Growing up, my mother introduced me to a world of spiritual wisdom, despite her Muslim upbringing. Her discussions were always centered around experiences rather than strict religious practices. As a young adult, I dismissed her insights, ignoring her texts brimming with resources from spiritual leaders like Don Miguel Luis, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, and the timeless poetry of Rumi.

Fast forward to adulthood, and I seemingly had it all: a supportive spouse, three thriving children, and a successful pediatric medical practice. But behind this facade of perfection, I harbored a whirlwind of emotions – anger, frustration, and an overwhelming sense of fatigue. Despite ticking off every box on my meticulously crafted vision board, I felt far from content. I questioned myself incessantly. What was missing? How could this be my reality?

Rediscovering Yourself | Women in Peds

Driven by an obsession with achieving goals at lightning speed, I raced through life’s milestones – marriage at 20, a doctor by 28, motherhood at 29, and an entrepreneur by 35. I sprinted, blind to detours, breaks, or even acknowledging my own well-being. But amid this rush, I lost sight of myself. Physical exhaustion, chronic fatigue, and pent-up rage became my unwelcome companions.  I suspect that my feelings are quite recognizable to most female pediatricians.

I blamed society’s misconceptions for my disillusionment. However, amidst my resentment, a pivotal moment arose – the arrival of COVID. It became the catalyst for an overdue awakening. In a moment of clarity, I decided I was done. Cold turkey. Abruptly halting the frantic pace that had consumed me for years, I relinquished the burdens I’d carried for a decade, delegating responsibilities and retreating into a self-imposed hiatus.

It was during this period of self-imposed exile that I heard echoes of my mother’s advice: “Sogol, you need to learn to live in the present moment.” At first, I scoffed. I believed I was living in the present – juggling work, family, and responsibilities. But in truth, I was everywhere except in the moment.

Rediscovering Yourself | Women in Peds

And so, I allowed myself to pause.

Three simple steps paved the way for my mindful living journey:

Step 1: Slow Down and Breathe

I discovered the power of belly breathing. Ten deliberate breaths, multiple times a day, activating my parasympathetic nervous system. It’s a practice that grounds me, fostering a sense of calm amid life’s chaos.

Step 2: Reflect

Taking time for self-reflection became non-negotiable. Journaling unlocked a deeper understanding of my thoughts, enabling me to question patterns and beliefs that had shaped my reality for years.

Reflect | Women in Peds

Step 3: Feel

Connecting with my body’s feelings was transformative. I’d been disconnected for so long, this exercise helped me acknowledge and process emotions that had long been neglected.

Through these simple practices, I began unraveling my deeply ingrained habits and emotions. I realized I’d been on autopilot, neglecting the most crucial aspect of my life – myself. The present moment wasn’t about escaping, it was an opportunity to reconnect with the neglected parts of my being.

As I delved deeper into this journey, I gradually unearthed my authentic self. I recognized the beauty, courage, and strength in my existence. Mindful living wasn’t just a trend, it was my path to self-recognition, validation, and inner peace.

Blog written by Sogol Pahlavan, MD

You can find Sogol on Instagram, online here and here, or listen to her podcast.