I’m not exactly sure where to begin this story, so I’ll begin right here. In the present. The only time that has ever happened is right now, but in another now it also happened that I was in a car accident. In the space of February 15, 2014 at approximately 1 a.m., my life changed completely. I thought I was walking away alive, but that was the moment I lost myself again. This wasn’t the first time I lost myself. No, I’ve lost myself so many times as a child trying to run away from things that frightened me and throwing myself into something that brought me relief. I lost myself early in my marriage. I lost myself with the birth of my third child. This time was different.
I remember about six months after the accident lying in my bed after waking up from a nap. I looked up and observed my room, and it was difficult to make sense of it. I picked up a book and tried looking at words, and they didn’t make any sense. I got up, walked downstairs to the laundry room, and attempted to put in a load of laundry, but when I stared at all the buttons, I couldn’t figure out what to do with them.
At this point, my neurologist had already written my symptoms off as self-manifested, so I just stared at that washing machine and wept. As a mother, I had never longed so badly to do a load of laundry in my life. I saw the piles. The visual input of the mess was so maddening that I could feel the anxiety storm literally short circuiting my brain. The more I tried to work the washing machine, and the more I saw the mess, the less I could do. My symptoms flared, my head started pounding, all I could hear was what sounded like loud AOL dialup in my head mixed with clanging pots and pans – the sound I later began to call “my music” and which remains with me today, albeit quieter and sweeter now.
It was at that present moment of weeping that I finally gave up and just surrendered. Even though I wanted to fight for my health, I knew that fighting wasn’t helping me. I was always taught to keep getting up and keep fighting, so obviously this surrender was against my nature. “Fuck it,” I thought. “I’m going to be a sad vegetable with a goldfish memory. This is who I am now, and I need to just be ok with it.”
When I met people or when I interacted with friends, I’d start by telling them or reminding them about my brain injury.“Just so you know, I’m (still) dumb as shit with this brain injury, so if you tell me something right now, it might fall out, and you might need to tell me again.” Naturally people would get frustrated and impatient with me. I was always held to their standard, or they’d forget that because I looked like the same old Jessica, not the sad vegetable version. My quick wit was gone, so I couldn’t make people laugh. My ability to find words was gone, so I couldn’t have intellectual discussions with anyone. I was constantly embarrassed and felt worthless, and in each instance of failure, I surrendered deeper and deeper.
Despite my continued surrender, I felt. This level of feeling was deeper and more intense than anything. I’ve heard that when people lose a sense that the rest of the senses become more perceptive to compensate. My sense of hearing, sight, smell, taste, touch, and feeling were getting stronger. The deeper I felt, the more sad and empathetic I was becoming. Everything felt so overwhelming and everything was charged with emotion. That by itself was incredibly challenging, but I embraced this new me and accepted it as I accepted being impaired in all the other ways.
During a regular check-in with my general practitioner, I asked her about hooking me up with some Valium so I could have a little something to get me through life. A few days earlier, Kathleen from the Transcendental Meditation (TM) center had dropped off some pamphlets about the practice. I discussed this with my doctor, and instead of giving me something that might further impact my cognitive problems, she wrote me a prescription for TM.
On October 2, 2014 my better half and I went out on a date to celebrate our anniversary. We had a lovely dinner at Clydes in Ashburn, and then we went over to an introductory talk about TM. I immediately signed up. At first I gasped at the cost, but after spending literally thousands on specialists that hadn’t helped me, I figured I’d just add this to the pile. Although I had stopped fighting to get better, I was still an active seeker, and in my seeking, I was open to trying new things.
The weekend before I began TM, I was standing in the kitchen getting some breakfast, and I heard a voice in my head calling “Lakshmi! Lakshmi!” Auditory “hallucinations” weren’t new for me. They’ve been around since my earliest memories as a child, so I just accepted it. Greg was across the way in the family room folding clothes, so I asked him, “Who’s Lakshmi?” He did his typical Nova Scotia mumble and I heard him say something like, “I think she’s a goddess or something.”
On Saturday morning, I drove to the TM center. I brought my flowers, fruit, and white handkerchief. As I followed Kathleen up the stairs I blurted out, “This is the first day of the rest of my life.” I wasn’t really sure where those words came from. It was a spontaneous thought that didn’t make it through any kind of a filter, and it just burst into the air. She smiled and looked at me in a curious way. I wasn’t sure what she was thinking, but I just reiterated again, “I really think this is the first day of the rest of my life.” This is what my “feeling” was telling me. The words were coming from my chest – my heart, not my brain. It felt like I was truly thinking and receiving these thoughts in my heart, and the words came from that area before coming out of my mouth. At this point, with all the crazy symptoms I had experienced, nothing was weird anymore, so like everything else, I just surrendered to this new version of myself, and went on to learn the TM technique. When we got to the top of the stairs she smiled and said, “that’s beautiful,” and I smiled back at her. It was a very sweet and honest moment between teacher and student. In that now, with my mind in that space, I had no idea what those words even meant…
If you’ve ever practiced TM, you know how powerful it can be – especially in those early days of unstressing. For three days I couldn’t get out of bed. Literally. It felt like I had been smashed in the head all over again. The sounds were so intense, and it felt like I was going insane. I wanted to quit, but Kathleen encouraged me and instructed me to get plenty of extra rest. So I did.
Day four came. I woke up. I meditated. Then I felt like I had this great wind of energy at my back. I went down to the laundry room. I looked at the clothes. I looked at the washer.
No anxiety. No storm. No freak out. I was alone in the silence.
