Soul Recognition


“I’d like you to meet my friend Fara. She was our daughter’s teacher when she was four years old.” We were at our weekly fire meditation. On this day, my friend and our daughter were joining for the first time.

“You are friends with your daughter’s teacher from that many years ago? That is hard to believe!” the expression on my friends’ faces was priceless.

“Would you like to hear the story?” I asked.

“Yes, this must be an interesting story.”

When our daughter was four years old, school district had a multilingual program for preschoolers. You know that is the best time to learn languages. We always spoke Farsi at home yet when our children went to daycare, they started speaking English. We continued speaking Farsi at home, they responded in English. We were hoping they would preserve their mother’s tongue.

I was so thankful for this program and took our daughter to register her for the English / Farsi class. We met the teacher to explain the program for us. She was a beautiful woman with loving kind eyes, mild mannered, professional and respectful.

As she was sharing about the format of the program, I felt a strong like for her as if I had known her. I thought to myself she has chosen to work with young children, well she must be a loving and patient person and that is the attraction. Yet what I was feeling was much deeper. I dismissed my inner feelings trying to be present and listen to her presentation. Her voice was soothing.

My mind drifted again. I asked myself, do I know her? Have I met her before? I knew it was the first time meeting her. What was this feeling of recognition? I couldn’t put my finger on it. However I knew she was familiar to me. Something in her eyes.

I was not paying attention. My mind was searching in the memory bank of my brain for some kind of clues. Who is she? Whom does she remind me of? I was scanning images in my mind. Suddenly, a moment of clarity!

Could it be?

When I was teaching at the National University of Iran, I had a female student who was not only a beautiful woman, had a loving and kind energy. She was always present in class, asked questions and participated. I felt perhaps she was as interested in understanding the human psyche as I was. I was energized by her passion and enthusiasm and wanted to support her in becoming a psychologist and to continue her further studies. She had beautiful brown eyes with warm loving energy.

Bingo! This teacher reminded me of that student long ago. I couldn’t help myself.

“I am sorry to interrupt you. You look so familiar to me. You remind me of a student I had years ago in Tehran. Would you by any chance know

Fereshteh K?” I asked.

Her jaws dropped! Her eyes were wide opened! She looked shocked in disbelief. She paused for a long time! After a few long minutes, she said she is my younger sister.

“OMG, it is a small world.” You know I felt as something about you is so familiar, searching in my mind. This is amazing. How is your sister? Where is she and what is she doing?” in that moment there was a soul recognition with much joy and laughter.

She had introduced herself with her married name. I knew I would have recognized her with her maiden name. we became friends and it was a blessing for our daughter to have her for one year as her teacher.

We left Iran when our daughter was only one year old. She does not remember anything from Iran. However, at age 32, she is fluent in Farsi and at times amazes me with her vocabulary.  Thanks  to a passionate and dedicated teacher.

On this day,  the teacher and the student were attending a fire meditation together sitting side to side

Thank you Fara, in honor of many years of service to our children.

Conception: A Conversation With My Mother

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“An unexamined life is not worth living”


Have you ever thought about your conception? Have you ever wondered how your parents felt or what the circumstances were when you were conceived? I never did, until the universe provided me with an opportunity out of nowhere.

Whenever I feel low in life’s energy and need to nurture my heart and soul, I take one of my favorite poetry books and go to our community pool, my personal haven, where it is usually peaceful and quiet. Somehow it feels as if the universe directs me to the poem that heals my longing.

One day I took my favorite poetry book written in Farsi “Tavalodi Digar”, Rebirth . I opened the book as I was asking for guidance. I read: “the night I was conceived, my mother had cried…”

In that moment, I felt a sharp pain in my heart and couldn’t breathe for a moment, as if I had been emotionally stabbed, and then started crying. I was puzzled, confused, not sure what was going on within me. Before I knew it I was sobbing in a public place and it did not matter. I had a choice to shut down my feelings and keep on pretending as if were OK – OR – to grab the opportunity and dive within and heal the pain my psyche was longing for.

