I have lived on the planet forty years in this body. It is not a tired body, or a weak body. It is not a body that gives up. It is a body that likes to walk, feel the warm water on skin, soak in a bath, or lay on a hot stone in the sun.
It is a body that likes to put it’s feet in the sand; it’s a body that likes to bathe in the ocean, or sit quietly by the river to meditate.
My body needs to walk free, and roam in forest; take a nap listening to the sound of the ocean. My body needs to be touched and loved. My body needs to have muscles rubbed and ligaments stretched.
My body needs to pray to devote to my Creator.
My body needs to sing, high notes and low notes from my heart. My body needs to touch with my hands and to heal others with loving and compassionate touch.
My body that needs to move. My body needs to dance. My body needs to celebrate the planet and breathe fresh air all the time. It’s a body that needs to float down the river in a kayak.
It’s a body that doesn’t have a fear, or a worry or a care. It’s a body with a need. On it’s journey back to the Creator, my body needs to pray to be prepared to journey home.
Getting cancer was a cosmic event that catapulted me into a greater cosmic awareness about my purpose on the planet. While I shed human artifice, the concept of need became paramount in my life. My body speaks with the planet and Mother Earth’s needs.
My dharma speaks about healing from cancer, the food crisis on our planet, and the importance of traditional medicine such as Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine.
The journey began many moons ago in a different time. I was called to be a healer through a journey of yoga. The cancer diagnosis I received in 2010 confirmed a truth I had known for years about a problem unfolding with our food supply on planet Earth and our lifestyle in the United States.
I’ve had years to contemplate the authenticity I need to walk to honor my spirit and my dharma. Cancer doesn’t permit artifice if you wish to stay alive because being authentic about need is essential if you wish to stay vital. I need to be fully authentic to keep myself working in my dharma.
As a massage therapist, an Ayurvedic practitioner, a yogini and a business owner, service to my Creator is my bliss. My hands work to heal myself and others. They rub and knead, pull and palpate. My hands soothe, ease, love and create from my heart.
While there were many lessons I learned when I operated my business practice called The Mindful Body, the most important lesson I learned was that I needed to let it all go to nurture and heal my body before I could continue to work to heal another.
While this lesson is one that many healers receive, it is one that I have received more than once. It can be messy to learn this sometimes when we subtly brush aside our own needs because of a lifestyle that requires a quicker pace, or other factors. When things fall apart so that we are forced to focus on our bodies, it is really meant to be a blessing to have the time to address our body’s needs.
Letting bills go unpaid, or not calling back friends or family is sometimes required to allow your body the space it needs to address it’s own healing. Being okay with letting go of worldly “responsibility” when we’re called to tend to ourselves is recommended when you are being asked by the Creator to put your body’s needs first to remain alive.
In the West, we often have this idea that placing worldly concerns before our health and wellness is required. It is quite the opposite: we need to place our bodies and our wellness first. If this means letting go of the idea that certain tasks take priority over our bodies needs, then that is advocated for vitality.
Magic Frog is wonderful for helping you dissolve your worries. When you’re worried or anxious, just pick up some paints, or crayons and make art.
It was initially scary to let go of my business though the decision was made for me when I fell off my bike and broke my back. The Creator sent me a very clear message: stop working as a business owner for a while so that you can focus on your own body. I was forced to make a variety of business decisions in a short period of time to accommodate my body’s need to rest.
When people get angry because you cannot address their needs before your own, it’s best to let them go while sending them light. People who wish to place themselves before your body’s needs do not belong in your life. I was required to rest and rehabilitate, and the time seemed right to let go of the practice and focus on my life because there was no way I could manage my client base with that kind of injury.
I was challenged to improve my ability to resource. I believe that no one can understand your body’s needs better than you. I experienced an extreme amount of physical discomfort both from my back injury and in the context of my needs in a life with metastatic breast cancer. I have a unique world view and life concept because I live with particular needs that allow me to see world concepts to honor other people’s needs in a unique way.
A Western Medicine Anecdote
My journey through the Western medical protocol for breast cancer launched me into a new way to frame my body awareness and how I integrate this awareness into my dharma as a healer.
