Sunday, April 17, 2016

A beautiful mind

It is often said by the masters of meditation that we create our own reality.  My reality, since as far back as my memory goes has been one of hidden abuse and oppression disguised as love for a greater good.  Why would the mind create something like this?

Growing up as a kid, before the age of 7, I was exposed to a fair amount of physical abuse from my parents and also witnessed my older sister go through the same.  I was often bullied by my sister and was told not to mention it to my parents or I'd get in even bigger trouble.  In this way, I grew up thinking abuse was normal and that, if one complained one was simply being a sissy.  I watched my sister get beaten up fairly regularly by my father.  I was beaten by my father on 2 occasions; on both occasions I lost control of my bladder probably due to the shock, but also due to the fear that it might increase in intensity and become a regular happening.   (Given that we get what we focus on, was I setting myself up for abuse in boarding school by fearing this type of abuse?)  I remember vividly the circumstances that led to both.  The first one was dropping and breaking my mother's musical powder bowl.  The second instance was when I requested to ride in the car of family friend as we were all leaving from the club.  My dad misheard that as me wanting to go to their place and started yelling at me about how I don't appreciate what I have.  I didn't have the guts to speak up and say he heard me wrong.  By the time we got home, I got my first slap before we even made it into the house.  And then a second one by the time we made it up to the house.  In both of these instances, my mother made me apologize to my dad.  What I learnt: It's not just OK that I got abused, but when I do get abused, then it's my fault and I need to apologize to the abuser.

These learnings were the training ground for me learning to suppress my feelings for the following 8 years as I attended a boarding school.  Boarding school was a very abusive environment.  There was no hiding from abuse; it was present all 7 days of the week.  In fact, there were some years when being away from classes was a bad thing.  The only way you could escape the abuse while still being on premises was being sick and admitted in the school infirmary.

My 8th grade in school was the absolute worst year.  We'd get beaten on our butts with hockey sticks or cricket bats regularly by the dormitory prefects, almost daily, in the night before going to bed.  And on weekends, we'd be asked to kneel in the sun and hop back and forth about 50 m almost continuously, till our legs felt like trees.  Any slowing down was met with further beating up.  I was one of the tougher kids with respect to putting up with abuse and I did everything in my power to behave so that I would not be punished.  I basically learned very well to numb out the feelings in my body. But yet, there would be dormitory-wide punishing, and lots of it, so there was no escape.  There were thefts too.  The same prefects would steal food that students had brought from home (it was the norm to bring processed junk food like packaged and canned foods).  It was quite unbearable.  This would probably have continued throughout the year, but one of the students did not return from a mid-term vacation.  Instead his father wrote a letter to the principal about these abuses.  The prefects were disgraced publicly and life went back to being somewhat normal.  Through all of this I never complained to my parents.  How would I?  To me this was normal and there was some way I was falling short.  I was also supposed to be "brave" and not have them worry about me.  Surprisingly, though, once I started going to boarding school, there was no more abuse at home (but I was only home for very brief periods of time amounting to a little over 2 months a year during the school's summer and Christmas holidays).

Fast forward to adult life and I see how I give my power away to people that choose to abuse me.  I am only now starting to learn how to stand up for myself, but it creates a tremendous amount of discomfort every time I do so.  The discomfort stems from going against the incorrect lesson that I have learned where I ought to not only accept abuse, but feel guilt and apologize to the abuser.

The mind has indeed created a very interesting puzzle.  I don't think it really mattered where I was physically or who I was with, it was able to create the conditions for abuse.

When negative things happen in my life, and there's a lot of it happening now, I keep wondering why it is that my mind that is creating this type of reality and how I can change that.  Meditation is supposed to change that, but for the last 8 or so years, I have seen a lot of deterioration in my physical and emotional health despite maintaining a regular practice.  This makes me question the efficacy of meditation.  Or perhaps I'm not practicing it correctly, but where do I go to learn how to practice correctly?  (FWIW, I have had many lessons in meditation from many different teachers.)

While I was aware of the pattern of abuse in my life despite changing the places and people around me as early as 2002 (triggered by anxiety attacks which I was having then), it has taken me over a decade since then to be able to see how I react to situations because of the past conditioning and be able to even attempt to break that reactivity.

Because of the abuse I have seen from various authority figures in my life, it is very unlikely I will have a guru in this life.  The moment I give someone that authority, it will immediately create fear in my mind and re-create the cycle of abuse.  And I have reached a stage in my life where I won't allow that to happen.