Celebrating Dr. Farah Jindani
It is not every day a person feels moved to "sing the praises" of a living person. Dr. Farah Jindani does not need your attention. I expect she will prefer to be left alone to do her work. Though she loves to teach and share her inspiration, much of Farah's work is quiet work she does on her own - writing, analyzing, and sometimes evaluating the work of others. I am not writing this for Farah so much as to share with you her wonderful example of hard work, sadhana, and perseverance. While many of us will be commemorating Yogi Bhajan's birthday in the coming days, Farah today is taking the science of Kundalini Yoga which he shared widely, and giving it academic and objective credence and respectability. It is an important step toward having Kundalini Yoga accepted as a mainstream treatment for physical and mental disorders.
Farah Jindani was born in a small town in western Ontario. Early in her life, Farah recognized the play of the forces of justice and injustice. With her excellent studying habits and discriminating intellect, she was able to earn a Master's degree in Criminology from Cambridge University. Returning home to Canada, and recognizing the societal roots of destructive behaviours, Farah earned another Master's degree, this one in Social Work, from the University of Toronto, where she made the Dean's list for her exceptional work.
Always using her intelligence and keen sense of social justice, Farah applied herself as a therapist and social worker in the Toronto area. She also involved herself in social welfare, education and research projects in Canada and as far away as Pakistan and Cambodia.
It was in Cambodia that Farah first found Kundalini Yoga, at Hannika and Tony's centre in Phnom Penh in 2009. When she returned to Toronto in early 2010, she looked for more classes and that is where she found me. Through the summer, as Farah deepened her connection with the yoga, she committed to a ten-month teacher training with Gurutej Kaur. By June 2011, Farah was herself a certified Kundalini Yoga teacher.
Under the influence of time, life, and her daily practice of Kundalini Yoga, Farah grew and evolved. She also firmed in her resolve to earn a PhD in Psychology. Farah decided as well what she would do as her thesis work: a study in the health benefits of Kundalini Yoga for people with posttraumatic stress.
To do the program, Farah contacted Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, an associate professor at Harvard University and expert in the field of yoga research. Not wanting to overburden her, Sat Bir suggested she do a study with eight participants. Sat Bir Singh also referred Farah to Shanti Shanti Kaur Khalsa in Espanola who eventually put together a schedule of particular Kundalini Yoga exercises to be practised by the participants in the study. By March 2012, Farah was set to go, only instead of recruiting just eight participants in her study, she interviewed and tested eighty!
The study went on for several months. Teachers and assistants to give the classes were also interviewed and trained in specifics of the program. Places to do the classes were found. Students came. Sometimes they got lost. The teachers were great. The students kept up as best they could. Somehow, everything came together.
Writing the thesis was another adventure, taking several months, while Farah continued her two part-time jobs as an addictions counselor and professor of social work. Putting the thesis together involved more testing and interviews as the participants finished the program, then economically transcribing the interviews in Pakistan, and assessing and analyzing the results - thousands of hours of dedicated, mostly solitary work.
Farah's solid work ethic, her sadhana, her faith in God and herself, and the unswerving support of her family, kept her going. Sometimes miracles were clearly in play, like the time Farah was emailing her academic advisor that she had been unable to find a suitable external examiner, a scholar with expertise in her field from another university. Just as she was typing the email, she received a call from Richard Brown, a distinguished researcher from Columbia University, who proved to be a great support and happily offered to serve at her oral examination.
Out of the Farah's thesis work, she earned her PhD in Psychology. The study also yielded enough observations for at three peer-reviewed publications: one in the Journal of Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, another in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, and a third in the Journal of Spirituality and Religion in Social Work.
Let us all celebrate Dr. Farah Jindani's dedication and humble efforts to further the science of body, mind and spirit. May God bless her family and grant her many years of health and happiness by Its all-enfolding grace.