by Beth Shaw: I am both the observer and the participant in this thing called my life…
Day 1: I am the Observer
I awake to my alarm set to 8 am, eat some fruit and have a coffee at my posada. I’ve still got my Canivale Wristband on – it screams at me in bright green and reminds me that I am no longer wearing a watch. I never do on my spiritual vacations plus they would have stolen it in Rio.
I did not bother to check in with my friends last night to see what the plan was for today and what time we would meet, so now it’s up to the Universe and my own street smarts to figure it out. I walk onto the street and follow a woman wearing white who is far ahead of me.
All attendees to John of God are required to wear white so that the entities that inhabit John of God can see through to your physical body and what is ailing you …
All John of God first timers use a guide. I have a $50 bill and a few Reals ( Brazilian currency ) jammed in my pocket and my recently operated toe is wrapped in flip-flops as I hustle down the street trying to catch up with the woman in white. Entering into the grounds of John of God at 8:30 I catch her and ask if she’s been here before, she says yes of course but that’s the extent of the information that I am able to extract from her. There are hundreds of people around all wearing white – in lines, sitting down. I think about trying to just get in the line but realize that would be poor spiritual form especially since I don’t have a ticket. I ask a man wearing a badge where to find Yutta who runs the Posada that my friends are staying in next door – I did not have the foresight to book in advance – so I am next door. He finds her for me in a sea of white. Yutta is a lovely woman with bright blue eyes and amazing energy- she is of German descent and moved her from her homeland seven years ago. She now owns and operates a Posada ( guest house ) and is a guide for newbies. She asks me what my PHYSICAL issues are – and writes them down- you are allowed three- I chose my toes, a knee that was jacked up by a trainer last September and my frequently travel halted digestive system – what I really want him to do is cure some emotional patterns that have left me more challenged than any physical ones, but Yutta tells me that the other issues will be taken care of as well. She then guides me to my friends and the waiting begins. First, we sit for a long time, then stand, then we are lined up moving through rooms of people meditating to be seen for a brief moment by John of God. There are some very sick people here, in wheelchairs, with chemo but the majority of the crowd looks pretty healthy. Everyone gets a different prescription. Our friend Rena is told she will get an “intervention” that day – which then requires 24 hours of bed rest sequestered to your posada room. I received a prescription for a crystal bath today which sounds delightful – will someone bathe me in crystals? Fun! But in actuality it is 25 minutes up on a table on John of God Bed which has a light for each chakra. My “intervention“ is set for tomorrow – giving me a full 24 hours before I go “under“ “over” and “through.”
After eating some soup with pasta, fortunately, I relax my gluten free, no dairy going ways when I travel. I am in the line once again for “The Current“ … The meditation room where we enter and sit with our eyes closed until they tell us to open them- could be an hour, could be five hours. Now I love to meditate but usually, my limit is 30 minutes. I drift in and out, at once awakening to Snatam Kaur’s By Thy Grace – the song/chant I play at the end of every single one of my Yoga classes. And I struggle with myself – battling the desire to get up, leave, get comfortable – you know the usual mediation issues and finally, it’s over – two hours later. A record for me.
My friend and I go for a juice and acai ( very popular here ) and deconstruct the day. He is German, far more critical than I and also not very happy about his accommodations. I learned long ago to surrender to what I cannot control and my life today is easier as a result.
If you Wikipedia John of God you will get this :
Joao De Faria says he was told by his spirit guides that he must expand his work to reach more people and a medium told him he should go to the small Goiás town of Abadiânia to fulfill his healing mission. Around 1978, when João first performed healings there, he just sat outdoors in a chair near the main road where people began to arrive seeking cures for their various illnesses and conditions. Gradually the numbers increased to thousands per day and he developed his center, Casa de Dom Inácio de Loyola. The Casa de Dom Inácio de Loyola has since been visited by millions of people seeking healing. He also owns a nearby cattle ranch, Much of his income comes from selling passionflower preparations, the single herb prescribed by John of God to cure a variety of ailments.
Claims of spiritual healing powers João on stage after performing a “psychic surgery”.
