A past life connection
For most of my adult life I’ve shared with only my closest friends my certainty that I’ve lived past lives in India. I’m consistently drawn to most things Indian – from some fundamental level within me – despite how inconsistent this is with my very Swedish-Lutheran-Minnesota childhood and my green-eyed blonde countenance. As such, I’ve long wanted to visit India, but the journey just didn’t fit into my life until January of 2014 – when I was able to visit 7 cities on a whirlwind tour to recruit students for my College of Business and have initial meetings with potential university partners. I returned to continue recruiting in September, and again in March of 2015. My March trip also included the opportunity to guide our Executive MBA students through a discovery experience on sustainable development. I am hooked.
How India has transformed the West
We hear so often about how the West has transformed India. But we rarely hear about how India has transformed so many lives in the West! In my recent travels to India, everywhere I went people were surprised that I felt so familiar and at home in India – until they learned about the journey of my life. As I spoke in casual conversations about the significance of meditation and Vedic knowledge throughout my adult life, I was repeatedly told by my new Indian friends that I had inspired them to resume their practice of meditation and yoga – which they might have learned as a child but allowed to drop off as they were caught up in the busy-ness of their increasingly Westernized adult lives. How odd that someone from the West would bring a renewed appreciation of their traditional Indian practices!
My fascination with India began in my youth, when I learned that the Beatles had learned Transcendental Meditation from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. I longed for the mystical nature of a deep spiritual experience, and just days after I turned 21 I finally learned TM. The experience of meditation profoundly changed the trajectory of my life. I reconnected with the inner bliss of my early childhood, and the energy and positivity I drew into activity from my twice daily practice of TM enriched my endeavors in the material world. From time to time I attended in-residence courses, which offered extended periods of meditation and lectures about the Science of Creative Intelligence, Maharishi’s distillation of Vedic wisdom.
I became a TM teacher and instructed adults and children in the practice of TM as well as led advanced in-residence courses. Over a number of decades Maharishi brought to us key points from various Vedas, including Ayurveda and Sthapatya Veda. My two lives, spiritual and professional, intertwined in a curiously separate manner and fueled one another. Being able to “whisper words of wisdom” in teaching others to meditate was immensely gratifying. Yet being a practical person, I also pursued a conventional corporate career and confined my meditation activities to my personal time – I wasn’t comfortable sharing this deeply meaningful side of my life in the workplace that would all too often scoff at and demean it. And even my family vacillated between worry and frustration with me as my life increasingly held components to which they couldn’t relate. But it was my destiny – of this I was certain, if not always comfortable with.
I chose to marry another TM teacher, and soon thereafter enrolled in a Ph.D. program. My TM teaching was put on hold by the demands of graduate school, followed by those of motherhood and the pursuit of tenure. I was blessed to teach our daughter to meditate when she was very young. During my sabbatical upon being granted tenure, we temporarily relocated to Fairfield, Iowa, the home of Maharishi University of Management, where I taught several courses. Our daughter spent 2 years at ages 7 and 8 attending the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment, where she was steeped in many things Vedic: she was exposed to Sanskrit, Ayurvedic pulse diagnosis, Vedic math, Jyotish, and participated in a play about the Three Gunas. She thrived in this wholeness, and went through a rather challenging transition when we returned to Akron, Ohio where I continued in my tenure-track position – it wasn’t easy being pulled away from her daily experiences with the subtle levels of life. Now age 20, she has been delighted many times to see how those early experiences profoundly shaped who she is.
Whereas for decades the Vedic aspects of my life were shared only with those who were very close to me, over time the research about meditation has grown to the extent that it’s become a common piece of corporate wellness programs and discussions. The benefits of meditation to health and well-being are now well documented and accepted by Western doctors, and talked about freely in the workplace. I eventually instructed my older brother and his family to meditate, and recently my oldest sister has started to meditate. Last year I participated in the Kent State University Institute for Excellence leadership development program, in which participants are introduced to meditation and its many benefits. Over time it’s become a household notion in my own back yard! It’s what leaders do. Yes.
A sense of continuity
My life now has a fresh sense of continuity for which I’ve longed but didn’t dare expect. My inner and outer lives are now able to flow in an uninterrupted manner; I’m able to be transparent with anyone about the extent to which my Vedic pursuits have enriched my life. And to share that they are the secret to my success and well-being. My decades of regular meditation, yoga asanas, primarily vegetarian diet and Ayurvedic routines have preserved my health and vitality – I feel and act many years younger than most people my age! My work affords opportunities for ongoing travel to and relationship building within India, as well as to provide our students with a taste of this wonderful country and the richness it holds on so many levels. I am so grateful to my dean who supported and thereby opened the door to my India travel and all that it has inspired. I feel immensely privileged to have been given the gifts of India so early in my life, and the opportunity to nurture them and allow the growing wholeness to emerge in my life. It’s absolutely delightful to participate in the integration of wisdom from East and West – to experience the best of both and help others to do so, as well. Thank you, India. I will return soon – and I can hardly wait!