When it comes to healing and health, the relationship between our mind and body holds a promising potential. Although scientific research is ongoing to determine the best employment of this relationship and its mechanism, ancient cultures have long utilized its healing potential through rituals, prayers and many healing practices. This is not to say that we should resort to these practices or adopt their view, far from it, but imagine for a moment what would it mean if we could use this healing potential at will. Imagine that we could intervene and possibly even stop illness at its track. Well, this is a wonderful vision but we are not there yet. Nevertheless, we all are equipped with the ability to pay attention to that which takes place within us, thoughts, sensations and feelings. Our thoughts, sensations and feelings provide accurate feedback from our mind and body. Some of the most common feedback we may pay attention to (and ignore) is headaches, nausea, fatigue, insomnia etc’. The consequence of ignoring this feedback is poor health. Acknowledging this feedback and not just numbing it with medication or other numbing substances will be “health promoting” rather than “health damaging”. Here are some ideas about how to tune-in and tap onto the flow of information your mind-body provides. How to Activate Your Healing Potential to Fight Cancer Follow the process below and practice it whenever you can, either when you wake-up, on your lunch break or just before you go to bed. In your mind’s eye, simply ask: • How am I feeling right now? • Listen to the most dominant or loud emotion/physical sensation. • If the answer is “I feel good” or the sensation in your body is of comfort, acknowledge it and thank your mind-body for taking such good care of you. • If a negative emotion arises, or you feel stressed, afraid or notice any physical discomfort, ask yourself what is this pain/stress/emotion is trying to tell you? • Once again, listen, sense or feel the answer. • Then ask yourself, what steps need I take to resolve this pain/stress/emotion? • Resolve to follow through. • Check in with yourself on a regular basis to make sure your attending to your needs. This process should take about 15 minutes (for more advanced method visit Immersive Healing). Tuning-in doesn’t mean belly gazing or soul searching; it means you are checking-in with yourself, emotionally and mentally for greater clarity of your experience. Different people may get the answers to their questions in different ways. As humans use our senses to process information i.e. Visual (images), Auditory (sounds), Kinesthetic (touch and internal feelings), Gustatory (tastes) and Olfactory (smells). If you are an auditory person it is likely that you would “hear” the message in your own inner-voice. If you were a person using the visual system it is likely that you would “see” the answer in your own mind’s eye, and so on. Pay attention to what takes place inside of you. Once you know how, honor, acknowledge and practice it.
About Avinoam Lerner
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In the context of cancer and healing from cancer, people seek Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) usually as a last resort. Some seek CAM treatments because their conventional treatment failed to produce desired change. Others may choose CAM because of the prospect of treatment side effects. A report from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) stated that about 38 percent of U.S. adults and about 12 percent of children are using some form of alternative medicine. Here are the three pro’s people acknowledge: 1. Holistic Approach. One of the main draws for alternative medicine is its holistic approach which means treating the whole person. People are cared for on all levels, mentally, emotionally and physically. 2. One-on-One. Another draw for alternative medicine is the nurturing relationship between practitioner and client. Because the emphasis is on treating the whole person, practitioners tend to offer clients longer visits and more personal attention. 3. Ownership of the healing process. Clients get to feel more in control of their own healing process. Taking responsibility for one state of mind allow clients to become an active participant rather than a passive receiver. Many clients often report that this factor is the main reason for their choice of alternative treatments. In this era of free internet information, people are smarter and more educated about their treatment choices. Despite of limited scientific research and even some potential risks, more and more people choose to integrate CAM into their treatment plan. My recommendation is to suggest to your support team, both the MD as well as the CAM practitioner to converse. After all, they are getting paid to support you and make sure you get the best treatment possible. In my practice in Brookline, MA this approach has shown to benefit clients the most. Your health is in your hands. Do the research and learn about the facts behind the treatment offered so you can have some peace of mind. Let me know if you can think of more pros to using CAM while healing from cancer?
