(First, I just want to say, I love this photo. A magpie, knock-kneed, disheveled, feathers awry, completely oblivious to its appearance, just going about its business. There is a lesson in that for me.)
“Healed By Cancer” is the title of a book by a woman called Jayka Duncan.
I love this title – it perfectly summarises my experience with cancer also – to be honest, I wish I had thought of it first!. I also love the book, and highly recommend it as a raw and honest account of emotional healing that is very easy to relate to – for everyone.
Let me tell you how I came by this book and how it has helped me. It is a classic example of synchronicity – of how life is designed to support us. There is an old saying that “when the pupil is ready, the teacher arrives” and I have proven that this is true over and over again, but I still sometimes forget to simply set an intention and then be open to whatever arises rather than trying to force life to work on my terms. If we have specific ideas about what and how things should happen, we miss so many opportunities for growth and healing because we don’t even notice them.
About a month ago, my therapist commented on me being strident. I was extremely indignant, and vehemently (stridently?), asked him to rephrase it – which he did. (Ironically, it turns out it came down to perception. My idea of strident is “harsh and loud” – backed up by the Oxford dictionary, his interpretation is “forcefully putting your point forward” also backed up by a dictionary, but I latched onto the definition that fitted what I believed. We have since had a good laugh about it). I reacted to my understanding of the word, and it really rankled. About a week later, in a conversation with an old friend, I mentioned my indignation about being called strident, and he agreed that I was strident, adding “in the nicest way, you don’t have a mean bone in your body”. I was not happy. Again, fixated on “loud and harsh”. I felt that clearly I had no clue what I came across like, and to be honest, I was pretty devastated (and humiliated) that I was considered “loud and harsh” (or so I thought). It eventually dawned on me that I could stay stuck feeling indignant and unacceptable, or alternatively, investigate why I was reacting. Why I felt so defensive. This was based in fear… I needed to do some deeper inner work.
So I simply sat in quietness and said “I want to understand why I cannot accept being called strident”. I set my intention then carried on with my day.
I have been a member of a facebook page – Holistic Cancer Healing for a while. I am not often on it, but that day, I saw a post by a woman anxious about finding a lump in her armpit while having radiation for breast cancer, and I decided to reassure her not to panic, it doesn’t mean she is going to die in the near future. Then another woman added a comment – Jayka Duncan, and mentioned that natural treatments hadn’t worked for her, but she had healed quickly after doing emotional work. She named the book she had written about her experience “Healed by Cancer”. My interest was piqued because I have always believed that if I am going to heal from this cancer, it would mostly be due to emotional and spiritual healing. I downloaded her book on Kindle and started reading.
It felt like she was writing my story.
Obviously many of her life experiences were different, but what was essentially the same were the emotional wounds that had kept her stuck in playing out patterns of behaviour that weren’t healthy. You see, fundamentally we are all very much the same. We all want to be loved and approved of, but we have all had experiences in life and particularly in childhood when we are not able to apply reason to experiences, that left us feeling unworthy in some way. It is almost impossible to come out of childhood without feeling like this. In childhood, while we have limited understanding, we develop defense mechanisms to help us feel better about ourselves, and we carry them into adulthood as subconscious programs. The problem is, until something major happens that forces us into deep inner work, we spend our entire life running on a program of woundedness, reaction and defensiveness, and we project this onto the outside world.
I went to bed that night and asked again “why can I not accept being strident? and why did she (Jayka) heal and I haven’t?”.
Suddenly, with complete clarity, I could see that the reason I couldn’t accept being seen as strident was that despite all the inner work I had been doing for years, I still could not love every aspect of myself. I saw I still believed that in order to be acceptable, I had to possess certain attributes and strident most certainly wasn’t one of them. I still couldn’t forgive myself for not being perfect.
Now, as I have mentioned before, I have a very strong fundamentalist Christian background, the first 40 years of my life spent trying to love a God I was actually terrified of. I had a deep seated subconscious belief that I needed to be perfect like Jesus, and because I clearly wasn’t that, then I was unworthy and unacceptable. Obviously this didn’t make me feel good about myself. For many years, I didn’t even realise this was a driving force in my life. (Who/what do you have in the drivers seat in your life?).
As a result, I spent most of my life attempting to be perfect. This might seem to be a noble aim, but it actually isn’t healthy, especially when its roots are based in fear. (Aiming for personal perfection is a lost cause because it isn’t attainable. Earth is a spiritual learning and growing school. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t be here). The roots of my need to be perfect were based in a deep fear of being completely unacceptable the way I am. Not good enough. Unloveable. Unworthy. As I discovered, at the very deepest core, was the belief that I was so disgusting I shouldn’t be seen. I didn’t deserve to be alive.
As a child, (and in particular, a female child), I absorbed the belief that I needed to be quiet, submissive, gentle, self-effacing, humble, amenable, calm, easily controlled, patient and in control of my emotions. I tried to be these, I really did, but I was born with a very different nature. For many, many years, I managed to suppress myself and worked hard to fit into what I thought I should be in a desperate attempt to be worthy and approved of. The end result was that one day I realised I had no idea who I was. There was no “Rebecca”. There was simply someone who had shaped herself to be what she thought everyone else wanted her to be. I literally had no concept of my will being as valid as someone else’s. I had no idea who I was.
The day I woke up was over thirteen years ago, and I am now a very different person. I think a better person. Some may disagree, but that isn’t my business. At the very least, I am much more authentic. Cancer has been very much a part of the healing process, but obviously there is still a program of fear running in me if I can be so discombobulated by “strident”.
So I sat with myself and acknowledged all the parts of me that didn’t fit in with the notion of the ideal female I had absorbed in my childhood – and there were many parts that didn’t fit. Following Jayka’s lead, I allowed myself to feel the inadequacy, the fear and shame and reassured myself it is ok to feel like this. It is ok to be those things. I am acceptable. I am loveable. I surrendered the need to be seen and heard, I surrendered the need to be a certain way to be loveable. I surrendered the need to be perfect. I accepted that at times I could be strident in the worst meaning of the word, but that did not mean I was completely unacceptable as a person. I saw that I had been acting as though I was ALL strident, All the time.
