Apparently, I Was A Geisha

Seeing a friend share the results of a “Who Were You In A Past Life?” quiz on Facebook brought to mind the strangest experience of my life.

My first year after college, a friend invited me to join her at a Twin Cities spiritual center to attend something called a healing circle.

The meeting took place in a dim room illuminated by a glowing photo of a spiritual leader. We sat in a circle and people began sharing their personal struggles, some of whom shared at length. I’m a reserved individual and don’t disclose too deeply unless I get to know someone well.

After the sharing portion of the evening, we’re asked to close our eyes while the leader made his rounds around the room to lay his hands on everyone’s head. I’ve always felt uneasy when I’m in a situation where a pastor or teacher tells everyone to close their eyes and dislike when strangers touch me so I find this a triple dose of discomfort.

I think the leader fancied himself as some sort of Deanna Troi.

He could sense that I was hesitant to participate with unbridled enthusiasm and commented on this fact, which only made me feel more awkward.

As if he’s uncomfortable because he’s not sure I liked him and grasping for conversation, he suddenly gasps and informs me that he just received a vision. A vision specifically for me about my past life.

He goes on to describe that in his vision he saw me dressed in a kimono serving a table of people.

I stare at him incredulously.

I blink.

I really have no idea what to say.

“I can tell you were taught to be a nice person,” he says. “You should stop worrying about being so nice. Like, if you want to share something, you should share it. Or if you want to leave, you should leave.” Actually, this wasn’t bad advice.

“Ok,” I say. One minute later, I leave.

Now, my problem wasn’t with the spiritual experience being new and different. My problem was that he automatically associated me with a kimono (I’m Korean) and assumed that I was Asian in my past life.

I’m not well-versed on the topic of past lives, but would to think that if past lives were real, we aren’t bound to the same race in which we presently find ourselves. I’d also like to think I wouldn’t necessarily be a Geisha. Keep in mind this occurred soon after the film Memoirs Of A Geisha won many film and music awards, pushing the topic of Geishas into the forefront of pop culture.

I’m tickled that Buzzfeed claims I was a poet even though I chose mochi as my fro-yo topping. Or what the heck. Maybe the joke’s on me and I really was a Geisha!


  1. Beth Ann Chiles

    I am glad your BuzzFeed quiz says you were a poet—-I could totally envision you as a poet since you are undoubtedly one of the best writers I know. The Geisha thing—now that would have freaked me out and insulted me because it was apparently a stereotype. I would have left the room, too. Sounds like a less than fulfilling experience in the healing circle. 🙂

    • Jeni Flaa

      Did you end up taking the quiz? That experience has always stuck with me because it was so odd!

  2. Emily

    I would have laughed in his face.

    I’ve had my fair share of these experiences (as a Chinese-American) and I sympathize.

    • Jeni Flaa

      Thanks Emily. Laughing would have been the more appropriate response. I was so unassertive seven years ago. This would have gone down differently today:)

  3. Angel

    I recently seen a physic yesterday with my boyfriend. And as my reading was being done the physic chuckled an said I was doll up and dress very pretty an that I was a Geisha and me and my boyfriend live a past life together before an he was in the army

    • Jeni Flaa

      That is very strange! What did you think of the reading?

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