De Faria claims to act as a vehicle for God’s healing and to have absolutely no recollection of anything during the procedures. He states:
“I do not cure anybody. God heals, and in his infinite goodness permits the Entities to heal and console my brothers. I am merely an instrument in God’s divine hands”.
De Faria also regularly prescribes meditation and walks to a nearby waterfall as part of treatment. The Casa also sells herbs, blessed items and artifacts such as magic triangles.
When called for a spiritual surgery by De Faria, patients are offered the choice of ‘visible’ or ‘invisible’ operations. If they select an ‘invisible’ operation (or are younger than 18 or older than 52) they are directed to sit in a room and meditate. De Faria also claims that spiritual physicians can perform surgery on the actual patient via a surrogate when the actual patient is unable to make the trip.
A very small percentage of people choose a ‘visible’ operation where De Faria operates without traditional anesthetic. Instead, he says he uses “energized” mineral water and the spiritual energies present, the latter which are provided by groups of volunteers who meditate in a separate room called the ‘current room’. These practices such as inserting scissors or forceps deep into a nose and scraping an eye without an anesthetic or antiseptics have been scrutinized by medical authorities and skeptical investigators
De Faria tells people not to stop taking their medicine and says not everyone he serves will be cured, which has been cited as a cop-out. Often the treatment includes capsules containing pure passion flower that is claimed to carry special blessed spiritual energy to support the individual’s healing process. De Faria has undergone trials and scrutiny of his work. He has been arrested several times for practicing medicine without a license and has been jailed once.
I arrived depleted, dehydrated, very exhausted. If I am honest I am a workaholic, I often work out too much and I don’t eat or rest enough. I run my body like a machine- supplements, teas, B-vitamin shots, constant movement. I am excited about life every day, excited about YogaFit, excited about people, don’t want to miss out, rest when I’m dead and all that type A stuff that my yoga and meditation makes a dent in —— but not enough.
In certain areas of my life, I make poor choices which exhaust my being and my heart even further. To be even more honest the real and only safe place I find to rest in life is through my meditation practice. I am a healer that needs to be healed. I am here because I am curious, I am here because if I am ever really sick or know someone who is, I want to have another resource. I am here as a seeker and I have the hope that perhaps he can heal some things I don’t even know I have, will develop and heal some emotional patterns that are not serving me and are causing me pain. I believe that all physical symptoms start with spiritual / psychological / emotional conditions – I just want to be as clear as possible. That is my intention and my goal, but again I have no desperation and no attachments to what happens.
I am both the observer and the participant in this thing called my life.
Day 2: Spiritual Intervention
And so the day was upon me, they used to call it a “Healing” now known as the [Spiritual] “Intervention”. I believe that all physical illness stems from emotional, spiritual ( karma ) and historical ( unresolved issues in your DNA). While in excellent health physically – I had to struggle to come up with a few physical issues for the entity to work on. I am here to heal my heart, some patterns and choices that are not serving me. I set my alarm a bit earlier this morning and by 7:15 I am having breakfast with my new friend, the orange cat that lives on the property. I have acknowledged his or her existence a few times as I always do with our four-legged friends and she/he is on me – I’m sure it helps that I am feeding Cat some eggs with a fork at this point and engaging in morning banter with it “How are you doing today?” and all that ….
I notice the most beautiful butterfly has landed between the cat and I, a beautiful creature with what looks like eyes. It looks dead but I gently touch its wings and it moves, then the cat bats it gently as well and .. it moves. Butterflies represent transformation so I feel blessed with this auspicious start to the day. I meet up with my guide Yutta at the JoG compound and it’s back in line for my Intervention. In line the woman in front of me asked where I am from, she is from St Paulo but shares with me she just left her husband of 20 years and her children and is moving to a small beach town South of Rio. She does not know much of what is happening here – a friend brought her. Truth be told, I did zero research before coming here except to watch an Oprah documentary that my friend S sent after my ticket was already purchased. Nothing like jumping right into the pool. Today the line moves quickly and before I know it I am in a small room off “The Current.” We are told to sit.