I picked up my notebook and pen, my two best friends and started writing. What did I know about my conception? Nothing! I had heard about the family dynamics, mostly from the family with their unique possible distorted perception.

My usual path to inner discovery is recognizing a feeling, a symptom and then searching / guessing for the possible source. In the absence of vivid memories, it feels like a search for treasure with only vague clues.

All I know was my soul was prepared to unveil a painful memory and I was ready to face, process and release whatever was necessary. I noticed a smile when I decided to ask my mother about my conception.

“Mom, do you remember when you conceived me?” I asked gently, after a brief introduction about my inquiry. I was calling her from 6000 miles away.

“Oh yes, I remember clearly.” She is always ready to share about her life, her challenging experiences, seeking the attention. Now in the winter of her life, nobody wants to listen to her old repetitive stories.

“Your father used to go out every night with his friends having fun, playing cards, leaving me at home with your brother and a male servant.”

She tends to be a dramatic person, exaggerating without awareness. As long I remember, she blamed her husband for her unhappiness. As a child, I felt the pain inside when she said “Your Father”, and for some reason I felt responsible for all his wrong doings.

“Your brother was a difficult child, cried for nine months constantly. I used to walk him in my arms all night to keep him quiet so your father could sleep.”

“I was afraid of the male servant. I would cry in bed anxiously waiting for your father to come home so I could sleep.”

I recall having been afraid of our male servants as a child. These young men were illiterate, served in the home of an army officer in place of the required military service. As a clinician They were mistreated and were at the mercy of the officer, had no rights, driven by hormones, frequently took their frustration on the children in the household. There was an understanding of my mother’s fear.

“I pretended to be sleeping when your father came home. He expected his needs to be met when he wished.” She seemed sad.

Looking back, I have wondered if food and sex were the two of his quick fixes, possible addiction.

“On that night, he seemed to be happy. Even though I acted as I was asleep, he started touching me. When I declined and asked him to leave me alone, he accused me of be unfaithful.” Her emotions had been triggered.

According to cultural and religious norms, women are expected to provide what is called “marriage duty”.  A man can divorce a wife who does not comply with his wishes.

“You know whenever he approached me, it was a quick one-sided encounter.”

The blaming game was almost always on in whatever she shared about my father. It was familiar and expected. I did an editing process in mind as I received her information. Yet her emotions were of a longing woman with deep feelings of hurt and frustration that had been turned into intense anger over the years.

In an intimate relationship, when a man is not aware of the woman’s needs for affection and emotional intimacy, the sacred union of two bodies could become a painful experience. When a man does not understand the anatomy of the female body, he may not be aware of the physical, emotional and spiritual pain of the woman.

“Can you imagine, while your father was going with women, he accused me of being unfaithful!” The intense anger was like a volcano erupting.

Where there is poverty, wealthy men can basically “buy” women for sexual satisfaction. The form is irrelevant. It could be prostitution, legal or temporary marriage, polygamy, human trafficking, whatever forms throughout  human history.

“I was always a good wife and loyal to him even though there were many men, even his friends who admired me openly.”

I could feel, even as an old woman, she has a young heart, wishing to be desirable as a woman. Her unmet needs all well and alive sucking, her life energy, turning her into an angry woman. I feel deep compassion of the young girl in her aged body, still hoping.

“He was tense and angry and I gave up to prove to him my innocence.”

And I was conceived.

Working with female survivors of severe childhood traumas, I had wondered what happens to the psyche of a baby when the mother conceives under fearful and forced conditions. To me, when a woman is forced out of obligation or is being gang raped; it is sexual and spiritual assault. The legal status is irrelevant. Married women are frequently forced by their husbands.

Growing up I felt unloved, unworthy, insecure and shame based and I could think of a thousand factors contributing to this feeling except my conception. I wonder what we receive at conception besides our parents’ genes.

