Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” The healing power of sharing my cancer story compelled me to found WWGN. I'm an inspirational speaker, contributor at CURE and Positively Positive, Huffington Post blogger, support volunteer with Cancer Hope Network, member of the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center Oncology Community Advisory Board, patient educator with Pathways Women’s Cancer Teaching Project, wife and mother, and a former very stressed out lawyer.
No one likes to hear, "It's all in your mind." But, what if we have the "biological and neurological machinery" to make ourselves better?
You Are the Placebo, by Dr. Joe Dispenza, isn't about positive thinking or the law of attraction. It's also definitely not about patient blaming.
What it's about is looking at the scientific evidence and exploring the possibility of taking the placebo effect a step further. As Dr. Dispenza asks, What if, instead of believing in a fake pill or treatment to experience a real health benefit, we believed in ourselves?
The book is divided into two parts. Part I (Information) takes you through the science you need to understand the placebo effect and how it works via the mind-body connection to create real, measurable physical changes. I thought I might find this information dense, especially for summer reading. Instead, Dr. Dispenza's gift for explaining complicated concepts made the material interesting and easily understandable.
I was also fascinated by the numerous case studies evidencing the placebo and nocebo effects (when a fake medication or treatment creates negative effects.) Dr. Dispenza relates numerous stories of serious illness and even death resulting from belief in voodoo curses, hexes and misdiagnosis of fatal diseases. Men in their 70's and 80's, who spent five days pretending they were 22 years younger, put down their canes, danced and played football. They even showed measurable, physical improvements, such better eyesight, hearing, and memory, and increased height and finger lengthening as arthritis diminished.
In fact, it was Dr. Dispenza's own story that brought him to this work. After an horrific accident in which he was run over by an SUV, Dr. Dispenza was advised to have surgery (resulting in disability and lifelong pain) or risk paralysis. He chose to forgo surgery and instead accomplished full recovery through the power of his mind.
Part II (Transformation) sets forth the meditation techniques Dr. Dispenza used to heal himself. The first chapter sets forth simple preparation steps and techniques, while the second chapter takes the reader through guided meditations.
You Are the Placebo is the ultimate guidebook to the human experience and how we choose to perceive it. Reading this book convinced me that I can refocus my thoughts, emotions and beliefs to create a new reality. As Dr. Dispenza says, "the ultimate belief is the belief in yourself and in the field of infinite possibilities ... And when wholeness, self-satisfaction, and self-love truly come from within, because you've ventured beyond what you believed was possible and you overcame your own self-imposed limitations, that's when the uncommon occurs."
Don't miss reading this book. If you're willing to open your mind and do the work, it has the ability to change your life.
Survival > Existence,
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.
I've had my share of profound unhappiness. When it hits, I'm always struck by its enormity and completeness, like a hurricane that moves in and devastates until there is nothing left of what was touched.
For the record, I'm not talking about depression. I'm talking about reliving low points, like family dysfunction, poisonous relationships, infertility, miscarriages and cancer, in the tar pit of your soul. I'm talking about going about your business and WHACK! Something comes up and, like an elephant, you remember and relive your emotions like it's happening to you all over again.
I don't remember exactly where I was or what I was doing when a thought recently struck me out of the blue. It moved me so profoundly that I stopped whatever it was I was doing and wrote it down:
"I just had a deep understanding of what happiness is - being joyfully, unabashedly in the moment and trusting that that is exactly where you belong ... this moment (and ME) is enough, in fact, it is all."
Mindfulness is conscious awareness of what you are feeling and experiencing in the present moment. But there is more. To get to joy it's not enough to just be aware of the present. To get to joy you have to trust that the present moment is exactly where you belong.
Joy comes from the knowing, the trust, the deep understanding that you are, right now, enough. With that trust and the joy it brings, you can let down your defenses and stop seeking validation. You can lean into happiness, which is the bubbling up of little pieces of joy in the moment.
