Mind Games – Men’s Fitness – January 2000

bendbastardRelying on the power of his mind Uri Geller bends kitchen utensils, stops clocks, erases audio tapes and predicts unlikely events. He even moved a football during Euro ’96 which led to a Scottish penalty miss. Claiming never to have had a day off sick in his life, he now invites us into a world where the mind’s powers truly reign over all things.

Uri Geller is in the building. This much is clear from the tell-tale trail of mangled spoons on the bar of the pub around the corner. We chose the venue for the interview after a rigorous selection process, in the end deciding the upstairs room in the Blue Posts, the local Soho boozer, offered the kind of clinical laboratory conditions in which we could put his powers to the test. We arrived armed with a dose of healthy scepticism and a healthy selection of cutlery.

Upstairs the celebrated paranormalist was holding court with a man from Isle of Wight radio, apparently having already fixed the room’s dicky clock by shouting ” 1 -2-3 work!” at it. In the interests of scientific objectivity we sought out the pub’s barmaid and asked her if the clock had worked before. She couldn’t remember.

The reason we are here is simple. Bored of being best known as that man who bends spoons, Uri Geller has entered the world of complementary medicine. In his new book, Mind Medicine, he argues that we all have the ability to fight off and prevent illnesses using what he calls ‘mindpower’. “I’ve never been sick in my entire life,” he says. “I must be doing something right. I’m 53 and still have my hair, I cycle 28 miles a day. I think I’ve found something – a mix of mindpower, the way I live and the way I eat.”

You’re sceptical, go on, admit it. It’s the rational response. The instinctual reaction to Uri Geller and his supposed telekinetic prowess is a dismissive shake of the head. Surely he is just some kind of metal-rubbing charlatan. A modern day snake-oil salesman. A well-presented side show that has somehow escaped the circus. Nothing more. Certainly nothing that is genuinely challenging scientifically derived conceptions of what earthlings can and can’t do. Problem is Geller is one charlatan who is not so easy to dismiss.

Psyche out your ailments

Geller claims he helped England in Euro ’96 by mentally moving the ball a split second before Gary McAllister struck his ill-fated penalty in the match against Scotland. He wants you to stop taking so many pharmaceutical drugs and psyche out your ailments like you would the opposition’s danger man on a Sunday morning. Easier said than done, especially as said danger man has a nasty habit of ignoring your countermeasures and putting four past you.


 europicUri Geller on his Euro ’96 ball movement
“The News of the World asked me to help England in the game, and since it was a light-hearted thing and I love football I said that I would do it. So there I am hovering above Wembley in a helicopter, listening to the match in my headphones. When I heard that McAllister was about to take the penalty, I said to everyone around me, “let’s concentrate, move the ball”. And the bloody ball moved! After that I got hate mail from people in Scotland and I later went on national television to apologise.”

“I never wanted to touch healing because I was controversial and I didn’t went to open myself up to another facet of attack,” he says. “I’m not a healer or a miracle worker, but people looked to me because they saw the spoon bending and thought I could help them with their physical and mental ailments as well.’

Aware of the suspicion that it would attract, he’s keen to put the information of his book into perspective. “I wanted to be very down to earth and to offer conventional and unconventional methods people rarely use. I laughed at nuel meditation ten years ago. Then I learnt it from a Tibetan monk and it worked for me. Once I started to research the area I realised I’d been using visualisation for years. This is what I’m writing about.’

A book about alternative healing written by a controversial paranormalist in an era of miracle drugs such as Prozac and Viagra sounds about as viable as a bikini wholesalers in Siberia. Recent research, however, shows increasing numbers of people entering a world once stigmatised as the refuge of quacks, crusties and the bored middle-classes. Around one third of the British population are now estimated to use herbal and alternative remedies.


  • Stopped Big Ben in 1991, 1994 and 1997, all at the same time of 1 1:1 1 GMT – apparently it’s his mystical number.
  • In a controlled experiment at Stanford Research Institute in California, Geller correctly predicted the result of eight out of ten die-throws, against odds of a million to one.
  • In front of physicists at Birkbeck College in London, including Professor David Bohm who worked with Einstein, Geller caused a Geiger counter to register 500 times its normal amount.
  • Dr Wernher von Braun, NASA’s “Father of the Space Age” testified that his wedding ring bent in his hand without being touched at any time by Geller.
  • Geller erased a computer tape at Tokai University in Tokyo in the presence of scientists and one of Japan’s loading computer experts.

Possessed by demons

In his book Geller traces our changing attitudes to sickness throughout history. In the Dark Ages illness was seen in superstitious terms, with victims often believed to be possessed.

Post-Enlightenment, logic prevailed, and science now provides cures in the form of drugs. The problem for Geller is that we have become lazily dependent and are not doing enough for ourselves.

“The most brilliant medicine in the world cannot cure the body if the patient’s state of mind refuses to co-operate, just as a person’s state of mind can have a devastating effect on his or her physical health,” he argues. He believes the emotional and spiritual parts of our minds cannot be separated from physical illness – that the mind and the body are inseparably linked.



  • Recruited by US vice-president Al Gore to stare and direct positive mind-vibes at Yuli Vorontsov, the chief Russian negotiator, at nuclear and space arms talks at the US mission in Geneva.
  • Worked with the FBI, using his psychic powers to track serial killers.
  • Worked with the CIA and tried to wipe KGB computer files using his mind.
  • Psychic coach to Reading FC, until he fell out with chairman John Majdewski and cut all contact with the club. “Just look at them now”, he says…


People like Linford Christie and Lennox Lewis have used focusing and visualisation to spur them to ever greater athletic heights. Is it not likely the mind could be used to similarly influence your health and wellbeing?
People like Linford Christie and Lennox Lewis have used focusing and visualisation to spur them to ever greater athletic heights. Is it not likely the mind could be used to similarly influence your health and wellbeing?

