Psychotherapy - Becoming Whole
by Megha Bajaj
I am clay. Soft, formless, waiting. As I enter the gates of the ‘Love yourself, Heal your Life’ workshop, I consciously let go of my judgments and analysis. I have learnt, after much trial and error, that the mind can often interrupt growth. It intrudes the space for new ideas with old experiences. I use my intellect ceaselessly through the week; for one weekend I just want to be formed. Like clay.
My sculptor, Sampoorna, is tall and svelte. She resembles a Buddhist monk – cropped hair, radiant face and a peaceful smile. I suppose 25 years of experience in counseling, mind training and meditation does a lot to soothe out tensed brows, anxious foreheads and puckered faces. She leads me inside a room holding heart balloons, colorful quotes, soft pillows and 20 other people. Sampoorna whispers, with a twinkle in her eye, “Just enjoy yourself! Color your folder! Go wild!” Never the artistic kind, I nonetheless enjoy brightening my sorry brown folder and sharing with people around about what brought each to this workshop. Most people had come because they had read and practiced Louise Hay’s work. You have probably heard of Louise Hay – the medical miracle. Doctors gave her six months to live after her cancer diagnosis… and this was around 30 years ago!! With the sheer power of affirmations, meditation, visualization and letting go of past hurt, Louise cured herself and is today known as one of the most powerful, compassionate teachers across the globe. Sampoorna, a certified ‘Heal your life, Achieve your dreams’ workshop leader, is to share some of Louise’s most potent ideas with us.
Sampoorna emphasizes that each of us needs to be transparent with our feelings and share openly. She says, “This workshop is based on the belief that most of our personality was formed when we were still kids. Fears, low self-esteem, hurt, anger – all the negative patterns that we see in our life today comes from our childhood experiences. New coffee, served in a dirty glass, will taste bad. This workshop will take you back in time so you can clean and heal your past and therefore your present. Just go with the flow and watch what happens.”
Hmmm. Interesting. So I am what I am because of my past. What was my childhood like? I remember being ill and therefore very much pampered. I used to wear dad’s huge shoes and dance around the house. And hide under the dining table when guests came home. I remember stray instances from my past but none of the emotions. There are several issues in my life today – fear of death, constant questioning of my potential, inability to sustain meaningful relationships – how were these related to my past?
We begin by singing a few songs of affirmations. In unison, but unfortunately in 20 different pitches we claim, ‘I love and accept myself completely. I am exactly as I was meant to be’. This exercise seems a little childish but I sing loudly and clearly nevertheless. We repeat the words about 20 times. It’s strange but after this, each one’s smile has widened a little. There is an invisible but palpable mist of happiness settling in the room. I smile. Just like that.
“Affirmations are a powerful force. When you affirm to already having that which you want, you are bridging the gap between desiring and reality. For example, if in pain and you keep saying ‘I am healthy’ not only will you start feeling better but soon you will actually be healthy. See, it’s simple. The universe is always giving. Its very nature is to make all your wishes come true. Look in to your life and you will know whether you have been asking for the right or wrong things! Remember that when you say something in future tense, ‘I will become happy’ – the universe will always keep you one step away from happiness. So present tense is a must! Also when you can say it with the right feeling, the process gets magnified. When you say ‘I am happy’ and actually feel the little granules of joy tingling within you, you won’ t be too far away from becoming happy,” explains Sampoorna.
Afterthis we do some mirror work. Everyone is given a mirror and we are to look at ourselves. I look. Arched eyebrow, black eyes, nose, pink lips. I keep looking. A boil, a mole, a tiny pimple. I look some more. Fear, questions, pride, love. Suddenly, several emotions swirl in my head as I look straight into my eyes. I hear a sniffle in the room. A woman has tears in her eyes as she stares at herself. She shares that she believed she was too dark and too ugly and always avoided the mirror. Now that she had to look at herself for nearly 15 minutes all that self-denial and rejection came up. What had appeared to be a rather mundane exercise seemed to have brought up a lot of inner chaos for many. We then did affirmations looking into the mirror.
I say to myself, I am lovable. I tell myself I am courageous. It feels good. When looking in the mirror, I cannot escape myself. As I keep reiterating positive statements to myself I relax. I feel like I matter. Strange how in the hurly-burly of life, I often forgot an extremely important person – ME.
We all lie down. And Louise’s voice from the CD takes over. Her voice floats in the room as she guides us back in time. I am an infant. I am five years old. I am to tell little Megha that I love her. I am to show I care. Hug her. Cuddle her. Make her feel secure. I go through the experience and as I heal the little me, the present me begins to feel calmer. I feel like a golden ray is radiating from my body in to the entire room. I feel completely peaceful after days.