As adults with histories, we can't know happiness unless we know its opposite and find it in our hearts to trust despite that knowledge. It takes vulnerability and reliance on forces outside of our control, but, mostly, it takes a commitment to creating live out loud joy for ourselves.
In the five years since my diagnosis, I've experimented more and more with trust (because it finally took cancer to convince me of how little control I really had over life.) I've become more optimistic, more Zen and more patient. Who knew that trading the "safety" of mistrust, for the vulnerability of trust would lead to joy.
The Dalai Lama said "the purpose of our lives is to be happy." Have you found yourself actively seeking out happiness and joy since your cancer diagnosis? Are you able to trust that you are exactly where you belong at the present moment?
Happy Independence Day to all of my American readers. Today is our national holiday celebrating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. It's a day of family picnics, parades, fireworks, baseball and concerts. It's a day to celebrate freedom.
And what better way to celebrate freedom than with a four-day weekend! If you're lucky to have the next few days off, here's five steps to a blissfully unproductive weekend:
1. Change Your Mindset, If Only For the Weekend: If you have a workaholic, productivity proves validity mindset like me, you don't relax easily. Why not try changing your mindset for just a weekend? Everyone needs time to relax and recharge and anyone who thinks they are productive 24/7 is just kidding themselves anyway. So go ahead, throw relentless productivity to the wind and resolve to be blissfully unproductive this weekend. You can always go back to being a crazed workaholic on Monday.
2. Unplug From Your Electronics: Put the stresses and obligations of the work week on hold by separating yourself from your cell phone, tablet or laptop. Deliberately unplugging makes a statement to yourself and others, "I choose to relax and be blissfully unproductive for a few days."
Go one step further and seek out silence. As Deepak Chopra said, "Silence is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it. There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge, and stability that come from knowing how to contact your core of inner silence."
3. Stay in the Moment: As hard as it is to unplug from your electronics, it's even harder to unplug from your monkey mind. You know what monkey mind is - the incessant chatter of worry, "should's," "what if's," and past/future focus. When the chatter starts building, take a breath and stop. In that moment of awareness, you create a gap that allows you to recognize the noise for what it is, before it takes you away with it. Practicing "catch and release" of your monkey mind thoughts, keeps you present in the here and now and focuses your mind on one thing at a time.
4. Have Fun: Fun is not a luxury. Let me repeat: Fun is not a luxury. In fact, fun is necessary to a healthy life. Spontaneous fun is great and happens more often when you're in the moment. But planning for fun is as important as planning your meals. This is a great weekend to go to a concert, parade, family picnic or watch fireworks. It's also a great weekend to have sex, read a book, lie in a hammock, or make banana bread. Fun doesn't have to be big and noisy. Fun is whatever feeds your soul and makes you feel more alive. Go have fun.
5. Reconnect With Loved Ones: Sometimes we're so overwhelmed with obligations, schedules, responsibilities and appointments that we forget to really be with the people we love. If you turn off the TV, phone and laptop; stay in the moment and go looking for fun, guess where you'll end up? Reconnecting with friends and family! That's the message of this adorable video. Enjoy!
May you have a wonderful, blissfully unproductive weekend!
I have to start out by saying that I love technology. I'm old enough to remember the huge black and white televisions and rotary telephones of my youth. Today's gadgets - smart phones, tablets, MP3 players, computers and flat screen televisions - are more useful, productive and a lot more fun.
I get the addiction. I succumb to it myself, because it's human. That's why we have to learn to use the technology mindfully and not buy into the social construct that it's okay to be mindless, rude and disconnected from the real world as long as you use the excuse that you're busy.
I take a "Stress Management Yoga" class twice a week and it's lovely. The teacher begins class by turning off the big overhead lights. With only the light of her small lamp at the front of the room, I immediately go into a relaxed state.
