The Heart of Wellness

by Kavitha Chinnaiyan, MD

Competitive and ambitious, I progressed through medical school, internal medicine residency, and cardiology fellowship, getting married and having a family amidst the rigors of training. Midway through residency I became aware of the nagging sense of dissatisfaction that poked its head up quite often; there was always something more to achieve. I wondered why no achievement or success brought lasting peace.

This inner conflict reached a fever pitch at the start my training in cardiology. I had just given birth to my second child and couldn’t be happier—yet even the beauty and purity of motherhood hadn’t permanently erased the sense of inner dissatisfaction. Now I worried about balancing my work with my family and how to progress in my career without losing touch with my children. At each stage of life a new ambition had replaced the old one, and the seeking continued.

One Saturday morning I was unloading the dishwasher when my eyes rested briefly on the block of kitchen knives. I wondered casually if death could end this inner conflict. The thought arose from curiosity; I wasn’t depressed or suicidal. Quite suddenly the thought gave way to a vivid vision. I saw myself as a deeply unfulfilled old woman exhausted from the endless cascade of seeking; the permanent contentment that I sought had eluded me despite a successful career and family life. The feeling wasn’t one of greed or of wanting more but that of utter despair that I had missed the most important lesson in life.

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© 2018 by Kavitha Chinnaiyan, MD. Excerpted from her book, The Heart of Wellness: Bridging Western and Eastern Medicine. Used by permission from Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd, Kavitha is a cardiologist at Beaumont Health System and an associate professor of medicine at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. She appears often on local and national radio, and she created the Heal Your Heart Free Your Soul holistic prevention program. Visit her at

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