lets get perspective

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.

Panic buying.

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.

Get Real, Get Moving

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.

Connection

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.

The Source of Happiness

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.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s

lives may be,

I go and lie down, where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the

great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with

forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still

water,

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am

free.

I love this poem by Wendell Berry.

“I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief”

You may have noticed I love to photograph nature. This morning I was up at 5am to photograph the sun-rise. The sky was a palette of pale pinks, smokey greys and blue reflecting in the silky smooth water of the estuary.

The black swans slept with their heads under their wings, resting in serenity while the sea gulls languidly strolled the waters edge searching for tasty morsels for breakfast. A gentle breeze teased the leaves in the paper barks and sang a melody in the pines.

Peace reigned.

I cycled along the path until I came to a favourite place – a row of Bottlebrush shrubs where the New Holland Honeyeaters play and feast on the nectar, filling the air with their joyful song as they swoop and dart among the bushes, pausing for a moment to lick the sweetness off the flowers (yes, apparently they have a “brush-tipped tongue” with which they take up nectar from the flowers).

I watch in delight their simple joy of being alive.

We have many privileges living in this country, but we live in a culture that has forgotten how to Be.

Has lost the joy of simply being alive,

in the moment, truly present.

Have forgotten how to be silent.

To come into the peace of wild things.

When Ian was alive, we lived on a farm, and many times I drove home from work wondering if he would be alive when I walked into the house. I would hop out of the car to open the gate, and often the cows were in the paddock near the drive and I would stop and take a breath, breathing in their peace, their being-ness, their calm acceptance of life and death. Their surrendered-ness to what Is, and I would be comforted, understanding that as I too surrendered and let go of my ideas about what should be, and what should happen, I could share their peace.

It took a while, but I got there eventually.

We fight and struggle, resist and negotiate, trying to make Life fit into our will. Our little, ignorant, ridiculously defiant will. It would be amusing if it didn’t cause us so much pain.

Life is the dancer and we are the dance”. Echkhart Tolle

Come into the peace of wild things, and learn how to surrender joyfully into life.

Be Still, and know that I am God.

Why Me?

These are the words my partner Ian uttered a week before he died aged 49.

“Why Me?”

That was the first time in the six years I had been with him that he had ever said that.

And then he added these words:

“Why have I been so blessed to experience all this?”

Now this had been a very long (almost ten years) and very painful journey and he had just come home from three weeks in hospital during which he had almost died, and yet he was filled with gratitude and awe.

Ian wasn’t a religious man. I doubt he had stepped foot inside a church since he was a child – if then. His spirituality was Nature. He loved nature – reverenced it and was deeply connected to the Australian bush.

We had a deep soul connection, him and I, and we were on a journey of intense spiritual growth together. It was a journey that was potentially, when seen through the eyes of the ego, full of suffering. Emotionally, mentally and physically. And yes, initially we suffered but because we learned to be open to whatever arose, paradoxically, the closer to death he came, the less we suffered. And the Love and Joy that underpins all creation became steadily more evident.

Eckhart Tolle in his book New Earth, shares these wonderful words:

“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.”

In a previous post I mentioned driving up to Perth to meet Ian while he was being flown there by the Flying Doctors, and I said I would share some more of that story. It appears today is the time to do that.

Ian was flown to Perth because the varicose veins in his esophagus had succumbed to the pressure on them and tore. He began vomiting blood. The local hospital decided to send him to Perth for the operation that could help stop the bleeding. In the meantime, he was given a drug that thickened his blood and temporarily stopped the bleeding.

For whatever reason, the operation was delayed for 36 hours. I had taken the book A Course In Miracles with me and read to him from it. Eventually he had the operation which involved putting bands on the veins that were bleeding, and it appeared to be a success. But within 24 hours he began passing blood and it was clear the bleeding had started again.

The decision was made to give him a blood transfusion. My memories of that night are of the quietness of the room, and the tangible feeling of love and peace that filled it. We understood that if the bleeding could not be stopped he would die, and yet there was no fear, no stress. I continued to read from A Course in Miracles to him about love and peace and miracles in between helping him to the commode – he kept passing blood, more blood, more blood.

