I’ve always been a fan of Derren Brown. When his first TV show came on I saw him getting strangers to do mad things like hand over their keys and wallet without asking why. I remember as he deconstructed his tricks, introducing me to the world of NLP and practical psychology.
As a fan I have naturally been to see a few of his stage shows. On stage he is more himself, whimsical and impish, giggling like a naughty child as he performs. One year I went to see his show Miracle at the Sunderland Empire. The theme of the show was a faith healing demonstration. We were going to be shown how it works and how we can learn to use the techniques. The hope is that we would be able to enrich our experience of life but without the charlatanism and hocus pocus.
At one point we all stood and did a guided visualisation exercise that involved lots of flashy lights. Afterwards we were asked how we felt. Did anyone have any ailments or injuries that felt improved? As we had stood for the exercise, I remember feeling some discomfort from an old injury. Derren asked us to check in with our ouchy bits and I found the pain was all gone! My friend, who suffers with shoulder and back problems, also remarked how she felt free from pain. Derren had asked some of us to come to the side of the stage to tell our stories of miraculous recoveries. So I was all like… “Let’s go!” And she be like… “Nah…” going all shy!
I should point out here that my friend is a singer of music on stages and stuff. A veteran. For her to get stage fright was very odd. In an effort to encourage her I decided to get up and charge on in the hope that she would follow. She did but, bad luck, I ended up being the sixth person to come up. This meant I was the last to climb the stairs onto the stage.
The six of us go up, one by one. Derren Brown, the mystical guru I’d paid to watch, is stood there, greeting each of us in turn, pointing each person to a seat on the stage. As I ascended, he looks at me, shakes my hand and asks my name. I managed to stammer out a reply before being offered the last chair at the other side of the stage. All the seats were facing outward so that for the next bit of the show we were able to watch Derren do his thing with a couple of thousand people facing us and all the stage lights blazing down.
At this point I swung between feeling high as a kite and scared shitless. Our host continues his performance before announcing that one of us lucky souls up on the stage would be getting anointed by God! During this period of limbo the show carried on. Derren knocked some poor bloke out then apparently forgot about him and left him sleeping on the floor for ages before returning, almost as an after thought, to revive him.
The main part of the show was upon us! Tension mounted as the lights were turned down low and moody. The music was dramatic and Derren got into role, adopting an air of gravity and piousness. Starting at the other end from where I was sat, Derren gazed deeply into each persons eyes before nodding then gently prompting each person to sit the same way. Knees together, head down, one by one he got closer to me. When he reached me I’d sat just so, ready to go but, no, Derren had other ideas for me.
Asking me to stand and approach the mic, he pointed to me stand on two white marks on the floor. Thus began what has been one of the more bizarre and fascinating experiences of my life.
On stage, stood quite comfortably but with a slightly wider stance than normal. Derren turned my hands palm outward and began. The lights were crazy bright and a cameraman fluttered around me like a hummingbird around a foxglove. Derren correctly guessed my injury and where I got it before bombarding me with words and gestures. The details are a little hazy but what I can remember clearly is Derren saying at one point “You can now sit back in the throne of God!”. As he said this what felt like very soft armrests were placed under my armpits and between my legs. At his command I relaxed completely and these supports held me up perfectly. The words came at me like bullets and it felt like the most comfortable seat ever, holding me perfectly. Gods throne. It began to lift, until I was on my tiptoes. Time dilated at this point and became meaningless.
By now Derrens bellowing at me. He shouts “You have the POWER!” as he sort of slaps my chest a bit, then whoosh, I’m lifted off my feet! I later had to ask someone how far off the ground I went, my friend was getting her wrist slapped for trying to take a photo and missed it! The answers came back between 2ft and 4ft off the ground.
There I am floating a few feet above the ground. How did this happen. Well obviously something lifted me up but, what about the small prompts leading up to it. I noticed one or two at the time and later remembered others.
For example, when we went up the stairs, none of the others were asked their names. This made me feel sort of special, of course. When he began and got the others to sit a certain way, I complied. I’m starstruck and special. When asked to stand and join Derren at the mic that feeling only deepened. I mean, OMG, right?
The astonishment I felt when he knew what hurt and why. No questions required. Add the camera man to the mix with his bright light, some pounding bass from the music and firm commands from a person I deeply admire and off I went!
There may have been strobes used too. The experience was amazing, one I’ll take with me forever. The glow I got from it sustained me during a difficult time and confirmed to me that I’m already doing exactly what I need to do. Dazzled and awestruck, I was swept off my feet and spun and shook and left feeling marvellous.