Losing my left breast required me to rehabilitate my shoulder girdle to have the mobility I felt was necessary to have my body function optimally. I chose swimming to facilitate the shoulder girdle rehabilitation because swimming provided the range of motion I felt would be ideal.
I also worked with a physical therapist. The shock my body experienced through losing the breast was immeasurable. I lovingly think of this scar as a battle scar for my Creator in our cosmic dharma in service to the Lord’s glory. It is another way to extol Parvati.
Chemotherapy leeched my body of every bit of vital life force. The steroids administered during the treatment were painful, though the narcotics I took to ease my discomfort were devastating to my life force. Toward the end of my sixth treatment, I moved myself to a cannabis tincture that I used to ease my discomfort and wean myself away from the narcotics.
The narcotics made my spirit disappear and I felt like I was among the living dead—a walking example of life with chemotherapy combined with narcotics.
I felt disempowered on the protocol in a way that seemed like an unacceptable process as part of a journey to prepare for a transition to death. I couldn’t imagine dying like this, in a stupor of medication in a way that seemed unprepared for the journey.
It would be a huge dishonor to my spirit and my Creator to walk away from my body to El Shaddai in this state. I vowed to to find a more therapeutic way to live with cancer. My mind was focused on staying embodied so that I could heal myself when my strength improved.
I was so debilitated, that I was forced to wrap my nails in band aids to keep them on my fingers because they were falling off. When I asked my oncologist about it, he said it was virtually “unheard of” and a very rare “side effect.” He referred me to a dermatologist, the son of the man who invented Taxotere.
The dermatologist denied that there could be any involvement of the Taxotere with my nails falling off, though my nails had never come close to falling off either before or after that protocol. The dermatologist suggested that it was the sun’s interaction that caused my body’s response to the Taxotere.
I had no thirst. I had no hunger.
There was no feeling in my hands or my feet because of the neuropathy from the chemotherapy. I had no hair, no eye brows, or eye lashes because they fell out due to the treatment. I was weak and winded because the narcotics made it difficult for me to breathe even for weeks after I stopped taking them.
The discomfort from the neuropathy influenced my initial decision to take the narcotics. It was extremely uncomfortable. I eventually healed myself of the neuropathy through physical activity, swimming and yoga, though it took nearly a year for it to disappear completely.
It was difficult for me to explain to anyone the transformation I had experienced because my spirit felt so leeched by my body’s journey through that protocol. I felt vulnerable about places in my marriage where I felt unable to perform because instead of being a wife, attentive to growing our newly consecrated partnership, I lost my left breast, my strength, and my ability to focus on another person’s needs because I was going through intensive medical treatment.
I was not able to provide the offerings to our union that I would have hoped at that time. I honored and accepted the Creator’s timeline, but I felt disappointed that I was unable to make certain devotional offerings to our newly consecrated union.
The Western medicine cancer protocol had a devastating impact on my life with a partner who did not sign on for a cancer journey. He desperately wanted kids but did not want to adopt. I was not able to give children to our life together from my womb because of the hormonal risks of pregnancy I would face with cancer.
We tried egg harvesting before my treatment, though after six weeks of administering hormone shots to myself, I decided that it was an unethical way of creating a child so we stopped. It was very costly financially, but it also was not advocated for my lifeline because the hormones given in the fertility treatment further exacerbated the hormonal status present in the pathology of my breast cancer.
The husband split after some dialogue post treatment because creating kids were no longer something we could do together. It was a disappointment that was countered by my faith that there was something waiting for me that was much more exciting for my dharma.
The cannabis tincture helped me live in my body while I was in great discomfort. Stopping the narcotics was blissful simply because I was able to reconnect with the Creator more profoundly. The way I quit a substance is to remove it from my life completely and all at once.
When I realized how sick the narcotics made my digestive system, and how it contributed to the very sad way I was imagining myself after six chemotherapy protocols, I vowed to remove certain factors from my life that put me there in that place from the beginning; Some of those factors were people who were toxic.