I have no watch so when Sampoorna says we are now going to head towards the last process for the day, I am disappointed. I want to be here longer. I want to understand and heal myself more. My sculptor smiles knowingly. The next process is strange. We have to list some of the most damaging statements told to us during childhood. Interestingly, for each and every woman present there, the one common statement was: ‘You are ugly.’ We then make the statements positive: ‘You are beautiful.’ We sit in groups of fours – one person in the centre and three around. The centre person closes their eyes and relaxes whereas the other three continually tell the person, ‘Megha, you are beautiful’, ‘Megha, you are unique’, ‘Megha, you are a divine child of the universe’ and other such affirmations from the person’s own list. All the people talk together and say different affirmations. We are told that when different words come from all sides, while the conscious mind is occupied with processing one thought at a time, the unconscious is free to soak in all the positive affirmations.
Woow! That’s all I can say when I open my eyes. I feel drenched with love. Overwhelmed. I feel like a part of me, one that was just crying out for attention had just been pacified. Usually the kind who mumbles an embarrassed thank you when complimented, I simply basked in the warmth of the affirmations. Show me one person in the universe who doesn’t like appreciation and I will show you a liar. I had fooled myself into thinking I didn’t need anyone to make me feel good. I do. As I go home that day – there is centeredness within me. A happy anticipation for the next day.
I am amazed. The amount of difference the single day has made to so many people is tremendous. A young mother shares, “My father’s sister was divorced and lived with us. My mother constantly told me, ‘Someday you too will come and sit on our head’. Although she meant this as a joke it had such a strong impact on me that ever since I got married I believed, sooner or later, my wonderful husband would leave me. I didn’t love and trust myself. So I couldn’t love or trust anyone and kept my husband and child at an arm’s length from myself. Yesterday for the first time I felt like a new person. Love was flowing through me – love for my husband, my child, my kitchen and even the street dogs!” An elderly doctor shared that he was always scared of being wrong. His self-righteousness had affected his relationship with many. As he sat in the bus he affirmed to himself, ‘I am willing to change my negative behavior patterns’. Almost everyone present there shared something and it was fun to see all the bright faces early Sunday morning.
We move towards the next process. We are given a pillow each and the room is darkened. We are now going to release our pent-up, unhealthy anger says Sampoorna. Louise Hay’s voice would take us to a crystal room where five people of our choice would be standing. We have to express all the rage we feel towards them on the pillow and actually imagine shooting them. Sampoorna clarified that we are NOT hitting the people; rather we are releasing all the anger stored in cells of our body. And our relationships with the people we imagined would only improve after this. The process began. Wails of rage could be heard. Frail looking women were beating the pillow like they would tear it to pieces. And I lose my thoughts to the process.
I believed I was a calm person with no stored anger. Ha Ha! You should have seen me bashing the pillow. Amazingly, the last person who came to my mind wasn’t someone I have been in touch with since years and yet the fury I felt towards her was shocking. When Louise’s voice later said watch all that anger just melt away from your body – I experienced a weird sensation in my stomach. It was like something had just unknotted, unclenched. I was freed of wrath I didn’t even know I possessed.
We move deeper into our past. We hold hands with a partner and take turns to recall each person who has ever hurt us and say, ‘ABC, I forgive you for not standing up for me’, or ‘XYZ, I forgive you for cheating me’. The partner is to reply with a standard, ‘Thank you, I set you free’. I close my eyes and articulate forgiveness of all the people I can think of. For cheating, for lying, for leaving me. Hearing my partner say her line repeatedly, makes me feel relieved because I feel I am erasing every bit of hurt, anger, resentment that I have carried. My partner shares that it was a divine experience for her as she forgave her dead father for all that he did and felt love for him for the first time in her life!
The workshop ends with a hug. Hugging a person for a few moments is one thing – but hugging someone, a stranger, for a full seven minutes? I visualize the moments expanding, the seconds bloating and time crawling by.
My partner and I hug. We want to feel the warmth, but not get too close. Slowly as the words of a melodious song continues in the background we come closer. And closer. She is holding me and patting me like I am an infant. After a few moments of discomfort, I melt into the embrace. I don’t know where I end and where she begins – all I know is we are surrounded by a pool of love. A warm hug, I realize later, is one of the most beautiful ways of making another feel accepted. Completely and wholly accepted. As they are
It’s time to go. I look at myself in the mirror. My sculptor has created an exact image of me from the past. No, wait a minute, not exact. This creation is much lighter… almost weightless. Like I just need to flap my hands to soar. A lot of the clay has gone, and yet the image itself has been enhanced. The eyes are bright. The lips smile for no particular reason. I hug my sculptor. In un-learning, I have learnt. In losing the past, I have found a way to a free future.
G.L.Sampoorna is a psychologist and founder of ‘Oneiric’,
a centre for psychological assistance and life skills development,
in Chennai. She and her associate, Ayesha Mushtaq,
have worked with more than 20,000 people in their journey
to personal growth. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: I loved it - 13 September 2012
Well it definitely was very effective for me! Why dont you try and see if it works for you. Founder, WoW www.WonderofWords.org
by: Megha Bajaj
Subject: read ur article - 12 September 2012
pls tell me how effective this exercise is
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