August 2015 By Maninder Cheema After dredging through many past lives to understand her soul’s journey, Maninder Cheema arrives at the conclusion that dealing with the present moment and its arising emotion is all you need to free yourself of the past In India we grow up on stories of reincarnation, multiple lives, and karma. Some of us take reincarnation for as much a fact as life and death. Others treat it as a myth without much basis in actual fact. In this culture of complex spiritual traditions, I developed a mild curiosity about how it all works. This led to a lot of reading relating to past lives, near-death experiences and narrations of what happens after we die. Nearly all descriptions based on first hand experience appeared to be fairly consistent about happenings beyond conscious life, giving the impression that the afterlife did exist. With all this curiosity, it was but natural that I landed in a seminar where past-life regression was a subject. As luck would have it, the presenter chose me for a demonstration of the practice. The experience was interesting, but not overly dramatic. The memory or scene I saw could very well have been my imagination, but it was quite specific about the details, and the emotions in those scenes were real. Subsequently, I repeated the process on my own with fruitful visits to various lifetimes. I got a few interesting snippets to mull over, but how they related to my present life was not very clear, except to suggest that I had led both interesting and boring lives – having been a farmer, homemaker, tribal, and a dancer. The places were exotic. I am fond of travelling, so I may have chosen places in my imagination which I found fascinating. But where did it all lead to, how did it add up, what was my karma, how was my present life a culmination of several past lives? I was not really looking for that answer; nor did I find it. Several explorations and experiences later, the desire and curiosity for knowing about past lives vanished. In retrospect, they seemed like someone else’s stories. And then, a pattern emerged – of being victim and victimiser alternately. A life of extreme pain and trauma, preceded by a life of being self-righteous, judgmental, and inflicting pain on others. Intellectually, we know of this pattern. The mind can spin tales on the need for being balanced, good, and compassionate. But to experientially realize the consequences of the victim/victimiser drama was an eye-opener. Experientially because, if one is lucky, one can access the emotions stored within us of both the victim and the victimiser. I realized that the emotions of both are deep inside me, and keep getting triggered by events around me, day in and day out. The pain body Stored painful emotions from numerous past life form our pain body Author and spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, talks about the pain body that each person carries. My experience is that stored emotions within us, primarily from this present life, but also from past lives, are what form a pain body. As a six-year-old in Gangtok, in school one day, someone pointed to a huge banyan tree near the school entrance and told me that there were ghosts living on that tree. I felt a child’s terror at the time, and that fear took house in me. It formed a part of my pain body. The fear was so deep that I was in complete denial of it. I became the brave person who was not affected by ghost stories. Of course, I never watched ghost movies. Whenever we feel extreme emotions of rage, fear, guilt, shame, or frustration, and are unable to express and let go of the emotion, the emotions become part of us, and get reinforced. They feed the pain body, strengthening it. Emotions are very closely linked to our physical body. Anger contracts the heart and pumps blood furiously, reddening the face and causing veins to stand out. Laughter relaxes the body. Fear is often felt in the pit of the stomach. A feeling of being burdened or stressed causes shoulders to slouch, as if physically carrying a burden. As we grow older, and accumulate more and more stored emotions, our pain body grows, and eventually affects the physical body. It develops illness and disease. Around 80 per cent of illness is believed to have emotional causes. If the link between emotion and illness is so direct, the solution to illness should be easy, and would be, if only we could access all those stored emotions. That is where the difficulty is. We cannot access the stored emotion easily because we are expert at brushing aside, blocking, suppressing and ignoring emotions. Even when we can access the emotion, we don’t know how to handle it. Frustration and anger are common emotions. We know how to boil over, but we don’t know how to deal with our own anger and frustration. From past lives, we carry the pain of violent deaths. Humans have been incredibly violent in history and continue to be so even now. Traumatic experiences from past lives leave an imprint. How do you deal with that? The girl who died in the Delhi gang rape, the one who was burnt in a tandoor, the boys who blow themselves up on suicide missions, the ones who die in battle… I wonder what kind of memories their souls carry? Will they be free of this trauma in their afterlife, in their future lives? Release your emotions The answer is simple, but very hard to follow. To be free of emotional pain, we need to stop blaming anyone for the pain, to accept and to forgive. It is not easy at all. You cannot do a surface forgiveness, you cannot fool yourself, and you cannot force yourself. It has to come from the heart, naturally, freely. If there is one thing which needs to be taught, it is how to forgive. All spiritual practice leads there. To reach a place of forgiveness. To get there, you need to release safely all pent-up stored emotion. It is like cleaning your car after a ride through a muddy dirt track. You need to stop, get real close to the muck and wash it off. We need to learn how to release the emotion, how to get close enough to the emotion to let it go. Many teachers have taught many ways. For me, learning to release emotions came from the Journey Seminar by Brandon Bays. Every time I am emotionally triggered, it is like a blessing, an opportunity to dive into the emotion and really feel it. Forgiveness happens when you scrape the bottom of the vessel holding the emotion relating to an incident, and emptying out the last of it. As we regularly and consistently practice releasing the stored emotions, we become lighter, happier. We continue to be emotional beings, but the emotion is more present, not some ghost rising from the past of this life or even of another one, if we choose to believe that. The drama connected to emotions lessens. The body is less stressed. I’ve finally understood the statement that it is this life which matters. All past is present in this life. And in this life, it is present in this moment. Address this life, this moment and the past gets cleared. Clear and empty the vessel holding the drama, the pain, the stories, the specialness of our stories, and uniqueness of our particular tragedy. I have told people about how so many others have gone through the same thing, and seen the shock on their faces. No one, they felt, has gone through what they did. It’s what they think makes them unique and special. But that is a trap, like holding on to muck sticking to us and saying, this is what identifies me. Empty yourself of the residue of past painful emotions and the present becomes so alive and joyful. I’m beginning to find out what joy is. It’s like the chuckle of a baby, pure and unadulterated by anything else, complete and content in itself. I still believe in multiple lives and reincarnation, but the drama of it is lost. What really matters is this moment. About the author :- Maninder Cheema is based in Mumbai and works with SEBI. Searching for answers to the puzzle of life is her engaging interest.
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