Healing is a process. It usually isn’t linear. There have been many times over the last decade when I have breathed a sigh of relief, thinking “great, I have dealt with that one”, only to revisit it later.. again, and again. But each time, going deeper and deeper. If the pain and fear and patterns of behaviour are strong and deep, our mind will often only allow us to work a layer at a time. Like peeling back an onion.
These fears will arise again. I know that, but the difference is, instead of getting stuck in them and unconsciously living from the fear and reacting, realisation will quickly arise and I will see the pattern and be able to step out of it and make a conscious choice to act and think differently. This is why awareness is so important – from it we can make conscious choices.
This, my friends is real freedom. To NOT be bound in chains of reaction and patterns of behaviour that don’t serve us well. To be able to love ourselves in all our glorious, messy imperfections. We are all the same. All imperfect, all learning and growing. Some consciously, most unconsciously. If we cannot love ourselves – including the parts we don’t really like, then we are condemning ourselves to a life of intolerance towards others. Other people’s words and behaviours will impact on us, stealing our peace, upsetting us, making us feel angry or frustrated or hurt or offended. These reactions only ever arise from our own unhealed, unaccepted parts but we hide from this by believing that it is the other persons fault – if they were different, hadn’t said that, hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t feel like this. Not true.
Over the years, through utter frustration and helpless rage at what I saw as someone else’s bad behaviour they refused to address, I slowly learned that I could choose not to take it on board, I could choose not to suffer simply by looking inward and asking “why am I reacting like this?, what part of me needs to feel offended and upset? why does the role of victim fulfill a need for me in this?”
It is probably one of the hardest things we can do – take responsibility for our own actions and reactions. Own them and acknowledge that each time we are triggered to react it is an opportunity for US to heal – not the other person – the timing of their healing isn’t our business.
We are a world of people who don’t love ourselves enough. How can we tell? By the way we treat each other. By the way we treat nature – polluting the very environment that sustains our physical life. By the way we treat ourselves -the mental and emotional abuse we inflict on ourselves by castigating ourselves and endlessly worrying, anger, fear, intolerance and not attempting to heal our wounds; the physical abuse we inflict on our bodies by not nurturing and keeping them healthy, eating chemical filled non-food disguised as food, smoking, not exercising. The list goes on.
Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world”.
And I am learning to forgive myself for not being perfect.
Love or fear.
Which do you choose?
At the risk of boring everyone by going over the same thing again and again, I am going to talk about fear.
We have conned ourselves.
We have conned ourselves into believing that fear is a normal state. I don’t believe it is. Actually, let me re-phrase that. Fear IS now a normal state to live in, because we have accepted it as such, but it doesn’t need to be.
You know, stress and anxiety are forms of fear. Their roots are based in fear. Had you ever thought about that? I didn’t realise it for a long time. It wasn’t until I went through my “Dark Night of the Soul” and the fear got so intense it almost paralyzed me that I began to really investigate and unpick my fear. I had to, because I couldn’t live like that anymore. It ended up being the greatest gift.
There are several cute acronyms about fear that are frequently bandied around. One of the most common I want to mention is “FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real”. Very cute, but in my opinion, of no value whatsoever (apologies to whoever thought it up). If you are feeling fear, someone telling you that it’s “false evidence appearing real”, isn’t helpful. At all. I mean seriously, it’s very real to you right? You can feel it. Let’s be real – It is going to take re-programming a belief system to get you out of fear, and someone telling you that what is causing the fear isn’t real isn’t going to achieve that.
Fear is a massive problem for humanity.
If we want to improve the way that humanity lives on a global scale, the level of collective human consciousness needs to rise above the level of fear. Into Love. When fear leaves, love enters, because love is what we are, at our essence, underneath the fear. Let’s start a revolution -stop the fear, feel the love. (A revamp of the 1960’s “make Love, not War”).
Fear is the pandemic we need to address on a global scale once this insignificant (in comparison) Covid-19 pandemic is dealt with. Fear contributes to more deaths annually than Covid-19 has caused, it just isn’t so obvious and death isn’t so quick. On a collective level, covid-19 is the focus at the moment; on an individual level however, now is a good time to address fear – many more of us than usual have TIME. No excuse!.
(If you are more than fleetingly interested in the subject of fear in relation to covid-19, then check out https://londonreal.tv/dr-bruce-lipton-coronavirus-epigenetics-immune-system-most-dangerous-part-of-covid-19-is-fear/?utm_source=drip).
If you feel called to be an activist for global change then follow that call…. for the rest of us, the best thing we can do to create a better world is to work on our own fear. Yes really.
Lets start by defining fear. What is fear?
A general definition is “An unpleasant feeling triggered by the perception of danger, real or imagined”.
Note that the definition says Perception of danger, real or imagined. One of my favourite spiritual teachers -Byron Katie uses the analogy of confusing a rope for a snake. When we realise it is a rope not a snake, we can laugh and relax. We have no fear. The problem is, our mind sees snakes everywhere, we need to begin to see ropes instead. That is how we get out of fear. It is all about perception and awareness.
Lets look at several different forms of fear:
These all have their basis in fear.
How many of us have experienced or are experiencing anxiety or stress? Most of us. Have you really, deeply understood that it is fear? Pause and think about that for a moment. Yes, stress is a fear response. Anxiety is a fear response.
When I was about 35 years old, I started a Certificate in Mental Health, and in one of the classes, a condition called Generalised Anxiety Disorder was discussed – In a moment of sudden clarity, I realised I had all the symptoms. I had no idea there was a name for it, let alone a solution. I thought it was just the way I was, because I had been like that for as long as I could remember. It had become normal for me. I don’t think I am the exception to the rule. In fact, I know I am not. Statistics show otherwise. The problem with anxiety and stress is that these are the two most toxic forms of fear. Why? Because they tend to be chronic… they are ongoing, and we just get used to it. But it has an increasingly negative effect on our health.
Fear is a primitive survival instinct.
Way back, when the human body evolved, or when we were created, whichever belief you subscribe to, life was much simpler. When we were confronted by (an analogy Bruce Lipton uses) a sabre toothed tiger, in an instant, our sub-conscious mind perceived a threat and triggered fear – a chemical response initiated by the brain to activate the body to fight or flight. As a result of that trigger, chemicals flooded our body, creating physiological changes such as:
(There are many more changes, however these will suffice for now.)
