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Monadnock Profiles: Dublin woman finds calling with helping others

  • Balmeet Khalsa of Dublin meditates in the studio at Soul Yoga, Healing and the Arts in West Peterborough with her Bernese Mountain Bog Ava. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Balmeet Khalsa of Dublin meditates in the studio at Soul Yoga, Healing and the Arts in West Peterborough with her Bernese Mountain Dog Ava. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin

  • Balmeet Khalsa. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/30/2019 9:13:26 PM

The more Balmeet Khalsa learned about Sikhism, the more she was drawn to its way of life.

Her education in the religion came through her immersion in the art of Kundalini yoga, and the knowledge she gained changed something in her.

“I just felt like this is the best version of myself,” Khalsa said.

But while she describes herself as more of a leaper than a looker, this wasn’t one of those leaping moments. Khalsa thought long and hard about the decision that would redefine who she is. She wanted to make sure the people in her life would embrace her change – which included her name.

“I wanted to be bold enough to live it,” Khalsa said.

While some view Sikhism as a religion, Khalsa thinks of it more as a path, a way of life.

“It’s definitely a spiritual path, but a very practical path,” she said. “I do it because it’s who I am.”

The name Balmeet Khalsa came from a trusted yoga teacher. When she chose to become Sikh, she changed from her given name Cathleen and set out to follow the philosophies that have defined Sikhism for more than 500 years – including making an honest living, telling the truth and living in service to others.

“Being Sikh is super basic,” Khalsa said.

She’s been very involved with Kundalini yoga since she was a young single mom looking for a way to practice. At the time, there was no mom and baby yoga.

“It was the only yoga that welcomed a young child,” Khalsa said.

The connection was immediate, but it wasn’t till much later in life that she felt drawn, almost compelled to live a Sikh way of life.

“I just realized I must be Sikh,” she said.

Khalsa is one of those people who likes to work in the background. She’s involved in a lot, but doesn’t want any credit or notoriety. She just wants to help others realize their passions.

“I don’t really even know what I do,” Khalsa said. “I guess community organizer is the best way I can describe it.”

One of Khalsa’s greatest attributes is her ability to listen. She thinks of it as the best way she can help others. With so many people coming to her for advice – like Grace Aldrich and her idea of walking to Texas to bring attention to the family separation policy – Khalsa feels its her calling to help develop projects out of ideas.

“I’m that force for a lot of people,” Khalsa said. “I’m really drawn to community service. Everything is about finding your talent and putting it to use. My job is to get all the ingredients to the table to get things going.”

Khalsa grew up an Army brat, was born in Germany and lived in New York, Maryland and Wisconsin. She went to high school in Milwaukee and went to the University of Wisconsin for her undergraduate and grad school for linguistics and education.

She eventually took a job in Cincinnati working with urban youth to get back on track for college. She met her husband, Eric Lasky in Cincinnati, who is the director of Emergency Medicine at Monadnock Community Hospital. It was an opening at MCH that brought them to Dublin.

Khalsa had been in a city for all of her adult life and always felt that’s where she wanted to be. When Lasky got an interview at the hospital, Khalsa came along. They drove all over the area and when Lasky was offered the job, they made the decision to move.

The first house they looked at they fell in love with and is the one they eventually bought. It was not easy though moving half way across the country to a place she had never been with her oldest daughter, Sara, in high school and a 1-year-old Charlotte.

Before the move, she had decided to take a sabbatical from teaching which she said eventually led to academic retirement. As a stay at home mom in a place where she didn’t know anybody, there were times she felt alone.

“I realized how much of my identity was wrapped up in my work,” Khalsa said.

It took time to develop relationships, but those times are a distance memory now. It was during the Ice Storm of 2008 when she realized she was part of the community with neighbors helping to move power lines and chopping up trees so her husband could get to work.

“The camaraderie during that time shifted my perspective,” she said.

As a “space saver” for her yoga teacher at Soul Yoga, Healing & the Arts in Peterborough, Khalsa leads yoga and meditation classes and it has led to wonderful friendships. Through her work with others, she has met so many people that have impacted her life.

“Everything I do has been because of the good fortune of meeting the right people,” Khalsa said.

While a lot of what she does is working with individuals to develop ideas, Khalsa is part of a few organizations that hold special meaning for her. She serves on the Dublin Community Center board, helping to coordinate the forum series. She is part of the recently formed Cheshire County Restorative Justice Program and is involved with Friends Forever International, a nonprofit organization with a goal of empowering youth around the world to build a better world.

“And it’s all volunteer, which keeps it fun,” Khalsa said.

She spent three years as executive director of the Cyprus Friendship Program, now known as Creating Friendships for Peace, which is a peace building program created to promote and strengthen friendships between teens from divided communities, with most of her work coming with the youth of Cyprus coming to live with American families.

There’s not a day that goes by where Khalsa doesn’t spend a portion of it practicing yoga and meditation.

“It could be three minutes or two and a half hours,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without it. You get a clarity and stillness that you can’t find anywhere.”

It’s been more than 12 years since she moved to Dublin, and it’s by far the smallest place she’s ever lived. But Khalsa has found a home in her small New Hampshire town that furthers her desire to help others.

And it couldn’t fit more perfectly in the path she has created for herself.


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