How to Attend a New Age Workshop - by Helen Patrice

1. EnrolmentFeel something is missing in your life. Feel empty, lost, without purpose.
Ensure this is not PMT or midlife crisis. See announcement of workshop in New Age magazine.
Scoff. Wonder who would sign up for something like that.
Go back and look at it again.
Tell self that if you are meant to go, the money will come.
Money doesn't come. Work butt off to make money manifest.
Pretend it has "just come" to you, and it's an angelic message. Enrol.
Tell partner about workshop. Do not tell partner how much it costs.
Tell children you need space, and spend next three weeks peeling them off your legs.
Tell children you are going to a workshop that will make you a better parent. Younger children wail that they will die without you. Teens laugh at you. Regret enrolling. Regret your regrets.
Try to clear regrets.
Relaxation CD is scratched. It says: "Imagine you are in a quiet pl-pl-pl-pl-pl-"
Now you know you want, need, must do this workshop.
Ignore doubts, tell self they are from dark energy that has attached itself to you.

2. Arrival
Arrive at the sacred space/learning centre/community house/ashram/retreat.
You are the first person there. Think that you have the wrong day. Think you are in the wrong place.
Tell self: "There is no wrong". Don't believe self.
Facilitator arrives to organise the room and "set the energy" of the weekend. Facilitator surprised, even disconcerted, to see you there. Gives vague hints that you might like a walk in the garden.
Take 20 whole minutes to realise you are in the way. Go for walk in garden.
When you come back, everyone else is seated and has a cup of tea/coffee/chai/healing water.
Make too much noise as you get a cup for yourself, interrupting the introductory remarks. Take only seat left, unsuccessfully trying to juggle your cup, your bag, the set of notes on the seat, and pulling the chair fully into the circle.
Decide you are the odd one out. Take deep breaths to calm self. Hear annoying whistling in nose. You have forgotten your hankie.

3. Participation
Look at the facilitator. Check out their clothes, hair, jewellery, shoes.
Think that any person who doesn't wear purple and come laden in Indian silver set with amethysts must be a charlatan.
Try to watch your thoughts as they come and go. Realise you have missed the introductory remarks totally. Look at the other students. Listen as each states why they have come.
Conclude the class is a bunch of losers. Try to let this thought go.
Everyone is staring. It is your turn.
Feel tempted to say you are here because the alternative was running away from home. Feel tempted to say you want total enlightenment at a bargain price.
Feel tempted to say you don't know.
Mutter something about "finding yourself", "being open to new experiences", "looking for direction", "self healing".
Feel that everyone is beaming approval at you, while you've been busy judging them. Feel that everyone is thinking you are a New Age wanker.

4. The Process
(a) People break off into groups.
You are stuck with Non-Talkative Beardy Man, Chatterbox Pink Lipstick, and Possible Serial Killer.
Pink Lipstick jumps straight in with her life story. She is a Gemini, with a Cancer Moon, she has three cats, is very psychic, and felt a really good vibe about being here today.
Beardy Man says he's trying to break the conditioning his father laid on him about what it is to be a man. He thinks maybe he'd like to be a woman. Or maybe a bear, because he feels strongly connected to bears, from a previous life, where he hunted bears for his tribe and was killed by one.
Serial Killer doesn't say anything, and is the group's official Brooding Presence.
Say you want to find more effective ways to be who you are. Be unsure what you mean.
The group seems to be very sure of what you mean. All but Serial Killer nod thoughtfully.
(b) People break into pairs.
You are paired with Professional Psychic. You recite all your fears to each other.
Psychic fears psychic attack, large dogs, failure. That's why she's driven to succeed in all she does.
You are afraid of all dogs, feeling stupid, enclosed spaces, snakes, sharks, feeling dumb, lions, wild boars, feeling like an idiot, freezing to death, being eaten by cannibals, saying something stupid, dentists, success, failure, needles, exposure.
Facilitator asks if everyone feels more comfortable. Everyone else nods. You feel exposed. Psychic has small smile on face. Conclude you have bored her because she knew all that about you already.
(c) Come back to the group.
Start the workshop proper. Take notes for first hour. Give up. Assure self you will remember.
Start to bond with group. Group feels like second family. Group is full of soul mates, even Serial Killer.

5. The Final Afternoon.
You have all cried, released, claimed inner children, laughed, shared, hugged.
Beardy Man and Pink Lipstick are engaged to be married, even if it will be a lesbian relationship.
Psychic and Serial Killer have deep past life connection, where Serial Killer persecuted Psychic for being a witch..
You are personally in love with everyone there.
Facilitator is most intelligent, together, wise person who ever walked the earth. Buy facilitator's book. Put name down for facilitator's advanced class.
Carefully don't look at the cost.
Cry. Confess that you can feel the group energy falling apart. Join in meditation to visualise putting the group energy in your heart, where it can live forever.
Swap phone numbers and email addresses with everyone.
Partake of a sharing of cake and wine to end the day.
Depart, hugging everyone, and saying "Keep the faith. See you soon."
Drive home.
Lose the list of phone numbers.
Try remaining in sacred space as family clamours for attention.

6. Enlightenment.
Cook dinner for family.
Bring new ways of thinking, speaking and being to dinner table.
Family looks at you oddly.
Quietly say that you are going to reserve an hour each evening for
your new practices.
Teens say they still need help with homework.
Pre-teens say they need to be driven to footy/swimming/ballet.
Toddlers say anything to get your attention.
Partner smiles through gritted teeth.
After dinner, take living room cushion and retreat to quiet part of house. In some households, this may have to be the toilet.
Close eyes. Try to meditate.
Toddler crawls into your lap, dog is sick on carpet.
Partner appears, wishing to discuss items on tax return.
Hold firm. Say you are doing your practice. It will make you a better person.
Keep up practice for three nights in a row. Practise sporadically for several weeks.
Give up when you discover no one has
de-flea-ed the dog, and as you sit on your cushion, carpet fleas bite your ankles.
Feel lost in your life.
See a new workshop starting in a New Age magazine.
Repeat from Step One.

We hasten to add that Helen Patrice is a dedicated workshop attendee and has just enrolled for an upcoming Doreen Virtue seminar. Seriously.