Clearly, it isn’t healthy for any of the above reactions to continue for long periods of time. The reason anxiety and stress are so toxic, is because the body stays in fight/flight mode, and as a result, it is constantly flooded with chemicals and hormones that are only meant to be short-term. The reason you feel that weird sensation in your stomach when you feel fear? It is the blood vessels constricting in your digestive system. The body is perfectly designed to be in fight/light for short periods, but not long ones.
The fight/flight response works beautifully when confronted by physical danger that quickly passes. It fulfills its purpose well. However, these days this response is generally triggered by different kinds of perceived threat – and different fears – that don’t pass quickly.
We Need To Stop. Right Now.
We need to stop and take a good look at the values we want to live by, and what is really important to us as individuals. Not the values or the definitions of success that a sick society conditions us to believe in (the biggest cult of all is our culture – it brainwashes us to think a certain way, and although we are all individuals within it, we are still programmed by our culture more than we imagine). As a result of our conditioning, most of us are seriously afraid underneath that we aren’t enough (meaning worthy of love), and that we haven’t got enough, that maybe there isn’t enough to go around (hence the rush on toilet paper) and these are the fears that sub-consciously drive us.
Why is this?
Because we are programmed all throughout our lives to believe this. It starts with our parents (they can’t teach us what they don’t know, and they just teach us the programs they have running – we can’t blame them, most of them do their best, just like we have done our best bringing up our children). When we are little, we receive incessant subtle and not so subtle hints that we should be better. We realise very quickly that if we want to be loved we need to do/be certain things. We go to school and on top of the expectations at home, we discover more is expected of us. We learn that winners are grinners and we are supposed to be good at everything; maths, writing, spelling, sitting still, listening, suppressing our nature exuberance, sports. It we aren’t good at something we are shamed. We are graded and compared with others. And it only gets worse, after a while we realise we need to have the right clothes, the right appliances – ipad, phone etc, the right shoes. Our teeth need to be straight, we shouldn’t smell, our body (particularly if we are female) should be a certain size. We become fixated on the bits that aren’t up to scratch instead of being thankful that our body actually works.
Then we graduate from school. We can’t wait to be grown up and out of school. But it gets worse. The pressure to be and to have gets worse. Now we need to get a job – a good job, we need the house and the cars and the phone (the latest), we need overseas holidays we need fancy food, we need wifi and bigger TV’s, appliances and more and more and more and more…..
We are bombarded with visual advertisements that undermine our sense of worthiness and our sub-conscious fear even further. If you have this or that you will be more beautiful, skinnier, happier, more popular, more successful. Beautiful, photo-shopped, air-brushed models lure us to shipwreck on the rocks of our “not good enough-ness”. The Media pedals fear, inundating us with the horrors human beings inflict on each other from all over the world as well as locally. Reporting “bad” news with breathless excitement. News announcers – really? is this what you were born to do…. promote fear? Do you really realise what you are doing in the name of a “good” story?
And then we have to juggle… we have to work full-time to pay the mortgage and the loans while we are trying to bring up our children, and do the housework and cook. Keep on moving, can’t afford to stop. Go, go, go, quick, quick, quick, busy, busy, busy….. no time to think, just blindly follow. (Do you know what you are following? Do you really know where you are going? Is accumulation of stuff your ultimate purpose? Is it really worth devoting most of your time to?).
Now we need the alcohol, the drugs, (legal and illegal),the cigarettes, the mindless TV shows and movies, computer games, facebook, instagram, twitter, under-eating, over-eating, over-exercising, sex addictions, shopping addictions, caffeine addictions to get us through the day because we are over-stimulated and over-stressed and fearful.
We have been trained to be consumers and blindly worship the gods of materialism. Striving, ever striving, thinking that somehow happiness, peace, love, joy will be our reward. We’ve got it “arse about” folks. We are putting our faith in the wrong gods.
And we call this living?
Then something collapses. It might be our mind, it might be our body that just can’t take it any longer.
It’s too much. It isn’t natural the way we are living, and it certainly isn’t healthy. Humanity is sick and getting sicker by the year. Sicker mentally and emotionally (depression, suicide, mental illnesses, addictions all on the rise), sicker physically (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, all lifestyle diseases on the rise), sicker spiritually (unconscious of a connection with a higher power).
We are letting fear rule.
Stress and anxiety are an indicator that something is wrong – we need to address it instead of ignoring it. Long-term stress and anxiety weakens our bodies, but even worse, in the meantime, it kills our capacity to live fully and deeply this precious life.
Medication is a temporary bandaid, not a solution. Addictions are ultimately self destructive. If we can’t change the external circumstances, we need to change the internal environment – our mind. Our perceptions. We need to start seeing ropes everywhere, not snakes.
We shouldn’t just accept fear as normal. It doesn’t need to be. We all have the capacity to live happy, peaceful lives. The only thing preventing us from doing so is our mind.
I ask you…. Please. Stop right now, and make a commitment. Make a commitment to eradicate fear in all its forms out of your life. Believe it or not, we live in a universe that is designed to support us. If you make a conscious choice to recognise fear as the enemy, and choose to live fearlessly, live true to your own inner truths, then life will bring you every experience you need to assist you in achieving this.
We need to make a commitment to being open. By this I mean being open to change. Open to understanding how we can grow and benefit from every experience. Open to perceiving differently. Open to questioning the status quo. Open to seeking peace and happiness above everything.
Within all of us, (as Dr Melissa Rankin calls it), is an Inner Pilot Light. When we begin to listen to that, we begin to live with integrity to ourself, to our own path, to our life.
Covid-19 has given many of us the chance to slow down. Let’s use it wisely. Don’t waste it on worrying about what might be. Use this Pause to spend some time in meditation, contemplation, in nature. Journal. Spend some time with yourself. Really with yourself, no distractions. Examine yourself, Meet yourself. Know yourself. Love yourself.
The antidote to fear is Love
Love or fear.
Which do you choose?
“When I loved myself enough.
I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy.
This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits –
anything that kept me small.
My judgement called it disloyal.
Now I see it as self-loving”
(From When I Loved Myself Enough by Kim McMillen)
This is a time for reflection.
