Howard Wimer is a guy who believes in following a hunch to happiness.
Seventeen years ago he turned his back on a promising Los Angeles career as a producer of educational and promotional films, and as a one-time personal assistant to comedian Steve Allen, and followed his hunch into the Inner Peace Movement.
He's been there ever since, traveling the world teaching people how to get in touch with their four "spiritual" or psychic "gifts" -- intuition, prophecy, vision and healing -- which he says can lead them to greater personal contentment and success.
He's in Baltimore now and will present free lectures at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night at the Holiday Inn Belmont, near Security Boulevard and the Beltway.
It's all about tuning in to tiny electromagnetic signals that we all give off, he says, and learning to interpret and act on their meaning to improve our lives. The signals are perceived in different ways, including a shimmering, colorful "aura" that some people claim to see in the air around other people.
It's a phenomenon that Wimer says can provide clues to the person's inner feelings, but which others might dismiss as optical illusion.
Extrasensory perception like this, he says, is "not really extra; everybody has it." They just need someone to help them recognize it in themselves, and put it to use.
"We teach people a technique to change their aura and get rid of negativity," Wimer said.
Scientists have measured tiny electric fields around living things, and they've begun to look for its significance. Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, for example, are studying "electroreception" in stingrays, a sensory system they apparently use in finding potential mates.
But Wimer admits there is little if any scientific foundation as yet for any of the Inner Peace Movement's elaborate assertions about such signals and sensory abilities in people.
"I have no scientific background," says Wimer, who looks like a banker in his summer suit. "But the main focus of the program is not the phenomenon. We try to take the mysticism out of it."
IPM's assertions and techniques were developed 27 years ago by a man named Francisco Coll, in Puerto Rico. Their validity is supported solely by the personal anecdotes and experiences of people who have tried the program.
But if people were not finding some truth and benefit in what the Inner Peace Movement teaches, Wimer says, the organization would not have survived 27 years, and "obviously, I wouldn't be here."
The organization claims that more than half a million people have participated in its programs worldwide.
Wimer, the son of a millionaire telephone company executive, says he inherited plenty of money and isn't getting richer from his work
with IPM. It's registered as an educational, non-profit organization, and Wimer notes it is also "non-religious, non-dogmatic."
The free lectures are only introductory. Participants can follow up with a workshop that costs $11 and weekly group sessions at $3 each. These are "simply an opportunity to be with like-minded people in the
community," he said. "They come from all walks of life, usually people who want to find out more about themselves."