It all started with a journey into my past, into the depth of myself. Unexpectedly and abruptly, I was called to drop everything I was doing to go back. Living far from my original home, I was slowly withering away, having turned into someone else, when a dream awakened me from my stupor.
‘Finally in Armenia, in front of me I see Sevan, our high mountain fresh-water lake: the only place where the dry, rocky, mountainous highland can sooth its thirst; the place where the struggles and efforts can surrender to peace, finding healing life forces. I see a small part of the lake, surrounded with grass, take my cloths of and jump in, letting the living water sooth my exhausted body, sipping the essence of life with every cell of my body. I am still, nothing exists inside or outside; nothing but the water that I have become.
All of a sudden, I feel my parents pulling me out of there. I scream and struggle, but they pull me out, and I am once again on dry land; I look back to I see the dried bottom of the lake, with no traces of water. I cry in desperation. They drag me further and further away, as I scream to stay in the place where my only hope remains. ’
I woke up sobbing in the middle of the night in my apartment in Washington DC, still feeling the urge to quench my thirst in Sevan at a deep cellular level. The next day, despite finals for my master’s program, I bought tickets to go back to my homeland I had left over 7 years ago.
US had given me a very comfortable living. Well-adapted, very successful, a perfectionist in everything I did, I had, however, started becoming sick. Everything I had taken for granted was vanishing: my energy, my clear mind, the functioning of my body, desire to be alive! At twenty, I was unable to do the things I used to do. My digestion had halted, my entire body ached, I had zero energy, and a numbing lethargy enveloped me in an encompassing fog. The two years had pasted in a blur of doctors, medications, lab tests, & elimination diets; searching for answers, looking for alternatives , holistic approaches. I cried, suffered, pretended: nothing helped. I felt alone. I got a number of disjointed diagnoses, but I didn’t give most of them the importance, knowing they were only scratching the surface.
To take away the pain in my body, I started eliminating foods that caused me trouble one at a time. I stopped eating gluten, breads, then dairy products, then meat. I was watching every morsel that went into my body, felt a little better, but was still suffering. I became a personal trainer, a holistic nutritional consultant, switched my studies at UCLA from economics to health psychology. Then I decided to go even further to study international health policy, understanding that things were wrong at a macro/policy level. All of those studies, books, practices helped me understand my body better within the poisonous environment in which I lived, pointing to lifestyle as the main cause of health issues. But while I was feeling better with the interventions, the recovery was never complete; something was still missing, my health never fully recovered. And I kept seeking, praying that something would change..
The dream was the answer to my questions. With the journey to Armenia, I took a wide detour from my extroverted life back into the depth of my being. Each day of the transformative journey into my past, I delved further and further into myself, guided by an invisible hand.
I tried to remember what it was like to be the vibrant, healthy girl, to feel one with Self, to breathe and feel alive, to eat full-heartedly without worrying, without fearing weight gain, or not being perfect. I started letting go of my military-like state of preparedness, where only I could defend myself against the toxic environment: instead I started allowing myself to receive and to accept that I might not know all the answers. And the more I allowed, the more healing I received.
During my flight, I had a realization that I myself had been the instigator of the disease. I clearly remembered the day it happened: how my alienated perfectionist Self out of pity for Self begged to become sick, so that people would feel sorry for me, so I wouldn’t have to try so hard. I had no one to remind me of my past, my inherent right to just be, to allow. In the achievement-focused country, I become a collection of people’s perceptions of what i was: I molded myself after the image that people had of me. Then when I attained it, I saw how empty and unfulfilled I felt. I was attractive, slender, smart, outgoing, an overachiever. And yet I didn’t know what I was anymore, where I was going, what the purpose of my life was. I was drained, exhausted, sick.
When I took the first step on the soil that gave me life, the realization of how far I had gone away from myself reverberated through my entire being. My home, my Armenia. How I had missed you! When I was dragged away from you, I cried, I begged to go back. But when reality hit, I forgot about you to escape the pain. I forgot your busy streets, your life-giving heat, your rose-colored architecture filled with warmth, the history that oozes through every stone, the recognition in every passer-byes eye. I thought I created a new me in the new country: but I didn’t realize that I just strangled and suffocated my base, until my body succumbed to the self-destruction.
After a month of being home, I started feeling recharged: at my grandma’s home, cared by her, I started regaining my vitality. A healer my grandma brought to see me, told me that if I had not come back to Armenia, my health would not recover; she told me many things that made me tingle all over. She was right about all of them. Every soul I met, every smell, every buzzing sound, every touch reminded me of myself, my past, of the great Self that I had left behind. I spent magical moments with my family, friends; prayed and sang in the ancient monasteries that my ancestors had erected; I swam in the lake that I saw in my dream, came into communion with it, as I breathed the air that gave me birth. I was reborn again.
When the recharge was complete, I got immune to all the lies and beliefs that I had created about myself in the land that left me so empty. I ate Matnakash, our award-winning ancient bread and knew that the gluten was not going to harm me. I had my home inside of me again, the place where I could return to no matter where I was, to recharge and heal.
A week later, I was at a bustling party, celebrating my grandma’s birthday, which happens to be a day before mine. As I realized how happy I am, I felt the knitted bracelet my mom tied to my wrist to help me recover. I felt the knot on the bracelet tight, wondering if it would ever come off. A few hours later, at midnight, when everyone raised their glasses to cheer and wish me a blessed 21st birthday, I tagged at the bracelet to wish for health, and felt the string come off without any effort. I started crying. I knew I was given a second chance at life.
What I didn’t know then and found out a few months later was that my mom’s wish on a bracelet came after receiving a call from one of my doctors, telling her she suspected I had leukemia. She refused to accept the diagnosis and chose to believe it was a mistake.
A month later, back at my desk in Washington, where I now felt completely alien, I received the news of my grandma’s passing. Had I not followed my dream, I would have not been able to see her, nor receive the miraculous healing.
This healing journey made me believe in miracles again; in the power of reconnecting to the inner Self, of being instead of doing, as keys to tapping into physical health, pleasure & purpose.
From that day on, my mission was clear; I would start my journey of helping people heal from having travelled too far from their real Selves: from having disconnected from their bodies in an aim to sculpt a perfect one: from perfectionism that lead them astray from the healing power of being; from not listening to the inner voice that always has the right answers; from not breathing deep enough; from not believing in miracles. From being too perfect, too judgmental; from being someone they are not.