A pause in Life.
It is a time for simplicity, a time to slow down.
A time to love yourself, nurture yourself. How long is it since you have done that?
Do you even know how?
This time is a gift….. or not.
So many opportunities we miss, because they don’t come packaged as we thought they would be. So many opportunities for learning, for growing. For love instead of indifference. For rest instead of rush. For quiet instead of noise. For peace instead of fear.
As Eckhart Tolle says in his exquisite book Guardians of Being:
“We get lost in doing, thinking, remembering, anticipating –
lost in a maze of complexity and a world of problems.
NATURE CAN SHOW US THE WAY HOME,
the way out of the prison of our own minds”
“We have forgotten what rocks, plants and animals still know.
We have forgotten how to Be –
to be still, to be ourselves, to be where life is:
HERE AND NOW”
Most people live in the prison of their mind, thinking that is just the way it is. This is particularly apparent at the moment. So much fear and anxiety, whinging and complaining. Even abuse. Yesterday I heard stories of people with foreign accents being snarled at and told to go home. This is fear talking. Fear is dangerous because it can make people act in ways that are self-serving and ugly. It makes some people vicious. we don’t want to contribute to the fear.
If you are filled with anxiety and fear or anger and frustration, and you cannot be happy in this moment, then your mind is your prison.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Do you know what real freedom is?
This is what I think it is:
Real freedom is a peaceful mind. Real freedom is not being upset by our external environment. Real freedom is not being reactive because we have healed our emotional wounds. Real freedom is the ability to be present, totally in the moment. Real freedom is not believing our thoughts. Real freedom is being able to love deeply and fearlessly. Real freedom is seeing beauty everywhere. Real freedom is being consistently happy. Real freedom is not being afraid of dying. Real freedom is accepting what we cannot change. Real freedom is trusting that everything is unfolding as it should. Real freedom is knowing that we have no control over anything much except how we choose to experience life. Real freedom is knowing that we are worthy just by virtue of being alive. Real freedom is knowing that we are not just temporary bodies and minds, but more importantly, eternal Soul.
I am taking this time to reflect on my life. On how I am living my life. On what makes my heart sing, and ensuring there is more of that in each day. I can see clearly now, where I have been careless and arrogant, taking things for granted. Where I have not respected the earth, where I have chosen to be lazy, and where my actions have not been congruent with the values I believe are important.
It has been humbling.
For an interesting and rewarding exercise, go online on http://www.motivationalinterviewing.org and check out their personal values card sort. You can download and print them off (or just write them down if you can’t print). Sort them into piles of very important, important and not important. Reduce until you have eight values in your Very Important pile. These are the values that you want to embody. Then sit and review different areas of your life and see how they fit with the values you have chosen. ie in your relationships, hobbies, work, actions, thoughts etc. This can really help to get on track and living a life in congruence with your deepest values.
We can take this time to reflect and grow or we can whinge and stagnate.
Again, Love or Fear.
Which do you choose?
The photo above is of the swamp at the entrance to the estate I live in. At first glance, it is butt ugly. And sometimes it smells less than fresh (to put it politely). It kind of reflects what I want to write about today.
Most people take no notice of this swamp because it isn’t beautiful, you have to leave the sealed path to get into it, there are much more obviously appealing places to go and generally people are in a rush. Plus it is enthusiastically patrolled by marauding mosquitoes who viciously attack the second you arrive.
But I love it.
As always, it is about perspective.
I love it because it is raw and gritty and has depth and texture. A bit like life at the moment. It is also home to an incredible variety of birds (and probably insect life but I haven’t got that up close and personal yet). At the moment (autumn), it has donned a mantle of many different shades of brown.
To see the beauty of this swamp requires Stillness. Silence. I need to wait patiently with awareness (protected by my extra strong insect repellent).
The breeze whispers tenderly to the trees, strumming the leaves like a classical guitarist, and caresses the water like gentle fingers stroking a lovers back, ripples of ecstasy shivering across the surface. The reeds murmur in delight as they sway and dance, slim and flexible, and the messy paperbarks rustle indignantly.
Dead trees stand in stark dignity.
A heavy Pelican grooms itself; unwieldy and lumbering on land, but gloriously stately on water and in the air, it stands on the dark branches of a tree long since dead that sprawls in the water, tenderly stoking each feather with its long beak, stretching its elongated neck to rub its head with sensuous enjoyment under its wings. On another branch the Yellow-billed Spoonbill balances on one leg in drowsy contemplation as a family of Pacific Black Ducks mill busily in the water below.
The Black Swans arch their graceful necks as they float serenely and in the shallows the Great Egret in long legged pure white elegance slowly stalks, pausing to admire its reflection in the water.
A lone Little Pied Cormorant perches in a dead tree, luxuriously spreading its wings to dry as the warm sun slowly rises in the sky and the Pink and Grey Galah’s squabble in raucous rivalry in the Norfolk pines.
The White Faced Heron shyly skirts the reeds, prim and plain in its soft grey, like a governess from a forgotten era mindful of her humble place and the Osprey sits at the top of a tree surveying the scene with haughty grandeur.
It is a place of enchantment, buzzing with life. Many different species dwell in harmony here, and they come and they go, and they barely leave a footprint.
I sit in the peace of wild things and look over my shoulder and see the road and houses and cars and power-lines and busy rushing people, oblivious to the wonder and beauty just metres away.
And I feel sad for the Great Loss that humanity experienced when we forgot how to be still. When shallow sophistication, money and busyness became our new Gods and we kissed their feet in homage. When we began to see the natural world as something to be used, exploited and abused. Or when we simply became indifferent, tucked up tight in our safe, solid buildings, secure in our technological superiority, cushioned from reality.
Not any more.
In one swiftly moving and silent virus, our smug complacency and denial of death has been confronted, and we are displeased.
When I take time to be present and sit with nature, I quickly understand it is only the minds of mankind that are in uproar and chaos. Nature is undisturbed. Peace and harmony still reign. The cycle of life and death is uninterrupted. Life continues to express itself through Form on this earth as it has for millenniums past and will for millenniums to come if we stop our abuse and indifference.
What lies beneath the chaos and mayhem is PEACE and JOY and LOVE.
