In January of 2019, my husband Gyandev and I traveled to India. He went to northern India to share Ananda Yoga at the Ananda centers in Delhi, Pune, and Mumbai while I headed to the Ayurvedic resort in Kerala in southern India. We were to lead a tour group on an Ayurvedic Healing Retreat at the resort and I was looking forward to a two-week healing vacation for myself before they arrived.
I have been to this resort many times but this was the first time that I arrived early and by myself. I was looking forward to relaxing with Ayurvedic treatments in the warmth of tropical Kerala.
God had a different plan for me
After the first week as I was beginning to unwind and relax, I was walking back to my cottage after lunch. I met one of the gardeners who wanted to show me a curry tree. I followed him down the stairs and as he pointed up at the curry tree I looked up while still walking down the steps. My foot anticipated the next step but it was not there. My foot went farther down than expected and hit the cement pavement with great force. I cried out, “OUCH,” as pain shot through my foot from the impact of hitting the cement. I could no longer put weight on the foot.
What followed was God’s plan
I was carried on a wheelchair to a taxi to the emergency room of the KIM hospital in Trivandrum. One of the Ayurvedic doctors accompanied me. An x-ray confirmed a hairline fracture of my fifth metatarsal bone.
A young doctor, calm and centered, put a temporary cast on my foot and calf. He sensed my emotional distress and remarked that I was lucky as it could have been worse. I should be grateful that I didn’t need surgery. He told me not to put any weight on the foot and to keep it elevated for most of the following week. In a week I was to come back to be reevaluated.
After the cast was put on, I was wheeled to the orthopedic department to choose either crutches or a walker. The new reality began to sink in: I can’t walk. I purchased a walker and practiced how to use it.
The doctors and nurses in the hospital were friendly and warm and treated each patient as a part of their family. The doctors were knowledgeable and centered. They radiated kindness and feelings of brotherhood, compassion, and care for their patients.
After three hours in the hospital, we headed back to the resort. I was exhausted and couldn’t wait to be back in my room to rest. Without traffic, the journey would have taken one hour but this night the traffic was so heavy that it took two hours to get back to the resort. Back in my cottage, I collapsed on the bed.
After the temporary cast was put on I experienced no physical pain but an inner turmoil began to brood inside of me. I began to experience deep anxiety and a sense of hopelessness, both of which were new to me.
Every action needed planning. I could not do much on the physical plane. I had to hop on my healthy leg, supported by the walker, carrying the injured foot along.
Each activity became a chore: brushing my teeth, reaching for a hanger in the closet, getting from the bed to the desk or bathroom. Every action needed conscious planning and concentrated effort.
I couldn’t stand up. I couldn’t take a shower. I was afraid to step outdoors for fear of falling, so the first week I stayed mostly indoors and gazed outside through the windows. There was no internet connection and not much to do, so I spent most of the time practicing japa and looking at Master’s photo.
Luckily, the Ananda Assisi group was there having a retreat for one more week and my friend Bhajana volunteered to help me adjust to my new reality. She came daily during that week, helping me on the physical plane and lovingly holding my hand as I adjusted emotionally to my new reality. Another friend, Marlene gave me acupuncture treatments. Shivani, one of the Ananda Assisi leaders, also visited me daily and gave me practical advice on the healing process.
After the accident, I had to move to three different cottages (once alone and twice more with Gyandev) to accommodate my needs and be closer to the clinic and restaurant. After I moved to a smaller cottage, I set up the room so I could maneuver with the walker and perform simple tasks by myself without needing assistance. I had three fans running 24 hours so that I could tolerate the heat and the high humidity.
During the first week after the accident, I had to face a new karma. This was the first time in this life that I had an injury that left me so dependent on others and unable to perform simple tasks.
It was obvious to me that the physical karma of the fractured bone had to happen and it had happened in the best place possible in this resort in Kerala. I had two ladies come daily to clean the room. Each day three meals were delivered to my room. My massage therapist came daily for one hour to give me a gentle, short massage to improve my circulation and to help me take a shower.