Sometimes toxic people exist who place themselves in your life in non-tangible ways. The thought of never seeing or speaking to certain people again gave me great bliss. Toxic people often work through presumptions about life. Presumption creates a poison to a Buddhist mind. Expunging toxic people is a great joy, and while toxic people generally go unmentioned by me almost all of the time, I will advocate to someone with any type of cancer that eliminating toxic people from your life is essential.
Dr. Lad defines Ama as, “Raw, uncooked; toxins; a toxic substance that impairs bodily or mental functions and can be physical, as in undigested food, or mental as in any incomplete thought, experience or emotion; ama always arises from physical or mental indigestion.”
I needed to eliminate ama, specifically contributors to hormone imbalance (and other imbalances) such as meat consumption, sugar, hormone treated dairy, and refined flour consumption. Eating organically also achieves many goals at the same time by replenishing the earth in an effective way, and ensuring that produce is pesticide and hormone free.
Hormone imbalance was a cause of my breast cancer because of the elevated estrogen levels that I believe eventually caused cystic growth and stagnation that vitiated my body to bheda, a full unique manifestation of a disease process. These factors make a sound in the body that can attract concepts and organisms that are antithetical to human life that can be countered with correct diet, correct lifestyle, and a significant amount of study with bodywork.
The factors I vowed to change were diet and lifestyle considerations: items to add and items to eliminate.
Alcohol was out of my life before I began chemotherapy, and I do not drink at all since I was diagnosed with cancer, though alcohol is a poison to the body that can be a root cause of any cancer.
I believe that sugar is the most harmful poison along with refined flour that we include in our diets in the United States. It is the refined sugar and excessive sweet taste that caused a vitiation that made my body’s digestive system, the thinker for the immune system, susceptible to the kind of growth in the body of a concept that is against human life. This process of vitiation was reversible with a large infusion of green leafy vegetables through the annupan of freshly pressed juice.
Refined flour is not easily digested and is also an unwholesome presentation of a grain to the body because it has been separated by an unnatural process into different parts when it is created perfectly whole.
A few years of drinking coffee caused a vitiation as well in the body that severely impacted my hormones. I also believe that the distribution process of coffee that involves a lot of petroleum to move it from one place to another because it is not a local crop in the United States is another factor that should be considered when it is consumed.
The hormone treated dairy and meats caused a severe vitiation that aggravated every tissue in my body and started a fibrocystic process and stagnation that took years of cleansing to pacify.
While Ayurveda recommends different type of meat for different constitutions, it is the effect of hormone treated meat that has been fed with genetically modified or pesticide treated grain that is not suitable for the animals. I am vegetarian, and mostly vegan and this diet is most effective for keeping me vital.
Genetically modified produce and produce treated with systemic pesticides has been unnaturally altered from Creator’s design and it is recommended that they are always avoided. Many people complain that eating organically is too expensive. However, it is feasible if one eats simply.
I needed to create diet changes that allowed me to eliminate restaurant eating and prepared foods from the grocery. I created a system for myself that I call simple food.
Some of the lifestyle considerations that I worked to eliminate were ideas about living that did not work for my body such as worry, anger and fear. Ayurveda and yoga integrate spiritual concepts with diet and lifestyle with the premise that these spiritual concepts are integrated into oneness.
It is Western culture that separates these ideas from the mind-body-spirit with a mechanical premise about the human mind-body connection. The conceptual separation of these concepts causes dis-ease. Western culture is not all that forgiving of the “letting it go” concept even for people with cancer. I recommend throwing it all out the window, and telling them that what they think of me is none of my business. Let anything you go that troubles you, and feel no sadness. It’s your journey. Follow your bliss and anyone who whines and frets can follow their bliss somewhere else.
My body experiences a level of vitality that would not be possible without diet and lifestyle changes from the light of Ayurveda and my inner wisdom. Listening to my body and cherishing being embodied is the most important way to honor the sacred being.
Integrating this listening with Ayurvedic wisdom and the precepts of yoga produces results in healing the mind, body and spirit that are palpable.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Photos: Provided by author