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(NECN: Lauren Collins) - Some gifts we're born with, other skills we can learn. One Massachusetts-based medium believes we all have some psychic ability.
What comes to mind when you hear the term psychic or medium? Do you picture a crystal ball, or envision a scene out of an M. Night Shymalan film? Would you call your self a skeptic?
"Don't worry, I'm not going to levitate out of a chair, my head's not going to spin around," says psychic medium and spiritual teacher Joanne Gerber, internationally recognized for her work with the other-worldly.
"Our intention is to provide the healing and the closure to those who have had loved ones pass," she explains.
Gerber remembers herself as a child seeing and hearing things she couldn't explain. In the last ten years she says she's learned how to hone those skills and listen to the dead.
What's more, "through my own experience in working with individual students, I have discovered that everybody does have some ability."
On a recent fall weekend in New Hampshire, Gerber led a workshop of more than a dozen students from all over the country interested in her abilities and their potential.
"I'm not a skeptic any more," says Kathy Willette, one of three sisters who came from Michigan. They first reached out to Gerber more than a year ago, seeking comfort after their mom died.
Willette's sister Annette Nawrocki remembers, "I was so devastated and I was just stumbling. I didn't know how to live without my mom, that's how close we were. And (Gerber) brought that back to me. She gave that gift back to me."
So how does it work? Could I be psychic? Could I communicate with loved ones who've passed?
"Just sense what you're picking up. What kind of vibration from the object inside the envelope," instructs Gerber.
She teaches her students how to clear their minds through meditation and sense the energy that she says is in all objects and all spirits.
"And if things are coming to you whether it's phrases or words or sensations, or your hearing something, seeing something, smelling something, I want you to just write it down," she encourages.
At the end of a three hour class we - my curious self included - all wrote down the name of a loved one on an index card and swapped it with another student. The goal? To test our abilities as mediums - whether we could sense the energy of the person named on the card.
I seemed to miss the mark, but Kaitlin, a med-student from Alabama, had hidden in her hands the name of the only loved one I've ever lost.
"I felt immediately that there was an "M" name somewhere, there was an M A connection. I was thinking either Matthew or Mark or Martin. It's strong, so I feel like that is maybe his family name and not his first name." She goes on, "for some reason I felt like there was a military connection, that maybe he had been in the military, maybe the Navy?"
Arthur Martin. That was my grandfather and he was a pilot in the Navy.
Gerber says scenes like this one play out in every one of her workshops.
"They get very emotional, and the person giving the message gets emotional, and before you know it the whole class is emotional."
I was stunned. "That's the only word I keep coming back to is stunned. Because, it's a little pink card, you know? And (Kaitlin) got so much, that it's hard to . . . these are things that you can not really make up."
Gerber calls that evidentiary information -- the facts a stranger would never know. The rest of us - even skeptics like me - call it comfort.
"He wanted me to leave you with peace," Kaitlin tells me. "And to let you know that he's happy and he's very proud of you and he does watch over you and leaves you with love."