“Congratulations, your room has been upgraded,” the hotel receptionist smiled while checking me in. Apparently, I had won some raffles. After thanking her politely, I towed my luggage towards the elevator. “Tonight is indeed going to be a special one!” With my heart beating faster than usual, I opened the door.  

 I work with some incredible people spread across North America and Poland. Being a remote employee, I had never met anyone. Despite my fondness towards my colleagues, whenever any travel opportunity arose, the only thought that dominated was, “But how will I sleep alone in a hotel room?” My fear of ghosts always trumped and I declined business trips every single time. (The only time I rebelled against my fear was to go to the Vipassana retreat and had the most amazing time, but hey, it was an ashram and ashram-visits don’t count, not anymore. I mean who can be afraid of ghosts in an ashram? Oh yeah, ME! )

 I guess I was finally ready to really shed my fear and accepted to attend a week-long conference in a city I had never visited before and was far away from home. After travel plans were confirmed, frantic praying to the divine started. I was demanding to give me the courage to face my worst fear, but I was ready to settle on divine protection too. Interestingly enough, during my prayers (in my mind) divinity started taking the form of Om Swamiji. I have deep reverence and respect for him but devotion is/was not one of my traits. THAT was new! 

 Anyways here I was, sitting on the king-sized bed in this exclusive suite in a hotel in Atlanta wondering, “Will I be able to sleep tonight by myself?” I know it is going to be a  bit of a let-down in our story but the truth is, the four nights I spent alone were absolutely uneventful.  The only sleep problems I had on the first night were because of jetlag ( California is 3 hours behind Georgia) and the room was too hot. My over-imaginative mind tried to scare itself by thinking about ghosts but I couldn’t conjure any scary thoughts. It felt like all those thoughts were being blocked. Looks like, my prayers DID work and I have the utmost gratitude for our beloved Swamiji for that (and also apologies for my petty demands and constant naggings).

Quoting Paulo Coelho here, “And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”  Throughout my life, I had nurtured this fear, kept it safe in my heart, believed in it wholeheartedly and it also stayed true to me, always a close buddy. But the moment I was really ready to part with it, it poofed – just like a ghost! 

Maybe, all we need is to take that first sincere step towards letting go and the universe actually takes care of the rest. Worth a try, I say!

And yes, I didn’t just leave my fear of ghosts in Atlanta, I brought back a gift, COVID. But such is life 😉  

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Deepali P

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