Note: This story also appears as part of a larger story about Spirit Rescue — posted here.
As I quietly made my way through the natural darkness of my home, once again the chills arose within me — a tell-tale sign of my long-standing fear of the dark. This time, however, rather than giving in to this irrational fear (as I had done on four recent attempts to conquer it), I decided to keep the lights off as I clumsily felt my way down three flights of stairs. Entering the pitch blackness of the finished basement, the chills intensified as I sat myself down on a comfortable couch situated in an open area that was otherwise my youngest daughter’s playroom. It was now 3:35 in the morning, the chills were raging, and a number of novel thoughts crossed my mind:
It’s okay to feel the chills. I do not own the airspace around me. I share it. In fact, I really don’t own anything at all (it all comes from Mother Earth, and will someday return to Mother Earth). Essentially, I love, and I share. And because I love, the light of that love will undoubtedly attract unseen energy. And, if I can be of divine service to that energy, I am grateful to assist. Therefore, feeling chills is not something to fear; feeling chills is something to be happy about. I am attracting unseen energies and that is wonderful. I love. I love. I love…
Suddenly, something landed on my lap with a startling thud. Fortunately, because of the compassionate thoughts that were going thru my mind, in spite of the chills I was experiencing, I was otherwise sufficiently calm and centered enough to instantly recognize it was my pet cat, Toffee. Evidently, she hadn’t learned how unsafe it was to pounce on me in the dark — the last time she had done so, I instinctively threw my arm up in defense and flung her away (which incidentally, didn’t hurt her, but upset me greatly). This time, however, my reaction was peaceful and loving. ”Toffee, you silly girl,” I said. “C’mon, let’s go upstairs and get you some breakfast.”
Climbing back up the stairs, still surrounded by darkness, and still experiencing the chills, I began to chant the words, “I share. I share. I share. I share. I share.” And, suddenly, those words became a Hanukkah prayer I had been taught as a child, “I share. I share. I share. Asher kidishanu b’mitz’votav v’tzivanu l’had’lik neir.” I repeated the prayer as I remembered it from the beginning. “Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olamand asher kidishanu b’mitz’votav v’tzivanu l’had’lik neir,” and I started to cry for reasons beyond my conscious awareness. (I had no idea at the time, but the translation is “Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the lights.)
A few minutes later, having turned on a few lights in the kitchen while I fed the cat, I felt ready to continue with my confrontation of my longstanding fear of the dark. This time, however, as I turned out the lights and descended the stairs back to the basement, I openly invited the chills to return — which they did — and I subsequently walked around the pitch blackness of the basement repeating my newly embraced mantra, “I share. I share. I share…” Once again, interestingly, I started to sob while the following words flowed forth from my mouth: “I share because I love you. I am your friend. I love you. I love you all.” While this was happening, I distinctly and profoundly felt the spirit of Christ within me. It was actually quite an incredible moment, and quite an incredible transformation. I soon stopped crying, and the chills ended.
I then entered my basement office, switched on the light, and wrote about this experience. Afterwards, I spent the next few hours reviewing my journals until the sun was up. By this time, I was blissfully happy. I turned on some music and danced around my office.
The next night, once again, I spontaneously awoke at 3:30 am and returned to the basement. On my way through the darkness, I chanted my mantra, “I share. I share. I share” as once again, in my head, I invited the chills to show up. Unfortunately, I no longer remember if I experienced the chills, however, something very interesting did happen.
When I got to my office, rather than turning on the light, I turned around in the doorway, and faced the blackness of the playroom when all of a sudden my hands came together in front of my chest in prayer, my head and shoulders tipped slightly forward in a bow, and out of my mouth came the word “Namaste.” “Wow,” I thought. “That was cool. But what is ‘Namaste?'” I had heard of the word, but I had no idea what it meant, or how it was meant to be used. Truly, as strange as it sounds, I had no conscious awareness that the hands held together in prayer and the bow were in any way connected. All I knew was, something fascinating had just happened. And, I was interested to find out more. Consequently, I turned on the light, started up my computer, and connected to the internet.
Here is what I found (from an article originally published in Hinduism Today in 1993):
“For Hindu(s), of course, the greeting of choice is ‘Namaste,’ the two hands pressed together and held near the heart with the head gently bowed as one says, ‘Namaste.’ Thus, it is both a spoken greeting and a gesture… ”The hands held in union signify the oneness of an apparently dual cosmos, the bringing together of spirit and matter, or the self meeting the Self. It has been said that the right hand represents the higher nature, while the left hand represents the lower, worldly nature…
“In Sanskrit ‘Namas’ means, ‘bow, obeisance, reverential salutation.’ It comes from the root Nam, which carries meanings of bending, bowing, humbly submitting and becoming silent. ‘Te’ means ‘to you.’ Thus ‘namaste’ means ‘I bow to you.’ the act of greeting is called ‘Namaskaram,’ ‘Namaskara’ and ‘Namaskar’ in the varied languages of the subcontinent.
“Namaste elevates one’s consciousness, reminding one that all beings, all existence is holy, is the Almighty. It communicates, ‘I honor or worship the Divinity within you.’ Also it draws the individual inward for a moment, inspires reflection on the deeper realities, softening the interface between people…
“Namaste is a gesture of friendship and kindness, also of thanks or special recognition. Mystically it is called ‘Namaskara Mudra’ in the Agami(c) Pooja, and it centers one’s energy within the spine.”
Needless to say, this information blew my mind. How did my body know to greet the darkness with this ancient acknowledgement of Love, respect and Oneness? Was it possible that I was a Hindu in a previous life, and somehow, my body remembered and expressed this? Of course, there was no way of knowing for sure, however, I sensed that some aspect of my spirit had a deeply rooted connection to Hindu culture. I was content to leave at that.
As September of 2004 came to a close, I continued to challenge my fear of the dark. But, different from the past, whenever I encountered a darkened room, now that I knew the meaning of “Namaste” I used it to greet the darkness. I still got the chills on several occasions, but somehow, with my new “I share” attitude, the fear I had previously experienced was noticeably less.
Thus, the lesson in all of this was: a most productive approach to overcoming irrational fear was not to conquer it, but to face it with respect, acceptance, and love.