At one time I looked over at him, cuddled under a mound of blankets because he felt so cold, and he had a beautiful smile on his face. He sensed me looking at him and opened his eyes and said “Don’t mind me, I am in a place of unconditional love”. This from a man who had struggled with feeling loved all his life, who rarely felt he belonged and who didn’t have a specific religious faith. As the life-force was slowly ebbing from his body, for the first time in this life he really experienced God. He was enveloped in unconditional love. He was returning home.

The nurse put the second bag of blood up. The bleeding continued. The third bag went up. Unbeknownst to us at the time, this was the last bag.

He told me later that he left his body. He was looking down on himself lying on the bed. He saw angels around him, and people in this life who knew what was happening and were thinking and praying for him. He said to the angels “We are going to stop this bleeding. You go to Bunnings (a hardware store) and get some epoxy and I will trowel it on these veins” (he was a carpenter). He imagined it happening .

The bleeding stopped.

The medical staff were extremely surprised. Ian wasn’t.

The next morning they told us the operation hadn’t been a success and there was nothing more to be done. The Doctor said to Ian “I hope I have as much peace and acceptance as you when my time comes”.

They arranged to send Ian in an ambulance back to our local palliative care unit to die. With a paramedic in the ambulance in case he bled out on the way home. Ian knew he wouldn’t.

He spent a week in the palliative unit, then came home for a week before the veins tore again. Two days before he died, he was up on the roof helping us clean out the gutters.

This experience he was given – a reminder of the essence of God – total, unconditional love – filled him with awe and gratitude. He died in peace.

Why Me?

Why have I been so blessed to experience all this?

When we are truly open, accepting of the present moment, not resisting at all – Love, which is God shines through.

You are Unique

I was asked the question today, “what about supplements and diet”.

Many, many people have had wonderful results healing from cancer using diet and supplements. It is an intelligent decision to support the body physically to heal by giving it the best nutrition you can.

There is an endless amount of products out there that claim to do amazing things to treat cancer. And they probably do have great results for some people. If you have a magnesium deficiency for instance that affects your health, then addressing that imbalance should make a difference – that is common sense. But if you have sufficient magnesium in you body for its needs, taking extra probably isn’t going to have great results. The body will either flush it out, or if it can’t do that, it will store it somewhere (which may cause problems). The body is extremely clever at keeping balance – we need to trust it more. If there is a physical imbalance affecting your immune system and causing the cancer, supplements may be the answer. It is worth doing.

In my opinion, and it is an opinion – I am not an expert on anything except my own life and even then sometimes I don’t have a clue! (Although I have spent the last 13 years informally studying cancer and the mind and spirit) – I think there are many causes of cancer – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Imbalances, unhealthiness or abuses in all of these areas manifest physically. As human beings we are Mind, Body, Spirit. The are intertwined. The body is the barometer of the mind and spirit as well as being impacted by its physical surroundings. It is a tool for us to experience life on earth.

We are unique and individual. This means that what is right for one person, is not necessarily right for the next. There is the old saying “One man’s meat is another man’s poison”. It is so true. It is also true for cancer treatments both mainstream and holistic.

I believe we need to connect with our own body and mind and spirit and learn to trust ourselves and what feels right for us.

If you go to an oncologist, they have a certain skill-set they have been trained in. It is quite narrow, and that is fine, if they have what you need. They tend to have a very aggressive approach to cancer that works contrary to the natural processes and intelligence of the body. (A lot like mankind’s approach to nature – domination and force). They also tend not to know how to support the body to heal (including heal from the effects of their treatment). If you feel this is what you need, it makes you feel safe and you believe in it – then go for it, it will probably work for you, (and the body’s incredible powers of recuperation are never more apparent than when it recovers from chemotherapy and radiation treatment).

If you go to a Naturopath or other “alternative” practitioner, they also have a skill set that they are trained in. They tend to have more options in their tool-kit than Oncologists because of the vast array of supplements and tonics etc available to support the bodies own healing mechanisms.

