Dr. Shamini Jain answers the question:

What is the nicest thing a non-family member has ever done for you?


The nicest thing that a non-family member has ever done for me was help me understand that my enemy was actually my teacher. And I know that sounds wild, but maybe many of you have had this experience. And the person was Dr. Paul Mills. Now some of you might have had the pleasure of experiencing Paul Mills at the Reuniting Science and Spirituality Summit where he talked about non-duality. Paul was actually my graduate mentor. That is, he was my mentor during graduate school. I went to a very, you can say, in-the-box program in clinical psychology, and he was my research mentor in psychoneuroimmunology.

I've come from, you can say, a long line of biofield researchers, those who were interested in studying the human energy field, studying healing, and was kind of coming from a paradigm and a tradition and with mentors who had really kind of been persecuted or who felt persecuted. And so, I kind of saw that division and that kind of “us versus them” thinking. And, quite frankly, I kind of came in with a bit of a chip on my shoulder, right? I was sure that this in-the-box program wasn't going to let me study what I wanted.

And, in fact, when I decided to go to this program, which was a really top-rated clinical psychology and research program, I called up Paul, who was to be my mentor. And I said, "Well, I'm just telling you right now that I know I want to do a study in energy medicine. And before I even consider coming there, would you support it?" And for those of you who have known and experienced Paul, you'll appreciate this. There was just sort of a breath and kind of a, "Yeah, I think I could support you in that." Just very clear, very neutral, very loving. And I thought, "Great." I came into this program, and of course I was wanting to study something that was completely out there, and I had a chip on my shoulder.

Long story short, I said the wrong thing to the wrong person. It was just basically a discussion we were having about cultural appropriation and what people do when they acclimate from one culture to the other. And I was having this argument with one of our professors, who happened to be the director's girlfriend, that I didn't agree with her that all minorities assimilated to white culture. Because from the Indian perspective sometimes you see... especially Indians that are more dark-skinned will assimilate to the black culture because they actually integrate there. But clearly I was saying this with a lot of force and fire, and it didn't sit well with them.

And before I knew it, there was sort of this case being built up against me to the point where I was being reviewed to potentially be let go of this program. It was pretty intense. It was very intense. And you can imagine as a young, strapling graduate student, coming in with this chip on my shoulder, I was sure that this director just completely had it out for me. And again, we were all being persecuted… everyone is being persecuted.

And I just remember sitting with Paul, and Paul saying to me, "Shamini, sometimes these people that we think are enemies are actually here to teach us a lesson. And it's a lesson that's actually for our spiritual growth. It's not to teach us a lesson by putting us down or whatever. And I want you to just kind of sit with that and think about it."

And so I did. And I realized that, while I may not have felt like this case that was building up against me was justified, I was learning a valuable lesson in humility and communication. And I had to ask myself, What do I really want? What am I really here for? What am I doing? Am I here to fight? Am I here to fight the system? Am I here to do that and is that really going to help me achieve my goal? 

And Paul really helped me understand that, and it was a huge spiritual life lesson for me. And to this day when I encounter someone that I feel a resistance with or a struggle with, I take a step back and I think about, What is the goal? and Is there a common goal here?

And in today's world, where we're almost being force-fed division, it’s so important. I think back on that lesson all the time. Is there really a perceived enemy? Is the enemy really the person in front of me or is it a misunderstanding? Is it a miscommunication? And how can we work toward a common goal?

So I really thank Paul for that, and for his continued embodiment of spirituality, of generosity, of grace. Because he's taught me a lot over the years and I really, really do appreciate that lesson.

Oh, and by the way, there is a happy ending to that particular story, which is, one, I didn't get kicked out. Paul actually mentored me to get National Institutes of Health funding for the first ever study in energy medicine done at UCSD, which is now published in the journal Cancer, where we looked at energy healing for fatigue and breast cancer survivors. It was a wonderful, groundbreaking study.

And I ended up, in a way, kind of befriending the director many years later when I was pregnant with my first child, and of course had grant funding to support me. Instead of what she could've done, which was really to crack down on me for... and believe me, that happens: How dare you get pregnant during graduate school? She was incredibly supportive, and I grew to understand her more. Again, the “friend, thy so-called enemy” is a great lesson, and one of the nicest things that I've been taught by a dear mentor.


Dr. Shamini Jain is a psychologist, scientist, and social entrepreneur. She is the founder and CEO of the Consciousness and Healing Initiative (CHI), a collaborative accelerator that connects scientists, health practitioners, educators, and artists to help lead humanity to heal ourselves. CHI was formed through Shamini's deep desire to bring key stakeholders together to create a coherent and effective movement to move us beyond models of “disease thinking” and the “decade of the brain,” into the study of systems-based healing processes, and personal and societal empowerment. 

She is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego, and a member of UC San Diego’s Center for Integrative Medicine. 

Shamini integrates her background in clinical psychology, psychoneuroimmunology, Jain spiritual wisdom, and the healing arts — teaching people how they can best heal themselves and live life with joy and spiritual alignment “on purpose.” She teaches fundamental principles and practices from Jainism, an ancient East Indian philosophy that is thousands of years old, and which influenced social change leaders and freedom fighters such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mohandas K. Gandhi. 

She teaches regularly at Kripalu, 1440 Multiversity, and Sivananda Ashram. Her research has been featured in TIME, US News and World Report, CNN, and other news media. She also shares research on the science of healing in diverse venues, including NATO, TEDx, major universities and medical centers, health-related conferences, and corporations. She has blogged for HuffPost and the Times of India. Her first book on the biofield and healing will be published by Sounds True in early 2021.

Shamini serves on the Board of Directors for Greenheart International, is a Steering Committee Member for Invest in Yourself at NEXUS, and on the scientific advisory board for several social benefit companies including Wacuri, Modern Spirit, and Leap Forward. In addition to advancing her life’s passions and helping others realize theirs, Shamini's biggest joys are spending time with her beautiful family, singing, and surfing.

Click here to visit Shamini’s website.

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This article appears in: 2019 Catalyst, Issue 18: Qigong Global Summit and International Day of Peace Weekend