One night, when my daughter was four, I was sleeping in a cot in her room to help her fall asleep since she was scared of the dark and did not like to sleep alone. She was sound asleep and as I lay there I heard the door to my bedroom open and then the sound of my parents arguing. They were not yelling, and I could not understand what they were saying, but they were arguing very violently. I remember the dad’s angry voice spiting words in a pronounced staccato manner. My mom was pleading with him while simultaneously defending herself or fighting back pushing his buttons relentlessly. My heart raced as I laid frozen terrified hidden under the covers. I could not move. My dad walked into the hallway in which the door to my daughter’s room lay and turned on the hallway light. I could see the light shining into the room underneath the slightly ajar door straight onto my cot. The sounds were so clear – my dad opened the hallway closet door, took out his shoes, closed the closet door, turned off the light and went back to main room of the house. After a moment or two the front door of the house opened. He said something childishly combative to my mom and then closed the door aggressively, slamming it enough to make the walls quake. My mom’s muffled voice could be heard sobbing, wailing quietly to herself as she walked back to the master bedroom. Her wail was heartbreaking.
One night, when my daughter was four, I was sleeping in a cot in her room to help her fall asleep since she was scared of the dark and did not like to sleep alone. As I lay there I heard the door to my bedroom open and then the sound of my parents arguing. They were not yelling, and I could not understand what they were saying, but they were arguing very violently. I remember the dad’s angry voice spiting words in a pronounced staccato manner. My mom was pleading with him while simultaneously defending herself and fighting back pushing his buttons relentlessly. My heart raced as I laid frozen terrified hidden under the covers. I could not move. My dad walked into the hallway and turned on the light. I could see the light shining into the room through the slightly ajar door straight onto my cot. The sounds were so clear – my dad opened the hallway closet door, took out his shoes, closed the closet door, turned off the light and went back to main room of the house. After a moment or two the front door of the house opened. He said something childishly combative to my mom and then closed the door aggressively, slamming it enough to make the walls quake. My mom’s muffled voice could be heard sobbing, wailing quietly to herself as she walked back to the master bedroom. Her wail was heartbreaking.
My heart was beating out of my chest wildly. I was sweating with fear, the bed damp with my sweat. I dared not move. But I looked over at the bed next to my cot where my sister lay and said ” Baby Girl, are you alright?”
Baby Girl. That is the term I use to speak to my daughter, not my sister. It was my daughter lying in the bed, not my sister. This was my house and the room they came out of was mine, not the house or room of my parents. My parents were not here in California, and certainly not in my house. They were likely in their own house in New Jersey, the house I grew into adulthood in and heard them arguing, throwing things and crying below my bedroom for what seemed like every night. I was in my house – my safe secure home I manifested. But I so clearly saw the light go on and off and heard them speak as well as doors open and close. My bed was drenched in sweat, my heart felt like it had been stabbed with cocaine and my nervous system was on edge. I had very clearly reacted to what just happened. But I was in my daughter’s room and all the sounds came from parts of my house.
My daughter was fast alseep and did not hear me. The moment the words “baby girl” left my lips and were uttered into this shared reality, I snapped out of the illusion. It was as if I had been visiting a memory like Harry Potter in Dumbledore’s pensieve, yet it was a mix of my past and current reality. I had been dreaming somewhat lucidly.
I used to be scared of the dark. Yes, as a child, but even up to last year at the age of 41. I slept lightly my entire life and while I could fall asleep anywhere and to any noise on any surface (seriously) likely due to my sleep exhaustion, I would wake up with anxiety to the most subtle noises. As a very young child, like some children, I became scared of all the toys in my room and pictures on my wall as the day darkened into night. They changed into something questionable and it terrified me. I lay awake under the covers for hours until I passed out from exhaustion. As I grew older, I used that time to read with a flashlight until I could no longer keep my eyes open or hold the flashlight due to its heat, which ever came first. I was so deeply scared that I would run to the bathroom when I had to pee. Oddly enough, I easily walked around the house when I was asleep. I don’t know how often I would sleep talk and walk but there were times I found myself sleeping on the cold floor in the hallways, or trying to leave the house.
