Jul. 10, 2005. 06:03 PM
Adam, the teenage healer from British Columbia, is shown in his baby photos and in a blurry portrait, all courtesy of his family. Adam refuses to be photographed now, and does not reveal his last name. He was born with a V-shaped birthmark on his forehead that believers say is a sign of his powers of healing.
The teenage miracle worker

The Vancouver teenager who treated Ronnie Hawkins for cancer is reading my aura. We are sitting opposite each other in the darkened cocktail lounge of a Toronto hotel at midday. Officially, the room is closed but Adam, his father, Frank, and I have slipped past the barriers in search of a quiet place to talk.

I have shown them a small lump on my left wrist and Adam has shifted his gaze to somewhere over my left shoulder.

"I won't go inside," he says, meaning he won't plunge visually into my cardiovascular and lymphatic systems to analyze the obstruction, like a human CT scan. He has to conserve his energy for a six-hour collective healing session the next day for 75 fibromyalgia patients.

Instead, he checks my aura for energy blockages, a task that in dim light apparently takes him little effort.

"The problem's not really your wrist," he says, eyes surveying the middle distance. "I see something on your neck, on the left side.

"Well, on both sides, really, but especially the left. On the right I see more like a shadow. Your left shoulder blade and left arm — something's going on there."

His words resonate with me. If I don't stretch regularly, I get a sharp stitch in my upper left shoulder blade from typing, and stiffness down the arm.

The shadow sounds like residue from sharp pains that shot down my right arm for months in 1993, after a barber suddenly twisted my neck. A doctor couldn't help, but several treatments from an osteopath resolved the matter.

Adam seemed able to read the patterns and see the interconnections. By contrast, a doctor I had consulted diagnosed it as a (harmless) ganglionic cyst and gave me a choice between having it surgically removed and waiting to see if it disappeared.

He was helpful but never seemed to consider the body as an organic whole, or question how the lump formed in the first place — the kind of approach that gets people like me curious about alternative medicine.

When I first showed Adam my wrist, I was asking him about the self-healing techniques he teaches.

How does the mind help heal the body, I wanted to know? What is this life force, this qi energy, that Eastern philosophers speak of? And why, with all of Western medicine's pharmaceuticals, advanced surgical procedures and technological diagnostics, do theories of energy and interconnectedness sound so intuitively worth pursuing?

In the alternative-medicine world, Adam commands a large and loyal following.

His patients include a former U.S. lunar astronaut; he has just signed a six-figure, three-book contract with a major publisher, which includes the reissue of two self-published books; and his mass healing sessions of up to 450 people always sell out well in advance.

Three are scheduled for Toronto this summer — an event today at the Westin Prince Hotel in North York, and two others at the same venue Aug. 27 and 28.

At them, Adam performs what he calls "distance energy healing." From across a room or a continent, he says, he can mentally conjure up images of a person's insides, identify a disease or ailment, and expel it.

Most people know him from the Ronnie Hawkins case.

Three years ago, the rockabilly singer was diagnosed at Toronto General Hospital with terminal pancreatic cancer. Three biopsies failed to prove cancer but an inoperable tumour growing around an artery meant his condition was fatal anyway. He was expected to be dead in three months.

Through his manager, Hawkins contacted Adam, 16 at the time. From 5,000 kilometres away, he performed a series of energy treatments on Hawkins through a photograph of the singer. Within eight months the tumour had disappeared entirely and Hawkins declared himself cured.

Now, to people close to him, Adam appears poised to take distance energy healing to a wider public. Several factors seem to be working for him.

At not quite 19, he exudes immediate personal appeal. He is six foot two, with calm brown eyes and an athletic build.

He seems intelligent but not intellectual. He speaks like any teenager at a suburban mall, sometimes running his words together into a near mumble.

Lecturing to a roomful of people, he appears natural and self-possessed, never like a salesman or somebody striving to create an impression. "I think having a big ego counters the healing process, " he says.

Recent trends in the medical community are helping him. Acupuncture and other Eastern treatments, once dismissed by the Canadian health system, are becoming more integrated; acceptance is growing that mental and emotional states directly affect disease and wellness.

In Victoria at the end of May, medical doctors invited Adam to demonstrate his mass-healing techniques at the annual convention of the Association of Complementary Physicians of British Columbia.

Other influential people are championing him.

One is Effie Chow, a former member of U.S. President Bill Clinton's White House commission on complementary and alternative medicine. She is also founder of the East West Academy of Healing Arts in San Francisco, and a grandmaster in qigong, the ancient Chinese practice literally meaning energy (qi, or "chee"), and discipline or work (gong).

"Adam is one of the most powerful healers on this soil, North America," she said in a recent telephone interview. "His healing energy is untroubled and pure."

Another fan is former U.S. lunar astronaut Edgar Mitchell. In 1971, he became the sixth person to walk on the moon as a member of the Apollo 14 mission. He holds a PhD science in Aeronautics/Astronautics from MIT, and in 1973 founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences, or IONS, with the goal of proving scientifically that all humans are connected subatomically to each other and to everything else.

"I have had two different short bouts with cancer," Mitchell said recently by email.

"Both were successfully treated with these alternative techniques — one before I met Adam and a short-lived kidney cancer after meeting Adam and which he treated. I have been cancer free for more than two years now."

A pop-culture trend is also boosting Adam's profile.

To explain his powers, Adam often cites quantum physics, the theoretical science of subatomic matter.

Some of the same material underlies the Jewish mystic tradition of Kabbalah, or at least the updated version attracting such stars as Madonna, Roseanne and Elizabeth Taylor, with its talk of a parallel universe of wisdom and light.

