A new alternative health therapy being offered in Yelm is hailed by some as an amazing way to improve lives. It’s also been criticized by some people who believe the organization’s founders preach warped values.
The new Yelm business is called Access Your Joy. It’s a studio that practices Access Consciousness, a technique founded by Gary Douglas, who reportedly claims he was taught the method by channeling Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin, who died near the turn of the century.
The backbone of Access Consciousness is known as The Bars, a “body process for dynamic change” in which a practitioner touches 32 points on a person’s head. Touching these points will “clear all the limitations you have about that area of your life,” a pamphlet on The Bars says.
MaryAnn Marron-Mullins, owner of the studio, said she starts a session with an “energy pull,” which entails “asking the universe to start energy flowing from your body.” She works from the head, to the feet, to the hands, she said.
The Access practitioner places their fingertips on different points on the head that activate different energies, according to Marron-Mullins. Sessions run anywhere from one to one and a half hours.
Processes have been developed to address myriad issues people may have, she said. There are processes for weight loss, joint and spine health, and nerve damage, among others, she said.
“We’re definitely not healers,” she said. “We definitely don’t heal anybody. We don’t cure anybody. All we’re doing is asking the body to run its energy in a certain way to erase the blocks that it has so that its own healing can kick into place.”
People may feel warmth, tingling or throbbing at the touch of the practioner’s hands, Marron-Mullins said. She claimed the energy produced by the process can stop people’s watches.
Throughout the session, the practitioner recites a “clearing statement,” meant to clear the body of “barriers” or “resistance” to receiving. It goes, “Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, POD, POC, All 9, Shorts, Boys and Beyonds,” according to the official Access Consciousness website, www.accessconsciousness.com, which lists the phrase as a registered trademark.
On some level, the sessions can be perceived as a kind of massage, Marron-Mullins said.
“At the very worst, you feel like you’ve had a great massage and at the very best, it can be a life-altering experience,” she said. “It’s a quote they use a lot in the organization.”
“It’s very simple and it’s very effective,” Marron-Mullins said. “Sometimes I downplay the channel part because it’s a little too woo-woo for some people, but the bottom line is that it works. You don’t have to believe in psychics. You don’t have to believe in channeling. You don’t have to believe in any of that stuff. It just works. It’s very simple to learn and anybody can do it.”
Marron-Mullins got into Access Consciousness last year, she said. She was dealing with health issues and she took a friend up on an offer for an Access Consciousness session. Ever since, she’s been hooked.
“As I worked with her I was like, ‘This works,’ and I was so impressed with the difference it made and how much easier it was for me to get through what I was working with,” Marron-Mullins recalled. “And so I said, ‘OK, I’m going to start taking classes.’”
That’s when she found Valentinah — who goes by her first name only, like Cher — who was renting out spaces throughout Yelm offering Access Consciousness classes.
“I could just see there was a difference in people from the beginning of the class when they walked in the door and the end of the class and everybody’s glowing and it was like years fell away from them. They were, like, lit up,” she said.
MaryAnn Marron-Mullins said there’s a group of about 15-20 people who have taken the Access Bars training through the studio. A group gets together Monday and Friday evenings to practice the technique, she said. Classes run just about every weekend (a class on April 13 costs $200 for new students) and a book club — featuring books by founder Gary Douglas and his protege, Dain Heer — is scheduled to start April 10.
Access Consciousness has its fair share of detractors. A former Access student, Andrew Blanford, started the website www.accessschism.com, to warn people of what he said are dangers of the organization.
The website compares the movement to organizations like Scientology, and states it and other groups “may use coercive persuasion, covert hypnosis, intimidation or multilevel marketing in an attempt to separate you from your money and control you and your thoughts.”
“What I discovered very quickly about Access Consciousness, the Access Consciousness philosophy and its material is; it’s confusing, convoluted and contradictory,” he writes. “It appears they have designed it this way intentionally to bring out guilt and shame in order that the guilt and shame be substituted with the leaders (Gary Douglas’) ‘ultimate truth’ the Access Consciousness truth.”
Blanford writers that there are “some good things” in Access Consciousness, but it’s only after one invests a lot of money that people discover “deceit and coercion” in the organization.
A story in the Houston Press, an alternative weekly newspaper, called Access Consciousness a “watered-down repackaging of Scientology.”
The Press obtained manuals used in Access training. One quote from a March 2012 “Level One” manual offers advice on handling difficult people: “You call them up and say quietly to them three times, ‘If you do this again, I will kill you.’ Make sure nobody else can hear you. You have to mean it. Maybe not this lifetime, but you will kill them. If they tell somebody, you go, ‘Me? Would I do such a thing?’”
Douglas’ publicist reportedly told the Press the quotes were taken out of context.
“It’s a disingenuous defense, because even viewed in the ‘context’ of their respective manuals, the meanings don’t change,” the Press wrote. “It’s just that in the manuals, they’re surrounded by long, rambling, gobbledygook phrases that try to shroud their inanity.”
While she’s not sure exactly what the manual meant to say without reading the surrounding content for context, Valentinah said she suspects the quote was figurative — in the sense that people say “I’ll kill you” during an argument.
Douglas says people need to be OK with all energies, she said, and people have a natural “kill energy” associated with killing insect pests, plants or animals for sustenance, or being prepared to kill in self-defense.
“I’m wondering if (the quote) is referring to that, not that you would actually do it, but you have to be willing to be all energy.”
Valentinah said it’s common for people to pick one phrase out of context when discussing something controversial.
“In every modality there’s always going to be the naysayers and that’s just human nature,” she said. “People will take something out of context and say, oh this is what they’re doing, but that’s just one piece. But that’s usually what really gets put out there a lot of the time instead of just looking at the whole bigger picture — what “did they really mean around that?
While Marron-Mullins isn’t familiar with the death-threat quote, she said she suspects it is taken out of context.
“There’s some things (in Access Consciousness) that if you take them out of context, people would look at it crossways. But when you read it in context, pretty much everything that I’ve studied so far, everything in context has been perfectly rational,” she said.
For example, the founders of Access Consciousness have sometimes encouraged parents not to suppress their children’s sexuality, she said. People misunderstand, thinking they’re encouraging children to engage in sexual acts, but they’re merely discouraging people from condemning sex as their children begin to engage in “sexual” activities like flirting, she said.
“Every human being has a sexual aspect to their nature and the issue is a lot of people, especially depending on how they were raised … tend to suppress that and judge it and call it wrong and so they’ll call it wrong and the child growing up feels like that part of themselves is bad and they feel guilty in expressing that aspect of their nature,” she said.
That ignores the sexual nature in all of us, she said.
“They’re going to act sexual, going to flirt, be sensual, but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to lose their virginity,” she said.
Marron-Mullins said the organization boils down to one mantra: “All of life comes to me with ease and joy and glory.”
“That’s the main focus, to make life come to everyone with more ease and more joy and whatever you interpret the word glory to mean,” she said. It also comes down to empowering people to “know what they know,” because people have resources and talents they don’t acknowledge.
The bottom line, Marron-Mullins said, is that you don’t have to agree with or understand Access Consciousness for it to work.
“All you have to do is be willing to experience it and the bottom line is that if you’re open enough to experience it, and give it a chance, it works. That’s what I like. It’s simple, it’s easy, it’s fast — and it works.”