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?
About Avinoam Lerner
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Entries by Avinoam Lerner
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?
When most of us think of happiness, we think of all that is good and joyful in our lives. However, in the context of illness, happiness may seem like a foreign concept. Surely, “happiness” won’t be the first word that comes to mind, right? Consider the age old question “Do You Want to Be Happy or Do You Want to Be Right?” This is not a trick question. Think about it for a moment and choose your answer? What does your instinct tell you? Most people’s very logical response is, well, “Can’t I be both?” In most cases my answer will be No. This is because each answer – Right or Happy – represent a contradicting state of mind; one is of the Ego and the other is of the Soul or Spirit. I am not suggesting there is anything happy about illness in general and cancer in particular. But could we possibly be happy during this period of time? The unequivocal answer is YES WE CAN and here are some tips to help you choose: Four Points to Remember 1. Happiness is an outcome, a byproduct of the awareness of seeing more than the present moment of discomfort offers. Happiness does not depend on external things, things of material nature or even other people. It’s an inside job. A decision to focus on the good despite the awareness of the bad. 2. Find happiness in recognizing your sovereignty over your mind. Owning your state of mind, and taking responsibility for what you choose to hold in your mind is your birth right. This means you have that capacity, it’s part of how your brain wired. 3. If your happiness depends on whom you are with, or what someone else had to say to you, you set yourself up for disappointment. Lifelong disappointment. No one will ever do exactly as you wish and say the right words to satisfy you. Instead, look for happiness in the relationships you have, the positive aspects of every loving relationship or person and find gratitude in their love. 4. Contrary to what some people think, happiness during illness does not mean you are in denial. Yes, you are right, being sick is terrible. But if you find happiness in moments even during an illness, you are choosing something much greater than the simple satisfaction of your Ego.
This old proverb means that in every situation, no matter how unpleasant, difficult or even painful it might seem, there is always something to take away, something of meaningful, something positive which help us and sometime force us to grow. Have you ever wondered how some people are more resourceful than others? Especially when facing a difficult situation such as illness. What do they do differently that allows them to navigate the rough sea’s of the unknown successfully? Here are some thoughts: Seek knowledge – as the saying goes, knowledge is power. If your concern isn’t addressed by your doctor for whatever reason, ask a nurse, or another practitioner. Find the resources that help you learn about your options in a constructive and positive manner so you can make educated decisions. Shift your focus – Probably the most effective way to divert fear and worry which naturally arise when being diagnosed, is to shift your mind’s focus from you to someone else or something else. A great way to do that is to offer support for other cancer patients or find something that resonant with you like an organization with a meaningful cause and join in. Develop Resilience -in Wikipedia “Resilience” means “the positive capacity of people to cope with stress and adversity”. Developing the skill of resilience may take time and practice but you can take the following shortcut: 1. Accept that change is a part of living. Change can be viewed as an opportunity to grow in new directions. Letting go of what cannot be changed helps you focus on you can actually do. 2. Craft an action plan to negate your stress. Taking care of you is your number one priority, do what you enjoy most, feed your body, relax your mind and get plenty of rest. 3. Nurture a positive view of yourself. Prime your body and mind with positive self-talk, be kind and supportive of you, trust that you have appropriate resources to cope and remember that you are much more than just your body. 4. Set healthy personal boundaries. When you need space, ask for it. Those who love you may not know how to demonstrate their love and affection for you. Those who care for you do not know what treatment feels like, they do not know what it’s like to feel or be you. Help them by letting them know what is right for you. If you have some great resources, please share with us.
