Babaji, The Saint, Made Me Faint!
It was a peaceful afternoon as Babaji, his students, and I strolled down the tree-lined quiet streets in a picturesque resort town in Germany. With all the years of a packed, hectic travel schedule, Babaji’s body was feeling the impact. Two of his students kindly surprised him with some alternative medical treatments to revive his body. As I was traveling and teaching with Babaji, I also felt worn out. This Germany visit was a welcome break for me too. I was very much looking forward to relaxing with my German friends while Babaji took his specialized rejuvenation treatments. I was thinking maybe we could relax outside at one of the lovely parks in this quaint little town, while we were waiting for Babaji.
When we arrived at the clinic waiting room, it was very welcoming. I felt like we had entered someone’s living room. The dark blue oriental rug reminded me of the feeling of comfy, cozy, grandma’s house. The decadent assortment of snacks and chocolates and teas to choose from made it feel even feel more like home. The brilliant white couch was so elegant. It looked like a refurbished antique. The white fabric with pink roses on it matched the dark rose colored wallpaper behind the couch. For the perfect finishing touch, soft, throw pillows adorned the couch, promising to soothe and comfort.
Babaji took a seat, and let himself sink into the couch. He looked sleepy. I felt relieved to see him looking so relaxed and comfortable on his day off from all the trains, planes, and automobiles that made up many of his waking hours over the past few weeks. I snapped a picture of him looking so tranquil on the couch. At that time, I thought, “It’s amazing how Babaji is so calm, no matter what the situation. He looks so serene, and not bothered at all that he is about to go into the doctor’s office and get some injections.” I kept quiet though and did not share my thoughts with Babaji. I didn’t want to disturb his mood, or my own. You see, I have a phobia of all things that relate to needles, injections, blood, stiches, or surgeries.
I already felt a little queasy, just knowing that we were at the doctor’s office. Even though it looked nothing like a doctor’s office, I still knew that behind the door, just down the hall, there were needles and injections and things that related to blood. On our climb up the very steep hill on the way to Babaji’s doctor’s appointment, breathless, from trying to keep up with Babaji’s speedy pace, I revealed to him that I had a phobia of blood and needles. Babaji asked me why, and I told him that I didn’t know why because I have had this problem since I was a very small girl. I told him that I felt nervous going with him to the doctor’s appointment, so I was thinking that maybe I will just wait outside in the fresh air. I mentioned that I had seen a few beautiful parks in which I could wait. Without any deliberation, he told me that I can wait with his other students in the waiting room and I will be fine. I was surprised at how quick his response was. Usually, he would not have minded if I made such a request. I thought he was annoyed with me for even asking. So, I didn’t argue with him.
In the waiting room I was silent. I was trying to keep cool so Babaji and his students didn’t realize how nervous I really felt. Fortunately, after a few minutes Babaji was called by the doctor, so I don’t think he caught on to my anxious mood. Thank God I was spared from his relentless questioning of my weak spots. The doctor had an air of confidence and seriousness about her and I knew Babaji was in good hands. Babaji calmly left the comfy couch and followed the doctor down the hall into the treatment room.
I did my best to forget that I was in a doctor’s waiting room, and also that my guru was being poked and prodded with needles in the room next door. As I stirred my cup of sugary, milky tea, watching the creamy light brown liquid swirl, I tried to distract my mind. But I could not. I felt uneasy as I remembered past visits to the doctor that had gone bad, like the time when I had to be put in a wheelchair after having my blood drawn because I fainted in the elevator on the way back to work. Note to self: don’t give blood on my lunch break.
I felt myself starting to sweat, and realized my anxiety was increasing. I tried to make small talk with Babaji’s German students, which worked, to an extent. They were engaging and very kind people. Yet I still could not feel completely at ease. My anxious mind drove me to fidget. Sitting down felt impossible, so I used my nervous energy to get up and make another cup of sugary, creamy tea. As I was standing at the counter, stirring in the third spoon of sugar, the door opened. To my surprise, it was the doctor. In her loud, confident voice, she commanded me, “Jessica, Babaji has asked to see you.”