Undergoing Cancer treatment is stressful and at times debilitating. It’s common to experience fear, confusion, sadness and even helplessness as we consider which treatment plan is appropriate for us. These powerful emotions in and of themselves need be addressed and managed separately from the cancer, so that the body can utilize its healing mechanism and ensure the immune system function at optimal level. Stress Management Action Plan 1. Interrupt your mind. If your body tense up and emotions rise to the surface, take control of the situation by taking a long deep breath. A deep breath forces the mind to focus on physical sensations thus interrupting the aggravating thought process. 2. Express yourself in the right time and place. This option might be in your best interest if the situation allows it. Share your feelings with those who value and love you. Thought are scarier in the realm of the mind, put them down on paper or find another creative way to express the way you feel. 3. Release and let go (or forgive). As a general rule we say things to ourselves and do things to ourselves that we would have not allowed anyone else to say or do. In that respect we may intentionally or unintentionally blame ourselves for our illness. The pattern of self blame and guilt breed more emotional suffering and negatively impact our health. The remedy is forgiveness. Forgiveness is not condoning but understanding that you have done the best with what you knew at that time. When you know better you do better. The negative impact of stress on our lives is well documented. Especially in the context of healing from Cancer or any other illness is it vital that we take responsibility for our state of mind and state of heart. The foundation of stress management is a balanced mind and a healthy lifestyle. Using the above strategies, you too can enjoy a calmer mind and body. With that in mind, some people find it easier to relax and let go when working with written material or listening to a guided process such as guided meditation or self hypnosis audio. If this seems more appropriate for you, try any of our wellness programs. Each is geared toward a specific goal i.e. total relaxation or blissful night sleep.
From the day we were born it was our body’s immune system that healed us. It healed our cuts and bruises, grew new skin when we got burn and even mended a broken leg (if we needed one). Still scientists believe that it is unfounded and far reaching to assume we have the ability to activate this innate healing capacity at will, or that we can use this ability to heal from illness such as cancer. Even in face of ever growing body of data describing spontaneous remission such as in (O’Regan et al. 1993) most scientists continue to dismiss the notion of miraculous healing or spontaneous remission as anecdotal stories. What is it about the natural ability of the body to heal itself that is threatening to the medical profession? How come a powerful and positive event such as spontaneous remission is perceived as a folk story and easily dismissed? I’m not a scientist and therefore can’t answer those questions objectively. However, if I was a scientist, my inquisitive mind would want to know how those who were able to heal themselves or those who have experienced spontaneous remission did it? Wouldn’t you? Cancer, Hope and False Hope In recent conversations with some medical practitioners, the issue of false hope came up again and again. They spoke of the danger in providing people with cancer hope in terms of a treatment outcome guarantee. To issue a guarantee that one would heal his/her cancer if they do as you say, is not only unethical but it also leads the patient away from other treatments which may be of help to them. False hope in that respect exists only in the form of false guarantee. But hope is a powerful emotion, one which has shown in research to boost immune response. For me the question still remains how can we harness the body’s innate capacity to heal and how can we enhance its power? As people we need hope to take actions and in the context of healing from illness that means taking better care of ourselves emotionally, physically and mentally. Telling someone they may not overcome their illness is just another form of wrong doing, it is false hopelessness. If the pessimistic approach does harm and the optimistic approach does harm, we are left only with the realistic approach. This means focus more on the unlimited potential of the human body to heal and less on the statistics. We are more than just our body, wouldn’t you agree?
In my ideal world the two words, Healer and Scientist, describe the same person. Currently, though, they describe two worlds apart. It is rare that to find these two cooperate in any fashion, even though this cooperation will certainly benefit the patients. Nevertheless, on this very special (and cold) day in Boston MA it happened. The healer and the scientist came together in an event held by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center called Celebration of Life. Despite of the bitter weather, this was a heartwarming and embracing event. Many cancer survivors as well as those who are currently in treatment arrived with their families to share, learn and celebrate the human spirit. Scientists as well as healers gathered around the same table at Harvard Medical School in Boston to share their knowledge and discuss the future of cancer care. For me it was a welcomed revelation that there is an open mind and a dialog between these two worlds. This event was just another step in the right direction, I recognize that and I know we have a long way to go before sincere and professional cooperation can take place. Still, this meeting was a clear statement that this vision is closer than I thought it was. Can you imagine going into surgery and your surgeon asks you to breathe deeply, set intention for healing of your body and using hypnosis to prepare you for the surgery? What if this helped boosting your recovery rate and increases your ability to heal? We already have different complimentary practices offered in the hospitals; Reiki, Acupuncture and massage are the generic ones. Some insurance companies have stepped up and offer a degree of reimbursement and that’s very promising. My personal believe is that the recognition in the value of Complimentary Alternative Medicine such as Hypnosis for Cancer is not a passing trend. I look forward to the near future where the healer and the scientist work together to improve one’s quality of life. Have you used CAM modalities while undergoing medical treatment?
