Everyone has bad days where everything around seems dark and negative, but when dealing with cancer, associated treatments and their side effects, we can’t really afford the luxury of these negative experiences. When our guard is down, we run the risk of illness impressing our minds with poor self image. Because no one ever wished for cancer, it’s common to feel self-pity in the form of “why me” type of thoughts and feel the “need” to punish ourselves in one way or another. You may have heard the saying “As a man thniketh so he is”. What this means is that what we focus our mind on tends to manifest and influence our life. It’s therefore vital that we’ll keep our mind focused (to the extant it’s possible) on those aspects of ourselves which we like and appreciate. And yes, we all have something that works well or that is balanced even in the most difficult of times. Your Life Needs a Hero As kids we often dreamed of heroes, we met them in our books, television shows and movies. A hero was usually someone we looked up to and admire for either skill or character. Unfortunately it was also suggested that in order to be a hero one must pay a price. My perspective on the last statement is that although the idea of being a hero is noble and associated with wealth and fame, for the most part, we don’t want to pay the price or be in the lime light. What if however, irrespective of whether or not you really want to be a hero, a person who can overcome great obstacles and challenges, you are forced to? What then? In the context of illness and cancer especially, it seems that if life chose you for that part, there’s only one thing you can do and that is to show-up and step-up. As you get into character, keep in mind the following: Remember that your thoughts create your feelings, and your feelings are the motive for your actions, and our actions determine the results you get. Therefore, rehearsing the “why me” thoughts frequently reinforces the “victim” attitude which make you feel sad and angry. Feeling sad and angry often result in a hostile behavior which tends to alienates those who wish to support and love you. Also remember that your feelings (emotions) have a direct impact on your body (the mind-body connection). Negative feelings have shown to weaken the immune-system, cause stress and fatigue. A hero in this case will be a person who is both able to see things as they truly are and still choose to focus on that which is well and balanced in his/her life. We cannot choose what will happen TO us, but we can choose what happens IN us. What do you do to keep your mind balanced, strong and positive?
About Avinoam Lerner
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Entries by Avinoam Lerner
When we allow circumstances and events to define who we are, what we can and cannot do, we are literally “trading our heroes for ghosts” as the Pink Floyd song “How I wish You Were Here” state so beautifully. This trade is devastating to our self-image and suggests we are helpless and hopeless. These two emotions proved in research to suppress our immune system and therefore lower the body’s ability to defend itself against disease agents. Although this trade takes place for the most part unintentionally and only if we have an already existing limiting or negative self-image, it doesn’t mean it’s without the power to affect our health. The important question here than is what we can do to stop this harmful trade and strengthen ourselves mentally, emotionally and physically. The aim of this post is to: first, explain why our self-limiting beliefs and negative perception which make this trade possible in the first place, may no longer be relevant or appropriate. Secondly, to reveal what we must do in order to resolve negative perception and limiting beliefs and therefore their meaning or effect in our lives. As mentioned in my book The New Cancer Paradigm, these limiting negative perceptions may no longer be relevant. This statement is based in the knowledge that much if not all of what we know about the world and who we, was learned at a very young age. It’s clear that as kids our mental, emotional and even spiritual capacity to process information or see things in their true perspective was very limited. As adults, reviewing these same events or conditions which have impressed upon us negative perception or limiting-beliefs, we will inevitably come to a different decision about their meaning in our lives. This change in meaning therefore dissolves the need to trade them for they are no longer negative or painful. Cancer Patients Three Part Action Plan to Eliminate Negative Beliefs Here is your three part action plan to avoid this common mind-trap our physical reality set before us: • Be vigilant • Challenge the evidence • Adjust your perspective Be Vigilant – When a negative self-image comes to mind, or when you feel that your illness define who you are it is because you have allowed an external aspect of your life to be more than it actually is. Nothing outside of you defines who you are. Challenge the evidence – In your mind’s eye review those thoughts supporting the way you feel carefully. (Most likely you’ll find they were formed in early childhood). Then, bring to mind current evidence from your life that does not support those limiting or negative perceptions. Adjust your perspective – When done correctly you will notice a gap between the early childhood perception and the current adult one. This is good news because it means your negative self-perception is not based on fact but interpretation. This insight means you are free. Free to simply let go of the old and identify with the new, with who you are today. When done correctly, this new found freedom will help you stop this harmful trade and strengthen your ability to face the challenges of your illness better. If you found this exercise to be helpful, please let me know?