Take a pill to relieve a headache, Geller argues, and you’re dealing with only a localised symptom. You do nothing to address the wider emotional and spiritual imbalance that brings it on. Eating disorders are examples of a mental/emotional problem directly affecting physical health. Geller himself suffered from bulimia ss a younger man. “It got very bad – I was sticking toothbrushes down my throat to make myself sick. Once I was so weak I couldn’t get out of my car. I managed to trigger this force in me to stop.’

But what exactly is this ‘force’, and how can non-spoon benders tap into it? “While science looks for reason, often faith is what is required,” says Geller. Which sounds scarily like the start of a religious sermon, but he says this faith is more directed towards the self: “it doesn’t matter whether you pray in a church, temple or synagogue, if you believe in something then that will make you a healthier person. Get in touch with whatever is within you’

The way to awake one’s ‘mindpower’ comes through a daily, routine of mental exercises. Writing down your dreams (just leave out the pervy ones), thinking through weaknesses and trying to get to the root of stresses and strains. You then start meditating on ‘stability’ and ‘self-healing, thinking about a iist or questions Uri has provided for you to ponder while you’re at it. You use visualisation techniques to picture an illness or the soul of your stress and reduce them to a size at which they’re harmless.


This is the special method Geller recommends to prepare your mind and body for relaxation. If you become dizzy or breathless at any time stop immediately and return to normal breaths.

  • Take a few long slow breaths – slow down the pace of your mind and body. Do this for at least four minutes.
  • Now inhale extremely slowly through your nostrils.
  • As you continue to inhale, take in as much air as you can without strain and be aware of your diaphragm expanding until your lungs feel full.
  • When you’re ready to breathe out, and without collapsing your diaphragm, very slowly exhale through your mouth, releasing your breath in a long, slow movement.
  • Repeat this exercise, increasing reps at a rate that feels comfortable to you. Ideally four repeats will be sufficient – it may take you weeks or just days to build up to this.


Making lists “offers great insights into your own mind”. Complete a list and after a month check out the results.

List everything you have done that has succeeded at some time in your life. The purpose of this is to acknowledge your abilities and encourage you to generate the energy to accomplish more.”

List all the things you like about yourself. The greater your self-esteem, the more your creative energy will flow.”

“Make a list of all the things you would like to do just for your own pleasure, no matter how large or small.”

Make a list of things you would love to do, however far fetched they seem.” Again, keep them decent. “This will help you unlock your natural creativity and is one of the most enjoyable lists to produce.”

List those things you believe are preventing you from achieving what you want. This only works if you are honest with yourself, and as soon as you do this, those things that have limited you will begin to disappear.”

One very persuasive man

I admit that up to this point I’d been finding all this pretty hard to stomach. Uri earlier mentioned being mates with Michael Jackson and you can’t help but think of two slightly weird pdople together. Parts of the book remind me of the self-help quizzes in women’s magazines (“mostly C’s – yes you are neurotic”) and contain pictures of mountain ranges with calming affirmations like the posters sad and lonely people at college used to put on their walls. But Uri is a very persuasive man. He speaks with conviction, with the calmness of a priest and the stare of a hypnotist. I fear he might be influencing my thought patterns and duly avoid eye contact, but simple thoughts are flooding in and dilating my opticism. That there’s a link between your state of mind and your physical wellbeing is well established. Linford Christie and Lennox Lewis have used focusing and visualisation to spur them to greater athletic heights. Isn’t it likely the mind could be used similarly to influence health? It’s hard to be objective since most theories about the more abstract things in life are impossible to prove. Even the Health Education Authority recently released a report which concluded that spiritual belief can be good for your mental health. And if Uri Geller is merely a magician, he’s done a damn sight better than Paul Daniels.

As if to underline the point, he starts bending by a spoon for us. He’s barely tickling it. He puts it into the photographer’s hand and it keeps bending. He then asks me to draw something while he’s got his back to me and the photographer makes sure he’s got his eyes closed. Once done, he asks me to stare at him while thinking of what it was. He then does his own sketch – a flower, which matches the one I’d drawn almost perfectly in dimension.

Cue speechlessness from a cynical journalist and sceptical photographer. We had witnessed the unknown in action. All this doesn’t necessarily make his book right, but it’s impossible to deny the man does have strange powers. Uri Geller is ‘out there’. In an instant he had caused a metaphorical sex change and I’d gone from Dana Scully to Fox Mulder in an instant. I want to believe.



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Michael Jackson

“Uri Geller gave an absolutely resonating talk on his life and career. He had every single magician in the room on the edge of their seats trying to digest as much information as they could. Uri emphasized that the path to frame is through uniqueness and charisma and that professional entertainers must be creative in their pursuits of success and never shy away from publicity.”

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“The man is a natural magician. He does everything with great care, meticulous misdirection and flawless instinct. The nails are real, the keys are really borrowed, the envelopes are actually sealed, there are no stooges, there are no secret radio devices and there are no props from the magic catalogues.”

James Randi (In an open letter to Abracadabra Magazine)

“Absolutely amazing”

Mick Jagger

“Truly incredible”

Sir Elton John

“Eternity is down the hall And you sit there bending spoons In your mind, in your mind”

Johnny Cash

“I Have watched Uri Geller… I have seen that so I am a believer. It was my house key and the only way I would be able to use it is get a hammer and beat it out back flat again.”

Clint Eastwood

“Better than watching Geller bending silver spoons, better than witnessing new born nebulae’s in bloom”


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