It is there in the silence. It is there in Nature. It is in us.
We have covered it with our noisy foolishness. Fortunately we cannot destroy it.
In the midst of our feverish busyness, Nature (with the reluctant endorsement of our governments), has offered us an OPPORTUNITY TO PAUSE and REFLECT. To become WISER and STRONGER, more COMPASSIONATE and CONNECTED.
Which do you choose?
Because it is the only one you are going to get this lifetime although you may be able to source some spare parts if you are lucky.
I have chosen Love.
So, lets start with loving our body.
Despite believing that we are all spiritual beings having a human experience, and that the most important aspect of the triune of humanness is the Soul or Spirit rather than the body or mind, I still think it is important as much as is possible to look after and work with what we have. We have a body for the purpose of experiencing life on earth. Having a healthy body makes the experience much more pleasant.
Humanity is fascinating to observe. The answer to why there was a stampede to the toilet paper aisle instead of the health food shop continues to elude me. But perhaps there is something important I am missing.
Our first line of defence against COVID-19 is Sanitisation and social distancing.
Our second line of defence is our Individual Immune Systems.
A fact that seems to have escaped most people. This is indicative of the general state of affairs when it comes to health. The prevailing attitude is “I can eat what I like, smoke, drink and not exercise, subject my body to constant, chronic stress, and when my body begins to collapse from the abuse, the medical profession will provide me with a treatment so I can continue abusing my body”. To be clear, I am not sitting here feeling superior and pointing the finger. I am just as guilty of this as anyone else. Probably more so, because I know better and I still fall off the wagon into lazy eating habits.
As a race, humanity is so over-domesticated, most people have lost their natural instincts. All animals and birds know what to eat to sustain their life. Humanity doesn’t seem to. We have been conned by clever marketing and indifference to our bodies into believing that if it is in the food section of the supermarket it is fine for us to eat. Actually… NO.
We have chosen to ignore the fact that many chronic diseases in the developed countries are “life-style diseases”. Directly attributable to what we eat and how we live. We don’t want to acknowledge this because we are too busy. And it seems too much of an effort to change. Yes, it is an effort, but one that is worth it.
There are simple things we can do to support our immune system, and I am going to share some of the things I am currently doing to keep my body as healthy as I can.
Never under estimate the power of the mind. I know these are uncertain times. I know that 1 million Australian have lost their jobs this week. I know that businesses are having to close. I know there is a viral pandemic and people are sick and dying. I know life as we have known it is changing. But I also know that worrying doesn’t make anything better. In fact it makes life ten times harder because we suffer much more and we aren’t as open to opportunities as we could be. Most importantly, we are unable to appreciate what we do have by focusing on what we don’t have and what may go wrong. In my next blog I will talk about how to Not Worry in detail.
Fear in all its forms – anxiety, worry, stress – impact on the immune system. Majorly. I can’t emphasize this enough. A really good reason to work on reducing fear. There are many peer reviewed scientific studies to back this up. Fear puts our bodies automatically into fight/flight/freeze response. And one of the results of this is that our immune system is suppressed. Why? Because the body is very clever and very efficient. The immune system is not a high priority when you are faced with a deadly snake and you need to run, kill it or freeze, so the body redirects energy and releases chemicals to support you to take appropriate action i,e increased blood flow to muscles, raised blood pressure adrenaline etc. The relaxation and repair state is when your body and your immune system are at their best.
Start a gratitude journal. Each day write down 3 things you are grateful for and why.
Read books or magazines that uplift and inspire you.
I think everyone knows that fresh fruit and vegies (preferably organic or spray-free) are optimal foods for health. They are full of vitamins and minerals that our body needs to operate smoothly. Nuts, seeds and legumes are also beneficial. For some people it is important to eat meat. For others not. I tend to only eat meat once or twice a week at most.
What our bodies are not designed to do is work well on processed foods full of sugar, salt and chemicals.
I get it. It is much easier to snack on rubbish food than make some hommus or raw protein balls. Fortunately, I love cooking and thanks to cancer, I have time, but I still, if given the chance would happily reach for a packet of biscuits. The best way to get around this is to make sure there is always something healthy to snack on in the fridge, and nothing rubbish on the pantry. If you can’t go out… problem solved.
Sadly, I can be a bit lazy, so this is where smoothies and juices come in. Particularly smoothies. Throw a handful of spinach in with coconut/almond or rice milk, a banana, date, tspn of cacao powder and honey if you want it sweeter and blitz. Yuuum! I also add frozen berries and a variety of powders that I will mention in the next section.
If nothing else, try to cut down on the rubbish food and start eating more greens.
While this pandemic is strutting its stuff, I am taking;
Obviously I have significant underlying health issues which necessitates me going over and above in supporting my immune system, but at least take Vit C and zinc, and some digestive enzymes to support your body.
With plenty of good water and vegetable juices.
Keep, or get moving! Our bodies are designed to move, so move. Get that blood circulating through your body.
If you are going into lock-down soon, get a skipping rope or a re-bounder or something. Try Yoga – there are plenty of you tube videos showing you how. If you can’t get on the floor, look up chair yoga. Utilise the internet to look up exercises you can do in your living room. I go for a bike ride 3 times a day – it is something I can still do at the moment.
If you still can, get out into nature – it is extremely therapeutic and if you can manage to have a calm enough mind to feel the still, silent quietness of nature it will be beneficial to your mental health as well.
Everyone should be learning how to meditate. We are going to need to dig deep to get through the next few months and meditation will be enormously beneficial. It supports the immune system too. In particular by taking the body out of flight/fight mode and into relaxation and repair mode. If you can’t manage mantra or Zen meditations, try mindfulness or guided meditations. There is a multitude of them on the internet.
Build your own supportive network, support others and make sure you are supported too. This is really important and is going to make the coming months much more endurable. We need to actively build deep and supportive networks. Technology is going to be critical to keep us connected. Help older people to use facetime etc so they feel more connected. There are many studies that prove loneliness and lack of support is detrimental to our health. Use this time to get more connected.
I hope that some of what I say is helpful. You are probably going to hear more from me now I have settled into self isolation!
Keep well everyone…
In just a few short weeks, life has changed dramatically.