Most of the above do not invest a lot into the mind and spirit as well as treating the body for the simple reason they have their particular interest and naturally focus on that. A good holistic practitioner should help with mind, body and spirit.

None of them inhabit YOUR body, mind or spirit. Only you do. As such, you experience the best indications of whether something is good for you or not. If you aren’t so disconnected and busy you don’t notice them.

I didn’t listen or trust myself for a long time. I did the whole diet,supplements, CBD, cannabis, IV Vitamin C, Juicing, protocols etc, and it didn’t make a scrap of difference to the cancer although my body does appreciate eating healthily and getting good nutrition.

Why?

Because I wasn’t listening to myself. I knew way back when I was diagnosed, that the cancer was associated with the anxiety and stress in my mind, and the powerful and negative beliefs I held about God as well as unresolved trauma. I believed that my physical healing (if I was meant to live) would come about through healing myself emotionally and spiritually. I also believed there was a purpose in having this cancer that was directly related to fear and dying, and I was meant to help other people overcome this, but I had to overcome it myself first.

As I say, I didn’t really listen because I was a conformist and I felt compelled to listen to others who followed the path of nutrition – the path of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery felt so compellingly wrong for me that I wasn’t going to go there. (Having said that, after 12 years with cancer, I had 2 x one week sessions of radiation last year which I am glad I did for various reasons – I will explain in another post). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the nutritional path seemed to make no difference whatsoever to the progression of the cancer.

Now that I have finally decided to step into “my purpose” and share what I have learned, I feel incredibly energised and even more well than usual. With regards to the physical impact of this step on the cancer – time will tell. In the meantime I am loving life and enjoying myself.

In summary, You are unique, you are individual and your body will respond uniquely to any treatment you decide to undertake. Investigate options, ask opinions, seek advice, but always come back to yourself, sit quietly and ask yourself if it feels right for you. Until you learn to trust yourself, it takes courage because there are very loud voices out there with strong opinions who are quite happy to tell you they are right. Often with the best of intentions.

The universe is designed to support us. Some people heal into living, some people heal into dying. Some people are cured, some people aren’t. Personally, I believe that I will only die when my soul decides it is time to go home and why would I argue with that? It is all good. It will be the perfect time. Relax and enjoy the journey instead of worrying. It is going to unfold how it is going to unfold, all you need to do is show up each day, willing and open to learning and growing and what you need will arrive.

Life is for Living

Drop the need to know why things are as they are.

They are.

Accept it. Work with it. Don’t fight against it and you will find you can be happy anyway, no matter what. AND YOUR MINDSET AFFECTS YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH.

How to Re-frame Cancer 1

None of us can choose what experiences Life brings across our path, but we can choose How we experience them.

Suffering is optional. When I speak about suffering, I am meaning emotional or mental pain. Not physical pain. That is another story however managing your mind usually has a positive effect on physical pain.

Suffering is caused by the mind. 100% of the time.

Thirteen years ago when I was in a period of awful suffering, I decided that if God was a God of Love like people were telling me, then there must be a way to live on this earth without suffering. I decided I was going to find it.

It didn’t take long for me to realise that suffering originates in the mind. I saw that two people can go through very similar experiences, one person swans through serenely, the other person collapses in a heap suffering greatly.

It’s all in the mind.

And then it hits the body. Because our mind affects our body by stimulating the release of chemicals in response to our emotions, we begin to experience the suffering of our mind in our body. The body is like the barometer of our mind. Want to know if your thoughts are positive or negative? Check into your body. Negative thoughts cause stress in the body, flooding it with stress hormones, positive thoughts relax the body, flooding it with endorphins which feel good. We are meant to be happy – even our body knows this!

In the western world, the thought of cancer and death bring suffering. Why? Because we have been taught to fear them.

Maybe I am a wimp, but I really don’t want to suffer unnecessarily. I don’t see the point. If I can’t control the experiences which come into my life – including cancer, then I would rather experience them peacefully and calmly than in fear and trembling. It was a light bulb moment when I realised it was within my power to do so.

