“Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. That’s all. Empty your mind of all thought, all worry, all tension. Your mind is a blank canvas. Just breathe. Breathe.”
The instructor’s voice was calm. Soothing. As we listened to her instructions, I found myself clearing my mind of all thoughts. Like slowly pouring out water from a jug. Soon, I was empty. I was floating outside of myself, suspended in nothingness. The voice now seemed to be coming from far away. I tried to latch on to it so that I could follow the instructions.
It was telling me to dig deep. To look inside myself for a happy memory. I had to keep breathing and dig deep into myself to pull out the memory of a time I was truly happy. I had to rediscover happiness.
And I found myself time-traveling. My mind, the time machine, took me back to a time not so long ago. I saw myself lying on a bed that was not my own in a room that was not my own and yet it was vaguely familiar. I was lying in that bed…wracked by pain… a lower back pain that made it difficult to walk, to move, to breathe…an inexplicable pain that left me incapacitated…so much pain.
Pain. And happiness? My mind was confused. I felt the slight stirring of panic inside. Was there something wrong with me?
We had been asked to delve into a memory that made us happy. And here I was going back to a time when my body suffered tremendously. What was going on?
The voice kept going in the background, urging us not to let go, not to break away from the memory, but instead to go deeper.
I continued watching myself from my safe distance. I hovered above my memory to see if the mystery would be solved. To find out whether the confusion would be ironed out and smoothened to crispness.
I then saw my husband, Rajesh, hovering by my bedside. Then I saw him stroking my forehead. Then he was helping me to eat. To sit up. To get out of bed. To get into bed. To walk. To brush my hair. All the following vignettes were just Rajesh, Rajesh, Rajesh.
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And I felt warm all over. I felt my nerve endings tingle. I’m sure I was glowing. I’m sure everyone in that meditation centre was. I could physically feel my heart expanding with happiness. And love.
And that’s when it hit me – my subconscious picked out that particular memory to be my happy one from my buried treasure chest of hidden memories, because I associated it with love.
Though my body felt as if it was falling apart, it wasn’t allowed to. It was held together tenderly yet firmly by my husband’s love. Rajesh was never a particularly demonstrative man when it came to showing affection. For him, actions always spoke louder than words. PDA’s were a no no. Romantic songs and grand gestures were hardly a part of our lives. He was a man who proved his love and loyalty simply by being there.
Over the years, in a marriage, you tend to overlook and even forget that. You take that dependability for granted. Your heart becomes a schoolgirl again and wishes for silly, Mills & Boon like actions.
Thankfully, our subconscious knows better. And one fine day, whether it’s through meditation or a teacher’s guidance or a moment of self-discovery, you are suddenly reminded of what you knew all along, but had buried deep within you for some time. You are reminded of the way your spouse looks at you. The way his forehead creases with worry at the thought of something happening to you. The way his strong hands reach out to hold you steady when you feel like crumbling. You are reminded that he is there. And he loves you. To the very depth of you. From the very depth of himself.
And it is thanks to your subconscious that you recognise what that little trip back in time was trying to tell you. That day, in the meditation hall, when I was trying to heal my mind and spirit, my subconscious did not choose a memory of pain. It chose a memory of love. That even through those moments of intense physical pain, I was loved, cherished, protected. Immensely. Intensely. And wordlessly.
(As told to Baisali Chatterjee Dutt)