My all important freedom has been severely curtailed. As of Wednesday, when I learned there were several cases of Covid-19 now in this city, I no longer go out into the community, and physical contact with everyone including my family is limited.
I have spent the last ten days preparing for this. It was obvious back then that it would be necessary for me to isolate at some point because I am considered to be high risk to die if I contract this virus.Despite having cancer throughout my body, I am extremely well, but I am one of the vulnerable and this is something that has taken me a while to get my head around. I think anyone who knows me well would agree that I am fiercely independent. I am not good at asking for help, I would much rather give than receive. Despite needing plenty of time alone, I also like to spend time surrounded by people so the thought of being isolated at home for a long period of time and having to rely on others to help has required a fair bit of mental adjustment.
Fortunately, as yet, we are not officially in lock-down. I anticipate that will come soon though. And it needs to. At the moment I can still get out and ride around the estate on my e-bike photographing nature for several hours a day. The photo above was taken this morning. Nature is very calm. Very serene. I learn a lot about how to just BE from nature. Nature is completely unaffected by the turmoil troubling humanity. If you are feeling discombobulated (I love that word!), then spend some time in nature and allow yourself to relax into its gentle calmness.
Life is changing. It feels as though we have lost our innocence. Four weeks ago we were just living our lives as normal, comfortable in our routines and now most of the worlds economies are in crisis, and there are major threats to both our lives and our livelihood.
Uncertainty abounds.Fear has escalated. What new restrictions will tomorrow bring? What if, what if, what if……. our mind can torment us with worst case scenarios and dire imaginings.
As always, we have a choice in how we react.
Resistance or surrender. Love or Fear.
Whichever we choose, the reality is that we are riding the pandemic freight train regardless. It has been set in motion, now we are all along for the ride. The only choice we really have is whether we go gracefully or kicking and swearing.I am choosing to go as gracefully as possible. Life has managed to teach me to make the best of what comes along. I gave up beating my head against a brick wall a while back when I realised that all I achieved was a headache.Annoyingly, the brick wall was oblivious.
We can choose to resist What Is. We can complain and moan and blame and sulk and rage. The Covid-19 virus doesn’t care, it will just carry on doing its thing regardless. Government officials will continue to make decisions they feel are right. All that is achieved is that we feel depressed and angry and victimised. These feelings weaken us.
We can choose to surrender to What Is. We accept that change is happening. We accept that life is going to be different. We decide to make the best of it. As a result we feel empowered. Uplifted even. We cope much better. There are inspiring examples of this attitude coming out of Italy. We are strengthened. Accepting What Is allows us to be open to opportunities because we aren’t wasting energy resisting something we can’t change. Surrendering to What Is doesn’t mean passively giving up. Not at all. It gives us to a clearer mind to see what positive actions we can take.
We have a choice. We can choose love or fear. Surrender or Resistance. If we choose love, we will grow through this. We will become more resilient personally and nationally. We will strengthen our communities and support one another. We will heal each other and the earth. The whole experience will be much less painful. Or we can choose the fear route, joining the stampede to the toilet paper aisle, fighting our neighbour for the last roll. The fear route is guaranteed suffering.
The price of fear is too great. I’m choosing Love.
“Death is a touch of the Soul too strong for the body to ignore
It is a call from Divinity which brooks no denial.
It is the voice of the inner spiritual identity saying;
return to your Source for a while and reflect upon the experiences
undergone, and the lessons learned
until the time comes when you return to earth for another
cycle of learning, of progress and enrichment”
Alice Bailey – The Unfinished Autobiography
This is one of my favourite quotes about death.
Death is a touch of the soul…
One of the greatest causes of our suffering as a human being is identification of ourselves as a body. Many of us make the mistake of thinking we have a soul, when in actual fact we ARE a soul – we have a body.
A body that is temporary – how temporary we don’t know, but chances are, it is only going to last a hundred years at most. The Soul is eternal, the body is temporary.
Most of us live in cultures which are heavily identified with physical matter rather than Spirit. We have medical systems that see death as a medical failure, death is not discussed, many people never see a dead body and we have very few rituals to help us mourn in a healthy way when some-one dies. People are so busy earning a living, accumulating physical objects there is no time for reflection.
Death has become the enemy.
And seen from a purely physical point of view it is. It seems to rob us of everything familiar and solid and gives us a vague and dubious hope of something largely unknown instead. It seems to be the end.
For the Soul, death is the liberator. The friend that releases the Soul from this heavy, cumbersome physical body that imprisoned it for a while. Free again.
The call from Divinity which brooks no denial…. when this call comes, there is no choice but to follow.
It comes on time. At the right time.
From the physical viewpoint, it seldom seems the right time to die – especially to those who love the one who has been called. We don’t want them to go. We want them to stay – for us. It will mean change and uncertainty. How will we cope? What if we don’t?.
Life will never be the same.
Life IS never the same – from one moment to the next it changes but I don’t notice. The changes are small enough to ignore.
Until a big change is forced upon me.
Life is change.
Life is movement.
Nothing stays the same.
I can either resist or accept.
Resistance closes me to life, it puts a hard shell around me and prevents me from fully participating in life. It takes away joy and peace. I can become bitter and resentful. Stuck in my pain. Isolated, Alone.
Acceptance opens me to life. It softens me, makes me more wise and loving. Opens me to learning and growing. Through acceptance I can experience the love and peace that underpins all creation. I feel connected, loved, alive.
About a week after my partner Ian died, I was walking early one morning with Monty his dog around the farm where we lived, when suddenly it felt as though everything became still.
Completely Silent….. It was as though time ceased… Even the birds stopped singing.
I had an overwhelming sense of knowing Ian as eternal spirit. Timeless and Free. And then I understood completely that I also was that. We all are that, and I knew that it didn’t matter if I lived another 50 years on this earth without him, because it was nothing, just a blink of an eye in comparison to eternity. For that brief moment, I experienced myself as timeless. The wonder of that moment remains with me five years later.
My mind and body, because they are creations of this world, only know time as experienced on this earth. My Soul, although linked to a physical body for periods of time, exists outside of time and space, and is timeless.
My Soul is fearless because there is nothing to fear. My Soul knows no grief for there is nothing to grieve. My Soul knows each physical life is like a play performed on a stage for the purpose of learning and enrichment, but sometimes my mind forgets “I” am just the actor playing a part and I take it way too seriously.