When on my own, as an adult in my own home, if I heard a twig brushing up against a window it would send my heart racing. I always feared the noise was due to someone being outside or near my room and as an adult I feared some one breaking into my apartment or house. My parents drilled into my core the fact that world was out to get us, steal from us and hurt us. Every night my parents armed an alarm for the house. I was yelled at and punished for the times we all woke to an un-alarmed house because I forgot to turn it on even though nothing happened that night. We lived in a very quiet wealthy suburb of New Jersey, but the way fear and a need for an alarm were driven into me, you’d think we were in the middle of the LA riots every day and night. That fear of my parents continues to this day, and is one of their primary concerns about my life – not if I, my husband or daughter, their grand daughter is happy or healthy, but if our house has been alarmed at night. While I have come light years from the fear I used to have, I have a lot of work to let some of these learned fears of safety go. In this last six months or so, I don’t let my mind linger in places of fear, but for the longest time there were nights in which I could not go back to sleep until I managed enough courage to go out to the rest of the house and check the doors and windows to make sure they were sealed and locked.
I don’t really know why I was so scared of the dark. My parents argued violently at night, and that kept me up fearful in the night. Mostly I was scared of what I could not see. There was my direct pain as well as an indirect pain that I felt just by being in that environment. But it goes so much deeper than that. I have very few memories of my childhood. I have not discounted that it is possible that I had greater reasons to fear being alone at night, and I have not discounted it for good reason, but it is also possible there is nothing else from my life in this lifetime to justify the fear. Maybe it is not my pain that I carry.
We are complex beings. It seems so simple to believe that the world we live in and the lives that we lead are all that exists. That the only things that are real are the things that we experience in this lifetime. And yet, inside us, intuitive or not, we know that is not true. We know that our lives and our world are deeper and richer than that. We carry stories and narratives of our ancestors, in part through oral traditions, but we feel also them in our DNA and manifest it in our expressions. We look like our great great grandfather, have the resilience of our grandmother, tell jokes like our uncle, and weave stories like grandad’s sister who passed away young way before our time. And now science is showing that we carry their molecular imprints and scars in a field known as epigenetics. Humans have learned to adapt to their environments and pass on these traits to their descendants, to be able to survive changing conditions. Fear is a trait that can serve humans well. Humans are naturally fearful of lions and bears for good reason and it is not something we have to think about. Our hearts race, our body sweats and we may freeze in movement, but we don’t have to think about it. It is a natural response. Perhaps there was something deeper regarding the fear of the dark that was passed down in me through my ancestors. The stories of my father’s childhood suggest he grew up with significant violence. I know my mother’s life since she has been with my father has been nothing but violence. I certainly carry their scars, but what about my relatives that came before them? What are their stories? What did they live through? I may not consciously ever know as there are so few stories told about their lives, but I know my body tells their stories.
And then there are realities of the world and society that we exist in – we carry generational scars, such as living through wars or famine, and scars of our culture or even how our cultures have been forced to change – such as slavery or the loss of indigenous lands and traditions. It is possible I have embodied and passed on some scars from 9/11, witnessing one of the planes hit the World Trade Center, watching the buildings fall, being separated from my family and experiencing the racism and hatred thrown at me because of my brown Indian skin color while at the same time feeling the togetherness, support and love from fellow New Yorkers because we knew peace was the answer through the fear.
