The Path of Heart
A med student finds his way back to center
I went to school for engineering and I’d just started my first job when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. I had chemotherapy, but I also tried a lot of integrative medical modalities, and felt their powerful effects. I realized I wanted to study medicine, with the eventual goal of bringing Western and alternative modalities together. Seven years later, I’m now in my last year of medical school.
The first three years of med school have a set curriculum, but in the fourth year, there’s more flexibility. I was able to spend two weeks at Kripalu for the Healthy Living programs Nutrition Intensive for Health Professionals and Transforming Stress: Mindful Living and the Art of Nourishment.
At the beginning and end of the Transforming Stress program, our teacher, Dr. Susan B. Lord, had us draw images of ourselves that represented how we were feeling. On the first day, I drew myself on a mountaintop—alone, isolated, and frustrated. Over the next five days, we learned about the impact of stress; discussed and practiced mind-body techniques like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness; and connected in small groups. When we sat down to draw ourselves again, I felt something I’ve only experienced a few times in my life and that always lets me know that I’m on the right path—an intense warmth in my chest, and the sense that my heart is opening. So I drew a picture of a heart.
My dream is to help make the experience that Kripalu offers accessible to everyone, especially the underserved. Research is consistently showing the beneficial effects of mind-body techniques, now down to a molecular and genetic level. I ask myself how we can identify the small percentage of people that require the $100,000 medical procedure and will also benefit from integrated modalities, while offering the rest of us the holistic approach that tends to be as effective—if not more.
This is by far the best I’ve felt in three years. I am reaffirmed in my path, and I know that I’m following my heart.
—Reza G., Worcester, Massachusetts