Watching the Movie Playing Inside
The interview ‘Something to Smile About’ featured Nirodh Fortini, talking about the impact of meditation on his living with muscular dystrophy.
What follows is an interview with Ushma, his partner of twenty-seven years. Also a meditator, Ushma is a multi-tasker par excellence. She juggles the administration of the Osho Arihant Meditation and Creative Arts Centre in Varazze, Italy, with offering Reiki, colour puncture, breath, and counselling sessions; translating for non-Italian-speaking group facilitators, and facilitating her own groups.
She also has a role in the Creative Arts aspect of the couple’s work – creating the concept and text, as well as providing the voice for 11 CDs of guided meditations. In addition, she is an artist, mother of a twenty-four year old son, and a housekeeper – shopping, paying bills, doing the laundry, cleaning, cooking meals, and taking care of their two pets. All this, in addition to being Nirodh’s primary caretaker.
Fifty-two years old, Ushma is a petite blonde with stunning blue eyes. Sensitive, and fun to be with, she is practical minded and vast hearted.
As Ushma recalls, the onset of muscular dystrophy affected Nirodh’s face first (he discovered one day that he could no longer whistle, and then that he could no longer smile, or make any other facial expression), then his arms and, later, his legs.
“It became difficult for him to walk around the house, and these days when he goes outside he uses a golf caddy. In the last three to four years it has also become difficult for him to write, and to play the synthesizer, so the last he has had to drop,” she explains. “He can shower alone and can usually dress himself, although sometimes he needs help with his shoes, and so on.”
A situation such as Nirodh’s must present an enormous challenge not only to him but to you, too: How are you managing?
With every change in Nirodh’s sickness, my first reaction used to be denial – that it was not happening, that he was trying to avoid doing something, or that he wanted to remain dependent. This of course created a conflict in me. But now, as I become more trusting of Nirodh and more accepting of the situation, I immediately feel deeply connected with his heart. This gives me the strength to stay with him in spite of the sickness.
The amazing thing is that every time there is a degeneration in his health, he never creates a drama of it. On the contrary, he is always very easy about any change that happens in his body. He never complains; instead he immediately finds a solution for every situation. He has a fantastic sense of humour and a deep sense of practicality.
Before his sickness we enjoyed travelling around the world, especially in the East. I still have in my heart the curiosity to go around the world, and the dream to do it together. Now it would be too difficult for him to travel. But he always encourages me to go, and he insists that he can take care of himself.
Of course, I have had to change my life, in other ways, too. For example, if I want to go away for one evening with friends, I have to organize everything: I have to prepare dinner for him and be with him while he eats. Or I need to arrange to have someone who will stay here with him, because he can’t cook; he can’t carry things, or pick up whatever he might drop. Whenever I am away from home, if he is alone I always have a subtle worry that he may need something or he might fall over.
And taking a break of some days means that much more organisation?
I have to organise everything in advance. But we are lucky: we have so many friends all around us that love us. So, whenever I go, we find some of them who, with joy, stay with him. They have a good time together, watching movies, or staying awake ‘til the early hours of the morning creating music, and so on.
It is important to me that I have time away each year; otherwise I feel restricted, and then that becomes nervousness, and I take that on him! So I prefer to find time for myself, even though that takes so much organising. When I do take time away, there is always the sense of separation from him, so it’s not easy.
One of Ushma's paintings
How does having meditation as a resource help you?
Meditation has given me the means to understand that I always have the opportunity to see the good aspect in life. Every single moment I have the choice to look at the sad part, or I can see the good and positive aspect. There are always both sides, and whatsoever I choose is my responsibility. Each moment I can either cry to myself about the bad luck that has happened to me – poor me! – or enjoy the beautiful things life gives me.
And life is giving me so many beautiful things. The meditation centre is a space I have created together with Nirodh, and it is a great opportunity to meet many different people, new friends and old ones.
Through meditation I understand that freedom is inside me, and that that freedom can be expressed in my way of living. The most precious gift that a person can have is to wake up in the morning and start creating her own life, moment by moment. And this is what is happening to me. I am responsible for my life, and I am an active part in its creation.
It’s obvious, being with you both, that there is a very strong bond between you.
It’s always been important to me to tell him everything: he is my best friend.
It is important to keep on having moments just for us. After so many years together, is very easy to meet to talk only about work or decision making and so on. This situation is probably usual between couples who have been together for a long time, and who live and work together twenty-four hours a day. But it is a mistake.
When this happens for too many days, something always happens to break this pattern, or we create the opportunity to have moments to share our inner feelings, like two old friends. Then we can communicate with each other from a deeper space, from our souls. Those are the most precious moments, whether we are sharing our sadness, or a fear, or a difficulty on the spiritual path, or an insight we have had.
Sometimes I feel confused about something in my inner life, and I talk to him. He is always so clear minded and always has the right answer: he helps me to see the easy and positive aspect of the situation. Just talking with him I feel released. He has the ability to de-dramatise, so often we end our talk with simple laughter.
In the interview with him I asked Nirodh about resentment. Do you ever feel resentment?
Many times we have different ideas about projects or administration of the meditation centre. I get pissed off when he insists on his way. I get into a trip of, “But I am the one being with you all the time, and you treat me like this!” Then I go into a very dark space because I am full of resentment and I feel like leaving. I need to take time to feel that there is still love between us…to let the love flow again between us. Until I get back to that point I live in an ugly mood and my mind runs wild.
How do you deal with these spaces?
The ‘witness’ or watcher is the part of me that says, “This is just part of the drama, the show called life,” because the tendency of the mind is to say, “This is how life will always be – always ugly and sad and full of anger.” The witness is the part that says “This will pass; you know it is not always going to be like this.” This is the main help I have in passing through those difficult moments. Another Ushma creation
But to be able to witness, first I need to do some active meditations.
Gibberish [a form of verbal release through making nonsense sounds] and Osho Dynamic [in which physical and emotional catharsis is followed by a period of silence and then dance] also help me. It’s important to allow the expression of my feelings.
Before doing Gibberish my head is full of a lot of words, of criticism of myself, of what to do and what not to do. Through this technique I find there really is a mental release, and that helps me to take a distance from all these thoughts.
go to page 2