Some people have the power to inspire us and emerge as heroes even when all hope is lost. I often wondered if these powers exist within all of us, and what is it that galvanizes them. A client said to me “bad things happens only to good people”, referencing to his stage three colon cancer. There was little that I could say right there and then to convince him otherwise but I did offer him a quote by Dennis Wholey, who wrote “Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting a bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.” Few days later we spoke and he mentioned that this seemingly humors quote transformed his outlook and helped him realize he is far from being a victim. For me, this client is a hero, a person of courage and strength, one which faces that which he fears most, feeling helpless and hopeless. In a following session he said, “I just refuse to let my fear of dying run my life anymore, if it’s my time to go I’ll do so fighting for my life”. Once again, the hero emerged, strong and powerful, no longer helpless. He chose to see his physical symptoms such as fatigue and discomfort as part of the natural world, part of the eternal cycle of life, in all of its terrible beauty and this takes great courage. For some, being diagnosed with cancer serve only to magnify or reinforce an already existing negative self-image. But when we take the time to re-examine some of the so called “evidence” supporting our negative view of self, we will recognize that our perception is outdated and limited. We will come to realize that we gathered these “facts” in the early years of our lives and therefore may no longer be relevant. This is an exciting revelation which has the power to set you free and help you resurrect the true you, the hero, the healthy, the part of you that is larger than life itself and has the potential to overcome any challenge be it emotional, mental and yes, even physical. Tell us about the hero within you?
From a spiritual perspective the state of disease is seen as the ultimate act of separation from the source, the source of life and well-being. If true, than by restoring our connection to that part of ourselves which is whole and healed, we restore our body’s health and overcome illness. This may be easier said than done because most people have little or no awareness at all to that part of us that is whole and healed, let alone the knowledge of how to restore that connection to source. I stumbled upon this wonderful quote by Sarah Ban Breathnach who points us in the right direction. She wrote: “The authentic-self is the soul made visible”. This quote wonderfully reveals the character of that part which is healed and whole within and suggests the authentic-self as the bridge between the spirit (intangible) and our experience (tangible). But what is the authentic self, why is it so difficult for us to grasp it, and how can it help us heal? The authentic self is the sum of our values, beliefs and perceptions. It is our inner compass or inner guidance system, which makes it possible for us to stay true to who we are as we meet life’s challenges. If you ever observed a baby or a child playing or expressing themselves, they don’t hold back. Kids are by nature completely authentic. Though we started our lives being completely authentic, as we grew up and met social and family dynamics head on, we changed and morphed. For the most part, as adults we are accustomed to wearing different masks and costumes, some that serve us very well while many don’t. This essentially is what makes is so hard for us to remember what it felt like being truly authentic and reconnect with that part. Nevertheless, rediscovering and reconnecting with our authentic-self, is certainly worth our effort. There are many benefits to doing so on all levels of our experience especially from the perspective of our health and well-being. Generally speaking, people who remain true to their inner values and live in alignment with their moral codes tend to be healthier. These people seem happier, less concerned with the harsh aspects of reality or other external stressors and therefore less vulnerable or affected by them emotionally, mentally and physically. Want to live more authentically? Here is your action plan to rediscover and reconnect with your authentic-self: Step # 1: Identify your core values and evaluate which changes need you make in order to fit them in your life. For example, if one of your core values is honesty, communicating with those around you in an honest way will make you feel better and increase your self-esteem. Step #2: Bring to mind some of your childhood dreams, goals or people who’ve inspired you. Write them down and evaluate which of these goals and dreams made you feel most excited or happier? Which qualities or personality traits you admired the most about those people who’ve inspired you? Step #3: Consider what is standing in your way and how you might overcome those barriers, so that you can live more authentically. Please share your experience with this exercise?