The recent hit documentary film What the Bleep Do We Know?, starring Marlee Matlin, too, turns on quantum physics theory, arguing that people control their own spiritual and physical destinies. Next month, Adam is to appear with some of the film's scientific personalities at Simon Fraser University for a What the Bleep Do We Know? conference.

A pop-culture trend is

boosting his profile.

The quantum physics he cites shows up

in Kabbalah

and is the

subject of a hit documentary


Adam's goals, he says, are to keep developing his powers and eventually prove scientifically how they work. In September, he starts his second year of university. He intends to graduate with a PhD in biology.

He guards his anonymity closely. He never gives his last name. His father is simply Frank, his mother, Liz, his younger sister, Sarah. He states his home address only as "suburban Vancouver" and never allows himself to be photographed.

Only when he is ready will he embrace celebrity, he says — if celebrity is still waiting then.

I have attended two of Adam's workshops. One took place in Toronto last summer, the other in Vancouver early this year. Each was a one-day workshop featuring two 20-minute mass healing sessions, the same format he is to follow in Toronto this summer. Each cost $99, slightly below the industry standard.

Much of the material I found fascinating. Some I found valuable. Parts I found so far to the outer fringe they shocked me.

The workshops are a family affair. Frank acts as emcee, Liz co-ordinates the volunteer ushers — mostly people who credit earlier workshops for their recovered health — and Sarah sells books at the back.

After an introduction from Frank, Adam walks to the front without fanfare. He tells how he has always been able to see auras, and asks whether anybody would like him to read theirs.

Scores of hands shoot up. Adam picks four or five candidates, who go to the front for a reading with the lights off. In his informal way, Adam invariably identifies a key problem area, just as he had with me.

"Your legs," he told one man at the Toronto workshop. "They look all static, like a TV set on the wrong channel."

"I was in a motorcycle accident," the man replied. "I can hardly make it up the stairs."

Most cases are tragic but one reading in Vancouver got a laugh. Adam told a man he had trouble reading the energy in his right arm.

"I've never seen anything like it before — I don't know what to say," Adam confessed, and the lights came on to reveal the man had no right arm.

The readings warm the crowd and establish credibility. Adam then tells a bit about himself. He talks of being born with a red "V" on his forehead — the sign of a healer — and of early telekenetic experiences that led to his discovery of his powers.

Next, Adam covers quantum physics theory. He explains his gift as an ability to manipulate the quantum, or subatomic, energy field — even at great distances — to promote healing. He can conjure up quantum holograms of a person's insides, he says, like Tom Cruise calling up three-dimensional images in the sci-fi film Minority Report.

Cancer cells appear to him in green, Adam says. To kill them, he energetically applies red heat, causing them to turn white and disintegrate like dust. Then he energetically vacuums the dust and throws it away.

"If something is removed on the energetic level," he tells audiences, "then it will soon disappear on the physical level."

Next, he teaches visualization and imaging. This is the part that interested me most — mainstream techniques covered in his book Dreamhealer 2: Guide to Self-Empowerment.

The idea is to engage the conscious mind to heal one's own body. Adam's images include fire, ice, lightning bolts, explosions and what he calls "small energy packets," which swarm like bees over a problem area to spread healing energy.

The climax comes at two mass healings, morning and afternoon.

At the ones I attended, participants began by pulling their chairs close together. The crowd grew tightly packed.

Adam demonstrated how to expand the aura, so that all our auras would combine — "like two bubbles bursting to form one big bubble in the bath," he said.

Then he asked people to close their eyes and self-visualize. I imagined lightning bolts striking my left wrist and energy packets carrying away the debris.

Meanwhile, Adam performed what he called energy work on the collective aura, to restore balances and promote healing.

Some people cried out. The woman to my right in Vancouver twitched spastically. Other people appeared doubtful.

"Oh, phooey," broadcaster and author Bill Cameron wrote of the process in a recent issue of The Walrus magazine. I saw him in the back at the Toronto session last summer, in a late stage of the esophageal cancer that killed him in March.

Despite his initial skepticism, Cameron writes, he later requested — and received — one-on-one treatment.

"Adam scanned my body twice, from thousands of miles away, wrestled with my cancer and failed to evict it, but did not charge me a dime for the effort," Cameron wrote with gratitude. "That, in alternative medicine, may be the most rigorous test of faith available."

For me, the mass healings felt undramatic but positive. The lump on my left wrist remained, but I liked the feeling of heightened energy in the room and sense of common purpose — experiences that made me want to go back.

Then at the Vancouver session, Adam headed to the fringe.

He spoke of a vision he experienced. He was flying over the ocean and running through a forest. Eventually, he came upon a large, black bird, which told him to go to Nootka.

With his family and other relatives, he told the audience, he travelled by car and supply boat to Nootka Island, off the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Soon, he and the others came upon a four-foot-high black bird. They took pictures of it, which Adam projected to the workshop. No ornithologist had been able to identify the bird, he said, but a local chief suggested it might be the thunderbird of Indian legend.

At one point, Adam said, the bird telepathically downloaded all the information of the universe into his brain. Ever since, he has been able to see baseball-size orbs of energy and light moving through the air.

"When I get a third book together, I'll be releasing a lot more information about them," he said in an interview the next day.

For me, the talk of thunderbirds and orbs held no interest. When alternative practices cross into what to me is magical thinking, I turn off.

I do not doubt Adam's integrity or that of his parents. Are they self-deluded? If not, Adam might one day prove his theories.

In the meantime, he seems to be helping people. His website http://www.dreamhealer.com brims with testimonials of cures and transformations. People tell of waking from comas, and returning to health after terrible debilitations — phenomena that, to me, suggest his work is still well worth exploring.

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