Usha Uberoy thought that she had covered all the milestones, when a mysterious illness led her to have a near death experience, which radically transformed her life
I had a fairly normal life, until one day when a major disaster nearly killed me. I remember the day my body broke down, just like that in one single moment, and I was declared ’brought dead’ to the hospital.
How did it happen and why, makes an interesting story. It was the third of November, 1992. After two years of hard work I had finally started to feel comfortable and settled in life. I thought I had everything a woman could need or hope for. A simple family. Two boys who were doing reasonably well in school. A good caring husband. A job that I loved. All the simple needs of a good simple life. No worries to bog me down. My husband, an army officer was posted in Delhi. I was working in a scientific institute on an interesting job. My extended family, my mother and brothers were on hand and life was normal and good. Or so I thought.
The sudden jolt
It was a beautiful winter day when I had got up one morning, in the month of November. I did feel a little out of sorts but there was nothing much to complain about, no fever or any kind of infection. I decided to take the day off and relax in bed with a good book. I could feel something was amiss but I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong with me. After breakfast I reclined in my bed and tried to relax when suddenly my body began to rock and shake violently. So violently that it seemed to break my bones and tear apart my joints. I was jolted with severe unexplained vibrations and pain and I began to haemorrhage from my lower abdomen. It happened so suddenly that I could not even react or understand what was happening to me. I only remember that I screamed in extreme pain as I fell back on the bed, and saw my mother rush towards me as I closed my eyes.
What happened next was is a blur for me. I closed my eyes and was lost to the world. At first I felt as if I was falling into a deep dark well which didn’t have a bottom. I just kept falling and falling. I tried to think but only one thought flashed in my mind- at least the boys are grown enough to look after themselves. I sank into complete oblivion, and a deep, comforting darkness enfolded me.
I was rushed to the hospital unconscious, where the doctor didn’t find any pulse and wrote ‘Brought dead’ on my chit. But on further prodding they did find life in me and pumped every life saving drug available before they started their investigations. I had slipped into a coma and I woke up only after four days.When I opened my eyes I found I myself lying in a hospital room on a vibrating bed and somebody was trying to jab a big needle in the lower part of my spine. I got up with a start and started to scream. ‘What are you doing to me? Where am I ? What is wrong with me?” the nurse looked up with startled eyes. She didn’t expect me to get up so suddenly.
Back home and puzzled
It seems I had been in a coma. All these days the doctors had been working on me, but the investigations had drawn a blank. My family had hovered around me unable to comprehend what was happening as I hovered between life and death. Once I opened my eyes I recovered fast enough and soon the doctors said I could go home. But the shock of the sudden illness and my inability to read the signs of it coming puzzled me a lot. Back home we consulted a few more doctors but they were equally baffled. All the medical tests had shown normal results.
Then what had happened to me? I pondered over it seriously, I discussed it with everyone and anyone who would listen, medically, spiritually, logically, illogically and then slowly, realisation dawned. My body had been actually sending me signals over the past few years but I had ignored them; I just didn’t listen. What had happened was a kind of breakdown but it was not just a physical one, it was as if my very soul had broken down. Actually physical symptoms are just manifestations of our hidden emotions. As I began to put the jigzaw puzzle together I saw the whole picture and in one instant I understood what had happened.
My early life
My early life had been very fractured. For years I had lived through a very unhappy childhood with lot of tensions and abuse in the family. There were serious marital conflicts between my parents. Finally my father just got up, abandoned us and disappeared. We didn’t know where he had gone. It was a total shock. We knew he was unhappy but we never expected him to run away like this. My mother fell into depression and suffered a nervous breakdown. She started suffering from fits which left her unconscious for hours. As the eldest child in the family, at age 13 I had to suddenly grow up and take control of the situation. I couldn’t show any outward sign of the trauma. I had two younger brothers who had to be protected from the pain and insult. On top of that my mother had become an invalid and needed a lot of attention.
My maternal grandparents took us into their house and we tried to live a normal life. I suppressed the powerful feelings of pain, anger, frustration and sadness that engulfed me. Time passed swiftly enough after my father’s exit from our lives. There was no time for private tears and grieving. The pent up feelings had to be put on the back shelf as life caught up with me. School, college, a job and then finally marriage. All in the proper order. And then, just when life was becoming normal this sudden collapse happened. Life had turned 360 degrees and brought me back to the same point again.
The pieces come together
I would ponder over it for hours. I began to meet up people to discuss similar situations, and even alternate methods of medicine. I looked around and realised that everyone was working too hard, not getting enough sleep and burying/masking their feelings of frustrations, sadness and turmoil. These feelings were getting buried in their genes and cells, and hardening into serious diseases in later life.
Gradually the understanding of what had happened to me was dawning on me. It had all started when I had begun to have terrible mood swings a few months ahead of my sickness. Sometimes I wanted to cry for no reason. Sometimes I wanted to laugh and sing. It was as if my inner self was trying to throw out some buried emotions and getting cleansed out. I felt happy and sad at the same time. On one hand I was grateful for the life I was living with my family and on the other hand I felt a great heaviness in my heart for missing out on a father’s love. All my life I had suppressed upsetting emotions because I was afraid they would attract scorn pity, or even rejection from people. I never felt safe, loved or accepted. However in society I was a very different person. I was upbeat, effervescent and helpful, almost the court jester at gatherings. But it was only a false front. Inside I was slowly crumbling. I felt I didn’t deserve anything. My family, my friends, not even fine clothes or good food. I was unable to even pray or meditate. In fact I was constantly criticising myself and putting myself down.
