Five years ago I went through a life experience that made me draw on all of my training in holistic practices.
My sari started on fire while I was lighting candles for the Hindu festival Dipawali.
I was only on fire for under a minute, but it felt like hours as I struggled to unwrap six yards of burning cotton from my body.
I am so grateful that at the age of 12 my teachers decided to enroll me in yoga instead of gee.
I have called on my skills of yoga and meditation so much over the past five years for healing from the physical scars, the PTSD and spiritual distrust that resulted from this accident.
I feel like this was my practicum at the end of a 20 year immersion in healing arts!
I know so intimately the power of the mind to overcome anything now.
I know so well the power of asana and breathing to reform tissue, regain courage and cultivate a connection to the inner flame of life that burns as our soul, even after we leave our body.
Right from the moment I started on fire I was guided. I knew that I had to just unwind my clothes. People tried to push me down to put out the flames but when a fire inspector came out to look at the scene of the accident a month later she turned and looked at me in shock and said what in the world made you take off your clothes, if you would have rolled you would have created a bigger fire that would have injured others and you would have lung damage from the fumes of burning carpet! She said she has seen many people who just freeze and burn to death in situations like mine.
Meditation practice can often involve sitting in a position that is not comfortable for extended periods of time. However over time, the body becomes comfortable and the mind is able to relax in situations that are stressful to the untrained mind. These skills I learned from meditation enabled me to ascend beyond the pain of flames eating my fingers, arm, leg and torso so that I could focus on removing the sari from my body!
In the hospital I was able to separate my mind from the pain of my body. In fact, I got in trouble for not using enough morphine! My mom and sister would tell me to push the morphine pump because they could see the pain on my face, but I did not really feel the pain in my body because I was able to create a space in my mind to go to for relief.
What I loved the most about this experience was how my field was so open to receiving love.
I know that it is love that really healed me.
I could feel the love flowing out of everyone that took care of me. I could feel the prayers and healings that were offered to me by so many people and this is what made me feel like living.
During meditation I focused on expanding my aura, feeling unity of all souls and this really helped me soak up the love that was all around me.
I am an incurable optimist due to meditation, but this injury really put me into a dark space. It had me questioning everything I ever believed or thought to be true about life after death, karma, healing…
My mom was pretty affected by this and just kept insisting I meditate! In fact, she would put on meditation CDs and force me to listen to them. Poor hapless me couldn’t even move to turn off the CD player! These meditations would immediately put me into deep trance and I am sure this is what healed my PTSD.
There are such deep places we can access within. Places where the brain waves slow down and allow us to attain deep healing.
A psychiatrist who saw me three months after my injury was shocked how I had, in his words, spontaneously healed from PTSD. He told me he was working with people for decades to help resolve PTSD with little success and wrote down the healing modalities and meditation resources I offered him in the hopes that they would help others.
The most amazing part of all of this for me though was my physical recovery. I was told that due to scarring on my leg I would not be able to teach yoga. I would need three more surgeries to heal my injuries.
I rejected all of this.
I told staff I would be teaching my first yoga class in three months and that, although it was kind to offer the surgical expertise, I would be healing myself with yoga, herbs and meditation.
I taught my first yoga class exactly three months after the date of my injury!
I focused hard, forced family members to walk with me for three hours a day and really connected to my tissue energetically.
I have regained almost full mobility, my left leg does not go behind my head quite the same as it used to.
I never went back for a single surgery!
I am so inspired by the amazing gifts that yoga and meditation have given me and It is now my mission to share this with others. If you are interested in seeing what meditation can offer you, simply begin meditating for five minutes a day. Set your intention and relax into it. If you need help getting into your meditation practice, I encourage you to sign up for eight weeks of free Monday meditations.
Author: Christine Machiraju
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Author’s Own