By Manika Kaur | Reflections
Blame is the curtain we use to veil our fears. It is simpler for us to look at someone else than face ourselves. The painful task of reflecting within is the most difficult of all – this is the true spiritual journey. Prayer and meditation play a significant role in my life. Through these methods awareness of the ‘self’ arises. People often think that those who pray/meditate exist in a perpetually blissful state. However, in my experience, I find that the universe presents me with situations I am meant to encounter at that moment in my growth.
When I was younger we would go on camping trips with my school. We had to live in tents and collect water from the river for cooking and drinking. Our instructors would remind us that the places in which the water does not move contain harmful bacteria. If you walk along the very same river you will also find places where the water moves. It is there you will find pure drinking water. I see myself as a river. Some parts moving, free and healthy; some parts sedentary, murky and poisonous. Meditation pushes me into the murky parts, the parts I hold little awareness of. The process of recognising and overcoming an aspect of my ego begins there. Each time I conquer something I reach a healthier state. I overcome one fear and often realise I am behind another one but with a new knowing, one that will assist me in my next breakthrough.
I have been lucky. A majority of the mistakes I have made have been with people who have a genuine care for me. They have known my inner intention is not to harm. Every new test has provided me with a deeper understanding and humbling realisation that I am not above anything. We are capable of all human acts – good or evil, pure or murky. The blame I may have held, inadvertently or not, towards someone who has hurt me, reduces and often completely dissipates with each experience I have within myself. The understanding that our behaviour is a manifestation of our fears saturates me with compassion because to me this is the human experience – to make mistakes, understand the ‘why’, face whatever it is that keeps us in that self-destructive cycle and evolve. We may fear losing control or fear being powerless. Fear being less valued or loved. Fear some kind of loss such as financial, reputational or societal damage. Some of us go our entire lives self- fulfilling our worst fears. We remain victims to our Ego.
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For me, the realisation, that we are all the same, is so pivotal to discovering humility. Herein you find a love and compassion so powerful, so pervasive, that all ill-conceived judgements begin to strip away. This slow and arduous process of removing layers is the journey to singularity, to oneness. The home of the soul. The recognition that there is no one to blame came through prayer and meditation. Whilst meditating recently I travelled back into a situation in my past where I was constantly afraid but this time I saw it with a brand new perspective.
I no longer see myself as the victim, I see the gift the universe was trying to give me. I have always struggled to love myself. This is why I remained silent and allowed negativity to take hold in my life. I always attracted bullies. I never stood up for myself but was always ready to stand up for others. The more women I speak to the more I realise how common this is amongst us as a gender. How many of us are afraid to be brazen and bold because of the fear of being judged. Yet we judge women who are just that. This is even more prominent in Asian culture.
I grew up seeing a mother who sacrificed constantly. That became the role I adopted for myself. Only on the steps of death’s door, after I delivered my son, did I have a vital awakening. The universe grabbed me by shoulders and shook me into submission, finally bending me to its way.
The doctor who delivered my son performed an episiotomy. The depth and breadth of her incision, coupled with the tightly bound stitches, left me in excruciating, constant pain. When I voiced my agony, I should never have accepted the responses I received during this time from the doctor or those around me. “Girls these days only know how to complain”. “You’re such a good actress”. “It’s your own fault”. I was overwhelmed. I naively expected to be loved and cared for.
The nurses could hear my crying throughout the nights. Lack of sleep and blood loss rendered me unable to breastfeed my son. My constant cry for help to the staff resulted in the doctor bringing in a psychiatrist. I was given drugs to subdue my senses. It was a confusing time filled with pain and fear. I numbly took the pill she prescribed me. That was the first time I slept in 5 days. However, sleep did not mask my pale face and my blue lips. A blood test revealed that my iron was dangerously low. It proved I had significant blood loss during delivery, which had led to me requiring blood transfusions.
After 14 days of chaos, horror and negligent treatment, my husband took me to another hospital. It was there that I came into contact with my new doctor. When she examined my wound she looked up at my husband with tears in her eyes. His eyes teared in turn as she said to him, “You’re lucky your wife isn’t dead! This is complete negligence. Who is responsible for her?” She was disgusted that I was left in such a condition for 14 days. The doctor immediately removed the stitches and admitted me. She was even more perturbed when she found that I had E.coli. She would tell me that I was her miracle patient.
She generously and graciously poured love into my wounds. I stayed a week in the hospital under her care and managed to begin the slow process to recovery.
It took 3 months before the stitches were removed. An abnormal amount of time to heal. At my last meeting with her, she started the process of healing for my soul and my mind, not just my body. She explained to me exactly what happened to me. In detail. That knowledge empowered me. Not fully understanding what happened to my body made me feel powerless. She gave that back to me.
For months after this ordeal I would have panic attacks triggered by anything related to birth. I remember seeing the doctor who messed up my delivery and having a meltdown. If I brought up the incident at home I was told not to speak about it or would be compared to someone else who had cancer or some kind of health issue. I was on a lot of pain killers and antibiotics, I could not sit without being in pain. Every part of me ached. My wrists would constantly throb from the intravenous needles. The road to recovery was long and tough. In all of this I learned to be what I needed for myself. I would not change that experience. I would not ask to suffer less, I would not ask for less pain. That constant agony taught me about the endless depths of physical and emotional suffering. It gave me the ability to empathise.
Most importantly it was during this time that I finally learned to love myself. It has taken years to come to this understanding but recognition is the key to freedom. I am no longer a prisoner of that experience, that doctor or anyone else. When I think back to that time it was as if I took birth myself. I was reborn. That experience prepared me for the many things I would face later, and will face in times to come. It has made me stronger. It has slowly built up a confidence in me I lacked my entire life.
We as a society have created the habit of villainizing people. We need a bad guy so we can be the good guy or the victim. Whatever role our ego thrives on. What if there was no bad guy? What if in every situation we were both the inflictor and inflicted? What if we could look upon someone’s unkindness and recognise that the place that it comes from is pain and fear and remember that we are all capable of allowing our pains and fears to bring out the worst in us. The less distinctions and judgements we make the more loving, boundless and free we become.
In certain South African tribes, when someone does something wrong or commits a crime, the tribe will circle around him for two days and speak of all the good he has done. They believe that when we make a mistake it is a cry for help, this ritual is to encourage the person to reconnect with his true nature. This is known as Ubuntu, the belief that unity and affirmation have more power to change behaviour than shame and punishment. If we could approach each other in this way than we could possibly reach the apex (point of singularity) within much sooner, if we were peaceful creatures then and only then can we have a peaceful world.
Osho, a well-known philosopher said “The spiritual path is a treacherous one”. This has been my experience. Treacherous, immensely painful at times, but absolutely awe inspiringly beautiful.
[First published at the author’s blog under the title Reflections #birthblog. See here]
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