When I am doing japa, a memory keeps bothering me of something that happened 35 years ago. I had an abortion. I felt guilty about it back then, but it was the best I could do given my situation. I don’t know what to do now to deal with this recurring memory. What can I do to heal this?
Aborting a baby is often times too emotionally painful, so we avoid feeling and processing the feelings and just go into the mode of action to complete the procedure of abortion. Meanwhile, the feelings lie there in the chitta, undigested as a samskara. So when we sit down to meditate, part of the purification process is that all of these undigested feelings start revealing themselves in order to be purged. Kind of like a panchakarma for the mind. In order to work with this abortion samskara, the key is to look at it with an open heart, truly letting yourself feel the feelings that are there.
One way to get in touch with the raw feelings (not your thoughts about the feelings), is to write a letter to the aborted baby, telling it how you feel about ending its life.
Also, you can journal about the feelings you were having at the time of the abortion – before, the day of, and after. Often times women feel very mixed emotions such as shame, guilt, depression, anxiety, fear, relief.
You can also try to write a response to your letter and journal entries from the baby’s point of view. What would the baby say?
Let yourself embrace these emotions and do not intellectualize them. Just feel them, so they can be acknowledged in your heart and then they will clear naturally.
One way you can know that you have worked with your feelings successfully is that the next time the samskara arises, it will not be so strong, or emotionally charged. At that point when the samskara comes, you can use your intelligence (buddhi) to tell yourself that this happened in the past, and that you are aware of the feelings related to your abortion, and you are not going to let the samskara effect your peaceful state of mind. You just say, “Oh I see you, but you do not control me because I know you now.” What bothers our mind, and controls it, are those feelings that we are not aware of – meaning that we have not processed. Then you focus your mind back on the mahamantra and continue chanting. Continue chanting and gradually you will overcome this feeling.