The notion of a life threatening illness is debilitating. Tough we all have different personalities and coping mechanism, fear seems to color every aspect of our lives with gloom. Recently a client said she felt that her field of vision narrowed from wide and bright, to narrow and dark when she found out she had cancer. It’s felt like “walking in a corridor with different doors, each door lead to another piece of her life” she said. This client is not alone. Her vivid description shed light on the common effects of fear and the need for a practical, realistic and effective way to deal with it. She asked me to share her experience with the hope it will be of use to others as they come face to face with it and so I do. F.E.A.R stands for False Evidence Appear Real. See the big picture – Though many of us think of cancer as an incurable disease, this is not necessarily the case anymore. With the advancement of medicine, treatment and technology more and more people these days survive their cancer. Remember the Truth of Statistics – Statistics are just numbers. I am not making light of medical data, but at the end of the day we are all unique. We have different DNA, different resilience levels and different belief systems and therefore cope with treatment differently. If we were all alike in every sense, there would be just one treatment or cure for cancer and it would work for everyone every time. It may be tempting to see yourself as part of this study or that body of data but if you are doing so, you must consider all those who survived and lived much longer than expected or predicted. In light of this view, the fragile nature of this form of evaluation comes to light. Search for the lesson – Being diagnosed with cancer does not mean you are helpless or hopeless. There are many things you can do take back control of your life, your body and your mind. From a holistic perspective a state of illness is a state where your body serves as a messenger from your inner self, that spiritual part of you that is at the core of your being. This part forever communicates with us and there is always a lesson to be learned. Figuring out what it is we need to hear or learn brings not only peace of mind and comfort but it also permits the body to utilize its healing potential. It dissolve the inhibiting factors which lessen the effectiveness of medicine or the body’s ability to embrace it. It is worth noting that Immersive Healing which is the practice I could offer this client, may not be right for you. There are different ways to reach the top of the mountain and hypnosis for cancer is not the only one or the only effective one. How do you cope your fearful moments? Can you give others some advice?
A client of mine, let’s call her Mary, was diagnosed with a very aggressive stage four anal cancer. This was not her first battle with the disease as she has already survived breast cancer. Knowing what lies ahead of her, she felt her back was to the wall and that she must take ownership and responsibility in someway for what she is going through. She decided it was time to do what she feared the most, to look inside. Mary has served a wonderful reminder to me why so many of us decide to not look inside, into our own mind, thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Looking inside is frightening. In fact it was so frightening to her that when she was given the option to have a colostomy, which is a life altering surgery with significant consequences, she still chose to shy away from healing her pain. To treat not only her physical part but also the part of her that does not feel she is worthy of healing. It was hard for me to understand why despite of what’s at stake, she was hesitant to do the work. Mary was a client of mine working on issues not directly related to her cancer, which put me in a unique position to witness her journey and finally accepting the daunting task of looking inward. Further discussion revealed why Mary would have preferred to have altered her body and pay such high cost to her quality of life. She was afraid. Afraid of looking at that part of her she kept locked deep within, that part she believed to be broken, lack of worth, distorted… a part which later she found wasn’t based on her truth but rather on other people’s view. This was completely natural. It is natural of course for us to fear any serious medical condition or procedure. But what I could not understand at that time was that her fear of her upcoming medical treatments was less frightening than the “non-evasive” work of healing her mind. Anthony Robbins once said that as people “we tend to move away from pain toward pleasure.” There are no lengthy recoveries; no pain medications, no physical hardships involved in Immersive Healing and Hypnosis for Cancer, yet the pain inside is scarier than the pain of surgery. Mary’s cancer spread beyond the anus and surgery was no longer a viable option as it will not serve to isolate the tumor. She had little options available from a medical perspective and that is when her courage kicked in. She interpret this dire news as a call to action, a call for her to heal from the inside out. She felt ready to face what she feared the most, herself. Would you have chosen surgery before healing as well?
