I am so pleased to introduce this author and book to you! I share it because I concur with her belief that our thoughts and emotions affect every aspect of our body's well-being—and our ability to heal.
After reading Leigh Fortson's article, I invite you to share your thoughts about this powerful subject. Leave a comment and you will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of her new book, Embrace, Release, Heal: An Empowering Guide to Talking About, Thinking About, and Treating Cancer.
After her third cancer diagnosis in three years, Leigh Fortson was given few options by her doctors and little hope for a bright future. For weeks, she mourned the life she thought she was losing—until she was introduced to an idea that changed everything: Our thoughts and emotions influence every cell in our body. Embrace, Release, Heal shares insights into the power of our mind-body connection, inspiring stories from people who survived cancer after being given a terminal diagnosis, and interviews with 20 experts on progressive cancer treatments.
Faith – Enlisting Your Innate Power to Heal from Cancerby Leigh Fortson
There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.
~ Freya Stark
After a cancer diagnosis, many people turn to faith to carry them through the fear and hardship. I’ve been in awe of and marveled at the people I interviewed and the diversity of where they place their faith. It drives home the point that you don’t have to believe in God, Jesus, Moses, Mohammad, or Buddha to heal. You don’t have to change your diet, meditate, or exercise to heal. You don’t have to undergo chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery to heal. But there does seem to be a consistent thread in everyone I’ve encountered who has healed: they placed a positive faith in something and, by doing so, transcended disease.
Faith of any kind is powerful and pure. It is our ability to believe in something—whether Tamoxifen or transcendental meditation—even when we aren’t sure how or if it will work.
By definition, faith is rooted in mystery and uncertainty. But we give ourselves to it anyway and let go of trying to control the situation. That act alone—releasing resistance—clears the way for healing energy to come forth.
The placebo effect is an intriguing display of the power of faith. Thousands of compelling stories have been reported about people cured of just about everything, including cancer, from taking a substance that had no medical properties. Even so, symptoms receded, in some cases to the point of clearing up entirely, because of the faith people had in the mock drugs.
This is the power of our mind, our faith. It’s our own innate power.
It’s essential that we recognize where we place our faith. If we believe that we are not worthy of success, that we are not worth loving, that our dreams will never come true, that we are stuck and can’t leave a marriage or job that brings us misery, that we have no power or voice, that life is not worth living, and that a cancer diagnosis is synonymous with death, then we are placing our faith in limitations, contraction, restriction, and doubt. Ultimately, we are placing our faith in the power of fear and decline. That’s as good as saying, “Life is a brutal and meaningless event. No matter what I do, nothing works out. I’m not sure how or why it works that way, but I have faith that there are forces waging against me and everything will fall apart.” And so they do.
If, on the other hand, we believe we are worthy of being, doing, and having everything we’ve ever dreamed; that we are absolutely lovable and loved; that we can leave any situation that doesn’t serve us because we trust that we’ll be safe and that something better will replace it; that we have power beyond our comprehension; and that we have a strong and important voice; that life—with all of its ups and downs—is an adventure of magnificent proportion; and that a cancer diagnosis can be an awakening to the truth, beauty, and power of who we really are and what life is really about, then we are placing our faith in the generative power of love and evolution. That’s as good as saying, “Even though life can be deeply painful, it’s still a miraculous and worthwhile journey that somehow, some way, balances out. I’m not sure how or why it works that way, but I have faith that there are forces at play that are helping and guiding me, and that things always work out.” And so they do.
When people speak of faith, they are typically referring to religion or spirituality. There is a broader faith, however, that plays out in our everyday decisions. Where we invest our faith can determine the course of our lives.
Faith is intensely personal. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all package. Each of us has the right and freedom to choose where we invest our faith. When we invest our faith in a loving—rather than a random, wrathful, or vengeful—universe, we learn that we are not alone. In fact, when our hearts are open to receiving and our faith is steady, we are supported in unfathomable ways.
About the Author
Leigh Fortson has coauthored and edited numerous books about health, nutrition, and alternative medicine. She spent decades learning about and practicing healthy lifestyle habits and was shocked to find out in 2006 that she had cancer. Today she has a clean bill of health and lives in Colorado with her family. For purchase information, plus links to the experts interviewed in her book, visit www.embracehealingcancer.com
Excerpted with permission from Embrace, Release, Heal: An Empowering Guide to Talking About, Thinking About, and Treating Cancer by Leigh Fortson (Sounds True, May 2011). © 2011 Leigh FortsonReturn to Home Page
We Can Be Our Own Best Friend
by Cheryl Wright, Columnist
We’ve heard it before, “Women can be their own worst enemy.” If that is true, we can be our own best friend, by cultivating the same practices that cement the best-friend alliances we have with others.
Here’s how to cultivate that friendship with ourselves.
Get comfortable with solitude.