“Mom, I think he loved you in his own way. I wonder if he did not know how to express his feelings.” I suggested softly.

There was a moment of pause, unusual for her, “yes, I know he loved me and I loved him too. Even today, if I was going to choose a man, I would have chosen him.”

“I am aware you wished for a romantic partner in life yet many men do not know how to be romantic.”

“Ya”,  a long sigh as a sign of understanding.

“I know you are a loving, caring and romantic woman. Thank you for carrying me for nine months and thank you for all those sleepless nights. I am grateful for everything you have done for me.”

“You were such a good child. I didn’t even know how you grew up. Even though you look like your father, your being a loving person is from ME.

“Thank you mom, have pleasant dreams. Maybe dad is watching over you from the other dimension and is asking for your forgiveness. I love you.”

The Night Shift

2842785274_43f2c4426f_bI was driving to work early in the morning listening to the news. A twenty one year old Caucasian male in Charleston, N.C. went to the Emmanuel Church of African Americans. He sat there for a while, then started firing the gun he received as a gift for his 21st birthday and killed nine people including the Minister.

The entire way to work, I couldn’t stop thinking of this young man and wondering what was going on in his mind. What led him to such a tragic choice? What had happened to him?

At work, haunted by the images in my mind, I shared my sorrow with a friend. She had heard the news and said she was reminded of an experience in her life she would never forget.

She was going to nursing school, working the night shift at a private high class hospital for chemical dependency, where celebrities frequently came for treatment. She had a male co-worker at night. All the patients were sleeping at night. After they made their rounds, they sat at the nursing station and got to know a little about each others lives. He was a thin man, married with some marital issues related to trust. Once in a while he would disappear for a couple of hours in the middle of the night shift. Sometimes she wondered if he may go for a quick visit to his home to make sure his wife was home.

They helped and covered for one another. She was a student and frequently studied and did her homework during the night, drinking coffee to stay alert. They became good friends. He had high hopes to go to medical school.

He then took two weeks off work related to an abscess in his arm. She was concerned about her friend. When he came back his whole arm was wrapped up.

One night when he disappeared again late at night, he did not come back. She was concerned, asking herself “Where is he?” She knew she could not leave the nursing station to look for him “where could he be?” She wondered if he may have gone home for a quick visit again. An inner voice emerged to check in the bathroom. She dismissed the thought, thinking “What would he be doing in the bathroom for that long?”

She was getting irritated, frustrated and angry. It was not right to leave her alone at the facility for that long. An emergency can happen at any time. She started thinking something must have happened to him. “Maybe I should call the administer on duty to send someone.” She did not want to get him into trouble if he had gone home. She was almost sure he left the hospital. Did he have an accident? Maybe she should let someone know. If he had gone home, he would be fired. The internal struggle was becoming stronger as time passed on. She now was worried and had to make a decision quickly.

Then he showed up; didn’t seem like himself. He apologized to her and said he didn’t want to talk about it right now. His eyes were asking for understanding. She respected his request, thought to herself, he may have had a fight with his wife. He may share with her at another time.

A week later, he was fired from the job. He was found passed out in the bathroom after shooting up speed into his vein.

“Ah ….. How come I didn’t see it?” She asked herself.

Yes, he was so thin, and regularly disappearing from his shift.

How did I miss it? She felt puzzled.

Shortly after, she received some news in regards to her former co-worker. He had an intense argument with his wife to the point of pulling a knife on her. She called the Police and when they arrived he resisted the officers and they shot him in the chest. The dream of becoming a doctor – OR – a healer ended with a bullet.

I sat there observing my friend quietly.

You know, there are times a person may be on a self-destructive path, being suicidal, wishing to die yet unable to take his own life. Unconsciously, they may create a situation to be killed and in the process, many may lose their lives.

On my drive home, I am wondering what it takes to awaken the psyche of humans to create resources to nurture the heart and soul of all beings. Are we able to live with love, peace and harmony? Is that even possible?