The Real Test
A deeper karma began to surface. The fear of death, of loss of ME. As I lay in bed gazing at Yogananda’s photo for hours, I reflected over the past 30 years recognizing that I had let go of many things but now I was facing a deeper layer in myself; attachment to body, personality, and identity with the small self.
It was humbling and sobering to admit that I was not ready to fully surrender to God! Master said, “When this I shall die, then will I know who am I.” I had been practicing the Hong Sau meditation technique for almost 30 years, offering the little “I” to dissolve and become Spirit.
Now, as I lay in bed for many hours, the realization dawned on me that I was not ready to let go of the ego. There was a great fear of loss of the ego. This realization shook me to my core and more doubts surfaced: Did I fail in my quest for God as I was not ready to face the death of the ego? Should I leave the spiritual path? Am I worthy to teach meditation anymore? I gazed at Master’s eyes and I gave it all to him. Even the questions were too much for me to handle. A deep heaviness and sadness filled my heart.
The subconscious mind was taking hold of my consciousness and I began to see scenes of wars, of injured soldiers with lost limbs, of people becoming paralyzed. The suffering filled my heart with unbearable pain. I could feel that I was sinking into deep darkness.
I quickly realized that I had to do something, NOW! I had to take charge and direct my energy inward and upward and raise my consciousness to a higher level. I began to pray fervently to Yogananda for help.
Swami Kriyananda’s counsel to a devotee
Swami Kriyananda’s counsel to a devotee who was facing a serious test was very helpful.
“You must view your present trial as a great blessing, even though the trial itself is a hard one. I deeply pray that you will stand firm by your resolution to be humble and to accept God’s will in this matter as in all things in your life.
“If you do, that which you find painful today will bring you great joy tomorrow. Any rejection, moreover, that you feel today you will recognize tomorrow as the basis for an ever deeper friendship in God.”
I did my best to abide by Swamiji’s advice and to keep a positive attitude to: love God, to pray, to stay connected with Yogananda, to pour out my heart to him whenever I felt discouraged, to practice all that I could, to count my blessings, and to resist the impulse to go into negativity. During that time, I constantly gazed at Yogananda’s photo.
I set up a daily schedule and committed to following it:
1. Energization Exercises in a modified form, done while sitting and lying down, 3-5 times a day.
2. Stretches and modified Ananda Yoga plus affirmations repeated aloud, 3 times a day.
3. Long meditations 2-3 times a day and during the nights when I could not sleep.
4. Affirmations, visualizations, and sending healing light to the injured foot, 3-4 times a day.
I continued gazing at Yogananda’s photo, praying, sharing with him all that I felt and asking for his guidance and strength. This practice proved to be very beneficial and I used it at the end of meditation and during the day. I had a large photo placed on the desk where I could look at it from the bed and while I ate and a smaller one that I kept by my side all the time.
After the first week was finally over, I went back to the hospital and the orthopedic doctor put a full cast on my foot and calf. It was made of fiberglass, so it wasn’t too heavy but solid and firm enough to allow for full healing of the fracture. I was to continue to put no weight on the foot and keep elevating it for three weeks.
Another three weeks meant staying a week longer in the resort until the cast would be removed. Missing Inner Renewal Week at Ananda Village was hard to accept.
The Assisi group left and Gyandev came. Having him by my side gave me great comfort, yet the battle inside continued. The feelings of anxiety and hopelessness were hard to bear. Instead of ignoring them, I decided to face them. I first located the area where I was feeling anxiety and hopelessness. They were mainly at the lower abdomen. Then I started to breathe Master’s light and strength into that area. To my surprise, those feelings dissipated quickly. I kept repeating this practice every time those feelings arose and it helped.
I also noticed that when I read before going to bed at night from the Autobiography of a Yogi by Yogananda or from The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita by Swami Kriyananda, I slept well without having anxious dreams.
