Saturday, 23 May 2015

It is not easy to forgive!

What makes me feel better when I am feeling rotten? A glass of wine, I hear you all say.

 Yes, most of us will try to distract ourselves by spending hours on a screen, by going on a binge or by taking off for some retail therapy. Some of us will call a friend and rant about all that went wrong during the day or worse still, we will make ourselves feel good by off loading our venomous opinion about the person or situation, we believe responsible for our agitated state of mind.

It seems it doesn't matter. Rationalizing and trying to summon logic to tell ourselves that this ranting and raving is not helping our blood pressure or for that matter our coronaries, usually has very little effect on how we feel.

To understand why logical reasoning doesn't help at such times we need to know about the four layers of our personality, as described in the self help text I have been reading.

Our innermost core is the pure, unadulterated shining light within us, a consciousness which is present in each of us, which remains unchanged and does not need anybody or anything to be pure and happy. Believe me, that is what our true nature is. How we have become the venom spouting person drowning our woes in wine, is what we will soon find out.

Sadly our inner core is covered by a cloud of ignorance, which doesn't allow us to be in touch with our true nature. This unconscious layer (which according to Hindu philosophy carries over from past births) is really the delusion (maya), which when shattered would allow us to recognize our true selves. This layer contains our vices and negative tendencies. I am guessing this is where we start believing in the multiple identities assigned to us, the numerous parts we play on the world stage, which like Shakespeare implied, is after all an illusion. The attachment to the letters in front of my name, the ego attached to being a twosome, the disproportionate swelling of chest on a child's success...

Over this unconscious layer is the sub conscious layer, our mind, intellect, memory and ego. This is the layer which carries our fears, our insecurities, the anger, the pride, the sadness but also has immense power to transform our lives. This is the layer being referred to in Joseph Murphy's "The Power of the Subconscious mind". Our subconscious, as has been explained in the book, works on "Faith". It is faith in the healers which heals, just as the placebo effect of similar coloured pills devoid of any active ingredients, does too. Without faith, healing of mental and physical ailments becomes more difficult. We know we learn a subject much better if we like and respect the teacher, have faith in his or her competence. Hypnotism is known to work on this layer of our personality to rid us of old hurts and deep scars. Faith has been known to transform lives.

Finally what we tangibly are able to experience in ourselves and others is the outermost conscious layer. This is what interacts with the outside world. Hence this layer allows us to change our behaviour by logical thinking. Even if you want to throw something at your boss, you smile and say "Yes, Sure". The anger remains at the subconscious level and if it remains unprocessed it can give rise to mental and physical ill health. 

This is what is wrong with today's world. It deals with the immediate and the tangible. We attend numerous communication skills and risk management workshops where we are taught about what to say and how to say it, the words, the mannerisms, the legal loopholes etc etc. Everything is right and logical but if it is entrenched in an environment of mistrust, vested interest and competition, it is unlikely to succeed in bringing about the transformation we desire. Unless our subconscious is in tune with our actions, unless we feel the compassion we are being asked to portray, our words will not have the effect we desire. We could also be asked to do things which are in conflict with our values, beliefs and convictions. We could be rejecting the ways of the world in our heads while being asked to function in it.

Holding on to a hurt or anger or non acceptance of people and situations can manifest in many ways. It may make us want to pull somebody down like crabs in a bucket tend to do to each other or may make us feel we are superior to the rest of the world or may make us generally unhappy about where we are in our lives.

On the other hand, being able to forgive people and situations makes us stop progressing in our negative thoughts and intents of comparing ourselves to others while realizing we are mere spectators of the drama of life unfolding before us and that instantly makes us peaceful and tranquil. We tend to sleep better, it helps unlock our potential and creativity. It allows us to work on ourselves and makes us endeavour to get in touch with our true selves.

But to be able to accept people, situations and to be able to forgive and forget, it is the subconscious layer of our personality, we need to work on. Forgiveness is not an action or emotion, it is something deeper. All of us remember being told to shake hands with a friend or sibling we had a stinking row with. We remember too how angry, unforgiving and indignant we felt. We shook hands but that action did nothing until we actually forgot all about it the next day. 

Forgiveness is a state of being, when I don't react. I respond, I respond without any anger, hatred or malice.  Sometimes we keep away from a person or situation in response, at other times we do what needs to be done. This may be perceived as an action against the person we are trying to forgive but the action is taken on principle of doing the right thing for the future or for the organisation but not as a personal vendetta against that person. Something like a punishment meted out to a child by the mother for wrong doing. The punishment is never to cause pain but is mother's conviction that it is the best thing for the child. 

Let go of the hurt and feel free!

Saturday, 9 May 2015

My Alma mater- Lady Hardinge Medical College!

Lady Hardinge Medical College is celebrating 100 years of existence.  Year end is also our 25th year reunion. Such events tend to evoke nostalgia and good old college spirit!

I have fond memories of being a medical student in an all girls college, situated in Connaught Place, in the heart of New Delhi.

Ragging was harmless fun. All girls college meant we felt safe and secure and there was a laid back comfort level with the seniors. I was caught, so to say in the canteen by a boisterous good natured senior who usually had a gang trailing after her. There were a few of us who were asked to alternate between being Bikram and Betal, therefore carrying each other on piggy back or becoming the flag who the other had to hoist by climbing tables and chairs on tables or become a singing group or start swimming on the floor. It was all in good fun with loads of laughter and ending in friendship. I thought that was the point of ragging, to get to know each other. It did not have any obscenity or undermining. One of the seniors did ask me to copy a whole notebook of notes but I managed to get out of it.

