Contemplating in The City

Pont Neuf, Paris
Pont Neuf, Paris.

My holy of holies is the human body, health, intelligence, talent, inspiration, love and absolute freedom-freedom from violence and falshood, no matter how the last two manifest themselves.”

Chekhov’s Letters

In a few hours, British Summertime will officially end. The hour that was lost in spring will mysteriously reappear after the stroke of midnight. The days will get shorter and mornings will begin shrouded in darkness. For the last few weeks, I’ve been waking up an hour earlier than usual, almost as if to try and turn back to claim more time. Telling my body clock that time is just an illusion does little to help the adjustment. My recent early mornings have begun with the sight of a full moon progressively waning each night directly in my line of vision through the slanted attic window. A sign from the Universe to count progress not in months or years but by cycles and phases.

When I reflect on the last few years much of it was spent waiting for a door to open when knocking on doors that were never meant for me became too exhausting. I took a massive leap into the unknown thinking a net would appear to catch my fall. It did, but only in the form of raw materials. I’ve had to learn to weave my own web like a spider to catch opportunities on the rare occasion that they’ve come.

Patience and perseverance deserve their own reward, so I gifted myself by renting a  small monks room for the summer in the sprawling metropolis that is Istanbul. In my last blog post, I felt the call to leave behind my solitary life secluded in nature to come back into the world. Staying true to my word, my summer began immersed in city life and continues now as the seasons change. For three months, Istanbul became my home as past acquaintances became solidified into deep friendships. It was the perfect ground to practice the dance between my spiritual and material life. When I recall Ramadan in May, I remember a whirlwind month spent with dervishes seamlessly navigating from one fraction of their lives to another. I learned to take down the walls that divided different areas of my life as I felt gratitude that I know now what my purpose is even if the road ahead isn’t clear. The secular and religious divides within me began to blend as I felt a weight lifted off me. I use these words with caution in the knowledge that religion and secularism are heavily loaded words that mean different things to me as a British female than my friends located east on the compass. New friendships from diverse sections of society pushed me out of my comfort zone to reveal parts of myself that I didn’t know existed. I tentatively showed parts of myself that I didn’t dare in other places.

Sulemaniye mosque
Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul

For years I’ve hidden my intuitive healing abilities. I thought I could channel it into a conventional medical education, yet all my years spent in medical school and dental school did nothing but quash my intuitive abilities under textbook definitions of health and disease. It followed me nonetheless throughout my career that began in the UK and eventually crashed in France. The years that have followed have been heavy with grief. When God gives you a gift and you feel like you have to leave it behind, a deep sense of failure follows your every step. But a true gift never quite goes away, it grows silently waiting for the right time to rebirth itself. Like a growing piece of fruit, it’s best to wait for it to ripen to get the sweetest taste. If you wait too long though, the moment is lost and the fruit gets spoilt. Timing is everything.  Earlier this year, I was given a second chance and I gladly took it. The joy I feel at being reunited with my healer self knows no bounds. It feels like coming home. After nearly two decades of searching, I’ve finally found a healing modality that feels natural and effortless. As a distant healer, my most important job is to maintain high frequencies in a deep state of meditation, in a process that has transformed my life and that of others. I’ve let go of the struggle and fully embraced the unknown areas of unexplained science. I can’t promise miracle cures any more than I can explain the mechanisms of distant healing. But what I can testify to is the joy I’ve witnessed when a person lets go of a weight they’ve been carrying for too long to finally set them free. True healing comes from the empowerment of self- healing, in a gift that keeps on giving. In return, they’ve set me free too by opening up a new world for me now that I’ve let go of the narrow confines of my former profession. To break the rules you have to master them first. But perhaps I’m not really breaking any rules, I just mistook the foundations of my learning as the height of my potential.

It’s not clear which direction my life is heading but I know I have a precious jewel that will serve me and others well, and that it’s only now that I’m able to handle it with love and care. On my weekly hikes up the hill that led up to the Sulemaniye Mosque, I mapped out all the city’s bookshops. Twice in the same week, I came across the story in the Masnavi of the man who hounds Moses (A.S) for gifts he’s not ready to receive. Divine intervention decrees the man be given the gift to hear the language of animals against the wishes of Moses. What begins as a gift turns into a curse as the weight of knowledge is no match for his untrained ego in an abuse of power that eventually leads to his downfall.

To learn the Unseen’s secrets, one is fit,

Only if one can seal one’s lips with it.

Masnavi III, 3388-89

My disappointment at not having succeeded in bridging the gap between conventional medicine and the healing arts has finally begun to dissipate. I’ve come to realise that having knowledge doesn’t mean I have to practice it solely in the way I was conditioned to. Divinely orchestrated meetings with doctors, nurses and therapists have given me a second chance to share and support others to better work with their patients while giving me the satisfaction that I’m still part of the medical community, albeit at the fringes. It’s easy to come out of the closet with strangers but less so with family and friends. A summer of being my authentic self on the streets of Istanbul came to an abrupt end on my return back to the U.K.  An unexpected health crisis of a family member thrust me back into the medical system as I was reminded of the shadow side of modern medicine that measures disease in squares that can be ticked off a sheet. Watching a young child scream in pain after the last of the morphine wears off has been one of the most difficult experiences of my life. It forced me to admit to my family my true vocation which was almost as painful. I sucked in my breath as each doctor and surgeon passed through the ward, each differing in their diagnosis but all equally dismissive of a patient who was of the opposite gender, much younger and a few shades darker than their caucasian skin.