Every healing journey starts with the onset of bad news. Those few words “you have cancer” challenge even the most optimistic mind. It forces us to think of the unthinkable, our families and our lives in a way we did not expect. The nature of bad news is often aggressive, debilitating and many of my client’s described it as a “defining moment after which nothing stayed the same”. Generally speaking, we fear cancer more than other ailments because of our perception of it. Our societal view of cancer is for the most part dire, like a death sentence. Most literature focuses on statistics of those who lost their battle with the disease, not with those who survived although more and more people do. Are we expected to face these three life changing words with grace and equanimity? Some may be able to do so but they are the exception and not the rule. Shock and fear, and even denial are common responses along side with anger and even shame. One of my clients recently stated “I feel so angry – not with anyone in particular, just with the situation and what it means for me and my loved ones. I keep thinking, why me?” Facing or acknowledging what we fear lays ahead is essential. It shortens the wait-and-recovery time between delivery of the bad news and setting forth on the path toward healing. The shorter this period of time the better it is. The danger we want to avoid here is the common mind-traps of hopelessness and helplessness. Respect Your Feelings One way to avoid these traps is to learn to respect these feelings. Unpleasant as they may be, they are valuable and necessary, and here is why: think of your external senses, touch, smell, sight, hearing and taste, one is not more important than the other or better than the other; they all have their use and play part in the way we make sense of the world. So, too, are our emotions, pleasant or unpleasant, debilitating or exciting, our emotions can be seen as the inner senses of our mind that provide us with the report of how we are doing inside. Tuning in or listening to your emotions, giving yourself time to process what you learn and summoning the courage to proceed is the first step toward a transformative journey, a journey back to health. This is what Immersive Healing and Hypnosis for Cancer allow you to do. No one can guarantee healing. No one can guarantee cure. These are desired destinations we fight for, we shoot for the stars but we must remember that until we get there it is the journey that counts. It may help to study what Rumi has said, “And don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous.” ~Rumi I would like to hear from you about your defining moment and how you coped?
The word Illness means different things to different people. We have all been ill before, the Flue, Chickenpox etc, and in those times formed our view of illness and it’s likely that your personal experience was different than mine. This means that our attitudes towards it are different, we hold different beliefs about its nature and its purpose and we may even find it hard to agree on the role medicine and medical doctors. On one hand we are very fortunate to live in a time where medical advancements are abundant. A person alive today, even with illness such as cancer can expect to live longer than any other time in history. On the other hand, these same technological and medical advancements may cause us to feel more and more separated from our bodies and the illness. Instead of being viewed as a whole being with a physical dimension, mental, emotional and even spiritual dimensions we are viewed, through the prism of medicine, as a collection of parts, organs, tissues and glands. The modern view of illness is as an act of genes, environment, and viruses, promote the sense that we are but victims of the illness and therefore stand helpless against it. In light of this, it is easy to see why the first-order for healing is courage. One must find the courage to break free from cultural, social or personal beliefs about illness and see his or her true whole nature. Breaking free from these cultural, social and personal beliefs is neither easy nor comfortable. But recent history shows that a great number of those who have released themselves from societal norms of diseases survived. Louise Hay is a prime and an extreme example of this last statement. She chose a non-medical healing path despite of her doctors warning that she put herself at great risk. Louise Hay, as she reveled in her book “Heal Your Body” (1976) had vaginal cancer and was able to recover and heal by addressing the mental causes she believed produced her physical illness. While this path worked for her but it may not be for everyone. The main point here was that she did summon the courage to stand for what she believed to be right. And in making this stand, something within her was triggered and activated that allowed her body’s innate healing to take place. The online dictionary defines Courage as. The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear. In my view there is more to courage than that. It is not only facing the danger and pain without fear, but despite of it. And in the context of illness, to have courage is to recognize that illness has a purpose, that through illness we are provided with an opportunity, a way to become more than we currently are. If you yourself have found meaning and purpose in your experience of illness or know someone who did, feel free to share it with us.
I have been meaning to write this blog for some time now, inspired by many of my clients and their stories I felt that others may benefit and draw strength into their lives. My name is Avinoam Lerner and I am a Holistic therapist and a Hypnotherapist, a Healer if you will. If I’m being honest, it was not my intention to focus my practice on helping those diagnosed with cancer and chronic illnesses heal, nor did I think I would feel privileged to do so. Nevertheless I do feel this way and believe it is what I am here to do. Over the years I have worked with many who despite of their dire physical predicament were able to beat the odds, recover and heal. My hope is that the information shared in this blog will move, inspire and uplift your spirit so that you too can be transformed and find your way back to health. The purpose of this blog as is to become a place where intelligent, like minded people can connect and speak their mind about cancer, chronic illness and their personal journey towards healing. I want you to know – I always encourage your feedback! Please, let me know how I’m doing along the way and share your own stories 🙂 You can also expect that this blog from here on out will be a hub and source for solid, interesting information every day. I’d like to invite you to participate, and subscribe now to get involved with the latest conversations! The more we can learn from each other and share our thoughts the better. It’s only together that we can create a community…share ideas…and maybe even change the world! So subscribe, comment and let me know your story. I look forward to sharing this space with you.
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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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