Some years back, when I was still a student, I was in Mumbai for a few months, staying at my Aunt's place and making merry almost every night with friends. My aunt was a Holistic Healer, and although she wasn't a trained psychotherapist, she had a full-fledged practice in one of the rooms below her building. I remember one of the days, I had come back from a bar. I was not particularly drunk, but I was filled with an immense sadness. I didn't know why I felt so sad. Slowly, the sadness rolled itself into something fiery and rageful and turned into some kind of anger. And with every passing minute it changed its texture and turned into another terrible emotion. Finally it settled into something like 'fear.'. Something so intense that I couldn't figure out what was happening.
For a moment I assumed it must be because I could be drunk. But then I had had only a bottle of beer and in my knowledge that couldn't have caused such a reaction. I came back to my aunt's place. I didn't tell her how I was feeling. I flung myself into the bed and tried to sleep. After tossing and turning and trying to mask the waves of these alien feelings riding in my head, I managed to get some sleep for an hour or two. But when I woke up in the morning, those feelings were back with greater intensity. I realized that these feelings had turned into obsessions, something that were capable of existing by their own inside my head, something like a bacteria or a virus. Something independent and scary.
After trying my best to rationalize the origin of these feelings and failing I went up to my aunt. She looked at me and smiled. When I asked her the reason, and if she knew anything, she asked me to close my eyes. She then asked me to visualize the array of feelings that were disturbing me. She asked me to not name the feelings, but give the entire mass of feelings a certain color! I gave red. She asked if I could give a shape or size too. I said, 'It looks like a tumbler filled with red light.' She said, if I could imagine the tumbler in front of me suspended in mid air. I did so. She said, 'Don't use logic, but imagine the original owner of this tumbler walking in this room.'
I immediately saw a grey looking man, scrawny all over, thin and frail walking into the room. She asked me to have a conversation with him. In the conversation, I realized I had seen this man somewhere, maybe he is someone from the bar. I didn't know him but by the time the person had begun to talk in my imagination, I was already in a state of trance. Towards the end of the conversation, he confessed that the red tumbler belonged to him. He took it from me and walked away into the light. Next moment I fell into this deep sleep and woke up an hour later. By that time, those obsessive baggage of feelings were gone.
While that day my aunt didn't give me a full explanation of what just happened, what I finally understood that most of what we feel is not even ours to begin with. We carry so many people's feelings, their desires, their attitudes, notions, beliefs and most importantly their emotions. In my practice as a psychotherapist, who also uses alternative procedures, I come across so many people who have been victims of sexual abuse, rape or molestation, and almost all of them are carrying a lot of shame and guilt. Sometimes, the amount of shame and guilt is so enormous that they don't even let us move ahead in therapy. Now if we think logically, all these shame and guilt should have been felt by the rapist or the abuser. But the very fact that they can roam around scot free and can dump their 'unfelt' shame and guilt on their victims, makes me wonder how we are carrying so many stories that are just not ours.
A significant part of my practice is focused on figuring out these alien feelings, these foreign belief systems that we have unknowingly made up to be our own and have been carrying along for years. In Transpersonal Regression Therapy, we have a way of locating these feelings and notions that are not ours and then returning it to their real owners. Sometimes, the real owners are no one else but our parents, our grandparents and perhaps people who have played important roles in our lives.
We are energetic beings, we have a floating consciousness which works like a bluetooth all the time. We keep picking up signals and we keep dropping parts of ourselves. Therefore, it becomes imperative at a certain point to stop by and ask, 'How much of what I am feeling is truly mine?' 'Is this really mine, or is this someone else's?' And 'if they aren't mine, can they now leave?'
(Dr. Gaurav Deka is a trained medical psycho-therapist based in New Delhi. A TedX Speaker, he is also a Transpersonal Regression Therapist and a Mental Health and Wellness Expert. He can be reached at [email protected])