-customer banter, has actually been focused on trying not to destroy half your groceries by packing them like someone who’s never heard of gravity.
“Wait — what?” you say. “You’re a Reiki Master who works at Whole Foods? Holy cow! That is the most Ashevillian thing I have ever heard of. You should get a Model Citizen Award from the mayor.”
“I should!” she laughs.
“Maybe I should get my chakras aligned,” you say.
“Everyone should,” she says, handing you your receipt.
On the way home, you find yourself wondering when you got so cynical about stuff like chakra alignments and Reiki healings. When you grew up in California, where it’s all the rage to be a New Age sage!
When, for your eighteenth birthday, your mom bought you an in-depth reading of your astrological charts! When as a kid you practiced yoga and Tai Chi, burned so much incense it’s insane you didn’t die of lung cancer at thirteen, and pored over every word of Kahill Gibran’s “The Prophet” like it contained the coded secret for how you could successfully date your best friend Stanley’s stewardess aunt!
You’ve been reading the Bhagavad Gita since Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was squeakily teaching the Beatles how to meditate — yet today you scoff at the idea of achieving satori by snorting up ground crystals, or whatever?
“Enough!” you cry. “A pox upon my jaded cynicism! Forgive me, spirit of Paramahansa Yogananda! For verily did I clearly somewhere along the line turn into my dad!” (Because you actually talk to yourself like that, you weirdo.)
Hunting online that night you find freespiritheart.com, the website of the Whole Foods cashier/Reiki Master.
You learn that her name is Lori Beasley, and that the services she offers are Intuitive Guidance, Energy and Vibrational Balancing, Chakra Balancing, Trauma Clearing, Reiki, Empowerment, and Crossing Over Journeys.
“I am down for six of those seven things!” you say.
“Six of what seven things?” your wife calls from the kitchen. “Are you shopping on Amazon again?” Two days later you arrive for your hour-long session at Ms. Beasley’s cozy, vibrationally harmonic little den of healing downtown.
You’re hesitant. You’re nervous. You’re not sure if you want anyone — even someone as kind, sincere, and winningly unpretentious as Lori Beasley — looking at your chakras.
After about fifteen minutes of her sharing with you what Reiki is, and why and how she does it, Lori asks if you feel ready to have your chakras aligned and your energy vibrations heightened.
“I am, actually,” you say.
Once you are comfortably supine on her Reiki table, Master Beasley, having turned on some Native American flute music, takes a few moments collecting and preparing to channel her Reiki energy. Then she begins to slowly move her hands in the air just above your body. You close your eyes.
Forty-five minutes later you hear her whispering that your session has concluded, and that she is now going to exit the room in order to bring you a cup of water.
You slowly bring yourself up to a sitting position.
When Lori softly steps back into the room, you try to stop laughing. But you can’t. Because that is how joyously and inexplicably relieved you feel.
Originally published on the front of the Sunday "Living" section of the Asheville Citizen-Times newspaper (part of the USA Today Network) on Feb. 16, 2020.