Being vulnerable, open and vocal and writing this blog certainly would turn many culture on its head, but especially my culture. I’ve learned that people in my culture would rather shame the victim and demand you respect the abuser than stop the violence out of honor and respect for the cultural norms. I’ve learned that it is more important to respect the culture than it is to truly give and receive love. Self- sacrifice, even if destructive or detrimental to the health an well-being of the individual and those around the individual, is considered good behavior. Not that long ago, I had my DNA evaluated to determine my ancestral roots. The results showed that my DNA was from North India with a 99% chance certainty – there is no genetic diversity. These cultural belief systems have been passed on generation after generation are embedded deep within me.
But I know that I am more than my DNA. There are cultures and traditions I identify with that do not show up in my DNA, in my ancestral history. What are these non-tangible realities? The ones we can’t really remember but somehow feel so real. Are they past lives? Are they dreams? Do I carry the imprints and scars from those existences? We are all free to create our own realities and believe what we want. I do believe that we have lived many lifetimes. I know I have died every way there is to die and have lived lives being the hero as well as the killer, the abused as well as the abuser, a queen, a poor peasant, a white male, a slave, a whale, an earthworm. I have experienced life in all of its forms. And then there are my dreams. Who am I in those dreams? Often I am me, other times I am someone else or a blend of people, and sometimes I am a feeling, a shape, or an animal in a freight train car inside a painting. I believe those are as real as my past lives. They feel as real to me when in the dream as this keyboard feels to me right now as I type. If the same biochemical responses are produced in a dream as they are in waking life, which is real? I believe they are all part of my reality and define who I am.
Can I prove that they are real? No, I can’t.
I am a western scientist trained to believe only that which can be measured and quantified by the man-made scientific instruments of our time, but I know most major scientific breakthroughs have been based on belief, faith and intuition. The research subject is a dry verbose mouthful in normal conversation but my entire dissertation for my Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology was based on intuition and faith. After much frustration and perseverance, I was able to do something every scientist wants to do – discover something, dispel doubt and open up new avenues of inquiry to better understand human health. The scientific method just had to catch up and become somewhat accessible and reliable in order to do so, which is the usually the case in most scientific advancements. Faith and belief are so intertwined in spirituality and science. There are cases in which spirituality outpaced science and cases in which spirituality – often religious dogma – has held science back. The field of epigenetics over the last 10-20 years is one example in which science had to catch up to spiritual beliefs. The orbit of the Earth around the sun is a classic example of how religion held science back. The Indian philosopher Yajnavalkya in 9th century BCE is the first recorded evidence we have to suggest that the Earth revolved around the sun, later Aristarchus in Greece in second century BCE, and then Copernicus in the 16th century who has been credited as being the father of the theory. But it wasn’t until Galileo’s writings in the 17th century after the invention of the telescope did we start to have proof, which was further expanded and solidified by Newton roughly 50 years after Galileo with a bigger better telescope. Depending on your age, you may have heard of Halley’s comet – a comet that returns to the vicinity of the Earth roughly every 75 years. The last time it was here was in 1986, when I was 10. It will be back around 2061 when I am 85. Halley was a British scientist in the 18th century who (re)discovered the comet, calculated it’s return based on Newton’s equations and proved that heliocentric model (sun at the center) of the solar system was correct. He did not live to see the comet return, but when it came back, there was no question that the scientists had been right all along. How did the scientists 3000 years ago have an understanding of a concept that they had so much faith in, that they were willing to go against the thinking of the time, document their beliefs in writing and in some cases be ridiculed? And then scientists over the centuries in other parts of the world had the same insight and faith in their beliefs, even though they could not prove it. The first glimmer of proof finally came roughly 400 years ago but it was only 250 years ago that scientists were able to provide conclusive evidence that the Sun was the center of the solar system and fireballs in the sky came back because of gravity and an orbit, not because of an angry God. To put that into perspective, we only started accepting as fact that the Earth revolves around the sun roughly around the same time the Declaration of Independence was signed forming the United States.