Would I grieve if in the play a character died, and I knew that in a little while, when the curtain goes down on the final scene we would be re-united again? From the viewpoint of the Soul, this is all it is when the physical body of some-one we love dies.
Millions of people in this world suffer because they identify themselves as a body and mind and not a Soul. This is guaranteed to cause suffering. Choosing to know ourselves as Soul will bring us out of suffering into peace and love and joy. Its not difficult. We live in a universe that is designed to support our Soul growth – that is the whole purpose of it, so whenever we decide to know our-self as Soul – everything we need will come to help us to achieve it.
We just need to be open.
Yesterday I watched incredulously, scenes shared on media of brawls breaking out in supermarkets over toilet paper.
Images of shelves in supermarkets empty of rice, pasta and other staples.
And I asked myself in amazement “what is wrong with the world?”
FEAR is what is wrong with this world.
Fear is dangerous..
Fear is contagious…
On one end of the spectrum, fear creates perpetrators and violence. At the other end, it creates victims and submission. It always creates suffering. (Except when it is an appropriate response to immediate physical threat and flight or fight is necessary).
It is very easy to condemn the people who are behaving irrationally, but they are afraid. Fear is making them behave like this. While not condoning their behaviour, let’s have compassion.
AT THIS POINT IN TIME, IT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER, THAT THOSE WHO ARE ABLE, DEMONSTRATE LOVE AND COMPASSION.
What is happening now is a clear demonstration of the negative aspect of technology. In particular, it is a clear demonstration of the power of the media to whip humanity into a frenzy. And it is a clear demonstration of commerce without compassion.
Some people seem to be unaware that mainstream media – newspaper, TV and radio is attention seeking. This is how they get readers and viewers. Unfortunately, fear sells. Fear grabs attention. It seems to me that the media is very busy generating fear at the moment with no forethought as to what the outcomes could be. The greatest threat to mankind right now is not the corona-virus, but rather the global panic that is being incited. That panic is just as capable of de-stablising economies and already is, than a pandemic of a flu.
Case in point: As I am writing this, my computer flashes an unwanted “breaking news” update – third person dies in Australia from Corona-virus. An 80 year old man. With the utmost of respect to this man and his family, an 80 year old man dying is not an unexpected occurrence surely. That is a fairly long life and chances are he had health conditions that made him susceptible to a virus.
This is fear-mongering folks, and the danger of it should not be under-estimated.
Lets get things in perspective.
According to the World Health Organisation:
Infectious diseases like HIV, Tuberculosis, Viral hepatitis, malaria, neglected tropical diseases and sexually-transmitted infections will kill an estimated 4 million people in 2020.
Lack of food, unsafe food and unhealthy diets are responsible for almost one third of today’s global disease burden.
More than 1 million adolescents aged 10-19 years die every year. The leading causes of death in this age group are road injury, HIV, suicide, lower respiratory infections and interpersonal violence. Harmful use of tobacco, alcohol and drug use, lack of physical activity, unprotected sex and previous exposure to child maltreatment all increase the risks for these causes of death.
Billions of people around the world are living in communities without safe water to drink or adequate sanitation services – both of which are major drivers of disease.
And the clincher for me: Tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year. More than 7 million of those deaths are a direct result of tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. The World Health Organisation says it is one of the biggest health threats the world has ever faced. Have I missed the news reports on this? Why do I not receive a ‘breaking news” update on my computer telling me every time a person dies from tobacco use?
Because of commerce without compassion of course.
To quote further statistics. According to the website Worldometer , There have been 63,772 closed cases of coronavirus. 94% recovered, 6% died. Take into consideration that those most likely to get the virus and become seriously ill are those with compromised health.
If everyone is sensible, washes hands, stay home if they are unwell, build their immune system with healthy eating, no smoking, exercise and concentrate on living lovingly – there probably isn’t too much to worry about.
Breaking news – we are all going to die one day. ENJOY THIS MOMENT, RIGHT NOW. Don’t waste it on worry or fear. Be sensible, then allow what will Be to Be.
Things are about to get Real.
I’ts 3.50am and the power is out. There is an electrical storm raging in the distance, lightening flashing intermittently through my window. It is really windy and I can’t sleep.
It is partly due to the wind – I have to sleep with the windows open because the Menopause has seriously interfered with my internal thermostat and I need to be cool when I sleep or my body attempts to melt.
The wind woke me up, but the other reason I can’t sleep is because I am feeling frustrated.
I am trying to write a book about my experience with cancer. Attempting on and off for six years. Yes, six years. More, if I’m really honest, I have lost track of time.
I admit, I have been a champion procrastinator in the past – I only dropped that debilitating habit of self-sabotage a few months ago, so it is quite new for me to be focused and disciplined when doing something for myself, but I was going great guns, and I’m thinking, yes, this time I am really going to finish it, I’m on a roll here, then….. a grinding halt. Again. Dammit.
The first two chapters just flowed, then I have been trying to write a chapter on Modern Medicine which I thought was an important part of the book, but it has been a struggle and I have lost the feeling of flow. I haven’t been able to understand why.
I don’t have a problem with not sleeping. Some of my most creative and profound thoughts arise during the night and early morning. I think it is partly because my senses are resting, there is no external stimulation, the outside world is quiet (except for that wind), there are no distractions and my mind can free flow. I also believe my sub conscious mind works well at problem solving while I am asleep or lazily awake.
So, I lie in bed, wrestling with this problem of why the book is no longer flowing. I begin to feel panic arising and I am thinking I am never going to finish it, I am going to die one day with my story still inside me. I start to tell myself stories that I am a loser, who do I think I am to believe I have a story worth telling, what do I really have to say that could be of help to anyone ? How dare I believe I can live a life less ordinary.
Classic 3am self-torture.
I rarely think like this anymore, and I am not enjoying the way it makes me feel. I feel a surge of anger rise in me and I think “No, I’m writing this damn story and continuing with my plans to create an on-line business doing what I love, using what I have learned from life to help other people because I have always believed this is what I am meant to do”.
And suddenly, I can see why the book isn’t flowing. I realise where I have gone wrong.
