A new way of seeing

A spiritual mecca. A source of healing. A polar energy center. God’s country. These are just a few of the epithets Asheville has collected in the latter half of this century.

And in the past few years, Asheville’s reputation as a spiritual center has gone global. A case in point is the Clairvision School, one of the most recent additions to the local cosmic buffet. Karen O’Connell, who’s been with Clairvision since its inception in 1989, is now teaching two courses in the Asheville area — a far-flung outpost from her home in Sydney, Australia. Clairvision was founded by French medical doctor Samuel Sagan, to teach people to open up their spiritual vision by nurturing a new “organ” of sight — the third eye.

“Awakening the Third Eye” is a Clairvision introductory course that teaches a systematic method for developing this faculty — not the third eye familiar from Indian mystical traditions, O’Connell explains, but an innate perceptive faculty that everyone was born with.

Course participants will practice such techniques as “psychic sleep” (which teaches one to use the nighttime hours for spiritual development), and finding harmony with “land energies” through earth lines (you’ll have to attend the course to find out exactly what that means, but O’Connell notes that she’s intrigued by the energy she feels coming from the land in this area). The course also offers techniques for sealing the aura, resulting in what O’Connell calls “psychic protection and grounding.”

A second course offered by Clairvision, dubbed ISIS (Inner Space Interactive Sourcing), teaches an intensive method of regression and past-life therapy with a metaphysical focus. “Awakening the Third Eye” is a prerequisite for taking ISIS.

Why did O’Connell choose Asheville as a place to temporarily set up shop? She says she sensed that many people in western North Carolina are “searchers,” as she characterizes herself — interested in looking into themselves and the world around them for a higher power.

Clairvision has no interest in proselytizing, O’Connell asserts. In fact, she points out that students are carefully screened before being admitted into the more intensive ISIS workshop. “This isn’t for everyone … and that’s fine,” she says. “I’ve seen that Americans are often looking for a quick fix … [but] our methods go deep into a person, distinguishing between emotions and true feelings.”

She’s also quick to make a distinction between Clairvision and the loose term “New Age.” O’Connell even debated with school founder Sagan (no relation to Carl) over the title of one of their introductory courses (and one of his books), The Third Eye, saying that it sounded too “New Agey.”

“I’m wary of the washed-out spirituality that falls under the New Age name,” O’Connell confesses. “Our program is very powerful — one of the most effective programs in the world today.”

The organization’s roots, she says, are firmly planted in both Eastern and Western spiritual traditions, and one of its aims is to provide a much-needed alternative to the diluting influence of many New Age philosophies — and an experimental base from which to connect with true spiritual realities.

The group hopes to become an integral component of a global push for heightened consciousness. “[Clairvision] anticipates a growing number of people around the globe who want more out of life, who want a heightened awareness,” O’Connell explains. “We simply want to connect with those people, in order to establish a dialogue and to map out consciousness.”

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