It is in the quiet moments alone together that we nurture the bond with our best friends. In these special times, we bond around our similarities and the richness of our differences. In solitude we get to know ourselves. Keeping a journal will help to enhance those moments, as we write our way through recurring issues, regrets, obstacles, happy memories and the normal flow of daily life. As we get comfortable with solitude, we will develop an understanding and appreciation of who we are - our likes and dislikes, beliefs, values, capabilities, limitations, strengths and dreams.
Be attentive to the inner voice.
We may not always agree with what a friend says, but we trust her enough to maul over her advice and consider her warnings. Building a friendship with ourselves is an opportunity to connect with our inner voice and to listen to its words – whether they come as inspiration, warnings, affirmations or even admonitions.
Best friends shouldn’t lie to each other. The smallest lie registers as a breach of trust and compromises the best friend bond. We must be honest with ourselves - tell ourselves the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, regardless how difficult it might be to accept.
Best friends expect and deserve faithfulness from each other, even when there is disagreement in the camp. Whatever disturbances arise, a best friend remains faithful to the bond of the friendship - standing with us through our life experiences. In the same way, we should not allow anyone to inveigle us to alter our faithfulness to what we deem to be important to us. In the face of disagreement, discouragement or rebuff, we should remain faithful to our personal and professional goals and endeavours. As our own best friend, we owe it to ourselves to be faithful to who we are, our purpose, our dreams and our passions.
There is no room for embarrassment between best friends; they openly share their struggles, confident that their best friend will sympathize with them. As our own best friend, we should own up to our issues and be sympathetic with ourselves. Instead of beating up on ourselves for what we see as inadequacies and weaknesses, we should try to understand where they originate and when and how they manifest themselves. As our own best friend, we should dismiss the weaknesses that have no positive future and develop those with potential.
A best friend notices when we are pushing ourselves too hard and depleting the best of who we are. She acts quickly, taking us aside to encourage us to slow down, take it easy, rest, relax and nourish ourselves in the areas that are past their critical points. We should look at our lives and examine how our lifestyles may be weakening us, pressing us down, wearing us out. As our own best friend, we should treat ourselves gently, ease of the rush and pull the plug on multitasking. When we lavish TLC on ourselves - relax, revive, refresh and pamper ourselves – we will find it easier to live with greater balance, mindfulness and gratitude.
Friends are one of the key ingredients for a good life and best friends are gourmet spices. Let’s be our own best friend and live a wonderful life. Return to Home Page
Cheryl is a freelance writer, whose essays, feature articles and columns have been published online and in print since 1998. Cheryl's weekly column, Wright Words of Wisdom, debuted in September 2006 in the WomanWise magazine - a Sunday pullout in the Trinidad Guardian Newspaper.
You can catch up on the column here: http://www.guardian.co.tt/category/byline-authors/cheryl-wright
Website: Cheryl Wright - Perspectives
Healing with a Grateful Heart
by Laura Hegfield
For those of us dwelling in chronically ill bodies what might it mean to heal with a grateful heart? For me the answer is simple: appreciate the sweet moments in life no matter how small, for they feed the soul. Living mindfully allows us to notice tiny blossoms, the pattern frost on a window, the sounds of children playing and birds singing, the tastes of favorite foods, the scent of freshly fallen rain. Living mindfully and with a grateful heart opens us to healing in unexpected ways. Our bodies may not ever completely recover, our lives will certainly never be the same as they were before we became ill, but that does not preclude us from healing our hearts, minds and souls while soothing our bodies through practicing gratitude, lovingkindness, patience and compassion toward our own precious selves and other beings we are blessed to connect with.
By cultivating these attributes: gratitude, lovingkindness, patience and compassion a life that is limited in some very real aspects can be expanded in others. This has been my experience as Multiple Sclerosis has gradually removed my ability to be out and about in the world beyond the walls of my home without assistance. I still wake up grateful every day because I am here. I am present. *Hineni. This world is a beautiful place filled with generous gentle beings and though there are moments when I feel uncomfortable, disappointed and even angry about being sick, more often I find myself contented; broken and whole all at the same time.
In this weekly column I will share posts related to these attributes. Sometimes I will share thoughts to contemplate, guided meditations or poetry with my photographs (photography is another healing practice for me). All are invitations for you to grow with me as we explore “healing with a grateful heart.”
What does “healing with a grateful heart,” mean to you?
May you be blessed with lovingkindness.
May you be blessed with compassion.
May you be blessed with peace.
May you be blessed with joy.
May all beings experience gratitude for the blessing of simply being present.