THURSDAY, May 12 (HealthDay News) — Mind-body therapies such as yoga, meditation and deep-breathing exercises appear to be gaining more acceptance in mainstream medicine, according to a new study. Mind-body therapy is used by more than one-third of Americans, and that number is rising, the researchers noted. They found that one in 30 Americans using some type of mind-body therapy was referred to the treatment by a medical provider. “There’s good evidence to support using mind-body therapies clinically,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Aditi Nerurkar, an integrative medicine fellow at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, said in a news release from Beth Israel. “Still, we didn’t expect to see provider referral rates that were quite so high.” Nerurkar and her colleagues analyzed data from more than 23,000 households that took part in the 2007 U.S. National Health Interview Survey. Nearly 3 percent of the people in those households, or about 6.3 million people, used mind-body therapies after referral by a mainstream medical provider, the study found. These people tended to be sicker and used the health-care system more than people who started using the therapies without a referral. What We Have Learned “What we learned suggests that providers are referring their patients for mind-body therapies as a last resort once conventional therapeutic options have failed,” Nerurkar said. “It makes us wonder whether referring patients for these therapies earlier in the treatment process could lead to less use of the health-care system and, possibly, better outcomes for these patients.” The study is published in the May 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. “These data suggest that mind-body therapies have really become a mainstream approach to care,” Dr. Russell Phillips, chief of primary care at Beth Israel and the study’s senior author, said in the news release. “But more research is needed to guide physician and patient decision-making regarding their use.” More information The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about mind-body therapy. SOURCE: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, news release, May 9, 2011 Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
The notion that illness benefits us in any way may not seat well with you. It might even offend you that I’m using these words illness and benefits in the same sentence, if so I apologies in advance but suggest you keep on reading just in case it does make sense. The Power of Secondary Gains in Illness In psychology the term Secondary Gains, describes “any advantage, as increased attention, disability benefits, or release from unpleasant responsibilities, obtained as a result of having an illness” ~ Dictionary.com In medicine, a secondary gain is described as a significant psychological motivator in reporting symptoms. The phenomenon of secondary gains is well documented in professional literature. It’s a cause and effect pattern which we may have learned in early childhood when illness was often a time for emotional compensation, a time where we got as much attention as we needed. Working with clients over many years with Immersive Healing I was privileged to witness and I am able to describe a wide spectrum of Secondary Gains (SG) and how they relate to a person’s particular challenges, yet there are some common SG at work. Examples of Common Secondary Gains A common SG will be to avoid chores, work and responsibilities. Another common and more personal use of secondary gains is to use illness (head ache etc’) as excuse to not engage in arguments or personal conflict or even make a decision. Another dominant secondary gain to illness is the fact that for some, something has to be wrong in life in order to feel important and lovable. This is may be common, but it is difficult to assess about ourselves, and even harder to admit. Have you ever considered that you may be using your illness, limiting condition or situation to either hold on to someone, or that you use your illness as a way to push people away, make yourself so unattractive that no one will get close to you? Now this may not apply to you but this is a real example from the lives of real clients. All of the above are powerful examples of hidden aspects and secondary gains which may promote the state of mind in which illness can thrive. Secondary gains do not imply that the illness or the symptoms are unreal or unimportant. To the contrary! They tell us that there is more to the illness than meets the eye, the stethoscope and the x-ray. If you can think of other secondary gains I did not mentions, please share with me?
We keep hearing about the importance of the power of positive thinking. Books and magazines, new-age experts and mental health professional all praise the benefits of positive thinking as if it’s the magic cure we all hoped for. Even motivational gurus tell us that being positive is essential to our success and happiness and still, danger lurks in the mind that focuses only on the positive in the form of denial. The Danger in Positive-Thinking A positive attitude can add healthy happy years to our lives and is considered to be the key to happiness. This happiness help cancer patients boost their immune system and therefore support healing. However, there is a great difference between manufacturing positive thoughts by denying all else and seeing things as they are. By denying reality we delay our healing. Taking a realistic approach and still choosing to focus on that which is well and valuable, that which promote a feel-good state of mind will strengthen your resolve to heal and support your journey toward health. In my perspective, the positive-thinking-theory took a wrong turn when promoted itself as a substitute to the realistic approach. That wrong turn stripped its healing value and began broadcasting the message of false hope. Riding the Emotional Roller-Coaster of Illness When illness strike and we are riding the emotional roller-coaster it’s very tempting to deny the shock, the fear and the uncertainty we fill. It seems that as long as we don’t look at that which is wrong we won’t have to face it and therefore it will not affect us. That plan however, is set for failure right from the beginning. It will fail because it takes effort to deny our true feelings and experience. Based on the concept that “what we resist persist” we only suspend the eruption of our emotional volcano. This eruption of emotions, if not exhausted beforehand, will take place within us and only serve to suppress our immune system even more which means allowing illness to progress. Since the path of healing is aligned with the path of truth, evaluate your thoughts on a regular basis. Make sure to see things as they are, and allow yourself to express the rising emotions regardless of their quality i.e. negative or positive. As you see the big picture, the bad and the good, choose to focus on that which uplift you and makes you feel hopeful. Share with us your view of positive thinking?