There are many ways to do this, and I think I probably took the long route but in my defence, I had a lot of re-programming to do. What I am going to share with you works for re-framing anything. Cancer and dying are just a couple of things you can use the techniques for, they just happen to be my focus for obvious reasons.

There is no magic bullet or quick fix unfortunately. I would love to tell you there was an injectable serum that instantly converts negative beliefs into positive ones so you could always be happy, but I don’t think it has been created yet. In the meantime, we just have to do the work. On the positive side, if you approach it with the mindset that it will be exciting to really know yourself and the goal you are working towards is to be happy all the time, then it isn’t a chore….. and it gets easier. (Hypnosis may be quicker – I didn’t try it).

The following is step one in How to Re-frame Cancer. The following steps will be posted over the next few weeks…

Step 1 – Suffering originates in the mind – KNOW YOUR MIND

It is the voice in your head that is the problem – it never shuts up – it has an opinion on everything and it is in the drivers seat of your life. That is bad news because it has issues – big issues.

One problem is, we listen to it without challenging it. We are so used to it, we have been seduced into accepting it as an authority and most of the time we don’t even notice it. “Experts” estimate that the average mind thinks between 12,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day (although no-one seems to know precisely which experts came up with those figures). Apparently 80% of our thoughts are negative and 95% are the same thoughts as the day before… and the day before that … and the day before that. That is a hell of a lot of thoughts going on in our heads that we aren’t even aware of. And these thoughts affect our life!! That is significant don’t you think? Most of us don’t even know what is going on in our conscious mind let alone our sub-conscious where our beliefs and worldview are lodging.

Another problem is, the mind’s ramblings are based on snippets of ideas, deep held beliefs established when we were children (would you let a 5 year old direct how you live as an adult?) and fear. Yes, fear. The mind is attracted to fear like metal to a magnet. There is a reason for that which I will go into some time.

Clearly, the logical first step is to learn to know your mind. (Scary thought right there). It’s all good though, because as soon as you start watching your mind, you realise that you aren’t your mind – you are actually the one watching it. So who are you really? We will get to that another time as well.

The best way to learn to know your mind is to meditate. Mindfulness Meditation in particular because that teaches you to observe your thoughts without judgement. You don’t have to try to empty your mind of thoughts which is very, very difficult to do until you are Awakened in which case you have a silent mind. (Bring it on). I’m not going into how to do mindfulness meditation because it is so mainstream now there are phone apps you can download. Or Google it. I will do a mindfulness meditation post on my “how to” page shortly, but don’t wait til then. Start doing a 20 minute mindfulness meditation once or twice a day.

Another way to learn to know your mind is to Journal. Just write down whatever comes into your mind. You may be shocked at how random, ridiculous and flighty your mind is. That’s ok, you are normal. There is a “How to Journal” post already on my blog page under the “How To” menu.

The important thing – don’t take your thoughts too seriously. Watch them and laugh. The unquestioned mind is quite mad. We are all in the same boat, so don’t worry.

Be aware at any given moment in your life that you always have a choice about the thoughts you allow in your mind.Wayne Dwyer

The Attachment to Life

Of all the main spiritual traditions, Buddhism probably focuses the most on attachment.

Attachment is the central theme of the Four Noble Truths which lie at the heart of Buddhism.

  • Life is imbued with difficulties and suffering
  • The cause of suffering is attachment
  • Freedom from attachment brings freedom from suffering
  • Freedom from attachment and suffering can come from the Eight-Fold Path , which centres on ethics, wisdom and meditation.

I am not a Buddhist, however as a spiritual tradition, I feel it is possibly the most practical as it provides a clear understanding of the egoic mind (which is what stands between us and knowing ourselves as spiritual beings), and also gives very clear direction on how to get out of suffering. Isn’t that what we all want? – to not suffer and be happy?.

