Editor’s note: Elephant is not your doctor or hospital. Our lawyers would say, “This website is not designed to, and should not be construed to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. Always consult a health professional before trying out new home therapies or changing your diet.” But we can’t afford lawyers, and you knew all that.
My doctor liked to remove moles from my body.
The mole he removed from my left temple was as ordinary as could be.
I was a good athlete, but I noticed I was slowing down and could not understand why—until one day I noticed a small lump right in front of my left ear.
I went to the doctor who sent me to another doctor who I remember vividly to this day. He was an older gentleman, and he seemed to be very knowledgeable. He told me I had to rest for two weeks.
I went to a family picnic with most of my relatives and I remember looking at them all standing together and my mother crying. I didn’t understand why.
Two weeks later, I was in the hospital. I remember going into surgery and people saying, “Is this Michael?”
Six hours later, I came out not knowing what had happened. I remember my father looking at me with tears in his eyes.
The next morning they stood me up. I saw myself in front of the mirror—my head was completely bandaged, and so was my neck and the top of my left leg.
When the doctor removed the mole from my temple—unknown to him—he had left the roots, which turned into malignant melanoma. It had spread toward my brain and down the glands on the side of my face toward my heart. They removed all the skin on the left side of my head (the size of an iPhone), and did a skin graft off my left leg to replace the skin that was taken. They removed the glands.
I was given a three percent chance of survival.
After this, I started to suffer from chronic panic attacks and anxiety. I could not even drive my car or sit in one place for too long. I thought I was going insane. I went to the doctor and he sent me to a psychiatrist. Something remarkable happened when I went.
He did not prescribe me pills. He taught me meditation.
I did not even know what it was at the time. I practiced it every day as I knew my sanity depended upon it. Within six weeks, I had cured myself of the panic attacks and anxiety.
Since then, I have seen a doctor maybe twice in the last 37 years because I discovered something else—the more stress-free you are, the less likely you are to become ill. Meditation accomplishes this.
The psychiatrist who taught me this meditation was somewhat eccentric. He went to India to learn this meditation for pain relief, which it also works very well for.
Many years later, I discovered he had success using this meditation to put cancer into remission in a small number of people. By reducing stress levels through this meditation, the immune system is boosted.
I believe I have helped keep my cancer at bay all these years with my meditation. I usually meditate for one to four hours per day. It keeps my mind crystal clear and offers many other benefits as well.
I have given lectures to cancer patients and I see the fear in their eyes—the fear that the cancer may come back. Cancer is a disease of the body, but it ravages the mind and spirit as well. Meditation brings the spiritual calmness needed in this situation.
If you are in this situation, I highly suggest learning to meditate from a good teacher as you will surely feel its amazing effects. There are also other practices which work well with meditation if you have an illness, such as mindfulness and forgiveness. Some of us become ill to escape our lives, but a simple practice each day can change that.
The meditation that I practice is simple. You can learn it in 10 minutes.
It is simply keeping your mind focused on the here and now, which is both the answer and the problem.
These are my tips and suggestions for learning and using this meditation:
>> Focus and relax.
The way I learnt this, was to sit in a chair with my feet flat on the ground. Then, I would talk to my body and tell it to relax. This is what I would say: “I can feel all the tension draining out of the tips of my fingers. I can feel the muscles around my face relaxing. I can feel the muscles across my back relaxing. I can feel myself going deeper and deeper into relaxation.”
Talk to every part of your body and tell each piece to relax.
>> Surrender to the peace.
You will arrive to this deep meditative place in which you will feel completely at peace. Surrender to it.
This peace will stay with you throughout your day.
Start with 10 minutes per day every day. You will likely find that, because you feel so good, you will want to meditate for longer periods of time.
Through this practice, you are allowing your brain to step out of the way to permit your body and mind to find their own balance to heal.
Author: Michael McMaster
Editor: Leah Sugerman
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Social Editor: Taia Butler