The interconnectedness of our body and Mind still baffles researchers. Despite decades of effort, it’s 2013 and we still have more questions than answers. True, studies repeatedly show a promising potential of this phenomenon, especially when it comes to our health but we know very little about how to employ this relationship and its mechanism to our advantage. If we could only learn how to tune-in and read the accurate feedback our minds and bodies provide, we would be able to anticipate, intervene and even stop illness at its track. Unfortunately, we are not there yet and may never get an absolute clear cut answer or protocol we are hoping for. I for one believe we need not wait for a scientific confirmation so we can tap into our own experience. We all are equipped with the ability to pay attention to what is taking place within us, our own thoughts, sensations and feelings. An example of some of the most common messages we may “hear” (and ignore) are headaches, nausea, fatigue, insomnia etc’. The outcome of acknowledging these messages and not just numbing them with medication or other numbing substances will be “health promoting” rather than “health limiting”. How to Tune Into Your Own Experience Here are some ideas about how to tune-in and tap onto the flow of information your mind-body provide. 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. When you have the time, close your eyes, take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Now ask yourself… • 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. 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.
A growing body of evidence suggests that we have within us valuable resources to heal. After all, when the body suffers a cut or a bruise and even a burn, it heals and when we catch a cold or any other virus we usually overcome it, right? From published scientific literature we learn that the question is not whether we have this innate healing capacity or not but rather how can we harness this healing mechanism to heal even the most advanced illnesses such as chronic conditions and even cancer? It may seem foolish to compare a simple passing cold or a bruise to aggressive and advanced cancer, but to the body illness is illness; it uses the same healing mechanism to fight this disease or the other. This is good news because it means we have a say and we can participate and intervene in our own healing process. The Scientific Study of Psychoneuroimmunology and Cancer The answer is within, where it has always been. Findings in Psychoneuroimmunology or PNI for short, which is a science dedicated to researching the relationship between our mind and the nervous and immune system validates the ability of our mind to intervene with the immune system via the Central Nervous System. This points us in a very exciting direction because it means we can use the mind’s language i.e. imagery and thoughts to perk-up and boost our immune system. Finally we have the proof that healing starts within. By thinking thoughts that are joyful and positive in nature and creating mental images of ourselves healthy, happy and full of life we support our health. This is an exciting message because we all have the ability to think and imagine, even if we were conditioned to believe we are not good enough, smart enough or anything enough. The ABC of Guided Imagery for Cancer So how do we connect with that part of ourselves that is whole and healed: the healer within? Here are a couple of ways to do it right. The power of imagery: a) Create images in your mind’s eye that represents health and well-being. b) Visualize yourself doing things that make you feel good and positive. c) Imagine your condition/illness as a separate entity, with its own shape, color, sound or texture melting, dissolving, clearing, healing, fading etc’. Self-talk. Your Body Believes What Your Mind is Saying Pay attention to your mind’s chatter. If your inner dialog is negative or full of doubt and criticism resolve to change it. Changing your self-talk is a process and may require some learning of how to formulate better and more appropriate sentences or affirmations. Hopefully now that you understand the purpose and necessity of such change it may be easier to remain on track and focused. After all, your health depends on it. Paying attention to your thoughts, expressing your desire to heal and nourishing your experience with healthy and positive mental images, feelings and emotions you access and harness your body’s innate healing capacity, you awake the healer within. Please share how it felt to get in touch with you?
Can a non medical therapy like Immersive Healing and Hypnosis for Cancer benefit cancer patients? see this short video. Immersive-Healing, which utilizes hypnosis for cancer as it’s therapeutic vehicle, is an advanced mind-body model designed to resolve, cleanse and heal harmful mental patterns and psychological factor which may suppress the body’s natural defense system i.e. the immune system and leave the body vulnerable to cancer. If you or someone you know benefited from a non medical immunotherapeutic therapy, please share?