In this chapter on Modern Medicine, I got out of storytelling and into officialism, I got official. I love researching subjects that interest me, I am an avid seeker of information – my house is full of books. This subject really interests me, but I got too serious and formal about it and the book ceased to become a story and became a report.
I am good at writing reports – in my work I had to. Only the facts: objective, not subjective. I was good at it, but it isn’t really me. You see, I like objective – it certainly has its place, but I LOVE subjective. Personal experience. Individuality. Vulnerability. Perception.
Human-ness – warts and all. In all its diversity and confusion.
I love connection. I really feel that a big part of the problem with the world today is lack of connection with ourselves, our community, nature and a Higher Power. In fact, I have been musing on a metaphysical theory I have that somehow cancer has manifested as the disease of our time because it is symbolic of the current disease of humanity – an ever increasing disconnection with “Other”. Cancer cells are cells that have become selfish – they don’t want to die, and they are only concerned with themselves. The greater good of their community and the environment they live in – the body – is no longer important. Their self absorption ultimately causes the destruction of the very environment that sustains cell life, and when it dies, they die. Sound familiar? It parallels with how humankind treats the planet that sustains its very life. As without, so within. Just sayin….
Anyway, the point I am slowly getting to is that it is hard to feel a real connection with a report. and I realise this is where I went wrong. Anyone can write a report based on facts, but only I can write my story, my way, from my perspective. I like connection. I need to be real.
Often I am filled with self-doubt – do I have anything to say? but I am beginning to understand that my perspective is relatively unique.
Beginning to understand that not a lot of people do what I have done – Take on cancer on my own terms.
It started out partly through fear. Nothing brave about it. Initially, I was more scared of mainstream treatments than I was of dying from cancer. I also felt that I would be letting Ian down somehow if I used mainstream treatments when they had not been offered to him, and I had a deep belief that my healing would not come from physical intervention, but rather through Mind and Spirit. So Mind and Spirit became my focus. I dabbled at various times with alternative therapies, but none seemed to make much difference to the cancer. Somewhere along the way, fear disappeared and cancer became my vehicle for self healing and self-discovery. Cancer has been of little importance to me, except for what it can teach me.
Some would probably say I have played Russian Roulette with my life. That may be. Who can say for sure? Fortunately no one will ever know, although some may have a strong opinion. I am no longer very interested in whether other people approve of my decisions or how I live. I have more important things to do
like live my life.
Would I be cancer free today if I had chosen chemotherapy, radiation or surgery? I don’t know, but the point is, today I am still alive, miraculously so according to statistics, and extraordinarily well and the journey has been worth it. I have learned how to be happy almost all the time.
I have a story to tell: this blog is part of it and I’m going to do it my way, so I’m dropping the more formal style and I am going to be unashamedly subjective. Do I have anything to teach? I will let you be the judge of that. Do I have anything to share? Yes, I think so, so I am going to share. Share my life, share my story and maybe it will give some-one, somewhere hope. Maybe it will help to alleviate some-ones fear. Maybe it will inspire some-one to really live and love their life. If this happens, then I have been honoured to help.
I am going to end by repeating a common theme for me:
Live your life as passionately, authentically, boldly and lovingly as you can.
Do you cherish and occupy fully your precious human life?
When we live like this, we can make a positive difference in the world.
Let’s Get Real
Got to go….. I have a book to write.
Are you happy?
What makes you happy?
How does happiness feel?
I am studying Meditation Teaching and Holistic Counselling, and this week, part of the assignment was to do a survey on happiness, and it has really got me contemplating.
Everyone I surveyed when asked to rate how important happiness was to them rated it a 10 – very important. Hardly surprising. I think it is safe to say that except for a miserable few who enjoy feeling unhappy, we all want to be happy. Some people may say they want a lot of money or a world trip or a loving relationship and that is what motivates them, however if questioned closely, the end result is that they believe it will make them happy.
We all want to be happy right?
So how much effort do you put in each day to be happy? You see, happiness is a choice.
Our mind likes to dwell in the future or the past, that’s where most of us live unfortunately, and it will tell us that if we had this or that, then we will be happy. Plus we are bombarded with ads on the media that are designed to convince us we will be happy if we buy their product. We have been conditioned to believe that happiness depends on our external circumstances being favourable, when in actual fact, it is our internal environment which is responsible for our happiness.
The problem is, the conditioned mind is rarely happy for long. It is very good at seeing what is wrong about a situation, what is lacking, what other people are doing that isn’t right. It tends to be quite critical, directing the criticism both externally and internally, and it likes worry and anxiety because it strengthens itself through constant chatter. What if…. Why…..If only….How could they…..
I spent many years of my life anxious and worrying. If you don’t already know, and lucky you if you don’t, it is quite hard to be happy when your mind is full of anxiety. Your external circumstances may be well nigh perfect, and yet you are unable to really appreciate them, have gratitude and feel happy. Because something may go wrong, or something isn’t right, or what will people think or, or, or….the list goes on.
But, good news! You don’t need a new boat, or good health, or more money or be more popular to be happy.
The mind is the source of all unhappiness and the source of all happiness.
So drop the thought that something outside of yourself needs to happen for you to be completely happy because it simply isn’t true. Happiness is our birthright. The capacity for happiness is right there within us, it is just that our mind is obscuring it by putting conditions on it or burying it beneath a mountain of worries.
Do you know how to be happy 99% of the time?
It is actually simple.
Become aware of your thoughts, know what you are thinking at any given time and as A Course in Miracles says: “choose only love, for that is what you are”.
In every situation, ask, “what would love do?”, then do that. You see, the basis of all feeling, reaction or action is either love or fear. If it is negative it is fear based, if it is positive it is love based.
So choose only love, and this needs to begin with you. Choose to love yourself and treat yourself lovingly.
Love your mind by choosing only loving thoughts (hint: worrying isn’t loving thoughts),
Love your body by looking after it. Showing gratitude – if you are reading this, you are still alive.
Love your spirit by choosing love not fear.
It isn’t selfishness, because when you do this, love permeates outwards to others… you share the love. Being Love brings us and the world, happiness. It feels good because that is what we are, our true nature is Love.
Love yourself and be in love with life and happiness will follow as night follows day.