I picked up a pile of whites, put them in, filled the soap dispenser, closed the door, and pushed the buttons to begin a load. And then I broke down in tears of joy. What a glorious moment!
On day four of the follow up, I met with the other students that had learned TM the same day. We each talked about our experiences. When I got to my turn, I couldn’t help but burst out laughing when I said, “I could actually do laundry today.” I’m not sure anyone could possibly know how monumental that was for me after months of struggling with pushing the “play” button on an LG washer.
So my journey began. At the 10 day follow up I was able to be in a grocery store without shutting down. It wasn’t a big store like Wegman’s, but it was Mom’s Organic Market, so it had everything I needed. At the end of the first month, my eyesight improved to the prescription I had when I was in second grade. At the end of the forth month the so called “permanent hearing loss” that I had sustained in the accident was so much better that my left ear (the bad one) tested BETTER than the right ear. I went outside without sunglasses. I went shopping at Target. I had dinner with my family at the Silver Diner – although I still needed ear plugs when the sound was too intense. I was sleeping better. I was getting less frustrated and angry. I felt more grounded and anchored. I felt connected.
Then one sunny day, everything changed again. I awoke from a nap, meditated, got up, and walked down to the kitchen. While I was making my salad for lunch, carrot and peeler in hand, I had what can only be described as a mystical and divine experience. For a moment, which felt like all time and eternity, I was.
All of it.
I was the carrot, that gave its life for me. I was the peeler. I was the bowl. I was the wall, the couch, the chairs, the fridge. From my little finite awareness, I began to experience the consciousness – the spirit – which ran through everything, and I was in union with it all. I fell to my knees with the carrot in my hand, and held it to my chest. I cried and laughed in cycles. The sound in my head was that of an infinite sea of concert bases all playing the same note, but that note was simultaneously, infinitely diverse. It sounded like, “Om,” and it undulated and oscillated. It pulled me in, and pushed me back out of myself. “Om my God!” I blurted out and followed it with more laughing.
I had awakened.
Every question I ever had about anything was answered in that one moment. I was experiencing pure, unbounded infinity. Deathlessness. Infinite silence and dynamism. Unconditional love. Bliss. Joy. Ecstasy. It poured through my entire physiology. I felt the most incredible love and power crawling through my entire nervous system destroying everything that was blocking its path. My heart was on fire with love.
I can’t help but laugh when I think that THIS experience is what Maslow was talking about when he put “self actualization” on top of his hierarchy of needs. I have realized the self – my Self. THIS is enlightenment. THIS is being more awake than I’ve ever been. This is like waking up from a dream when I thought I was already awake.
Once the power of that moment passed, I was left back in my materialistic, dual thoughts which were exactly the opposite of this Earth shattering non-dual experience. Now I have come to understand that awakening is nothing more than a re-remembering before my separate self decided to overlook the ever present awareness, The Self unfolding itself to itself. Being, and the infinite space of pure silence, creativity, intelligence, and infinite potential. Once my thoughts came back, and I refocused my awareness on objects, the experience continued to fade. Now that I’ve immersed myself back into activity, I can easily dip back into that field of consciousness and stabilize it in my waking states by meditating.
The best part is that nature supports me, and it feels amazing!!!!
PEOPLE, LISTEN UP! This experience is our birthright as human beings. Imagine the disappointment I felt when I realized how robbed I was by a Catholic education and upbringing that went on and on about faith and didn’t lead me to a direct experience of it! True faith is based on direct experience. Everything else is just hope. Here I was, looking faith right in the face with this HUGE and very direct experience of unity! Bible verses and hymns and songs and poetry rushed through my mind. All of it finally made sense.
My hope is that all seekers go on to “overlook” the material and the ego and find themselves in everything. I can now say that I have faith that if you seek, you will find, and if you knock the door will be opened unto you. …and know that this isn’t something that you achieve through belief alone. This requires direct experience and practice in your daily life. Of all the different ways to achieve this state, you can pick any type of yoga you want, but TM is a royal path, and it’s a path that I would choose over and over again if I ever had to make a recommendation. You can pray, meditate in your own way, practice acts of kindness, be a servant leader, etc. Pick a yoga – any yoga, just start something, and it will take you down the path you seek.
Now, I’ve surrounded myself with seekers whose hearts are set on pure knowledge and understanding. As our group becomes bigger and brighter, we clear away the cobwebs of those who are lost, and shine our sunshine onto them. Not only do I continue to have amazing and profound experiences, most of which I don’t share publically, I’ve noticed the sweet spirits living in my house, at work, and in my social circles are having their own as well. Right now, my whole family is on fire, and each day just gets better and better.
…and about that brain injury… Well, it’s been two years, and even in the last month or so, I’ve noticed such dramatic improvements that most of my days are “normal days.” I still feel gaps here and there, but I know I’ve come a long way and continue to progress. Without this head injury, I wouldn’t have adapted in all other perceptive areas to compensate for my bad brain, and I definitely wouldn’t have found TM. Without TM, I wouldn’t have this amazing brain, body, and heart. Learning it was definitely the first day of the rest of my life. My heart knew it from the beginning.
You should also know that heaven is on Earth for those who seek to experience it. It’s not in the clouds up in the sky or far away. It’s here. I pray for the enlightenment of all human beings, the world peace it will bring, the fear it will erase, the senseless killings and death it will prevent, and in the meantime, I’ll keep writing and shining in this incredible world.
Loving you all,
The Guru Girl
P.S. If you’re a seeker, know that you are safe to share your experiences with me! I’m excited to hear them! Someday, I will share my story about Lakshmi. 🙂