Ricky Williams is under the control of a cult.

Such was the rumor when the former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL league-leading rusher accepted a $50,000 donation in 2012 for his Ricky Williams Foundation from Gary Douglas, creator and leader of a mysterious spiritual group called Access Consciousness. How does it feel to be accused of being a cult member?

"It doesn't elicit any feelings," Williams says.

His voice on the phone is calm, light, and buoyant. Speaking with Williams feels less like a conversation and more like a therapy session. He listens intently and gives straightforward responses that often come off as blunt, but never rude. When I speak, he doesn’t interrupt. When he feels I’m finished, he allows a brief pause that serves the dual purpose of assuring my completion and allowing him a chance to formulate a response. It feels as if he’s listening not just in anticipation of his turn to speak, but to fully comprehend what is being said.

He continues:

“People that are on the fringe, that are doing things that are different, they [have] detractors. They say, ‘This is the right way and the way that you’re doing things is the wrong way.’ To me that’s judgment. So for me the people that don’t like Access, it’s not for them, so don't do it. The people that do, it’s good stuff. So I think for each his own. We’re all at different places in the journey and we all require different kinds of medicine. Be true to yourself, listen to your heart, and you’ll be fine. Whether you do Access or not.”

Now, this is where I should specifically tell you what Access Consciousness is and what they do. The only problem is I’m not totally sure because they never totally reveal themselves—at least not for free. Visiting Access’ site provides about as much initial clarity as a Young Thug speed reading session. At its base, Access markets itself as a set of tools capable of teaching you how to be free of judgment and any other mental roadblocks that might hinder you achieving your greatest potential, or as their website says, “Access provides you with ways to become totally aware and to begin to function as the conscious being you truly are.” Sounds less like a mission statement and more like the functioning definition of Adderall.

Further reading alludes to different “courses” and “tools” that Access supplies its (paying) members in order to reach that hallowed state of mental nirvana. One such tool is a procedure known as “Running the Bars” where trained Access members (called “Facilitators”) touch 32 specific points on your head to release “all the limiting thoughts, ideas, attitudes, decisions, and beliefs that you have ever had, about anything.” Afterwards, Access uses “questions and verbal techniques” and up to seven different levels of courses to help you reach peak awareness. The specifics of what each class offers and at what price are on their FAQ, but overall public access to Access is opaque and vague.

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