So I called and set up my trial class.
I arrived a bit early, entered the office space, and sat in the waiting room. I was nervous, but tried to look as calm as I could. I wasn't sure what to expect from my 'classmates'...would they be hippies stuck in the 1960's and all drive VW buses? Or, would they be more like The Witches of Eastwick and we'd all be levitating by the end of our three hour session?
The students began to arrive. There was nothing odd about there appearances at all. They were pleasant, well dressed and somewhat professional about their meditation studies. One of them even had a binder filled with information divided by tabs and cross-referenced. I was actually a bit intimidated.
The door opened to the meditation room...we all found seats. Richard introduced me, and after pleasentries we were told it was time to smudge. SMUDGE? Ok, I remember thinking, this is where it gets weird. Richard matched each of his students with another and asked them to smudge each other. I watched as each pair took turns lighting some sort of dried leaf on fire and painting each other with the smoke.
I later learned that smudging is a Native American custom. The dried leaf was white sage, and the ritual is performed to remove areas of negative energy and identify areas where negative energy may exist in your body. [great explanation of the ritual can be found here http://www.asunam.com/smudge_ceremony.html ] After 'surviving' being smudged and being pronounced officially "positive" we went back into the meditation room, and I wasn't quite sure what would come next...