According to a study by Professor Ronit Peled, at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, happiness and optimism may play a role against breast cancer while adverse life events can increase the risk of developing the disease. An article on the study titled “Breast Cancer, Psychological Distress and Life Events among Young Women,” was published in the British journal BMC Cancer (8:245, August 2008). While there’s no scientific consensus the above research or any other research suggesting emotions or psychological factors play a role in the development of cancer, there isn’t a scientific proof that they don’t. Personally I feel we should be cautious about being overly optimistic because I have seen people use it as a blanket of denial. People who are optimistic tend to hold the “look at the bright side of things” or “focus only on the positive,” kind of attitude. I prefer a more realistic approach where one sees things as they are; the good and the bad and still choose to extract the good, the lesson the value from the experience. Working with people over a period of time put me in a privileged position where I can witness their progress. One client who was doing very well stated it is her awareness of her inner strength which helped her develop a greater appreciation to life. She never realized how resourceful and strong she was before illness forced her to look into the mirror. These days she celebrate her new found realization by spending more time engaging in meaningful relationships and purpose driven activities. In her words, “It all boils down to this: Give yourself permission to feel good and make a conscious decision that you want to be alive and you want to feel good in your life.” Deciding to feel good builds new self-supporting beliefs inside of you. Those new beliefs state, “I exist, I can have what I want, I am supported, I’m good enough, and it is important for me to feel good.” But is it that simple, choosing to feel good? What do you think? Tell us what needs to happen in order for you to give yourself permission to feel good?
Happiness comes deep from within us. It is a practice in which we have to be actively involved, not expecting it will come to us by some divine intervention. This is actually good news…it means we can bring about our happiness, regardless of circumstances even when facing cancer. 3 Steps to Happiness During Cancer Treatment Now happiness may not be an anti-cancer solution, but it is a practical and effective way for you to support your well being and even enhance your recovery from cancer. The question I hear often is how? How can I be happy when cancer has taken over my thoughts, my body and my life? I don’t pretend to have all the answers. What I do know to be effective comes from seeing what works for my clients and this is the purpose of this post, to share with you this knowledge so you will know what to do when fear and despair have darkened your day. Here are three essential elements for happiness. Adopt these three behaviors, and find a little bit of joy every day. 1. Stop comparing yourself to others. Many of us are in the habit of regularly evaluating ourselves against others. We do so because it helps us make sense of the world. However, there are costly side-effects to a judgmental mind which serve only to reinforce negative perceptions and even damage our health. Do not compare yourself with others, whether you are healthy or not. You never know what you are really comparing as you don’t know everything in someone’s heart, mind and body. You may be comparing their strengths with your weaknesses. Action Step: Make a list of things or peoples you are fortunate to have in your life. Bring to mind people you have touched or impacted in a positive way. If you can’t resist your mind’s habit of comparing yourself, instead of using others as your yard stick, evaluate yourself in terms of your own growth. 2. Spend time in Gratitude. According to Wikipedia, gratitude is a “positive emotion or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive.” When illness colors our lives with gloom and self-pity, gratitude is an oasis for the spirit. Focus on the good; celebrate your achievements by regularly reviewing what went well in your life instead of thinking only about problems or setbacks. Action Step: Count your blessings, remind yourself of your strengths, your values, those things for which you are loved; Read that list every night before you go to bed. Find something daily for which you are grateful. You can always find something!
For most people, happiness is a value they aspire toward though only a handful can truly claim they have attained it. But notice that searching for happiness and being happy are two different things, one is future oriented while the other is more of an awareness to all that is in the present. In the context of illness and health, happiness plays a major role. Since my belief is that emotions are road signs which point us in the right direction, happiness is a very clear arrow pointing straight ahead; toward a better and healthier state of mind. So what does happiness has to do with healing? First of all, it feels good when we are happy, and feel-good state of mind correlate with certain health promoting chemicals production. These hormones and chemicals are dispersed through the blood stream to nourish, strengthen and heal that part which is currently vulnerable with cancer. Secondly, happiness actually represents a state of health, spiritual health that is. Since happiness is a level of awareness, the question is awareness to what? Several mystical sources, mainly the Jewish Kabalah, consider happiness as an indicator that the soul is in alignment with its divine purpose. What this means is that the soul, you, is exactly where it needs to be, doing exactly what it need be doing and in the right time. This presents a challenging paradox where even in the direst of circumstances, such as life threatening cancer, one can feel pure joy and happiness if the alignment is in place. Healing is an outcome, much like happiness, and stem from the same alignment described above. Please comment below and tell me and the community how you find happiness?
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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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