I hear my line-mate crying next to me and then once again I hear Snatam Kaur’s By Thy Grace coming from the other room – It breaks through my heart and I am in the midst of an incredible emotional release. I feel pain, sadness and at the same time joy for my ability to really feel. We are then told to open our eyes and move out to a patio where we are given the list of rules – No black pepper, no spicy food, no alcohol, exercise, yoga or sex for 40 days. Well, I should have done a bit more research on this one. When I experienced plant medicine we had to refrain from the list plus caffeine for 7-10 days prior, minus the workout & yoga.
Several parts of this “aftercare” are not sitting well with me. We then have to go to the pharmacy to fill our prescription for Passiflora ( passionflower ) that we need to take for 40 days. Yogi Bhajan said it takes 40 days to make or break a habit – some if not all of these things are not high on my list of habits to break – especially working out and yoga.
After a brief encounter with S, sharing with me how much he hates his lodging and the fight he got into with our guide, I am in a taxi back to my Posada for 24 hours of bed rest and seclusion.
Day 3: We All Need Healing
Who among us doesn’t need to be healed? Perhaps it’s physical like so many people here, or emotional, mental or spiritual.
Take a look at what’s happening on the planet today, we all need healing.
My almost 24 hours of being sequestered in my room went well, although I broke the technology rule, took a trip to get a coffee after dinner and sat outside my room for an hour at sunset to write. I was really knocked out after the intervention, I want to chalk it up to sheer exhaustion, but I’ve been getting more sleep here and eating more than I normally do. Perhaps it takes more than three days and nights to recover?
I also have not taken one cognitive function supplement since I have been here and to be honest with you, I take a handful daily.
23 hours – Lots of time to think about my patterns. Lots of time to rest, meditate and to reflect. My back is killing me … perhaps some yoga should have been part of my “cell time.“
Now on Day Three I am back among the masse at “The Casa” a sprawling property with several one-story structures that all center around the main hall where one comes in contact with John of God (hereby I will refer to as JoG. ) There is a beautiful serene garden area with wooden benches where you can look off into endless green mountains. This is where a lot of people meditate. There is also a “soup kitchen “on the property, serving only soup. The Casa soup is a thick vegetable soup with lots of pasta in it served with bread. My first thought is how can all that gluten be good for sick people? But I have to move on. My gluten free, dairy free lifestyle is not well served in many places I travel and this is no exception. I remember fondly how my host in Saudi Arabia made me a lemon bundt cake which I devoured with glee.
There are over 1,000 people here, everyone walking around wearing white makes it feels like a hospital. It is indeed a spiritual hospital.
It’s a far cry from the yoga retreats and spiritual centers I have visited where people are radiating energy. Everything and everyone here is quite subdued, people keep their energy in. Today, I notice more of the obvious illness around me. I am in a deep state of gratitude for my physical health… many people who are here are very sick. For some, this is the last hope. I have met a woman from Napa, Susan, who has had MS for 20 years, she’s a runner, looks vibrant and has beautiful clear energy. She tells me she has been sober since 1992. Susan was also recently diagnosed with a rare blood disorder, she is quite certain her labs will test clean when she returns home. I met another woman named Joyce from DC who is using a walker, she is here for 5 months. I don’t ask what she’s here for – she’s here on her second visit and she seems like she is enjoying it. Joyce also radiates beautiful energy. I met another family from New Jersey, a mother and two daughters in their 40’s are also on their second visit. Americans are far and few between here, it’s mostly Europeans and Brazilians.
That afternoon we get to go in the “goodbye line” we pass before the entity using the body of John of God, and he speaks to the man in front of me, then with a quick touch of my hand (and my John of God beads purchased in the bookstore that I put in my palm) I am waved on. I feel a little passed over and know that’s just my ego rearing itself along with my often-present fear of rejection.
We wait, again….
Outside the reception area for JOG to make an appearance. We are supposed to be in groups I text Renata to come back ASAP. We are among large groups from France, from Montreal, even Japan. Our guide Yuta says we have to be in a group to get a picture with JOG, I grab Renata and some random woman next to me and say, “we are a group” the woman says she is with another group and while Yuta and I are arguing about “what constitutes a group” JOG comes out He makes a beeline for us – Renata and I with JOG in the middle make one lovely picture, I am elated. High. On Cloud Nine.
