“My name is Shanti, and shanti means inner peace, but I don’t know where my peace has gone!”
These were the words my mom expressed to one of our family’s earliest spiritual teachers. At that time, she was in her mid-40s, and negotiating some medical challenges. She was also grieving the loss of Mataji*- her mom, who passed away in New Delhi, India, more than 7000 miles away. My mom was unable to be there for Mataji’s passing and was struggling with a profound sense of loss.
During this time, she had a dream- where she saw Mataji holding an infant, and motioning my mom to nurse this baby. We both reflected on this dream. My mom felt certain this was a message from Mataji. Eventually, we understood to it be an encouragement for my mom to nurture herself- not just physically and emotionally, but also to find spiritual nourishment. My mom needed to find a way to reconnect with her inner peace- which not coincidentally was also the name Mataji gave her at birth.
Shanti. Peace. Tranquility.
A few days later, my mom felt inspired to start a chalia- a practice of walking to the local Hindu temple in Queens for a period of 40 consecutive days. Slowly the healing process emerged for her. After the initial 40 days, my mom realized that she enjoyed this practice so much that she renewed her 40 day chalia again, and yet again until it became a daily practice for her. We met our first spiritual teacher in the context of my mom starting her chalia.
Many days I accompanied her on her walk. I did not realize it at that time, but we created a lifelong bond during those days. This was more than being a mother and daughter or even a connection between sisters or friends. We became mighty companions to each other – both walking together on a path of Self-discovery sharing a common purpose of experiencing healing and inner peace.
During that time, my mom taught me about the Indian mythological stories from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and also helped me appreciate the deeper meaning behind many Hindi and Punjabi devotional songs. I shared with my mom all that was I learning in my exploration of spirituality and healing along with my journey through medical school. We also became ‘reading partners.’ Every book that I bought that was even remotely connected to spirituality or healing- my mom also read – often before me. ? We would have long, deep conversations discussing what we learned, and how we could apply these ideas in our lives.
Of course, like in any mother-daughter relationship, there were times where we disagreed. There were days I felt she was being ‘too Indian’ and other times I am sure she felt I had become ‘too Americanized.’ At times, I needed to step back and ‘separate’- so I could better understand me. And other times, I would call her several times a day as I struggled with some professional or personal challenge. She was never too busy, always able to offer her presence, her love, her shanti.
How mighty companions support each other
About fifteen years ago, shortly after my son’s birth, I found myself going through a painful divorce- negotiating custody, courts and complex financial and property documents. The most challenging part was knowing that eventually my then newborn son would be spending half his time with me and half with his dad.
How would that work? What would I do when we were apart? How would I survive? Would he be okay? How were we going to make it through this?
Such were the painful, confusing thoughts that swirled about in my head. My life was ripping apart at its seams and it seemed that there was nothing I could do to change anything.
We were in my parents’ home in NYC. I unburdened all my worries and fears to my mom. She listened to me quietly as we sipped chai. My son was sleeping in the next room peacefully.
Then my mom said something that would serve as an anchor, a guiding light for me – not just for the days to come, but for the rest of my life.
“Why do you feel that your only role in life is that of a mother? Hridesh will be fine- he is going to be with his dad after all.”
I felt my eyes brim with tears yet something open within me as well.
“And how do you know what God has in store for you?” she continued.“Perhaps the time when Hridesh is not with you – will be the time for you to devote to yourself, to your healing, to your mission.”
There was no worry or fear in my mom’s voice. Just a steady acceptance. I could feel that her words were exactly what I needed to hear. Like she was helping me hear my own Inner Guide – the small still voice that I was unable to hear because the emotions were just too strong.
My mom’s conversation to me that day is a beautiful demonstration of how mighty companions help each other heal. We create a safe space to share and unburden whatever is in our minds and weighing on our hearts. But then we find a way to lift each other up and offer a perspective that can empower, nourish and heal.
I feel that since we are mighty companions to each other, my mom and I enjoy a relationship that grows more beautiful, more honest, and more loving each day. What a blessing!
Life comes full circle
My mom has been my number one support- not just in helping me raise my son but also in believing in me and my mission in the world of healing – that she somehow always knew I was meant to share. My mom believed in me even when I have had doubts. She was the first to proofread the writing for the Coaching for Inner Peace website when it launched in October 2015. Even today, I know she will read this newsletter not once, but a few times and then save it in a special file. ?
For many years, my mom worked as a school teacher and always dreamed of opening her own school. Due to personal and family circumstances, her dream never came to fruition. Yet it is so fitting that the healing work I am doing is called Coaching for Inner Peace. In addition, the free online academy – that is part of Coaching for Inner Peace- is also named in honor of my mom, Shanti Academy. The Academy was officially launched in January 2016 and we have had about 80 students enroll so far.
Happy Mother’s Day!
My mom says that in India every day is Mother’s Day. She is not a believer in too much fanfare or ‘special’ celebrations. Yet in honor of her, in honor of all she has taught me – this post is dedicated to her and all we continue to learn together.
So, thank you mom, for everything, and Happy Mother’s Day!
I love you!
And wishing a very Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!
P.S. If you want to check out the courses at Shanti Academy, please click here.
*Mataji- a Hindi/Punjabi term of respect and endearment for a grandmother