My stomach dropped. I lost my breath. “She must have got the wrong person. Why would Babaji want to see me? He knows that I have a phobia of needles and blood. Is he crazy?” I thought to myself as my mind was racing.
To the doctor, I could only muster up… “Now?”
“Yes, he is asking to speak with you now,” the doctor said firmly.
“Oh my God,” I thought, “What could he possibly want? Maybe he forgot something and he wants me to get it for him.”
I responded to the doctor, “Do you know what he wants?”
“No, he just said that I should come and get you,” she clearly stated.
Grimacing a smile, I said, “Can you please ask him if he left something in the waiting room that I can give to you to give to him? I have his bag here. I can give it to you,” I cleverly said to get out of going into the place of no return, the dungeon of the doctor’s horror show office, full of needles, and other tools to inflict pain and draw blood.
The doctor politely agreed to take Babaji’s bag, which I gladly gave to her. She swiftly closed the waiting room door, and with that, I took a huge sigh of relief that she did not force me to go with her.
My anxiety did not abate though. Just at the thought of going into the doctor’s office caused a cascade of sweat pouring down my back. And my stomach was doing flips. I tried deep breathing, but to no avail. I noticed some chocolates and I began popping them in my mouth as quickly as possible, hoping to tame my nerves.
Just then, the waiting room door opened again. The doctor appeared, and in a very polite manner she said, “Jessica, Babaji has asked you to come and see him now.”
“Jesus christ,” I thought, “I am doomed.”
Without saying anything, I nodded my head, and moved towards the doctor, my legs numb and wobbly. I followed her down the hall, the sound of her high heel shoes clickity click, guiding the way.
She opened the door and to my horror, Babaji was laying on what looked like an operation table, with his left arm sleeve rolled up to expose an IV needle in his vein. He smiled at me and said, “Just relax, it is not that bad. Now it is time to get over your phobia. This is your exposure therapy. Try to look at the needle.”
With all of my might, I tried to keep my dizzy head from spinning out even more. I tried to anchor my feet on the ground. But I felt overwhelmed and like I was not in my body.
Babaji’s calm voice cut like a knife through my anxiety. He assured me, “Everything is fine. This is just an old memory (samskara) that is bothering you. But try to focus on me and look at the needle."
Babaji was peacefully looking at the needle, as he said, "What is there? Nothing. You see I am fine. I am not in pain. This needle doesn’t even hurt. They are just giving me some vitamin injection, which is very good for my depleted body. There is nothing to worry about.”
By now I had broken out into a cold sweat. My head was spinning faster. My feet were nowhere to be found. I focused on Babaji’s instructions and tried to ignore my physical symptoms.
The doctor reached over Babaji and pulled up his kurta sleeve on his other arm. She compassionately turned to me and said, “I have to take his blood now. Are you okay with that?”
Babaji smiled at me and said, “Come on, you can do it. I am fine. There is no problem with the blood, just watch and you will see. Everything is ok.”
I was beyond words now, so I could not respond. Just managing my physical sensations was all I could do. The doctor inserted the needle in Babaji’s arm and I instinctly covered my eyes. I could not look.
Babaji said, “You can look now, it is all over. Look, look, I am fine.”
When I looked, I saw one bright red drop of his blood on his kurta sleeve and I lost it. The whole room started spinning. My hands started shaking, my legs too. I felt like I was going to vomit and I started shivering. I could not get any words out. My vision was starting to narrow. The only thing I could do was swiftly exit the room. I went for the only door I could see, despite my wildly dizzy. head. I ended up in another doctor’s office, which was empty, thank god. The feeling of vomiting came over me in strong waves now. I was disoriented and my legs felt like rubber. I fell down, blacked out, and fainted on the examination table. When I regained consciousness, the doctor gave me a cup of apple juice and told me that I would feel better if I could drink this, which I did. She then left to attend to Babaji and I lay on the bed, feeling out of it. For thirty minutes I layed there, praying to feel back to normal. So much for my relaxing day off, I thought.
When I finally resurfaced and saw Babaji relaxing on the comfortable couch in the waiting room, he was grinning. “What happened? Did your samskara attack you?” he jokingly asked.