I can’t even describe the feeling. I know in this moment the Universe puts me in the right place at the right time. I am not one to wait in any lines but standing outside for almost an hour like a groupie after a concert paid off. Another lesson in patience for me.
Meanwhile back at the Posada, Stefan who did his intervention that day is locked up in his room and Renata and I chant and chat by the pool. First we chant her Buddhist “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” then I turn her onto my Snatam Kaur chants. We chant, chat and eat dinner, the Dutch woman at our dining room table tells me she has seen me around the “JoG Casa” and I have really big energy. I have tried to keep that energy in, as I am nobody special here, just another woman in white trying to get healed.
According to the the guides and people who work for John of God, after your intervention, spirits are healing you from nine different points, much like plant medicine, the work happens after you depart. While I am highly intuitive and very sensitive to energy, I have never seen a ghost or a spirit. Later that night I awoke to what sounded like tapping in my room. My first thought was “finally the spirits have come to me” I then shine my flashlight on the ceiling and see that it’s just a leak. It’s raining. I am going to pick up a few books on spirits, although I am not sure I really want to see any… feeling them would be ok. These were suggested to me.
Day 4: Quiet Time at the Casa
Today is a bit of a letdown, After the high of yesterday. It feels like the day after a big party, wedding or celebration. Or in my case, I feel like this is the day after a YogaFit Mind Body Fitness Conference ends – the party is over although the good vibes remain the same. I actually try to leave any party before it winds down so I can remember the high points. Know when to say when … It’s over.
I walk over to the Casa, nothing is happening and no one is there. It’s DEAD, yesterday there were at least 700 people. I decide to take a walk down to the waterfall that’s on the back of the property and down a hill.
Thrilled that I at least get to log a mile today after not doing any work out since Tuesday morning when I had a trainer come to our apartment in Rio with an electronic muscle stimulation (EMS) machine. This is one of the longest times I’ve gone without a workout. I’m quite surprised that I am not more agitated as I use my workouts to balance my moods and I have to say that I’m quite addicted to them.
Back up the hill I have a coffee at the snack shop at the Casa and Stephan & Renata come to join, we are literally the only ones there.
Until we meet a German woman who is carrying a large Cannon camera – she photographer who has been following JOG for five years
She shares that she has all kinds of footage of the healings believes without a doubt that this is the real deal and healings happen. She has it on film.
Stefan and Renata have a spirited conversation with her about fake healings in Thailand, blood pellets and the like most of which is in German and lost on me.
I am still a bit wiped out so after multiple coffees (another adrenal depletion) I go back to my room and do a two-hour meditation. When I awake I’m feeling kind of down and still dealing with a lot of emotional issues.
Fortunately, Renata texts me she wants to go down to the waterfall and I pull myself out of the black hole that is my mood. I don’t even wear a bathing suit because I wasn’t planning on going in. However, when we get there Renata encourages me to change my mind the water feels amazing cool and healing. So, I enter the waterfall, breaking yet another rule. If I could speak to the entities I would ask them what the difference is between a waterfall and a shower, the latter of which I do twice daily.
I then spend a little more time in the local shops picking up some crystals for friends and some herbs like maca, cacao, and gingko.
At night, we all go to Fruttis, the local café and have a dinner. There I met a mother and two daughters from New Jersey who are on their second visit. The daughters had a physical intervention on their first trip. I’m dying to hear more but I don’t want to delve too deeply into their personal business.
By this point, I’m starting to recognize people that I’ve seen around for the past four days and by recognize, I mean that I can really vibe on certain people’s energy. Tomorrow is my last day and I feel sad that I’m leaving as I’m starting to connect with more people, I’m a very social creature amidst my hibernating meditations.
Nothing really happens at the Casa from Saturday through Tuesday, the main days are Wednesday through Friday so I don’t quite know what I would do with myself to hang out any longer – I have to get back to my life and get back to work. Or maybe I am just telling myself that to avoid dealing with me, myself and I for another three days … Although looking at my life from the vantage point in Brazil I know that I need to make some changes.
I’m currently living in the middle of New York City and I’m beginning to wonder how much that is serving my spiritual growth & nature. I’m starting to crave sunshine and wide open spaces- I’m having visions of an airy house with wood decks, Buddhist flags, sunshine and more peace and calm.