So, the Buddha says that the cause of suffering is attachment, and freedom from attachment brings freedom from suffering. Makes sense right? From my experiences, I have found this to be very true, and you have probably noticed that I constantly return to the notion that all suffering originates in the mind, and the way out of suffering is to not resist what is. This is just a different way of saying don’t hold on to ideas of what or how things should be so tightly that you resist what is happening right now. In other words, let go of attachments.

It sounds simple – but it’s not so easy to do.

Our mind loves attachments. It is a big part of its construct. We form attachments for things our minds have decided will bring us happiness. So far, so good. There is nothing wrong with seeking happiness – we all want that, and rightly so. The problem arises because the foundations of our attachments are mostly established when we are young and have little to no discernment about what is really going to bring us happiness. Adding to the problem, the attachments are often born out of our pain. Born out of need. That is never going to end well. We develop attachments not only to people and material things, but we also develop attachments to ways of thinking, beliefs and feelings.

The extreme form of attachment is addiction. A very painful state of uncontrollable need for something. Often causing severe suffering. I have an addiction to sugar. My sub conscious mind strongly associates it with being happy. I love it, and I eat it even knowing it is bad for me. I really struggle to stop. It has a power over me that seems stronger than my conscious will. That is an addiction.

Many attachments seem valid and worthy. For instance attachment to our spouse or children, our career, world peace. Others are not so innocuous – an attachment to being right, alcohol, drugs, unhealthy relationships, power, etc. All attachments will cause suffering however because if we lose whatever we are attached to we will be unhappy. Ranging from mildly unhappy to devastated depending on how much our mind believes we need that object/person to make us happy.

You may be getting annoyed at me and saying “of course I have an attachment to my husband or my children – what sort of mother or wife would I be without that attachment. Indeed. What sort of mother or wife would you be? One who was capable of loving your husband and your children with unconditional love.

You see, attachment creates conditions of the “must” variety.

  • you, child/spouse must stay with me for me to be happy
  • you, child/spouse must behave in a certain way for me to be happy
  • you must fit into my image of how you should be for me to be happy
  • if you die I cannot be happy
  • the world must be a certain way for me to be happy
  • everyone else must act in a certain way for me to be happy
  • if I lose my house, I cannot be happy
  • if I lose my car I cannot be happy
  • if I lose my looks I cannot be happy
  • the list is endless – so much potential for unhappiness…

To release ourselves from attachments allows us a deeper capacity to love without conditions. It allows us to accept life as it is without being devastated when things and people we love leave our lives. It allows us to live more fearlessly because we no longer fear loss. It allows us to accept change. So much more potential for happiness…

Living without attachment is not about not caring. On the contrary. When we know we don’t need something, we can let it go without suffering.

I am going to risk making myself very unpopular here and say that grief is an expression of attachment. I’m not talking about sadness or missing someone or something. I am talking about grief that is overwhelming and causes suffering. This sort of grief is grounded in attachment and need, and possibly un-supportive beliefs about life after death.

Our mind thinks it needs many things, so it forms attachments and desperately tries to hold onto them. Our soul knows we have everything we need and holds everything gently.

When our life is threatened by disease, the tendency is to tighten our grip, desperately holding onto it (life). Our mind’s greatest attachment is to physical life and this can bring us much suffering. In actual fact the best thing we can do is let go, surrender to what is, let our attachment to physical life at all costs go and surrender to the peace that follows. This does not mean curling up our toes and dying. Not at all. Done properly, it creates a greater space for healing to occur because fear has gone. It creates a larger space for loving and really living life because fear has gone and left a space that is filled instead with love and gratitude and awe.

Freedom from attachment brings freedom from suffering. The first step to freedom from attachment is developing an awareness of what we are attached to and examining our motives. Why do we think we need that person, thing? Can we come to a place of willingness to let it go? If not, why not? The best way to do this is to write down your thoughts as you ponder these questions.

The less attachments we have, the lighter we feel and the greater our capacity to love without conditions.

The Importance of Hope

Hope fell out of favour in medicine.

