When's the last time you gave yourself a towel hug?
Upon recommendation of my cancer coach, Flo Singer, I have started to read Deepak Chopra’s book, Reinventing the Body, Ressurecting the Soul. I’ve gotten a little off track, reading a light chick lit novel, but I’m determined to finish it. The book explores the body’s infinite capacity for change and renewal. Deepak knows a thing or two about the body, mind spirit connection. His contention is that DNA and the brain are actually not fixed objects, but something you can change. “You cannot take advantage of this miracle, Chopra says, “unless you are willing to completely reinvent your body, transforming it from a material object to a dynamic, flowing process.”
This is heady stuff, and it’s taking me a while to digest it. He points to examples like how blind people develop other senses to compensate for their loss of sight and how lifestyle choices can prevent and even reverse chronic illnesses such as heart disease – and yes even cancer. He points out there are thousands of documented cases in which an advanced malignancy disappeared with and without treatment. As he states, “There may be an unpredictable combination of substance and spirit at work, where a patient’s subjective hope and belief enables a treatment to work.”
Deepak talks about how we tune out from our bodies: feeling ugly and undesirable, clumsy, detached from it. We get used to stress and don’t even feel discomforts it causes. I know I’ve been like that and can go to that place still. But I do so much better when I become more aware of my body, accept it, and take care of it. Being diagnosed with cancer can really affect how you feel about your body. I felt like my body betrayed me. I didn’t trust it anymore. How can my husband desire me when my body is trying to kill me?
I have learned to come to peace with my body and love it, not for the way it looks, but for what it does. When I shower, I’ve started a ritual to thank each part of my body for doing such a wonderful job my brain, skeletal system, heart, lungs, liver, skin. I focus on what’s working instead of the little spots that show up on my scans that represent what’s not working. I then take care of my inner child by giving myself a big towel hug when I get out, and if I’m having a hard time, I’ll look in the mirror and tell myself, “I love you; you’re doing a good job. You’re going to be okay.”
I sometimes give myself a hard time when I eat too much or don’t accomplish something on my list. I’m trying to give myself a break and just enjoy life. I’ve gone through a lot, and I deserve to relax and have fun. I’ve seen too many friends die; it’s time to focus on living.
Last night, I was talking to my friend Marie, another person living with metastatic cancer who connected with me after reading From Incurable to Incredible. We agreed we were so much more than cancer. She is facing another PET scan, which is always scary. Mine is coming up soon, and we discussed how no matter what they say, we are doing well. That’s what really matters. We feel well and are enjoying life, and that’s the measure I want to live by.
As Deepak says, “Seen symbolically, all disorders are cases where the body becomes a stranger, an enemy, failed ally, or a defeated victim. To prevent those metaphors from turning into reality, you need to offer reassurance to your body that you will care for it, that you listen when it speaks.”
Sounds like a good plan.
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