One of the most prominent affects we experience when faced with cancer is change in identity, the way we view ourselves. Although change in identity is seen more as an outcome of illness, it may also be a “motivator” for the development of illness. If this last statement makes you want to terminate this post, please keep on reading and let me explain. Illness & Change in Identity To explore if change in identity is a hidden aspect, a contributor or motivator for the development of illness consider the common changes described below. If anyone of these descriptions resonates with you, then you will know which of these aspects is holding you back from recovery and which one you need heal. The obvious change happens as we begin to identify ourselves as sick rather than healthy. When this takes place, the focus of our thoughts shift from future oriented (our goals and dreams) to the present moment (healing and coping). Our ability to earn money and provide for our family is also a big change. This is a side effect to our inability to maintain our routine, when we can no longer work. Then we shift from being a person who earns money to a depended one, from a productive person to a disabled one and from a contributing person to one who is in need of care. As if the above changes are not enough, it is the nature of illness that make one feel more isolated than ever before. Healthy people have the freedom to be spontaneous and therefore do not feel trapped; those struggling with illness often will feel trapped. You Did Not Wish to Be with Cancer I have never met anyone who wished to be sick with cancer or any other illness for that matter. But I often do hear about those who’ve healed from it and how they now view their illness. Those who’ve healed claim their illness was a blessing in disguise, and that the changes in their identity were necessary. They now realized their illness, challenging as it may have been, was not without benefits. Many report they were forced to grow as people, on a personal level as well as spiritual level, and that this growth helped them live healthier and more meaningful life. Discovering what brought illness into your life does not necessarily guarantee that you will overcome your physical predicament. It does however mean you will be moving more rapidly toward a state where healing of your condition is possible. If you do however discover change is a hidden aspect for your condition, embrace this insight and resolve to set forth an action plan. What you can do right now is to listen to the conditions illness created within your body. Doing so, you can find out more about your personal internal needs i.e. mental, emotional, physical or spiritual needs.
Today’s posting was inspired by a comment from one of my colleagues in respect to our discussion about the shock and fear one experience when diagnosed with cancer. My colleague said that talking to his “fear” as if a different and separate entity was very helpful and made him feel better. According to him, disassociating himself from his feelings in this way granted him clarity, freedom and sense of control. Have You Talked to Your Fear Lately? Talking to your fear in this way may sound odd to you but many of my clients have benefited from doing even long before their treatment. I highly recommend this approach because so many have found it to be effective as well as freeing and rewarding. This approach is helpful whenever you’re struggling with fear, whether you are facing cancer or not. Now this is not breaking-news, after all we all talk to ourselves either in thoughts or out loud in front of the mirror, but this is a whole different level of discussion, a more serious one because fear is often debilitating. If talking to your fear makes sense to you, and it’s something you wish to do, keep on reading and find out how. This can be done in one of two ways, first in the physical sense of placing another chair in front of you (where your fear can sit) or secondly in your mind’s eye by simply imagining the scenario. Here is how to start your conversation with your fear: As described in my book The New Cancer Paradigm I found it helpful to actually take two chairs and place them face to face, about six feet apart. If you rather visualize the scenario simply imagine, see in your mind’s eye, visualize if you will that you are entering a room where these two chairs are facing one another. Once this is done, place yourself in the first chair (physically or in your mind’s eye) and invite your fear to sit in the other chair. This means that you allow your fear to present itself in any shape, form, color, texture, sound or any other characteristic that make sense to you. It’s helpful to remember that some people are more visual than others and therefore may “see” an image rather than “hear” a sound or get a feeling toward their fear. Once you “see” or “hear” or “sense/feel” your fear, ask it what it is that you need to learn or know? And then listen inward or tune in to what we call our automatic thoughts. Please be patient if you never done this before. Automatic thoughts are those thoughts that just pop up in the back of our mind, they are not a conscious thought-process but rather a though-chatter originating in the subconscious mind in respect to what we consciously think. This is a great tool to get in touch with our fear or any other inner experience which threatens our peace of mind. Please share with us some of your insights about your fear?
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About Avinoam Lerner
Avinoam Lerner is a Practitioner in the Field of Complementary Medicine specializing in Cancer Wellness & Recovery. Author of The New Cancer Paradigm.
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