By Scott Kalechstein

My Salvation Comes from Me
-A Course in Miracles

Recently I hired a Feng Shui expert to help me with decorating my new home. Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese art of placement. Its aim is to create balance, harmony and prosperity in one's environment. As this woman strolled through, she spoke into a tape recorder, offering tips and suggestions on how to make my one-bedroom cottage most conducive to chi. Chi is a word used to describe the universal life force that flows through everything. At one point in our consultation she advised me to keep the toilet lid down when I am not using it, as well as to keep the drain in the sink closed when I am not using the sink. This, she explained, would keep the chi in the bathroom from escaping. I decided to follow her counsel, thrilled to be arranging my house through time-honored Chinese principals, and of course, to be safeguarding my chi.

The next day I noticed some rigidity in the way I was following her guidelines. I observed my thoughts and actions seemed to be springing up from a belief in a limited supply of chi, the fear that I would be losing something of great value if I didn't do this right. I proceeded to ask myself a series of questions that led me away from walking on eggshells and back to personal freedom. When does ritual become superstition, I inquired? Had I crossed the line? Had I given my power away, as I had done so many times in the past, by totally adhering to a belief system out of fear, even though parts of it didn't fit for me? If chi is divine energy, then do I really want to act as if there is less God in my home when the toilet seat is up? Did I really want to entertain the notion that how I kept that lid could seriously affect my power to live life happy, healthy, and in love?

My past black and white thinking would have been either to embrace her suggestions completely, ignoring my intuition in favor of the safety of having "rules", or to throw the baby out with the bathwater, rejecting the entire system in defiance. This time I decided to neither conform nor rebel, but to take the best and leave the rest, letting my own creativity and internal guidance lead me. That felt both scary and liberating, to be taking my power back from 'experts' that I had perceived as knowing more than I did about how to decorate my home. That night I created a little ritual of my own, raising my glass to toast the gifts I had received from Feng Shui, as well as raising my toilet lid and the sink drain in honor of my belief in an infinite supply of chi.

I have quite a history with what I call Chi tricks, temporary external solutions to inner existential problems. Take low self-esteem, for example. In my early twenties I felt very much like a Clark Kent in search of the Superman inside me. Somebody introduced me to a nutritional system of herbs and tonics that promised to dramatically increase the flow of chi in my body. I started ingesting the capsules and drinking the teas on a daily basis. Within days my energy level had taken off like a rocket. I went out into the world feeling somewhat like Superman, and enjoyed a dramatic reduction of the fears that had plagued me. I approached people with a clarity in my eyes and a confidence in my voice that I had been dreaming about for years. I received a steady stream of acknowledgment from friends who were convinced that I had achieved a breakthrough and wanted to appreciate me for it. But inside my heart of hearts I couldn't receive their accolades. I knew the herbs were somehow overriding my issues, and sooner or later I was going to have to pull the plug on the high-voltage-cellular-self-esteem party and build my confidence one trembling step at a time, by finding the courage to take risks with my authenticity, right smack in the middle of my fears.

Gradually (and I mean gradually!) I weaned myself away from quick fixes and committed to the adventure of learning to love and express myself, fears and all, just the way I am. Accepting and welcoming the Clark Kent in me, a new kind of confidence emerged, a power that came from not needing to be a Superman (invulnerable, separate from and above others) to be loved.

Dabbling occasionally in the latest nutritional supplement and chi-enhancing product, I have developed the ability to discern between when I am taking them to enhance my health and well being or to put a Superman cape on my vulnerability. There are many helpful things being introduced on the planet these days (many of them via multi-level marketing) that can strengthen the immune system, cleanse the body of toxins, and support balance in an out-of-balance world. I don't want to shun these gifts because they come from outside myself. They are here for support, but not for salvation.

I have placed myself at the feet of gurus, hoping through osmosis their chi would stimulate mine. Sometimes I have had extraordinary experiences in their presence, only to come crashing down to my humanity the moment somebody cuts me off on the freeway. I have done dozens of workshops promising life-changing results. They have all been helpful and interesting, but the I'm on the top of the world post-workshop high always ends, leaving me back on the ground to chop wood and carry water. I am not sure if I am getting jaded or enlightened, but there's not much out there that raises my eyebrows anymore. I have become quite weary of looking outside for inner strength.

What does raise my eyebrows is staying at home inside myself, remembering that I am not here to become whole, but to realize that I am already whole. With that truth intact, I am free to experience supplements, herbs, workshops, gurus, and the art of Feng Shui without assigning these things magical properties. Support, not salvation. My days of being infatuated with external sources of power are coming to an end. Chi is an inside job.

Scott Kalechstein is an inspirational speaker, singer, recording artist, healer, and workshop leader. He shares his gifts throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. He is also a minister and is a frequent guest speaker at the Religious Science and Unity Churches. In all that he does, Scott serves as a wise and humorous escort for those making the transition from fear to love, from suffering to celebration. Scott will be in concert in Solana Beach on Saturday, September 20 at 7:30 P.M. For details, inquiries about bookings, or to order recordings of his uplifting music, please call (619) 492-8726.

Return to the September/October Index page