Human intuition and insight have far outpaced the ability to develop instruments capable of gathering the evidence that is needed for tangible proof. And even with tangible evidence and irrefutable proof, there will always be naysayers. Flat Earthers believe that Mars is round and yet the Earth is flat, anti-vaxxers believe that individual concerns far outweighs societal good, pharma companies believe that their medicines’ benefits outweigh the risks despite the fact that the safety events can be just as bad as the conditions they treat, and many western physicians discredit the benefits of alternative healing techniques. In each of these cases, there is solid scientific evidence and yet realities are still questioned.
So what is real and what isn’t real? The truth is that we are all made of the same “star stuff.” The couch I am sitting on, the car honking outside, my daughter and her pet rabbit sleeping in the next room, the water running in the shower, and my brain crafting this post – it all came from the same star stuff. The Earth too is a living breathing organism made of the same star stuff, nourishing us without judgement, allowing us to live. Each and every object on the Earth is based on something found down here or out there in the universe. What we are using now to create “stuff” was once something else – a meteor, a tree, a neanderthal body, a piece of pottery from ancient times – that has been broken down and recreated. What decayed and then re-formed to create the components that eventually were combined to create this computer I am typing on? This computer will eventually become obsolete, recycled or trashed, and then deconstructed into Earth matter that will be reused by the Earth and her inhabitants. What have and are now will eventually break down to create something we likely have not yet even imagined in the future. What came before us helps us create what we have now which paves the way for what will be. We are in constant creation using the same “stuff” and what we create is up to us. It is our beliefs determine what is real, that create and shape our realities. We can hold science and spirituality in one hand. They are not mutually exclusive and all realities are true, because in the end, we are all one made of the same “stuff.” Proof is in the eye of the beholder. That flat Earther distrusts all institutions so much they would rather believe the Earth is flat. That anti-vaxxer heard of one child who had a negative effect and that is too much to bear because no child should suffer. That pharma company provides medicines for desperate cancer patients or dying children that are begging for something to help and these patients believe that the adverse events are more tolerable than the disease they are dealing with. That western doctor saw liver damage in a patient that took some herbal medicines because the patient bought into saavy marketing and did not realize that not all alternative therapies are made equally, because the reality is there are snake oil salesmen on both sides of health.
We create our realities based on our beliefs and experiences.
I believe I have lived many lives and that I have chosen my parents to be my parents in this life. I chose them to experience healing in this lifetime, to break the narratives and loops that have been embedded in me, in us. I chose them to give me the experiences I needed in order to know what I did not want to be. I chose them as my daughter chose me and my husband. She chose me for her own goals, but also to help me see that I did not want to continue to live in violence and fear. I needed my childhood experiences and her innocent guidance to help me see beyond my pain and depression. To see that I needed to break the cycles of violence that not only exist in our family across generations, but also culturally, in genders, race, all of humanity and all of life in general. Those ideals embedded by my parents and society that I was trying to live my life by were not mine – they are remnants of ghosts past. I get to create my reality.
I thank my parents for giving me this life as they have given it me. I express my gratitude verbally and am learning to feel it. It is not easy. Healing is not easy. Let me repeat that another way. Healing is fucking hard. Vulnerability, openness, surrender, faith, trust, listening to your intuition and letting go of the desire to blame or be a victim is not easy. Allowing pain and difficulty in is uncomfortable. Going against the grain of society but in the flow of life makes you seem insane to the rest of the world. She gave up her growing six figure salary and quit her career to figure herself out even though she has a mortgage, school loans, a child? I am learning to surrender and be grateful – for the bad just as much as the good – and not letting myself fall into an old pattern of freaking out because I do not know what is next. I don’t know what I am doing, I don’t have my steps planned out, and I don’t know what is next but I feel safe. I have survived a journey through hell and I am am still here – I have a roof over my head and I know where my next meal is coming from. And I am blessed because I have so so so much more than that. I am doing more than just surviving, I am thriving. I am learning how to play this video game of life, how to create and how to manifest. I am aware of my extreme privilege in this lifetime and am reminded of it every day as I see the growing homeless population on the streets of LA, every time I see someone make a decision at the grocery store between diapers and food, every time I talk to the security guard at the bank whose legs and lower back are in constant pain because he works three jobs standing on his feet all day long just to keep a roof over the heads of his family members. That is why it is my duty to do the hard internal work and heal. When we heal ourselves, we heal the world. By learning to love myself, I am learning to love others. I am slowly letting go of fears I have of others – that crippling fear of those that have hurt me or can hurt me or those that will hurt me. Maybe I have hurt them in a past life? Even if I didn’t, I know I have hurt someone else in this life, in past lives and in dreams. We are made of the same star stuff. If I cannot love them, I cannot love myself. If I cannot love myself, I will not break this cycle of violence. I must break this cycle of violence to start a new world. We are all one.
