• 03 Aug - 09 Aug, 2019
  • Eman Saleem
  • Interview

Welcomed in a cozy, dimly lit office furnished with wooden ceiling-high book shelves, immaculately arranged lamps and a neatly made reiki table placed in a corner and with all the things coming together to define utmost meticulousness. One could tell that she has orchestrated her home like an artist staying true to a canvas. Sensing my curiosity, she pitches on cue, “My husband and I go out and look for these (vintage) pieces, some are even 60 years old.”

Shaheen Suleman may professionally practice reiki, a healing energy art, but in person she is larger than life, a positive aura precedes her and when she speaks, the volume of books found in every nook and cranny of her home echoes in her words. At an afternoon meeting with her, she narrates her journey in a voice so full of life, her eyes glinting at fond memories one second, and the next reflecting wisdom with her vast knowledge, of spirituality, history and politics.

“I live in awe and wonderment. I represent myself as a tree, under the shade of which people can find content and security; I see myself as a mountain, it praises God and never complain,” she says lost in thought and quoting a couplet of poetry that she’s so well-versed in. I ask her about her journey to becoming a healer and she says like everything else in life, she was fated to receive this as a gift.

“I’ve gotten everything in my life as a present: kids, education, children and grandchildren. I call them Suleman ka gulistan,” showing me framed portraits of her five children and their families.

Reiki, like everything else, found her and the way to becoming a healer carved itself. Reiki is a universal life force of energy; it can also be practiced at distance because time and space are not limitations for energies. She tells me how the power of touch and intent assist a healer in channeling positive energy where one needs it and helping those suffering mentally, emotionally and physically. Just like nature has naturally occurring phenomena like UV rays, there is also a healing energy.

Tying the knot at the age of 18 with the love of her life and mentor, she never stopped pursuing education; completing her graduation after four children and her LLB as she welcomed her youngest daughter. She says compassion and empathy were also gifts she was bestowed from the Almighty, which led her to volunteering at Jinnah Medical Centre and eventually becoming the General Secretary of Patient’s Aid Foundation, a position she’s held for the past 29 years.

“People say I’ve taken full advantage of my husband’s degree,” she laughs as she tells me about her contributions to JPMC. “We’re working on a mega-project at present, a nine-storey surgical unit at JPMC. Of the 31 departments at Jinnah, we upgrade them one-by-one to transform them into state-of-the-art facilities. We’ve envisioned, and the wheels are already in motion to make Jinnah a paper-free, computerised institution.”

While she may be a healer, her interest and as she worded “mesmerised with how countries fall and rise” seeps into our conversation from time to time. The plethora of books which she mentions as teachers broadens her range of references. As a healer, a relationship with oneself is of utmost importance and that is something she keeps telling her patients.

With basic knowledge of how reiki works, I pose the question that intrigues me the most. “They say practicing reiki can be a very emotional and physiological experience. Can you verify this?” I ask.

In response, she shows me a plethora of journals she keeps where she records her feelings, sensations, emotions and visions after every reiki session she does. Practicing for almost a decade and eventually establishing the first ever registered Reiki Foundation in Pakistan, she has seen and experienced a lot of clients and their stories, bringing comfort to many. “I have to sometimes give them a break in sessions because this relief that one feels, is like an addiction and patients sometimes latch onto this and onto me.” She shares her plans of authoring/ a book on the healing art in Urdu, since there are none, and also a compiled record of her practices while maintaining anonymity of her clients and translation of some books for the Urdu-reading audience. Just when I thought I had a record of all her accomplishments, she introduces to me her reiki energised herbal oils.

Having experienced this art of healing myself and with hearsay of many success stories of treatments alternate to Western medicine, I ask her to share an incident that moved her most in her years of practice. “I had a patient once, a young girl, who accidentally burnt her front part of the body while working in the kitchen when she was 15. She had spent a few years in Singapore getting multiple surgeries and treatments. When I first met her for a session, I couldn’t tell she’s been through any such accident. After a few sessions, she asked to see me urgently. I went and there she was, with no make-up and her bare burn scars. She tells me she finally found the courage to go out without concealing her burn marks, when once she wouldn’t even leave her room without wearing layers of make-up she was expertly taught to lather on to hide. This interaction is closest to my heart.”