Meeting the Divine
I also wanted to know where had I gone when I was in the coma? I tried to recall the whole experience over and over again. I remember I felt as if I had entered a huge place without any beginning and end. There were no doors,windows, or walls even. There were no limitations, no dearth of love that is so palpable here. I seemed to be in a space of soothing energy, a light that made me feel very happy. I had no pains, no uneasiness, just an unexplained joy. It was as if the universe was a very vast space filled with peace and joy. I suddenly saw myself engulfed in a cloud of unconditional love. Where I didn’t have to be beautiful or talented or successful to be loved. I was a part of the Divine. A greater world opened to me as I realised there was a bigger purpose to my life. For instance, I had been brought up to accept that women were lesser human beings and deserved a second rate life. They should be submissive and not look for more opportunities in life. But here I felt like a queen, could walk like a queen, and behave like a queen. Secondly, I had been taught to believe that I was not spiritual enough to be worthy of God’s grace or blessings. I didn’t pray enough. I didn’t go to temples or keep fasts. And I was told I could never achieve money, or success or any position in life.
after going into coma and coming back after touching the Divine, those feelings of inadequacy changed. I began to love myself for myself. I wanted to follow my heart, I wanted to live the life I enjoyed. I wanted to be free. The coma had destroyed the negative person I had been and I felt as if I had awakened from a bad dream. All the unpleasantness and fears of my childhood were erased. I began to feel worthy of love and caring. I realised I deserved to wear good clothes and eat my favourite foods. I was a magnificent soul just like all others around me and I also deserved to be happy.
I deduced some important realisations from this incident:
Listen to your body. It is always trying to tell you something. Don’t ignore the warning signs.
Forgive and forget your past. This means forgiving yourself first of all. Then your parents and siblings. And then other people who have hurt you. Holding on to hurts is a major cause for illness.
Love yourself first. Your body is a sacred temple, a gift from the Divine and you must treat it with the utmost respect and wisdom. Do not abuse it with wrong food, wrong habits and wrong deeds.
To keep the body healthy we need simple healthy food, invigorating physical activities and happy positive thoughts.
Spend time in nature. Nature uplifts, heals and reconnects you with your inner divinity.
Along this journey I met many people who had made their own voyages into good health. I studied so many success stories that convinced me that many illnesses can be avoided and controlled by your own thoughts. Every person has his own unique blueprint of his physical body. It is an elaborate network of physical and emotional processes which make up your life. Your behaviour and actions are all indicators of the patterns inside you. There are rhythms within you which actually resonate for sometime before any external manifestations begin to appear.
People who live in abusive homes or have traumatic childhoods can harbour anger or resentment in their body cells. This can manifest as ovarian cysts or other tumours. Speaking with patients and resolving emotional issues is a very important part of treating a sickness. To overcome these issues it emerges that to forgive and forget is the only way out. Life is too short to hold on to grievances.
A new field of medicine called Neuro-immunology is studying the connection between our innermost thoughts and how they affect our health. It is seen that forgiveness actually produces endorphins which relax the body . It becomes important to open up, relax and be at ease. You can nourish your body with good thoughts,good food and exercise BEFORE illness happens.
All this reinforces the fact that strong emotions and feelings must not be suppressed and stored in the body. Once I understood this I began to connect the dots of my life. My coma, I realised, was the result of a long standing fear and sorrow in my heart. My life had been a game of survival all along. A gargantuan effort to stay afloat. I rushed here and there to various appointments. I celebrated birthdays and anniversaries. I payed games and socialised a lot. I was a superhuman woman. No wonder I could only complain of too little time, too little energy, too many obligations. I never took the time to pause or to reflect. I never cultivated any practices (like meditation or yoga) to try and calm, soothe and protect myself. I realised that some religious routine is also good to keep you on the spiritual path. It is something which unwinds you and maintains a focus on your determination and wisdom in life.
The permanent changes
In my younger days I was never a spiritual person. My family was not very religious and we didn’t have many ceremonies at home. Also, as I was a dedicated science student, spirituality was far from my mind. The change came after my own brush with death. As I lay in the hospital bed, all alone with severe hemorrhaging and bleeding I knew I was very close to death. But the strange thing was that none of the doctors understood what was happening with me. Nobody could tell why I had collapsed like a house of cards. At night I found myself calling into the darkness asking heavens for help but I didn’t know if anyone could hear me.
A great change came over me as I finally understood the mystery of life and death through my own experience of it. When I came back from hospital I began to read all kinds of spiritual books. On Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity.. anything that came my way. Soon I noticed another remarkable change in me. I began to feel more calm and less afraid of life or death, or illness. I felt stronger somehow. All the fears and panic attacks of childhood began to die down. I felt I had found all the answers.
The thought of forgiving the past had never occurred to me. Nobody guided me either. I needed to move out of the insults and hurts. I had to forgive my parents, the environment, the situations and myself.
One thing emerges. We all need love. You have to love yourself, love your work, love everyone around you. You have to create a harmonious balance which keeps your body healthy, no matter where you are in the natural cycle of life.
There is a poem about the heart
If you love yourself
And those around you.
You will find perfect health
If you are happy and healthy
You will be at peace
If you are at peace
You will find purpose and success
Luck and prosperity
Will come to you.
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