I worked as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in the 1990's. In 1993, an epidemic of Pertussis or Whooping Cough broke out across the United States.
I did not know about this epidemic at the time.
A four month old non-immunized baby came to see me who was diagnosed with Pertussis, and died soon thereafter.
I got the disease from her, but was unaware of the seriousness of the illness and also did not know that what I had was Whooping Cough.
The details of what I had and how I got it came together later.
For a period of a month, I could not sleep because of the violence of the cough. It was an odd and tremendously forceful cough.
This was how it was: a series of short, hacking coughs, followed by a sharp, wheezing inhalation, followed by vomiting.
I could no longer sleep with my husband because the cough woke him up.
So I slept out on the sunporch, and witnessed the fireflies of summer, and the moon's journey across the sky. I was always relieved to see the first rays of dawn.
Then I went to worked and coughed like this all day, as well.
My friend, whom I affectionately call "Pediatric Guru," head of Pediatrics at the time, (now retired), heard the cough.
He pulled me aside. "Kate, your cough sounds exactly like Whooping Cough."
And with that diagnosis, I had permission to take a few days off with well needed antibiotics.
The Pediatric Guru put it all together: the baby who died of Pertussis, the exact day I took care of her, and the sadness of parents losing their baby.
But again, this all came later.
Finally at home and recuperating, I began to feel a deep spiritual emptiness deep within my soul. I can't explain it other than to say that the illness opened the doorway to a "Spiritual Awakening."
A publication arrived inexplicably in the mail inviting me to order the "Self Realization Fellowship Lessons" written by Paramahansa Yogananda.
Yogananda was no stranger to me.
My mother was a fan of Yogananda and particularly of the "Autobiography Of A Yogi" which she got ahold of and gave copies to all of her friends, around 1955.
I was four at the time and remember this well.
When my mother woke me from my nap, she gave me lectures about the third eye, which the great Yogi loved and taught about extensively.
As a four year old, I took the concept of the third eye very literally.
Did development of the third eye mean that suddenly a third eye would appear on my forehead?
No one else seemed to have this third eye.
Won't I look odd if I am the only one who has one?
The same was true of the stigmata.
My mother always told me bedtime stories about the stigmata that Saint Francis had, and Theresa Neuman, too, whom Yogananda wrote about in his Autobiography.
These concepts: the stigmata and the third eye were huge to a four year old child.
Yet I remember wanting to have a third eye.
The stigmata was not necessarily as compelling!
So I knew about Yogananda.
You might say he was ingrained in my psyche.
The Self Realization Lessons came in good time and I followed their instruction to the letter.
I healed my lungs with those lessons.
A year later, I was initiated as a Kriya Yogi in Washington D.C. by members of SRF in an overwhelmingly moving ceremony.
Kriya Yoga is a Big Secret, so I can't tell you how to do it. Yet it is both simple and eloquent in practice and suddenly you feel the infinite blessings of the great gurus of India and you soar above and beyond the Universe herself.
I love Kriya Yoga and the legacy which brought this great gift to the west.
Yogananda is a Spiritual Giant. He lives still amongst the hearts of those who practice the great spiritual techniques that Yogananda taught and are preserved because of his prolific writings.
In his words: "Every minute becomes eternity because eternity can be experienced in that minute. Every day and minute and hour is a window through which you may see eternity. Life is brief yet it is unending.The soul is everlasting, but out of the short season of this life you should reap the most you can of immortality." SRF Lessons.