Physicians used to believe that the mind, body and spirit were equally important in healing from an illness, but over time a shift occurred in the teaching of medicine and the body became the domain of medicine, the mind the domain of psychology and the spirit the domain of religion.

Rene Descarte, a Polish philosopher in the 1600’s believed that the only way humanity could build up a body of scientific knowledge based on absolute certainty was to engage in analysis and reductionism – with God in the middle. This approach still drives science today, although God got lost somewhere along the way.

This focus on the parts rather than the whole absolutely had its place in the evolution of medicine, but while it has given us a greater depth in understanding the individual components of our bodies, it has very much created a medical model that can’t see the forest for the trees.

“The problem with this approach is that researchers cannot watch the whole body working in its entirety, let alone observe the impact of the sun, moon, food or our thoughts on the molecular processes under examination.” Cry for Health vol 1 by Jesse Sleeman.

When you are dealing with something like a broken leg, a wound needing stitching, acute trauma or a diagnosis, science is incredible. The problem becomes very evident however if you have a chronic illness like diabetes, cancer, MS etc. I will speak very specifically here in relation to cancer because that is what I am familiar with. Doctors are great with the diagnosis part and quick to direct you to the prescribed treatment, but they appear to have very little clue how you can support your body to heal.

This focus on reductionism and analysis has made for a medical system that is disease/illness focused. Not health/wellness focused. I think it is really important to understand this. (Hence the bold type). If you want to know how to keep your body healthy – don’t see your doctor.

So, you might ask, what has this to do with hope?

A lot.

You see, medical science tries to work only with absolutes. It ignores subjective human experience. It ignores the very essence of what it is to be human – our beliefs, thoughts, values, intentions, spirit, feelings. And these “intangibles” have a huge impact on our physiology – our body.

Hope is an intangible. You can’t see it, touch it, taste it. It’s very subjective, you can’t put it under a microscope and study it. But you can clearly see the effects of it. See the person who is without hope, and one who has hope, and the difference is obvious.

Oncologists in particular seem to have a fear of giving “false hope”. Now, the Webster dictionary definition of hope is “desire and expectation combined”. So, false desire to heal, and false expectation to heal. Really? Says who? Who has the right to tell me that my desire and expectation to heal is false? A medical system that ignores two of the three aspects of what it means to be human – mind and spirit? I think not.

The mind needs to believe in a future – it is part of its structure – and when it cannot imagine a future it struggles to cope. Depression, despair, hopelessness and lethargy can result and these feelings all release chemicals that have negative effects on the body. Now it is not just the body that is unwell, but the mind also. Not conducive to healing.

Hope gives a feeling of buoyancy, it is uplifting, encouraging and has a positive effect on the body. Conducive to healing. Conducive to making today an enjoyable experience. A valuable tool in the healing toolbox I would have thought.

Why take that away?

If someone has their affairs in order (And commonsense indicates that everyone should at any given moment), then what does it matter if they are in denial or insist on holding onto hope? I think I have mentioned it before, but it is worth mentioning again – an Oncologist can only recommend surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, drugs and immuno-therapy (the last at a pinch – I think it is still relatively experimental). Unless they are an Integrative Oncologist (good luck finding one of those near you), then this is pretty much the limit of their expertise. Their prognosis is based on statistics and their treatments. On a prediction of a mainly physical based progression of disease. But you know what? We are all unique. We all possess a mind and spirit and once these are consciously bought into the quest for healing, all bets are off. Anything can happen.

I want to make it clear – I am absolutely not dissing Mainstream Medicine, I have the utmost respect for it. However, I am pointing out it has limitations when it comes to supporting the body to heal. It focuses on only one aspect of the triune of humanness. The body. Nothing wrong with that, if it is clearly understood by everyone using their services and it isn’t thought they are the be all, end all of healing. The last word on the matter.

This is why we need to take responsibility for our own health and utilise all aspects of creating wellness – our mind, our body, our spirit.

Hope is important – Don’t let some-one make you feel ridiculous because you have hope. The future is all potential – it is not absolute.

Apparently, statistically I should have died a long time ago. Me and many others.

