Crisis That Expanded My Consciousness
Posted by Shalini Sharma on Aug 11, 2017
I really enjoyed reading this passage by Sam Harris. In the beginning, he talks about the space between the thoughts -- what he calls consciousness. It reminded me of a quote by a famous French musician, maybe 100 or 150 years ago, who said that the music lies in the space between the notes and not really in the notes. The space between the incessant thoughts that we experience is a very crucial space to help us evolve in our consciousness. Great spiritual masters have also guided us to the depths of that great silence in between the thoughts.
The author then draws parallel between science and mind exploration. I am a researcher in nanotechnology and I study the infinitesimally small matter. In looking back at my science heroes, I would say that the hallmark of a true scientific discovery is two-fold: one, a keen honesty in investigating the truth and two, observing facts and phenomenon starting from a clean slate without any preconceived notions, judgments or biases. As a person who is interested in understanding and expanding my mind, this rang very true even in that sphere of my mind. Great scientists have always been very humbled by the unknown, and I think that applies to exploration of the mind as well. You don't have to really seek answers. You have to hold questions in its right place, and then in time, the answers may reveal themselves. In that sense, the state of not knowing is critical for expansion.
As I reflected on this a bit more, I wondered about the conditions that help us enter into that spaciousness between thoughts, to hold that space of not knowing, and to expand our consciousness.
A couple of things came to my mind -- meditation, being in a state of awe, being in nature. Then, another one also came up: crisis. A crisis can really be a teacher towards expanding our consciousness.
Six or seven years ago, I was pregnant with my first child. I had a miscarriage after about six weeks. For a couple of months, it was hard but I got over it eventually. Few months after, we went to see the doctor again and he gave us some devastating news: that we won't be able to conceive a child naturally.
That was the hardest thing I could've imagined for my life. I found myself in a state of deep sorrow, deep rejection and disappointment. For a very long time I had this belief that the purpose of my life is to be a mother, and to be given the news that you cannot really achieve that was extremely hard.
I remember the first few days after the diagnosis. My pain and sorrow was so deep but that I was forced to look at my mind and its workings. I was forced to look at my beliefs. I was forced to look at my relationship with children -- my children versus other children. I was forced to look at my relationship with my ambitions or desires.
That crisis that I was facing at that time really, really ... something happened in my consciousness. I can clearly remember, six or seven years ago, that I felt this kind of expansion. I felt not only a deep connection to my sorrow, but I felt that I had this connection to human suffering, human sorrow.
A couple of weeks down the line something shifted and I just came out of that sorrow. At that point, I said, "Okay, we're not ready for IVF or any other medical intervention but we landed upon some yoga and breathing exercises and fasting." And then, six months down the line, I was naturally pregnant with my daughter -- who is now five! Those six months of life were my biggest teachers.
I would've never really looked at my mind and its deep underpinnings and beliefs unless I had gone through that crisis. It was a life altering learning.