Annette Taylor spends an afternoon checking out the alternatives.

IF THERE was any doubt as to whether we’d found the right place, the music drifting on the wind guaranteed we were approaching Hamilton’s first Healthy Life Expo. It could not be denied — its haunting, lingering melodies wrapped tentacles of peace and understanding around our neurons. Or tried to.

As we ambled along the pathway to the outdoor pavilion, the musician on the lakeside stage was doing his best to be soothing. Closer inspection confirmed it was relaxation music, and CDs were available. For $90 I could buy the lot, and then reconnect with nature and the rest of the universe.

Tempting, but I wondered what else was on offer, and left the whales and songbirds to get on with it. Inside the pavilion, there were a lot of people. Not as many as at the previous day’s Agricultural Fieldays, but more than I’d like to see in my living room. And they were spending up large. The sound of wallets being emptied of their contents almost obscured the relaxation music.

Upon entering, I found myself faced with a confusing array of products, services and bodies. There were any number of books on improving one’s psychic abilities or brushing up on tarot skills, and colourful prints of wolves and American Indians to take home and hang up in the flotation chamber. There was even a nice woman who specialised in native American psychic readings, but it was the Kirlian photography stall that uncannily drew me. There, Jenny (last name withheld) told me for $25 I could get a reading on the condition of my spiritual health. I wasn’t sure if that included a detailed analysis by an ever-ready clairvoyant, but it sure meant I got a pretty picture of myself complete with aura (hopefully with yellow being the dominant colour — the colour of the intellect, mind you; violet is the mystical, magical colour, featuring eroticism and charm). Hm.

But no, even though this stall had the very latest Whizz-bang machine (cost withheld) from Russia, there was an even more alluring stand just across the way. Hard to walk past, especially when one has been living in a house truck for a while. For a small financial outlay, I could get my aura cleaned.

Yes, it is a little known fact (amongst skeptics) that your aura gets dirty, just like collars on shirts and singlets. It’s just like a magnet and picks up bad energy. Supermarkets are particularly bad places – your aura can be squeaky clean, and wham, the minute you step inside that air-conditioned place, it gets dirty. Just like a video with bad heads, I guess.

It was about this time that I stepped on the toes of a journalistic colleague. I’d first met him some years ago when he did the PR for a scientific organisation in Hamilton. And here was I, with my bother boots (Doc Martens) standing on his naked feet. It turned out he was standing on people’s backs, in the time-honoured discipline of Thai massage. In my embarrassment at squashing his digits, I confused this with Tai Chi, which was not good. Knowing me for a skeptic, he told me to return later and he’d stand on my back for me.

But there was still so much to see. The stall which intrigued my better half the most turned out to be the one which was all but impossible to get to. People were jamming themselves as close as they could get — to find out about the new technology that would enable you to create a stress free zone. The best I could do was grab a leaflet and content myself with a lingering glance.

All the fuss was about a wee gadget, called an EMPower Modulator. This little beastie, developed in Australia, uses no power, is maintenance free and likes to take on electromagnetic radiation. You only need one of these machines per office or small factory, or one per floor. It works via proprietary frequency modulation of harmonic “mathematical” factors of energy output and operates on non-Hertzian (non-electrical) energy frequencies. All this for only $439. My stress at trying to get close to the folk personing the stall was such that I had to leave.

It had been an interesting afternoon. I had expected to be amused by the whole thing, but found myself quite discouraged — at the fact that not only were there so many unscientific therapists out there, but that they were in hot demand. By the time I got to the booth of the healer who practised spiritual surgery via a spirit who was a doctor and healer in her last incarnation, my aura was starting to drag. No amount of cleaning would make it better. Nor would any of the health drinks (grown naturally, caffeine free) or vegetarian food. What I needed, and urgently, was fish and chips and a video, preferably starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Something to give my inner peace a good kick and cause imbalance to my chakra. I never did get my back stood on…

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