The Skeptic Tank
By Scott Kalechstein.

"You're not a realist unless you believe in miracles."
                                - Anwar Sadat

There is a saboteur in my mind that very much resembles Scrooge. Any new idea that might inspire feelings of enchantment and curiosity is met by this guy with a "Bah, humbug!" I call him the skeptic. The skeptic goes back a long way. He first made his presence known in this life when the doctor slapped my fanny, the typical greeting of a hospital birth back in those days. I was eager to find out what going from a cozy womb to a new world was going to be like. When I got slapped and had to try out my lungs in a panic of pain and fear, I couldn't help but make some first impressions of this thing called the outside world. If my screams at the time could have been heard in English, my first expressions of self would have translated as: "This stinks!" Such a sweeping diagnosis of my new world could only be made by . . . the skeptic!

The skeptic believes that nothing works, and also believes that, if I affirm "nothing works" over and over again, I will not be disappointed by life. He tries to keep me safe by discounting anything that might threaten my reality as I know it. When I was young the skeptic bought me a present, a very powerful pair of protective sunglasses. "Here, put these on," he advised. "They will filter out anything that might hurt you." I tried them on and got so used to wearing them that after a while I forgot they were there.

I eventually learned that to lead a soulful life, sunglasses have got to be identified and taken off. One may squint, but soon the eyes adjust to the light and receive its warmth and splendor. I would like to share with you some pivotal experiences that helped me release some of my mental myopia.

When I was eighteen, starry-eyed and new to metaphysical pursuits, I began using affirmations. I was writing down the thought, "I am a money magnet," twenty times in the morning and again at night. After a few days of this practice, I walked onto a New York City subway and saw a five dollar bill on the floor. There was nobody around to claim it but yours truly. Pocketing the surprise, I quickly forgot about it and went about my business. In all my years of living in the city, I had never found any bill larger than a dollar, but still I did not link the five bucks with my affirmations.

The next morning I filled my tummy with pancakes and my mind with money magnetism. I then walked onto a city bus and sat down right next to another loose five dollar bill! I began to feel creepy. Could my thoughts really have that much power? Am I that responsible for creating my reality? My sunglasses were being removed, and I found the light too blinding for my young mind to handle. If my thoughts were creative, then that would mean that my cherished victim stories were worth examining. I wasn't yet ready to go from renting my reality to a position of ownership. My skeptic, being an expert Reality Estate Broker, offered me some safety by dismissing the whole experience as a coincidence, but it was a long time before I was willing to use affirmations again.

Three years later I was taking classes in meditation and spirituality offered by Hilda Charlton, a wise and beloved teacher who helped and guided thousands in her lifetime. Every Thursday night about four hundred of us would sit with Hilda. She would love us, entertain us, and then challenge us to look at ourselves, our cherished limited beliefs and identities. She excelled in the art of sunglasses removal, and there were times I did not appreciate her skills at all!

One month Hilda seemed to talk a great deal about her communications with beings from other planets. She mentioned that they appeared in her living room and conversed with her. Each time she broached the subject, my mental "Bah, humbug!" screamed at her. My mind was closed tightly when it came to ET's, and I didn't see how intelligent people could believe that visitors from outer space were available for fireside chats.

One evening Hilda seemed to focus her gaze directly on me as she addressed the group: "Do you want to know why I'm spending all this time talking to you about the space brothers? To get you out of your little mental boxes, that's why! There's a whole universe teeming with life, dimensions upon dimensions! Open your minds, kids!" In that moment I saw my pesky inner skeptic, guardian of my fear, and I prayed to open my mind to the possibility of extraterrestrial life. I felt an opening, as if my skeptic said, "All right, we'll consider it."

Two weeks later a friend called. "Scott, I know you sell different things on the street, and I just discovered two hundred T-shirts in my basement. I've had them for years, and I'll give you a great price! Would you like them?" I politely declined, knowing that T-shirts in November would not sell at any price. "Oh, that's too bad!" he said regretfully. "They are so nice! They have a picture of a UFO landing on the earth and they say I Believe on them."

Well, my head started spinning and I thought I heard The Twilight Zone music playing in the background. My skeptic came in and said, "Just another coincidence." But this time I let the experience rattle my cages and open my mind. I ended up buying the ET-shirts and offering them at Hilda's classes. I sold them all in two nights.

Just last week I was with a friend who was struggling with having to find a new place to live. I led her through a lighthearted visualization where we imagined the perfect living space for her. We mentally toured the rooms, giving thanks for what we affirmed as the easiest move of her life! As we went through the process, we both noticed our skeptics muttering things in our mind, like "New Age Mumbo Jumbo!"

We relaxed the doubts by acknowledging, "Hey, this can't hurt, and we are having fun with it!" And we were having fun. The playful imagination is a powerful, creative ally in helping to manifest our dreams. Two days later my friend, while fetching the morning paper, noticed a For Rent sign on the house next door. She investigated the situation and ended up moving there. It turned out to be the easiest move of her life!

It has taken me many years to make room in my belief system for a universe that works for us, and not against us. My skeptical nature is still present, wanting to draw a chalk circle around my world and say, "This is your safety. Stay within this circle and everything will be under control." But I have accumulated too much evidence, too many cosmic coincidences, to continue seriously counseling with the skeptic. When he barks his opinions these days, I thank him for being concerned for my safety, and I send him back to his room, a little cubicle nicknamed the skeptic tank. When I first had the idea to assign him his own room, he exclaimed, quite predictably, "Is this all the tank I get?" Poor skeptic.

The universe seems to be much grander and more wondrous than your sunglasses and chalk circles. Have you considered an early retirement?

Scott Kalechstein is an author, inspirational speaker, recording artist and minstrel man who resides in Encinitas, California. He is a frequent traveler to distant lands and can be tracked down for bookings, inquiries and compliments by calling (619) 492-8726.

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