I felt rage, I felt helpless and then I realised they probably felt it too. Trained professionals taught to heal want to do just that but they’re trapped in a system that’s woefully lagging behind rapidly evolving consciousness. We aren’t taught that food chosen by emotions can negatively impact our organs, that the human body wasn’t designed to live off artificial chemicals or chronically stressful situations, that there is an electromagnetic field around our cells that fires off signals before the cells themselves change. Treating disease purely at a biochemical and cellular level is a dying trade that’s starting to look at bit shaky with its exposed foundations. To say that surgery and pills are the only solution is a gross disservice to all those needlessly suffering at the hands of a system of experts holding all the power when conventional methods fail to work. It’s only inevitable that the growing weight of practitioners hiding in the closet will reveal themselves and dare to speak their truth. I long for that day to come, but change takes time. Symptoms of disease are quick to be shot down by medication and surgery before finding the root cause. It’s also incredibly difficult to witness the suffering of another without the skills required to give comfort. But the wheel of fortune is always changing, I see beautiful things happening when diagnostics and technological advances marry with instinct and intuition.

I see an invisible central thread moving through the causes of disease, war and the environmental crisis. Passing through the streets of upmarket Istanbul, women in black robes frequenting designer boutiques looked no different from the veiled women standing in a queue outside the Syrian consulate. Designer handbags in one pair of hands, refugee papers in another. Just as I was once the wealthy professional trying not to notice the growing number of refugee tents along the river Seine near Gare d’Austerlitz on my way to work. As the world slowly moves away from a fossil-fuel based economy I wonder where the future fortunes of the world lie when the narrative of the scarcity of resources inevitably changes to the harms of monopolisation and overconsumption in a game of power, poverty and inequality. In the same way the planet has been artificially divided and separated, so has the human body. When one organ is separated and treated at the detriment at the rest of the body, it’s accepted as casually as the innocent loss of life in avoidable conflicts. Yet we all suffer, only some are more aware of it than others. 

A student once went to his beloved teacher and said, ”Master, I have this bag of nuts, could you distribute it among the students?”

The teacher took the bag and asked, ”Should I distribute them according to God’s laws or according to our human laws?”

”According to God’s laws,” the student answered.

So the teacher took a handful of nuts out of the bag. To some students he gave two nuts, to others five nuts, and yet others ten nuts. The student looked at him in astonishment and the teacher smiled and asked, ”Should I distribute them according to human laws?” 

The student nodded, the nuts were collected, and every student was given the same amount.

Nasruddin folktale

The etymology of ‘crisis‘ denotes a “turning point in the decisive point in the progress of a disease” or ”that change which indicates recovery or death” as described by Hippocrates. With only a few letters separating his name from the word ‘hypocrisy‘, I wait for the tides to turn from the sin of pretending to virtue to genuine Hippocratic healing that chooses harmony over chaos. As a woman, I eagerly await the recognition of the ‘mothers‘ of future medicine to take their equal place on the mantle.

I came full circle this summer by ending it in Paris. Three summers ago, I left the city unable to reconcile the differences within me. I briefly returned earlier this year as the writer I always wanted to be and the medical intuitive I was always meant to be. It’s so much easier to be in the world without masking my true self. While my writing career is still very much in the beginning stages, I take heart in the helping hands that bear gifts as I progress in my creative journey. A book of short stories by Chekhov purchased in a seaside charity shop exactly a year earlier. A signed bookmark a year before that by one of my favourite Kashmiri writers with words of encouragement to keep going. And a poem inscribed at the back of a handpainted frame given on my final birthday celebrated with my Parisian friends,

“Trust in your dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.”

Khalil Gibran

As the world becomes more chaotic, my solace lies in the infinite ability to transform grief and sorrow into freedom and joy, one person at a time. Tomorrow marks the new moon of Diwali, celebrating the inevitability of light after darkness. Fireworks will light the skies all over the world, but perhaps not in the Kashmir Valley. Throughout the joys and sorrows of this summer, I constantly reflected on the dilemma of Prince Arjuna and the counsels of Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.

 “When a person responds to the joys and sorrows of others as if they were his own, he has attained the highest state of spiritual union.”

6:32

I’ve come to terms with taking imperfect action over inaction when required. Other times I need to stay silent and take a step back. To learn to keep joy and sorrow both equally in the palm of my hand. Now that I’m back in the world, I’m sure there’ll be ample opportunity to practice. For now, I’m ready to hibernate back into obscurity now that the clouds of ill health casting their shadow on family life have finally parted to reveal a pot of gold at the end of a glorious double-arched rainbow. Health really is wealth. On my wall is a postcard copy of Osman Hamdi Bey’s The Turtle Trainer that followed me everywhere I went this summer. It reminds me to have patience with a world slow to change and heal, but change it will. It took me long enough.

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