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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:
Basic Training
Healing Love (this is not a "couples workshop" tho couples are of course welcome.)
Tao of the Shaman
Article on Taoist Life

The Celebrities

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Rebecca Loos

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Brandon Block

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Carol Harrison

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it wasn't all work

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Volleyball: Celebs v  Crew

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Rebecca ready for service

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Brandon, Carol, Rebecca and anonymous bum preparing Sweatlodge

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Dream Team

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Girls allowed

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Carol Kris Rebecca

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The Angel and the Cameraman

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