I learnt to swim in the Lady Hardinge pool. That was an experience too. Feeling horrendously self conscious in a swimming costume and running to jump into the pool when the all pervading restraining self conscious feeling strangely vanished into the rippling cool water, exactly as predicted by veterans at the sport. The pool was frequented by other staff and needless to say there were young men in toned torsos to be ogled at. This was a privilege not available to the short sighted girls who wore glasses outside the pool. Alas, they couldn't be part of our heated discussions about the blue trunks who so and so banged into...One could then see them making amends by waiting to go into the pool near twilight and sneakily putting on their spectacles to steal a look!

There were some age old traditions of Lady Hardinge Medical College. One of them was the Staff Social when the faculty went up on stage to entertain the students. It was a laughter riot usually with Male professors in shorts and the usually sari clad female professors in skirts or dresses. There was usually a modern Ramayana or some such mythological  epic when Lakshman would be looking in the mike or under the carpet for Sita.

Another tradition was bunking the first term exams on the commencement of the so called "honey moon year" the third year. The year after we said bye bye to the torturous volumes of anatomy and the year when we started visiting the wards. We, as a giggling group of aspiring doctors had to be taught ward and clinic etiquette often. We were taught not to gasp at the sight of an unsightly scar, not to screw up our noses at vomit and blood, we were taught to look and behave like doctors. But those days patients would still be subjected to a group scrutiny, with or without consent, of their bodies and ailments. Young men suffering from lumps and bumps in the private areas were threatened with no treatment to get them to disrobe in front of a group of suppressed giggles, which sometimes resulted in embarrassing and unwanted reactions from the men's organs. Patients however were very helpful in exams when some experienced ones would tell you the diagnosis and the findings like heart murmurs, which I still can't figure out for myself. But thanks to technological advancement, one is not required to do.

Our batch saw the auditorium come up and we, as third years organised our first festival, Splash! LH, LH,LH! That you can guess was the refrain used during festivals, to cheer our teams on. It used to be customary for the crowd to ask to have an audience with the prettiest girl in the fashion show, at the end. On one such occasion the tall long legged beauty from LHMC was asked by the anchor- "If a gunda (rogue) was coming towards you and on one side was a guy from Maulana Azad and another side a guy from University College of Medical Sciences, who would you turn to?"

The girl said- "I will run to the gunda"

I am still not sure who we preferred. MAMC being the top choice at the Delhi Pre Medical Test Entrance, we always found them a bit full of themselves while UCMS were the nice guys, the ones who staged leftist street plays and gave us a lot of "bhav" (attention), or may be that was just my opinion!

Auditorium steps were witness to rock shows, late night dances and meets during Splash and was the general meeting place all around the year at all times for friends and batchmates. The white marble was witness to many a Adam teasing which involuntarily was a sport all of us tended to engage in. My lasting memory is of dozens of girls basking in the sun on the auditorium steps on any normal day and one male PG (doctors pursuing post graduation- that was not restricted to girls only) trying to cross the road opposite the auditorium steps to go to the canteen or another department.

He would have his head down as he was conscious of the fact that all these girls would be watching him, which they would. It must have been because they were in such scarce numbers as compared to us or for whatever reason they attracted a lot of attention. So there would be groups of jean clad girls hanging out with arms around each other's shoulders debating the origin of the rare species- "Is he in Ophthalmology?" "No I think he is ENT." "He is always hanging out with so and so" "Who are you talking about?" "Not bad looking, is he?" "Looks like a Tam Brahm" "Yes he came through All India PG" and so on the conversation would flow until everyone had looked up from their book or food and turned around to identify this poor PG who was glad he had reached the end of the road.

I loved being in Lady Hardinge, gave me the confidence of a martyr when dealing with DTC bus hooligans, when bargaining in Palika Bazar or when the nine of us cornered the tour operator in Nainital to arrange a taxi for us because the bus had broken down. Our cohesiveness though was soon ripped apart by the Senior resident, who was listening to our tale of food poisoning to explain our absence. "You forget that we have done it all before you" he told a miserable looking group of us faced with the threat of having to repeat our internship even though we had not utilised our leave.

Life was good in spite of the relentless spate of tests, demonstrations, vivas and examinations. Bag of bones next to our seat helped us keep perverts at bay in the DTC bus. Groups of us in white coats trying to get back to Hardinge from Ram Manohar Lohia or Wellington hospital would be helped by DTC bus conductors asking people to make way for the doctors and also by private cars who we dared to thumb a ride in.

Internship also saw us in rural posting at Najafgarh centre, full of roaming peacocks at the time. Bushy tailed mums trailed by chicks and preening cocks with long flowing tails. The bus rides were fun with stoppages for sugarcane to be chewed on the way back or for lemonade drinks but the stay was the most adventurous as we were left to our devices until we could convince the medical officer to attend a call out of hours, which rarely happened.

We turned out ok or so I would like to believe! Thanks to our Alma Mater.

Now the meeting place instead of auditorium steps is Whattsapp, where we find out what is cooking in each other's lives while we wait for the daal to cook!