The main challenge that I now needed to resolve was – How do I lead the upcoming retreat? After much prayer and meditation, I found a solution. The students came into our cottage and sat on chairs around the bed as I sat on the bed with my legs stretched out. As it turned out, they seemed to enjoy the cozy, family feeling in the cottage.
I was also able to handle all the retreat logistics from my bed while Gyandev led all the yoga classes, ate meals, and went on the outings with the group. We had a wonderful group of people and they enjoyed all the activities.
Perception of Time and Stillness
Throughout my life, time was always moving too fast and there was never enough time in each day to do all the things that I wanted to do.
Now for the first time, time slowed down. Each hour felt like an eternity. It was almost unbearable. By the second week, I was able to let go of my resistance and anger. I accepted the reality of the situation and saw it as a precious opportunity to be with God and go into STILLNESS, which I’ve always longed for.
Before leaving for India I wrote a blog called Be Still and Know at ananda.org. It described my longing for stillness. Now I had the opportunity to practice it. This was the best part of this whole experience – to let go of tying the mind to material reality, to relinquish time and space, and to experience deep inward expansion.
The Eternal Now
This is what Swami Kriyananda said about the Eternal Now:
The more non-attached you can be in yourself, the freer you will find yourself to be. The more you completely accept the present, the more energy will be released for you to enjoy the present.
How much is lost in life by people who perennially wish things to be other than they are!
Only by living properly right now, at the changeless center of the moment, can you arrive at that point where you exercise complete control over your life. Contentment has been said to be the supreme virtue. Contentment means living behind the present moment.
In God, no time exists; there is only now.
The illusion of space and time is produced by movements of thought (restlessness).
Without movement, Absolute Consciousness alone would remain.
After I came home I read Yogananda’s words
As long as even a little tremor of thought and mental restlessness is present, you cannot reach cosmic consciousness.
The nature of creation is motion. The nature of Spirit is motionlessness. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10)
The techniques of concentration and meditation help greatly to improve the quality and power of one’s concentration. The practice will save the earnest seeker from years of fruitless wandering on the subconscious plane. One must reach the superconscious state to have real spiritual experiences and realization of truth.
Removing the Cast
After four weeks, the cast was taken off. When I first looked at my calf and foot, I cried out, “Guru’s grace.” The skin was fresh, no discoloration or swelling. It seemed that Divine Mother had kept the leg in her bosom for 25 days. The doctor was pleased. After pressing on my foot which felt no pain, he said in a commanding voice, “Put your feet down and stand up!” I hesitated and asked, “How much weight do I put on the foot?” He said, “Full!”
I lowered my legs, holding onto the back of the bed and stood up. There was a strange sensation in the foot that had not walked in 25 days. The doctor extended his hands and said, “Hold my hands and walk!” I walked slowly.
A tight ankle sleeve was put on my foot to wear for two weeks. I left the hospital using my walker to assist me. That evening I started using a cane and in a few days walked by myself.
I didn’t feel Yogananda’s response every time I prayed, cried, or meditated but as I look back at the five weeks in India, I realize that he was there – taking care of all the details so that everything would flow well as long as I did my best and cooperated with grace.
I realized that what I experienced spiritually was the battle of life inside myself; the battle that each human being is going through. I will stay on the spiritual path and make a deeper effort spiritually. I will continue to teach meditation with more compassion and understanding of the enormity of the task of finding God and letting go of ego. I know more deeply that there are many layers that we are shedding step-by-step through our spiritual practices, meditation, and self-offering. We need to honor each success and continue onward until the battle is fully won.
I am thankful for the kindness and service of all the people at the Ayurveda resort. I am grateful for the knowledge, wisdom, and kindness of the doctors, nurses, and staff at the hospital; for all the healing prayers from Ananda friends throughout the world and to Gyandev for his care throughout this ordeal.
After coming home, on the fortieth day after the break I had a second x-ray that showed the bone had fully healed.