One day, a young woman came into the class. I doubt she was over the age of 21. She laid out her mat close to mine, piling all of her stuff - shoes, water bottle, cell phone - next to her mat. As soon as class started, so did the texting. Do you know what the glare of a cell phone's light looks like in a dark room? It's a beacon of light that bores a hole into your head.
I didn't want to complain, because I was trying to stay relaxed and blissfully unaware of outside annoyances, but I was losing the fight. I cheered when the teacher finally came over to her and told her, "We don't do that in here." She put the phone down, but a few minutes later picked it up and checked it again. I don't know what she was checking, but I doubt it was of national importance. She left when class was over and I've never seen her again.
Which reminds me of an ancient memory, long before cell phones even existed. When I was a brand new lawyer, I worked for a small firm with two associates. I was one and the other associate was a young woman who was a chain smoker. In fact, I remember she had a habit of lighting up her next cigarette before she actually finished the one in her hand. I honestly don't know how she got anything else done.
One day, we had to go to the law library to do research. Panic ensued when she realized smoking wasn't allowed in the library. She finally accepted the fact that there was no choice, took a deep breath, rushed into the library, worked in a panic for a few minutes until she couldn't stand it anymore, and rushed back out for a smoke. And she did this all day long.
Watching her struggle with her addiction was illuminating. I realized how free I was to come and go as I pleased, while she ran back and forth as if the library was toxic and she could only breathe in its air a few minutes at a time. She obviously loved her cigarettes, just as we love our technology, but that love came at a price.
The next time I know I spending too much time checking my phone or surfing the web, I'm going to remember my long ago colleague. I don't want to ever be so addicted to anything that I literally can't breathe if I can't have it (other than oxygen, of course.) If I've learned anything from cancer, I've learned to be more aware and appreciative of all aspects of my life. It's impossible to be mindfully connected to your life, friends, family and bodily needs if your connection to technology supersedes anything else.
Do you find yourself mindlessly addicted to technology sometimes? What do you do to try to break out of addictive technology usage?
Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation.Jean Arp
Are we ready to say goodbye to silence? You would think not, but think again. Just as we forego focus and mindfulness for the sake of multi-tasking, so have we traded silence for the constant stimulation of noise. As cancer survivors ready to get back to the "essence of life," shouldn't we be willing to keep silence alive?
Think about all the information that bombards us every day from every possible direction. One of my pet peeves is the number of screens we are now subjected to in our everyday life. It seems that, unless you are in a fine dining, white tablecloth establishment, most restaurants now surround you with television screens. Retail stores, which used to play background music, now run music videos or ads on televisions bolted to the walls. My local Wal-Mart hangs televisions from the ceiling. The first of many pelts you from overhead as you walk in the door. The ubiquity of television - is this what George Orwell was warning us about in Nineteen Eighty-Four?
And what about the laptops, tablets, iPods, smartphones and the like, that we carry around with us? The constant pinging and ringing should drive us all crazy. Instead, we can't get enough and go looking for more information in response to phantom cell phone vibrations. Maybe this is a form of insanity.
Every once in a while, I find myself in my kitchen trying to listen as various family members talk to me - at the same time. As I begin to feel the stress of needing to listen, but being overwhelmed by too much information coming in too fast, I become aware of another voice. With the push of one button, the background drone of the television goes dead and I breathe in, relieved. I don't have total silence, but I have silenced unnecessary ambient noise.
Mindfulness and meditation cannot exist without silence. We can prevent the extinction of silence by being more aware of the noise pollution all around us. If we control what we can, with that little flick of a finger, we can give our mind a much needed break. Once we let ourselves experience silence, we will realize how necessary it is to a healthy life beyond cancer.
We all live hectic, noisy lives. Do what you can today to find moments of silence. Turn off your cell phone, television or laptop. Give yourself a brief moment of inner silence and see where it takes you. As Deepak Chopra said, "Silence is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it. There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge, and stability that come from knowing how to contact your core of inner silence." I'd love to know how you bring silence into your busy life and what it gives you in return.
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