Two weeks before the India service trip (see post here), I had no idea I was going. I happened to be standing in the hallways of Life West just as Sully and Kimi, a couple of friends from the same cohort, happened to be rounding the corner on their way to ask some questions about the trip. They asked me to tag along. Looking back, there’s no possible way I could have imagined how much of an effect following them to the president’s office that day would have on my life. Traveling to India on that service trip in January 2019 has been my most impactful experience so far during my time at Life West, and the following is a short firsthand account of my experiences there.
From the moment I stepped off the plane in Mumbai, I had a sense I was there for a reason, and even though my first few days in the country were spent sightseeing and enjoying local cuisine, I was acutely aware that something inside of me was preparing for something big.
When I woke on the morning of the first day of service, I noticed a palpable charge in the air that sent waves of anxious energy through most of the first-time students and docs. Thankfully, leaders of the Sant Narankari Mission, our hosts while we were there to serve in a free chiropractic clinic, held morning meditation that transformed me from the nervous wreck I was at breakfast into a nervous wreck wearing the mask of a confident Doctor of Chiropractic by the time I stepped on to the bus heading toward the mission.
After a short ride, we arrived at the mission grounds, and as we exited the bus the first thing to hit me was the largest array of tents I’ve ever seen in my life. The one in front of the bus was about the length of a football field alone, and there were a number of them stretching as far as the eye could see. Some were possibly two to three times as large.
The second thing I noticed was the sheer number of people on the grounds. The expansive dirt roads between the tents seemed empty by comparison, but once it dawned on me that the camp was made to hold and feed millions, I estimated the amount of people in our immediate area to be in the thousands.
The last thing to hit me was the fact that every single person around us was clapping as we grabbed our belongings from under the bus and headed into the tent to learn about the history of the mission and tour the grounds.
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” – Author and artist Rabindranath Tagore
After the tour we kicked things into high gear and made our way to the chiropractic tent. Doctors were greeted with applause marked with a blessing as we passed through the premises, and as soon as we passed under the archway, one could feel that we were in a place for healing. After a team prayer, each doctor was assigned a translator that we would be working with for the next three days. Payal, the linguistic brains behind our two-person clinic operation, was a 25-year-old mathematics instructor at a local university and extremely quick on procedural uptake.
We were able to provide care for roughly 150 patients in three days. I had the privilege of serving people in the intensive care unit and the non-ambulatory tent. I treated patients with case presentations ranging from disc issues to low back pain, extremity pain, cardiovascular disease, renal disease, neck pain and more.
The highlight of my trip was delivering my first pediatric toggle adjustment on a young deaf boy, who immediately regained some acoustic sensation post-adjustment! The smile on his face after he got off the table is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
The humility and gratitude for life from each and every person I met brought my heart to a place of peace and love like I had never felt before. It was an honor to both experience the feeling building in me and to have it reflected back into each and every person I laid my hand on.
To this very day, I still bring my heart space back into that tent before every patient I see, in order to put the same love, honor and gratitude for life into every adjustment I give. I will never be the same.