It was 12th grade and I was taking Introduction to Psychology as an elective. I had already selected Psychology as my college major so I was hoping to get a jump start on that goal. One day, our teacher brought in a guest speaker who taught us all how to move things with our minds. Intrigued? So was I!
To each student he gave a long piece of thread with a bolt tied to its end. He told us he was going to teach us how to move this makeshift pendulum using just the power of our mind. I paid more attention at that moment than I ever had in class before.
“Put your elbow on the table and hold your pendulum up in the air so that there is at least 1 inch of space below it,” he instructed. “Now I want you to make the pendulum spin in a circle using your hand. Don’t lift your elbow off the table.”
“Now I want you to make the pendulum swing back and forth, also keeping your elbow firmly planted on your desks.”
Also easy. Come on. Make with the telekinesis, I thought impatiently.
“Now,” he says, “I want you to stop your pendulum and let it hang an inch above your desk. Be very very still. Do not let it move, do not let your breath move it.”
He waited for all of us to get our pendulums under control.
“Now, I want you to stare at the bolt and imagine that it’s spinning in a wide circle, but do not under any circumstances allow your hand to spin it. Remain absolutely still.” This was it. The magic was going to come. I could feel it!
I remained perfectly still and held my breath. I imagined the pendulum spinning in a circle. After just a few moments, it began to move. In little tiny circles. After maybe 10 seconds, the circles got wider. I knew I was not spinning it with my hand. I wasn’t moving even a millimeter.
“I see some of you have your pendulums swinging widely. Wonderful. Now will your pendulum to start moving back and forth instead of in a circle.”
My pendulum got all kittywampus, out of balance, like a gyroscope. It settled down and then began moving back and forth. I can’t describe the feeling of elation I had! Surely this was magic! How could telekinesis be so easy? Was everyone having this experience? I took a peek and most people were having no success whatsoever. Aha! I am the supreme, magical, superheroic being. The guest speaker noticed my success and came over to watch my pendulum.
Yes, that’s right. I am your prize pupil. I hope you brought a cape in your briefcase, pal, because I want to practice telekinetic flying, I thought to myself. I beamed with pride at this amazing display of what must have surely been innate talent.
He walked back to the front of the class and said, “What you’ve just seen is not a demonstration of telekinesis.”
What, huh? But yes! Yes! My pendulum moved with just the power of my mind! Didn’t you see? Are you blind?!
He continued, “Rather, it was a demonstration of how the unconscious mind can control your actions. What you must understand is that while your conscious mind was keeping your arm and hand very still, your subconscious desire to see the pendulum move sent signals through your arm and hand and into your fingers, where minute movement caused your pendulum to move. This was not something you could see with your eyes or even feel happening inside your fingers. You believe you held your pendulum as still as possible. But you did not.”
What? What trickery is this?
“When you desire something, your unconscious mind begins working to make it happen. Even if it is not something you consciously want — like smoking another cigarette when you’re trying to quit — if your subconscious mind wants it, you will smoke another cigarette. Sometimes your subconscious mind can manifest something you desire even when your conscious mind says you cannot have it, for example getting a date with the head cheerleader. When you believe it is possible … when you expect you will have it … when you know it is coming, it manifests. So be wary of your subconscious mind because it controls your actions more than you realize.”
I was still reeling from the idea that I did not really have telekinesis. I had no idea this guy was talking about the Law of Attraction or describing the intention-manifestation model of reality. I was too young to listen or really care.
He went on to tell us how a psychologist has to get through to the subconscious mind to find out why a person behaves the way they do. I had tuned out at that point, unfortunately. I was staring down at my pendulum and silently asking, “Why? Why did you betray me? What did I ever do to you?”
After class I saw people throwing their pendulums in the trash. But I kept mine, stashing it in my backpack. I thought there might be a chance he was wrong about my pendulum and my telekinetic abilities. After all, if I believe it, if I know it, if I expect it to work, then maybe … in time … just maybe it would.