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Mind Over Matter



I developed a dust allergy when I was a teenager. If I entered a room that had been swept in the past half hour, I started sneezing. If I came within 2 feet of a cobweb, I started sneezing. If I forgot to wind a kerchief around my face while cleaning my room, I started sneezing, which soon turned into a wheezing and watering of eyes and a whistle every time I breathed out. I was quite fond of that whistling, actually. An allergic reaction always set off a cold that would soon develop into bronchitis and THAT meant chore-amnesty for at least 2 weeks!

Once, when a vacuum cleaner salesman arrived for the first time in our little rural pocket and asked whether there were any members of the family with dust allergy, I was furtively banished to the upper floor. My parents had no plans of buying an unnecessary contraption. It turned out to be an ineffective maneuver, after all. Because as soon as the guy demonstrated the blower function, my Dad started sneezing! Yet, after all these years I am the one blamed for having been the cause for the purchase of our first vacuum cleaner. Life is so unfair…

Back to my own condition.  It got so bad that every morning I announced the fact of my waking up with a series of “HAAA……CHEE”s that shook the house at 6 am.  Well, I was at home, and I didn’t need to muffle my sneezes in a square of cloth, and I wasn’t infectious anyway.  My parents worried about asthma. But I think my Dad took more exception to the breaking of his slumbers in this fashion. So he took me to a Homeo practitioner.

I sat in the dark room filled with rows and rows of tiny bottles and ancient books on the shelves covering three walls as the doctor patiently questioned me about my daily habits. He soon found the problem – I spent too much time indoors with my nose in a book. (Little did he know that it was to be a lifelong affliction of mine). I was ordered to sit outside somewhere for an hour in the evening every day and take deep breaths of fresh air. Nope, deep breaths during my half-hour commute to and from college didn’t count. As I left, I looked at the wizened and pale doctor in the dark and claustrophobic room and wondered whether he shouldn’t be taking a little bit of his own prescription.

So every day after tea, I walked down to the edge of our property that faced an expanse of paddy fields and sat there, filling my lungs with fresh, fresh air. Since I wasn’t allowed to read, I took my sketch book with me to draw. But I found that I hunched up over the book so much that I forgot to breathe, which pretty much defeated the purpose of the exercise. Soon I stopped taking anything with me and learned to sit, dream and just be in the moment. A good thing I hadn’t learned crochet at that point in life! The result of these peaceful hours was that my Dad could once more wake up to melodious sounds...

A few years later, I did the Art of Living Course. I practiced the breathing exercises regularly for a year and got over the worst reactions of my allergies. My lungs didn’t whistle any more unless I had a severe chest infection. The frequency of colds lessened and even if I caught a cold, it rarely developed a secondary infection.

Nowadays cobwebs and dust on the floor hold no fear for me.  But I do cover my face while tackling heavy duty dusting.  One evening, I cleaned the bedroom fan. But I forgot to switch it on while going out of the room to let any dust left on the blades fly away. That night as we all settled down to sleep, I felt my chest seizing up in the old fashion and immediately remembered the dust on the fan.  Soon the seizing turned to breathless coughs and I had to sit up. I decided to take my coughing self to the living room to prevent disturbing my family.

I got up, picked a book from the window seat and turned to go. Then I stopped. I looked at my sleeping family and wondered how they could sleep without any problem; how their lungs ACCEPTED the dust in the air and let them sleep without harm. While one part of my brain told me that I was reading too much Louise Hay, I just sat down cross-legged on the bed and closed my eyes. 

This is what I told myself:

“Dust is always in the air, I breathe it in all the time.”

“Dust is a part of creation that holds no threat for me.”

“I ACCEPT dust as it is and welcome it.”

I suited my actions to my words and took deep breaths, visualizing the tiny, harmless dust motes finding peaceful homes in my alveoli.  Within five minutes, I was fast asleep.

Now, I wonder how I can bring myself to accept a rapacious cold virus in the same way! Rowrrr!!

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