Extreme Celebrity Detox Channel 4 TV
The Inside Story
Whether or not this "observational documentary" worked for Channel 4 will show in their ratings. If
good I suppose we can expect more of the same but, if worse than expected, could we hope for a change
in their seeming policy of dumbing-down? of pandering to what they clearly perceive as the viewer's
obssession with bodily functions? of banal, turgid and repetitive commentary, omitting scenes of high
drama for cheap-laugh sound-bites and voyeuristic sniggers?
Or will intelligently-observed wild-life documentaries stay top of the viewing pops?
Did it work? Well, I do believe that Reality, filmed with integrity, is an ideal expression for the
medium of TV, as are plays for the theatre, movies for the cinema and novels for literature.
When Ginger TV approached me to make a documentary for Channel 4 on my work of teaching mantak chia
taoism they first asked to film my annual summer retreat in Devon. I refused, because people don't go on
this retreat to be on telly. They go to learn taoist meditation: in a beautiful setting, without
distractions, and in private.
Ginger then asked if I would facilitate such a retreat if they provided the people and the venue, a
private island in the Andaman Sea. I agreed but, after just two days, my assistants and I found we could
not teach all the retreat practices to people paid to be on TV, on a mosquito-infested island, and a
raging monsoon storm blowing down their tents.
So, we agreed to teach just the "highlights": a shortened version of the taoist meditation on death
(not even for national TV would I reveal the secrets of this!); sweatlodge, popularised by native
americans; how to walk on fire without getting burnt (a taoist secret shared with native australians
and Polynesians); cosmic fusion and five elements of shamanic taoism; Iron Shirt chi kung (qi gong)
and steel body Tai Chi.
Was it good telly? Was it true? Did it work?
I admired how the celebrities tried so hard to get into it, although the TV edit/commentary focussed
more on quick laughs, mocking their monumental, sometimes almost heroic, struggles. Their big
difficulties, given that they are all professional communicators, were maintaining silence and stillness.
And giving up their mobile phones! However, I was more than impressed with how they handled the dramatic
challenges of fire-walking and Tai Chi fighting.
We demonstrated aspects of Bone Marrow Nei Kung including Dragon Tiger breathing; the health benefits
of meridian stimulation and genital weightlifting; discussed taoist shamanism: shamanic journeying,
ecstatic flight, circle of fire; looked at comparable practices of Wiccans and Tibetans.
And of course what the producers in their final edit turned into the core theme: taoist sexual
practices of working with pleasure, arousal and orgasmic energy, as though this were an end in itself
rather than simply a very powerful way of using the natural resources of the human body to reach a
state of bliss and connection with spirit, whether alone or with a partner. The partner-work aspect,
explained and filmed with sensitivity and fundamental to the practice, is hardly mentioned and not
shown at all in the final cut.
The series showed the tip of an iceberg of meditation, training and practices which, I'm very happy
to say, still remain secret - but very accessible to those who make the commitment to learning them.
Unlike 'as seen on TV', we don't start with genital weight-lifting, an advanced practice that comes
only after several months of learning how to cope with its effects: a sustained wave of explosive energy,
to use in the bedrooom or the boardroom; for martial arts, or for healing.
What we did certainly worked in terms of life- and spiritual- awareness for the celebrity
participants, each of whom experienced some level of innner transformation - even the one who dropped
out. And it showed in the shining light from their faces at the end.
So the Reality worked and if, despite the distortions, the series stimulates interest in learning
more about these ancient and (especially in modern life) highly effective practices, then the TV worked
for us too, and I am grateful for the exposure.
I would like to express my appreciation of the integrity of the director, who filmed our practices
with respect. She had no hand in the final edit and how the material was presented.
Links to more info:
Healing Love (this is not a "couples workshop" tho couples are of course welcome.)
Tao of the Shaman
Article on Taoist Life
it wasn't all work
Volleyball: Celebs v Crew
Rebecca ready for service
Brandon, Carol, Rebecca and anonymous bum preparing Sweatlodge
Carol Kris Rebecca
The Angel and the Cameraman