Barbara Janelle Workshop Response
By Mona Luo and Mallard Duck(s)

Started on: 04/27/14 16:51:43
Medium: Visual

I attempted to communicate with mallard ducks on two separate occasions. Once when there was a male and female pair and another when there was only a male. Both times I tried to regulate my breathing and to be conscious of the present by focusing on my bodily presence. I kind of felt as if time was slowing down. However, the ducks still seemed wary. They did not run away, but they certainly wouldn’t take their eyes off of me or let their guard down. Although I didn’t feel any particularly strong connection to the animal, it was nice to pause and take a moment to really observe the birds. On the tail feathers of the male there was a cute black curlicue that I would have never noticed if I hadn’t been trying out this exercise. I think it’s a good way to gain a deeper understanding of nature, even if there is no psychic connection. Unfortunately I am not in the habit of bringing a camera around, and I cannot download pictures off of my phone, so you will have to bear with the fact that I did not take any photos of my encounter.
The animal communicator session was less outlandish than it was made out to sound. I could see how a lot of the techniques that she showed us had a basis in psychology and physiology. For instance, the idea of yawning and relaxing to make animals around us feel more relaxed. We unconsciously mirror the emotional states of those around us and it doesn’t seem farfetched at all that animals (especially domesticated animals) would do the same. Also, when she asked Brianna to stroke Mango from ears all the way down to her paws while speaking gently it didn’t seem to different than what one would do with a child. Petting all over the body would allow Mango to focus on body awareness and physicality, removing her from her anxious mental space into a calmer physical one. I am somewhat surprised that she did not mention anything about tone of voice. Brianna seemed speak in a soothing voice intuitively when Barbara asked her to tell Mango what she wanted her to do. I think the tone of voice was probably more important than the words themselves. The point on speaking in positives only rather than using negatives is also something I had heard before in regards to hypnosis. The human unconscious works like animals, and understands “do not think about ice cream” as “think about ice cream”.
As for the trees, I will admit I felt a little lost and skeptical. It wasn’t an unpleasant experience by any mean, but I did not feel any spiritual or healing connection. I have no doubt that taking a moment to relax beneath a tree can benefit one’s mental health, but not any more than taking a moment to breath and relax in any other calm, stable, and natural environment.
I did come to a personal realization though through this meeting. It is not that I have an issue with things that defy explanation; it is that I do not like things that are explained without confirmation. For instance, I don’t take issue with Barbara’s claims that she felt a pain in her neck and found the wire the horse’s neck, because that can be confirmed. There are of course things to be careful of, such as confirmation bias. We are more likely to overestimate the number of times an event confirms our beliefs and forget that ones that don’t. But giving Barbara the benefit of the doubt that it has happened more times than would be expected by chance alone, I am willing to believe in these telepathic claims. However, when she claimed that she could speak with the dead and know what these pets were saying, I became more wary. There is no way of confirming these claims and so it takes faith. And that is something I seem to have very little of. When speaking to Patrick about his dog that had passed away I felt alarms going off in my head. Much of what she said about the dog, and her assessments of the dogs in class that day as well, sounded like Barnum statements. Barnum statements are statements that sound specific enough to seem personal, while broad enough to be applicable to most people (or animals). For instance, horoscopes are known for using these kinds of statements. This is not to say that I believe she was trying to trick any of us, but I don’t think a lot of the things she said were as remarkable as the initial claim made them out to be. As she said herself, we all had some sense that what she had said was true, and I think that many of us could have come up with similar conclusions if we had spent as much time and invested as much attention with animals as she.

male mallard duck with curlicue on tail

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