I returned from India a week ago after the trip of a lifetime. I immigrated with my family to the United States 40 years ago and had been back home only once, in 1998. This 2017 trip was extra special and carried with it a sacred intention – to realign who I am with my roots and my culture to create a platform I can live from for the rest of my life. I was accompanied by my father, my husband, and my son; the three closest and most important men in my life. The blessing of their presence was soul-deep.
Returning back from the two-week immersion in India has left me somewhat speechless. What I felt, and observed there was unexpected and profound. I experienced an overwhelming connection with feminine energy. The presence of the Feminine is, what I believe differentiates the Indian culture from ours in America. Not only is India one of the oldest cultures in the world, but it is also very diverse with a history of migrations, invasions, assimilations, and integration. Scores of languages are spoken there and every state has its own version of Indian food. It is a culture with many facets and dimensions, yet there is cohesiveness, togetherness, and unity beneath the diversity that defines it. It reminds me of a tapestry where threads of many colors create a beautiful weave.
The tens of thousands of moments I experienced there filled my heart and my senses. The beauty amidst the poverty was sublime. I saw flashes of color in every neighborhood, colorful clothes hanging on clotheslines, children happily playing together, people gathered on a corner drinking chai at the same time every day. It was nothing fancy, just a street corner under a tree with a gathering of friends, laughing and chatting for all to see. I saw hundreds of such street corners. The joy of just being was palpable everywhere, even in the slums. The need for community and the appreciation of it was visible. The feminine was also visible by how women adorned their bodies, draped with colorful clothing and jewelry that took my breath away. The beauty of the architecture, much of it with intricate carvings, historical etchings and markings, and domes was also so markedly feminine. Our meals together became like a ritual, our senses infused with the smell of spices and flavors, bringing our consciousness to a deep sense of gratitude for the nourishment and healing present in the food. The devotion in the temples, the gentleness and kindness of the people, the care and concern for each other, the celebration of life and death, the hospitality, and the acceptance of all were powerful to experience. Indian culture has been infused with this energy every day for centuries.
Coming back home to America was difficult. I saw and felt a profound separation between people, from the moment we arrived at the customs counter in Chicago. It was shockingly sad to experience the stark contrast of the palpable lack of joy, happiness, togetherness, or care for one another. It took a few days to feel the full impact of the contrast between the exuding presence of the feminine in one culture and the stark absence of it in another.
Since my return, I have been thinking about how we can weave these feminine threads into the tapestry of our culture here in America. How can we be authentically present for each other? How do we bring a greater sense of value to the feminine aspects of who we are – collaboration, community, love, and respect with an emphasis on beauty? How do we lessen the value we have placed on materialism in favor of the importance of time spent with meaning? How do we find a rhythm that unites us in our diversity while addressing our need to matter to one another?
As I align myself with my roots and create a renewed platform infused with the feminine that I experienced so deeply, I am committed to weaving these threads more consciously into the tapestry of my life. I feel that these may be the very threads needed to heal Medicine’s torn tapestry that is threatening the very soul of our society. Each one of us has the task of weaving our experience of the feminine into our lives and our world.
I invite us all to seek the experiences, cultures, and moments every day that can inspire us to bring more beauty into our lives. If we look for these consciously, we will no doubt experience them.
The task of healing may be as simple as becoming more conscious of the feminine presence in the many moments of our lives. Each one of these threads we offer can weave a new tapestry of greater beauty and meaning for our lives and the culture we are always shaping. This can also be a beautiful legacy for us to leave for our children and our future generations.
©April 2017 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director of The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. Website: www.ommanicenter.com Author of Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife. 2011, 2014 Medial Press