I now understand that part of my fear of the dark when I was a child was due in part to my sensitivity. I was sensitive to energies around me. The fearful energy from my parents. The intense energies from my vivid and wild dreams. And the subtle energy of the unseen world around me. There is more to life than what we see. Like not knowing what particles of sand look like until we have a microscope with enough magnification power, we do not have the tools and techniques to truly “see” the world we live in. But we can sense it.
I did not understand this until I had my daughter and witnessed her sensitivity. She inherited this from me and she chose me as a parent in part to wake me up to this part of life and become the parent I needed myself but never had, to help her navigate this sensitivity. This is why I began my healing process – to learn how to parent myself and be a better parent to her. We have been taught that sensitivity and surrender are considered weak, but in truth they are our superpowers. They are the tools from which we are able to see thee magic around us.
I have learned through my journey that healing is not a linear process and is not contained spatially within us or the dimensions we are conscious of. We heal forward, backwards, sideways, inter-dimensionally, through dreams and across generations. There is no other time but now. Am I dreaming? Merrily travel down the river of life, because life is truly but a dream.
I thought she was my sister lying in that bed next to me but the moment I said “baby girl” I knew I had been dreaming. My sister was a beautiful almond eyed, long lashed, gentle, extremely sensitive, loving little girl who passed away from a rare genetic disease when she was eight years old and I was 15. She too grew up listening to my parents argue violently at night. She must have been just as scared, if not more, than me. I don’t remember my life with her, have so few pictures documenting our time together and no oral stories shared with me. Did I share space with her to comfort her, even for one night? Did I want to comfort her but I was frozen in fear glued to my bed? Did I protect her? Was I there for her?
In this night, in this dream, as I lay in the room soothing and comforting my daughter from her own deep seated fears of the dark and sleeping alone, I was there for my sister. I was fearful and scared, but I was with her, protecting her, worried that she too was scared and feeling alone. I was ready to stand up and defend her or comfort her. I had been the sister I wanted to be releasing that ghost of the past, cutting my ties to that narrative. Something happened that night when that ghost was released. Some of my own fears of the dark lifted and with that my daughter’s as well. That was the last night I needed to sleep in her room and I could navigate the house in the dark without my mind trying to spook me and she could sleep alone for the first time.
But something even greater happened that night. I cut my cord with my past, my ancestral limitations, with my parents and who they expected me to be, with who I was trying to be that was not me. Soon after that night I started to find that gratitude for the life they gave me rather than feel the fear, shame and regret and hold onto my past. I began to release the fear of life they instilled in me. My process of healing began to accelerate and I began to find my own magic. What happened that night I cannot prove, but I know to be true. The proof I have is witnessing the dramatic change not only in myself, but also my daughter. It was not only obvious to me, but those around us who have been with her through her life. Practically overnight, she transformed became a more open, trusting, loving and magical little girl no longer fearful of everyone and everything. My journey is ongoing, there is a lot of healing still to be done, but I am proud of how far I have come.
Live out your dreams and make them your reality, because you are able to live the life you want. Life is truly a dream. Do not stand in your own way.