For extra hope read the following:

  • Radical Remission by Kelly A Turner Ph.d
  • Dying to be Me by Anita Moorjani
  • Proof of Heaven by Eban Alexander M.D

Love Life Like A Dog

This is Monty.

Monty is a dog. (No kidding)

Monty has taught me a lot about how to live life joyfully, lovingly and enthusiastically.

But before I tell you more about loving life like a dog, I want to share a story about Monty.

Monty was my partner Ian’s dog. He came into Ian’s life as an eight week old puppy, and they became inseparable. Where Ian went, Monty went. He was a “tradies” dog. His favourite place was on the back of the ute. It had to be on the drivers side, head out in the wind, jowls flapping, eyes squinting, glorying in the plethora of smells wafting in the wind.

He loved the building sites too. Monty believed that everyone loved him – because he loved everyone, and on the sites there were other people to pat and praise him and feed him a tasty morsel.

Monty was devoted to Ian. He loved other people and would go with anyone happily, but he really loved Ian.

As Ian got sicker, and wasn’t able to work as much, Monty was by his side. He even stayed in Ian’s room in palliative care (and scared the life out of a night nurse who hadn’t been forewarned that he was there).

If Ian was in hospital, and I went to visit him without Monty, when I got home, he would run past me to the car, and search to see if Ian was there. So I used to worry sometimes how Monty would be when Ian died, and if I would be able to cope with his grief as well as my own.

Ian died.

I was with him at the hospital when he died. My sons who were in their late teens had decided to go home to the farm, and they were there with Monty.

Ian died at 7.40pm and I arrived home at 10pm after washing his body to tell the boys their stepfather had died. They were very upset naturally, then my oldest son suddenly said to me “mum, what time did Ian die?”. When I told him it was about 7.40pm he looked at me and said “We were sitting in the lounge and around that time, Monty suddenly got up off his bed and stood wagging his tail and licking the air and staring at the wall. It was as though he could see something that we couldn’t, and I said to him Monty, has he (Ian) gone, and he was totally oblivious to me. After a minute he turned around, went back and laid down on his bed”.

From that moment on, Monty never looked for Ian. Didn’t mourn Ian. I believe he knew that Ian had died because Ian came and saw him to tell him.

We had a celebration of Ian’s life a week later at his favourite beach where he and Monty loved to go, and Monty came. During the celebration, he ran, and barked and played, joyfully living life even though the human that he had loved the most had just died. He was an inspiration to me and others there. He showed us that when we surrender to life and accept what IS, with no thought of “why did this happen to me?”, “it shouldn’t be this way”, then we can continue to live joyfully even in the face of great loss.

Always, always it is our mind that causes our suffering.

Next month it is five years since Ian died, Monty is now almost 13 years old and still full of life and love and happiness.

There are other things that my dogs have taught me:

Enjoy the simple pleasures in life – the soft bed, the warm sun, freedom to run, the wonderful scents in the air, a loving touch, a back scratch, meeting new people, the beach, the bush, rolling on soft grass, a walk, food, attention, snuggles, the delight of a loved one returning home….

There is one more lesson I want to share… have you noticed how your dog greets you with joyful affection and excitement every time they see you again after an absence (it may only have been an hour)? Dogs have the capacity to meet you anew in every moment. As humans, we can’t seem to do that. Each time we meet our partner, children, friends, we don’t meet them as the person they are in that moment. We bring into that meeting all the accumulated past experiences with that person, good and bad and our preconceived idea of who they are and this affects our interaction. Sometimes badly.

Everything changes. Nothing stays the same. The person you married 15 years ago is not the same person walking beside you today. They have changed, you have changed, the world has changed, and yet so often we don’t notice because we have locked into our mind a belief about who and what they are.

The past is gone.

It is now only a memory.

A thought.

Let it go.

There is only Now. … each moment is new and filled with potential. Greet it joyfully.

You are alive.

Love life like a dog, Joyfully, passionately, lovingly. (And life will love you, joyfully, passionately, lovingly).