“Yes, I freaked out when I saw the blood. I tried my best to follow your instructions, but I just lost it,” I said feeling embarrassed.
Babaji said, “Don’t worry about it. Samskaras are very strong and overpowering, especially when it comes to phobias. You did a good job just even looking at the needle. You will get better if you keep exposing yourself to needles and blood by using your awareness.”
“What do you mean by awareness, Babaji?”
“You have to be aware of your emotions and not let your phobia overtake you. Find some videos of people getting injections, maybe on YouTube, and then watch the videos over and over again. Watch your emotions rise and intensify. Keep watching the video until you are able to feel calm and peaceful when you see an injection or blood,” Babaji advised.
“Okay, thank you, Babaji, I will work on it,” I agreed.
A few weeks later, after I had recovered from the bloody, gory doctor’s office bludgeoning, I asked Babaji, “Why do I get so emotional when I see a needle or blood? You were so calm but I freaked out. What did you mean when you said that my samskara attacked me?”
Babaji graciously explained, “You have had some past traumatic experiences with blood and needles. These experiences were so upsetting to you that you could not digest them at the time that they occurred. It may not even be from this life. Perhaps in one of your past lives something very bloody happened, maybe you were in some war or other intense violence. We don’t know.”
“So, how does watching a video of blood or injections help me get over my phobia? I don’t get it. Wouldn’t that just retraumatize me even more? I mean I have heard of exposure therapy, but that is a modern-day concept. I didn’t think it really worked. And it certainly didn’t work for me in the doctor’s office in Germany,” I said doubtfully.
Babaji calmly countered, “You can’t see it, but in your mind, you have tons of little programs that we can call as samskaras, or memory files. Depending on the current situation, it will trigger different memory files. So in your case, you have a very emotionally loaded memory file for blood and injections. So, when you saw the needle in my arm, and then the drop of blood on my kurta, you became so emotionally overwhelmed that you fainted. By looking at youtube videos of blood and needles, you will eventually desensitize yourself.”
“But how does that actually work, Babaji?” I wondered.
“When you watch the videos with awareness, you are using your logical mind to manage your emotional mind. You have to be aware that nothing is happening to you. You are just watching something on the screen, so why should you be scared of anything? Obviously it is your samskara which is forcing you. So you have to take control of yourself and not be overpowered by the samskara. There is no blood or needle. Furthermore, millions of people get injected everyday. It is no big deal. Tell yourself that you are okay, things are just fine. When you start feeling the anxiety coming on, just tell yourself that there is no need for anxiety. Remind yourself that the anxiety is coming from an old memory file, there is nothing to be anxious of right now in this moment. You have the choice if you want to let the old memory file control you anymore. Do you want to be calm or anxious? Do you want to be in control of yourself, or be controlled by some phobic samskara. It’s up to you. With your awareness, you can consciously decide to remain calm. Each time you are able to get your mind to be calm when you see blood or needles, you strengthen the new memory file of calm emotions related to blood or needles. And, eventually, when you see blood or needles, you will be calm, cool, and collected. The old memory file in which you get anxious and faint will slowly weaken and eventually fade away and become deactivated,” Babaji explained.
Over the next few years, I took Babaji’s advice. Slowly, but surely a new memory file was created. I can’t say that the old phobic memory file is completely deactivated yet. I still don’t like to look at blood or needles. But for the most part, at least I don’t have such an extreme reaction as freaking out or fainting when I have to get an injection. Just last year when I had to go to the dentist, I responded in a calm and confident manner. No fainting, sweating, nervous stomach. I felt peaceful when the dentist gave the injection, and remembered Babaji’s smiling face when he had the IV in his arm in Germany. I heard his soothing voice saying, “Just relax, everything is fine. You are going to be okay,” and I relaxed.
By Babaji’s grace, I am coming out of the most fearful, traumatic samskara I have experienced in my 48 years of life. Without Babaji, I would never have the courage to face it. Out of his compassion, he has helped me to look at what was most terrifying for me. I never believed it was possible to overcome it, but now I do.