When I look at how my life has unfolded in the last one year, I find it hard to believe that I am the same Gauri who the doctor could not believe was even standing on her own two feet in early 2017. I had been diagnosed with severe type 2 Diabetes and my sugar levels were touching 400 (the normal is 120). I felt undervalued in my personal and professional life and had developed what seemed like a permanent rash under my eyebrow that crushed my girlhood dream to be a model for a cosmetics brand. It was then that I decided that I cannot let myself die this way. I have to find a way out and started searching for answers. My search led to a conversation about Past Life Regression. On finding out more, I discovered a Past Life Regression practitioner who became my mentor and guided me through my time of crisis. The first thing I realized was that my current reality was heavily influenced by the many many decisions I had taken in the distant past. I saw how repeated thoughts had become my beliefs and that my beliefs such as “I am not worthy”, influenced how I allowed people to treat me. Though it was not a pleasant realization (that I myself was responsible for how others were treating me) it did make sense and I changed my focus to making better choices for my future and authentically loving myself. It did feel strange though. I need to love myself?!! Is it not selfish? What about loving others? However, I decided to not overthink it and give it a try. I started taking small actions to make my life better. For example, some students and I had spent many hours working on a short-film that addressed bullying in schools. We were shortlisted to present our film in Delhi (I was located in Bangalore at that time) and actually came first among 27 schools from all over India. When I returned to school, instead of receiving congratulations, I found a message on a student’s WhatsApp group that said that I had taken credit for the children’s work. It broke my heart. In the past, I would have fallen into a cycle of blame, but this time I acknowledged that I could improve my reaction by recognizing that their words hurt me because I myself believed that I was not worthy of respect. To change this thought, I used affirmations. Affirmations are positive phrases that we can repeat to ourselves until our attention shifts from negative thoughts such as “It is okay to be rude to me” to more wholesome thoughts such as “I am worthy of love and respect”. As I found my thoughts about myself become positive, I disinvested myself from their opinion of me and started to trust my own integrity. Consequently, I responded to their harsh words with dignity. My dignified response, in turn, invited dignity and respect from them. A few weeks later, the children who had written the comments apologized to me of their own accord. The realization dawned upon me that self-love is different selfishness. It is a commitment to creating respect or joy in our lives, which we can then share with others. And sure enough, the more I treated myself with kindness and consideration, the more people treated me the same way. It was not an overnight change though. Initially, it was a struggle to do even 10 affirmations. However, with the help of my mentor, I got started. I did 10 the first day, 80 the second day and soon enough, I was doing 3000 a day. Along with affirmations, I kept up my daily walks and practiced generosity as much as I could. Sometimes untoward incidents shook me from my center, but now, more often than not, I returned to practicing self-empowerment. But there were times when these initiatives did not yield the results I expected. Try as I might, I did not feel the love I was supposed to feel for myself. It was then that I moved deeper into my journey of self-love. I had heard somewhere that meditation is a way to love ourselves. But meditation was not easy for me. In fact, initially, I had to put in a lot of effort. I found my mind wandering every second, I felt discouraged and my attitude was that I was sitting by myself doing nothing. Consequently, I did not practice regularly and I often put meditation on my ‘I’ll do this later’ list. But with advice from my mentor, I persevered. I started meditating 15 minutes a day and kept my practice going. After a few months of regular practice, I noticed that I felt nourished by meditation. In meditation, I entered an inner temple which felt peaceful. It felt like a place where I could be me. That this deeper recognition of myself led me to develop an authentic self-esteem. Life was not without its ups and downs, but by mid-December, 9 months after my decision to change my life, I was getting a lot more respect from people around me. My diabetes was better. I was happy to hear my doctor say that my progress was unprecedented. I saw the rash under my eyebrow disappear completely and my sons remarked that I looked more like their sister than their mother. The icing on the cake was a modeling assignment that came my way. Not only was I looking younger, my girlhood dream of modeling for a leading cosmetics brand also came true. Self-love is critical to our health, happiness and well being. At some stage, we can only love ourselves if we know ourselves.
Gauri Chadha is an award-winning teacher and facilitator in English and Dramatics. She along with her students has won numerous awards for dramatics, academics and documentary filmmaking. She has been meditating regularly since 2017.
Saurabh Madan is the Editor of Be A Meditator and runs a 40-day program on visualization and Goal setting at www.thelightinside.in You can read more about him here.
1. Lecture on Self-love by Dr. Newton Kondaveti: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fj-q_7DI_O4