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Club Meditation

Summer can heat up in more ways than one.
Katharine Sandiford relives her time as an office temp.

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When I signed up to work as an office temp, I thought I was in for a summer of polyester blouses wet in the pits, bloat-inducing Chinese lunches in underground cafeterias and endless hours of staring at a computer. What I got instead was induction into the Maharishi yogic cult, phone sex with a billionaire and photocopies of my ass.

I was living in Toronto, forsaking free rent for a life away from my parents. The job was to supply the cash to pay for beer, weed, clothes, bars, records, ethnic food, personal growth and more.

It started out normally: two-weeks reorganizing files at a law firm as the assistant to the administrative assistant. A large windowless room closed in by walls heavy with slumping and over-stretched file folders contained my glossy nailed co-worker and me. At first we would work side-by-side and chit chat, but her breath was so bad I slowly retreated further and further down the aisles away from her until I was working the files at the other end of the room.

“Was it something I said?” she asked jokingly one afternoon in the kitchenette, both of us filling up our mugs with coffee that tasted like bleach and compost.

I took a sip from my stained mug, biding the time to think up a polite excuse and said, “No, it’s just the way you said it.”

That night, sitting around a couple of pints, my boyfriend turned his face away from mine when I reached over to kiss him.“It’s your breath,” he said. “It smells like something died in there.”

It was true, I was dying inside. And if they hadn’t moved me out of those gassy file chambers and into the airy offices of the Maharishi Veda Land headquarters, my inner spirit would surely have perished. At Veda Land, instead of bad breath, there was deep breath.

Occupying the two top floors at Bay and King, the transcendental meditation HQ had oak desks, Italian suits, and a well-dressed receptionist. The difference between these people and the workers inhabiting the offices for miles around us was one thing: they didn’t have Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the richest yogi in the world, backing them.

Conceived of by master-mind magician and TM devotee Doug Henning and funded by the heavy purse of the Maharishi empire, Maharishi Veda Land was to be a 1,400 acre, $1.5 billion yogic transcendental theme park. Complete with levitating buildings, a ride through the seven stages of enlightenment and another through time immemorial, the park was set to open in 1996 at Niagara Falls, Ontario. But Henning got cancer, then died in 2000, and the park never got off the ground.

My computer was in the office across from the meditation room and just down the hall from the scaled down architectural model of the theme-park-to-be. My job was to manage the ever-increasing database of current and potential investors.

That’s how I met Bernice, a wealthy TM follower with million dollar investments in African diamonds. I called him to verify the spelling of his name for the golden plaque that would be cemented into the walkway of enlightenment. Like the Beatles and other wealthy Maharishi devotees, Bernice had donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to his guru over the years.

Bernice was old, with a hoarse, grandfatherly voice. But despite his age and his devotion to the cult, he was remarkably virile on the phone, and when other office workers were in their mid-day meditation sessions, I would sneak into the photocopy room and scan parts of my naked body to fax to him in Luxembourg.

A week into my placement, one of the executives invited me to the mid-day meditation. I stood Bernice up, but what I found was something better than fax-sex: bliss. And the more TM sessions I showed up for, the more they showered me with bonuses, dinners, free admissions to yogic flying weekend workshops. When my three week contract was over, they offered me a full-time job.

But the bliss that I found had nothing to do with deep breathing, mantras or enlightenment. I got my rocks off just hanging out with some of the weirdest people on the planet. And I’ll never forget the tingling hot sensation of the scanning rod caressing my naked white ass.

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