This past week I received a certificate in the mail that marked the completion of a four-year online program called Mystical Mind Training based on the teachings of A Course in Miracles. My friend Aiko visited me over the weekend and I mentioned to her that I felt the same excitement and joy in completing this program like I experienced when I finished my medical school training exactly 25 years ago. ?
The medical and the mystical. They seem so separate on the surface.
The medical is the material- the world of bodies, suffering, pain, appointments, surgery, medications, procedures, laboratory tests. Confusion, fear, and uncertainty often are part of this journey especially if we are facing some chronic challenge.
The mystical. That place of peace, love and stillness which is always available to us. Yet often many of us are unaware of this because our minds are too busy, too active, and too distracted.
The medical and mystical may seem to be worlds apart. Yet for me both have been an integral part of my life journey.
Let me share an early mystical experience from my teenage years.
During the summer before my senior year in high school, my parents, my younger brother and I traveled to India to visit our relatives and also perform a pilgrimage. We flew to New Delhi where the summer temperature averages 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Air-conditioning in those days was non-existent or at best a machine called a cooler that sprayed cool water into a room. And that was assuming the electricity didn’t go out. Nothing in India ran on time- from the trains to the buses to the never-ending parade of visitors. It was common to joke about EST, PST and IST – or Indian Standard Time. But amazingly the one thing that departed with punctual regularity every evening was the electricity- with lapses of several hours at a time being the norm. ?
I was miserable! And I made sure everyone knew I was miserable. No matter how many times I showered, the heat was simply oppressive. It felt like being baked in an oven. Moreover, as a teenager, I felt emotionally and socially isolated being thousands of miles away from my friends back in the States. I did not feel I had anything in common with my cousins or relatives.
When the time arrived for the pilgrimage, my mom was unable to go since she wanted to spend time with her ailing mother. Papa was already back in the US to join his new job. So, my younger brother and I along with our uncle and cousin began a journey to Vaishno Devi, a shrine located inside a cave in the hills of Jammu and Kashmir at a height of about 5200 feet. The journey involved a train and then a bus ride. The last 12 kilometers were by foot on a mountainous path, and in those days, there were no guard rails. While the others we met along the path would chant Jai Mata Di (Victory to the Goddess), my thoughts were more along the lines of “My brother and I are going to die. We’re going to fall over the edge and simply die!” There was no trace of any spiritual or devotional feeling in my mind!
When we finally reached the shrine, we were surrounded by hundreds of others also waiting for darshan inside the cave. Everyone was pushing and shoving so they could enter first. As the sun reached its zenith, my mind also heated up with flares of judgment at the hypocrisy of the situation- humans fighting to worship rocks while not showing any respect for each another.
But then something happened once we stepped inside the cave.
Perhaps it was the reprieve from the oppressive heat.
Perhaps it was the cool water that flowed under my feet.
Perhaps it was not dealing with the crowds anymore.
We saw the three Pindies, or stones atop a five and a half feet tall rock that legend states are a manifestation of the Goddess Vaishnaivi when she shed her human form. But honestly, I don’t recall them. I simply know that for the first time ever my mind’s incessant chatter ceased. I was flooded by peace so deep that all my irritation and impatience were washed away. I touched the water with my hands and instinctively brought it to touch my forehead and lips in reverence. Somehow it felt holy. I felt holy. I felt whole. I was complete.
When I returned to the States, I was not the same. My friends commented I smiled more. I just seemed happier, less introverted and more outgoing. While I kept up with all that was needed to apply for medical school, I also heard a soft, gentle voice stir within my heart, calling me to another way. I enrolled in a metaphysics class and pondered deeply over Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha. I completed my senior thesis project on the Bhagvad Gita. I felt inspired to meditate, chant, pray and read about saints and mystics past and present- Mother Teresa, Gandhi, St. Francis, Krishna, Sri Aurobindo, Kabir and others.
The following summer, I was accepted to a 7-year accelerated medical program in NYC. Yet something within me was forever changed by that experience within a cave in the hills of northern India. The Inner Teacher had awakened within me a deep desire to know myself, my True Self. While my medical career continued to evolve, my Inner Teacher showed up in my life in the form of many books, workshops and seminars where I studied with many teachers of meditation, prayer, chanting, yoga, Vedanta and Self-realization.
At some level, I knew that there must be a way to bring the mystical and medical together. Yet within me there was also always a conflict because I felt myself to be so ‘different’ and therefore isolated from my medical school peers- who were completely fascinated with Western biomedicine. I often felt I simply did not fit this traditional mold of the MD. Yet deep down I knew that there was a mission within the world of healing for me.
What was this mission? What was my purpose?
I felt like I was a musician that could not find her instrument, or a singer that knows she has a song inside her but cannot quite remember the notes or is unsure of her voice.
Receiving the certificate from the Mystical Mind Training program to me is a beautiful symbol of the True Healer within me that knows that I am to serve as a bridge- leading my clients from the medical (or material world) to the mystical.
The Webster Dictionary defines the mystical as being obscure, mysterious or unknowable– that which is beyond human comprehension or human understanding. Yet I would venture to say that while we cannot explain the mystical with words or language, we can experience these states and they can be the key to our healing.
To me, the mystical is an expanded state of awareness where we find stillness. The mystical is the home of inner peace. This is where we find that we are lifted from our everyday understanding of our life- where we can make those quantum leaps in consciousness and receive those breakthroughs that can break the cycle of fear, doubt, confusion and pain.
When we return, we come back with a different perspective, a new insight, a new way to relate to our body, to our loved ones, to our work, to our life. We then apply this insight and find that slowly and steadily the mystical begins to shape and form our ‘material’ experience. Our experience of our body changes. We see our relationships differently. Our life purpose becomes clearer to us and we find we can take one small step to realize this purpose in the now- not in some future time.
As a physician, to free others from suffering is part of the Hippocratic oath I took during my medical school graduation. I feel so blessed that in Coaching for Inner Peace, by helping my clients bridge from the material/medical to the mystical and back to the material- I witness amazing healing every day!
I feel my heart overflowing with gratitude to all my clients and to each of you reading this email. You are each helping me fulfill my life purpose. You are part of this great Circle of Healing that is happening across our planet.
My name Seema means ‘boundary’ and when I was a young girl I really did not like my name. I wished my parents had chosen a different name for me. Something more beautiful. More poetic, maybe?
Yet boundary is perfect because I feel my mission is to dissolve the boundaries between the mystical and the medical, the material and the spiritual so we can all be free from suffering.
Thank you for sharing in this mighty purpose of healing with me!
P.S. If you feel inspired to take a peek at this amazing Mystical Mind Training program, click here.