As I move about my life I meet so many people who are in some of the greatest health challenges of their lives. They have recently been given a diagnosis or are in various stages of learning how to “live”, and not “die” from their current health challenge(s). Or, I meet family members intimately involved in helping their loved ones during these challenges.
I relate to them on such a deep level because 30 years ago this month I found myself in these exact hallways. I “get” how it feels to have your world rocked in less than a minute. I “get” how afraid they are, the stress and exhaustion one experiences from sleepless nights and fear. The holding back and not embracing life fully from adapting a mindset of “I can’t be happy, be at peace, I have this disease, I’m waiting for the “other shoe to drop” approach to life.
My journey to heal was a “three legged stool approach” to heal from my cancer. I practice it still today. Taught it to my kids. I learned it from Louise Hay and a powerful, transformational psychologist.
Leg 1. Surgery/surgical procedures (if I thought it made sense - I was in)…
Leg 2. Medications (if I agreed with their recommendations (after research) I’ll do it…
Leg 3. Self care – proper nutrition, exercise, spirituality, affirmations, prayers, meditation, serving others, having fun, surrounding myself with people who love me (really love me), letting go of those who don’t, forgiving myself, forgiving others, talking to someone (psychologist), spending time in nature, figuring out who I am…and who I am not. Things like this – I created a “tool box” – I figure out what to put in and what to take out – and, I am always fine tuning it. Clearing and adding –becoming aware of which tools are nourishing and taking action. And a big one for me, I get honest with myself about the behaviors that are not nourishing me. Here I always need to ask God for the wisdom to know the difference and ask for the courage to move in the direction of my highest good.
I remember almost every thing about the day I told my surgeon on discharge from Sloan Kettering that I was afraid to go home after my 14 day stay and two surgeries. I cried telling him that I felt almost safer in the hospital – I was so afraid to go home and start living. My thoughts were out of control and literally scaring the s@#% out of me. He told me flat out – “look Colleen – there are no guarantees – I did the best I could to remove what I saw – I suggest you go home but get busy living – go talk to someone – but live – live – live. Everyone’s days are numbered – no one knows. Try not to think about dying so much. Think about living.” Ugh do you not see me Dr. Spiro ???? – I’m 33, I have three kids under 9 – I’m falling apart!!!
Long story short, I took his advice after I got home. I talked to someone right away. I also took the medicine he prescribed and for a very long time with lots of side effects. Not easy. And, I also got busy taking responsibility for my self care and started that “self-care tool box.”
What I find fascinating is that there is actually science now that confirms that people who are experiencing pain and who were willing to go into cognitive therapy and practice yoga meditation improved the quality of their lives! Now, I wasn’t a part of that study but that is in fact what happened to me!!
I found this excerpt in davidji’s book, The Secrets of Meditation, on page 157:
...a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, compared 340 test subjects with back pain after eight weeks of three different therapies: (1) ibuprofen and pain medications (2) cognitive therapy, and (3) yoga and meditation. At the end of the eight weeks, it was the groups who had cognitive therapy and yoga/meditation practice that reported 50 percent less pain versus the group taking pills. According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, “yoga improves the quality of life in both newly diagnosed and long term cancer survivors by reducing stress and fatigue, and improving sleep and mood."
Thank you davidji for sharing this amazing study!!!
The three-legged stool approach to enjoying good health works for me. I am so grateful for my health care professionals, for the surgeries and surgical procedures that I have or may need, the medications that are available when I need them, and for my meditation practice and talking to someone. And, I AM beyond grateful to God for today. Namaste ~
This is a picture of me 30 years later meditating in Israel at the Dizengoff Square - someone please pinch me!!!