*Hebrew: Hineni translates to “Here I Am.”Return to Home Page
Before writing for Buddha Chick Life, Laura Hegfield
was the primary moderator for "Khanti: A Healing Circle," an online group for women healing mindfully through chronic illness through Dharma Sister's Circle. She created weekly invitations and podcasts from her home at the edge of the woods in New Hampshire. Currently she offers private mentoring as an Interfaith Spiritual Director, SoulCollage© Facilitator and Kaizen-Muse© Creativity Coach through Shine the Divine. Visit her personal blog, Shine the Divine: Creativity IS a Spiritual Practice
to enjoy more of her writing and photography.
Flower Your True Being
by Cindy Hively, Columnist Mindfulness is the root of all the methods that tame the mind. First it focuses the mind. Then it eases the mind. Finally it is the luminous nature, beyond thoughts. ~Paul Rinpoche How does one tame the mind? For me it started with meditation and especially with Metta Meditation. When meditating you bring the mind home and release and relax through the breath. I learned this powerful practice when I became a Buddha Chick.
Two years ago when I was diagnosed with Lupus and Fibromyalgia, I came across the website of BuddhaChick.org. The practice of being mindful and Metta meditation along with self-compassion were the fundamentals that lead me to my path of healing and discovery. The practice of mindfulness unveils and reveals your essential Good Heart, because it dissolves and removes the unkindness chatter or the harm in you. Only when you have removed the harm in yourself through self compassion do you become truly able to reveal your truth to yourself. removing the unkindness and harm from yourself, you allow your true Good Heart, the fundamental goodness and kindness that are your real nature, to shine out and become the warm climate in which your true being flowers.
The practice of mindfulness through meditation defuses our negativity, aggression, and turbulent emotions, which may have been gathering power over many life situations. I would say this has been my most powering lesson with practicing mindfulness. Rather than suppressing emotions or indulging in them, here it is important to view them, but in the right way, your thoughts and whatever arises view with an acceptance and generosity that are as open and spacious as possible. We do this with loving kindness and self compassion. This takes time, patience and practice to reach this level of mindfulness in meditation. You soon will learn as I did, this becomes a essential part of your everyday life and it is beautiful and becomes part of your nature. Gradually, as you remain open and mindful, and use a technique such as Metta to focus your mind more and more, your negativity will slowly be defused; you begin to feel well in your own skin. From this comes release and a profound ease. I think of this practice as the most effective form of therapy and self-healing. When dis-ease rises within me, whether it is from pain or my mind being unkind I immediately go to Metta. It immediately puts me at ease and I am at home again within my body.
Mindfulness for me, is not thinking about, it is being present and actually knowing in the moment without any mental chatter. If chatter begins to happen, we simply ignore it and return to being present in the moment. Think about this. There are so many things happening in our lives that we never really experience. We experience only ideas, interpretations, and comparisons. We have thoughts of things we want to do and have not done them yet. We dwell on things that happened in the past or anticipate anxiously future events. With suffering through chronic illness this is part of healing. I had to accept these ideas as mind chatter and recognize them and move on. As a Buddha Chick Practicing mindfulness through meditation with self compassion can change our mind to calmness, this calmness leads to clarity, then this clarity leads to wisdom. This is what being a Buddha Chick is all about and this makes me very happy. Tibetan masters say that this wise generosity, “mindfulness,” has the flavor of boundless space, so warm and cozy that you feel enveloped and protected by it, as if by a blanket of sunlight.
A Metta Meditation For You
May you feel safe
May you feel strong and healthy
May you feel Happy
May you live your life with ease.Return to Home Page
Cindy Hively calls the Roanoke Valley in Virginia her home. She is surrounded by beautiful mountains that inspire and heal her everyday. Having worked twenty five years in the retail industry, she moved up quickly and loved her career, but had to quit work due to chronic illness. She is on a healing journey through Metta meditation, mindfulness practices and self compassion.
Coals of Longing
Linda Lyzenga, Columnist
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
I came across this quote by Marianne Williamson years and years ago. Though often attributed to Nelson Mandela, these are the words of Ms. Williamson, from her book, A Woman’s Worth. Upon first hearing them, these words flared like a match strike & fueled a burning desire in my soul to actually live up to this appeal. Desiring to maintain this bright vision as a guiding light in my life, these inspiring words would be revisited. Yet, over time, like a single log on the fire, that initial burst of flame was reduced to smoldering ash.
St. Catherine of Siena has often reminded me of this:
If you are what you are meant to be, you will set the world on fire.
Meanwhile, life, with all its distractions and disappointments kept coming at me like a forceful fire extinguisher.
The desire in my heart to live up to both these invitations was likened to soggy, dying embers. Wisps of acrid smoke often clouding my vision, I hoped there were some tools to help me live out the still glowing desire of my heart.
Enter another call; this one from my good friend and mentor, Jan Lundy; to become a part her developing online communities known as Buddha Chick and Dharma Sisters Circle. Here I am learning to simply shine – to breathe. This community has become a personal safe haven on the www, where I’m learning to burn consistently and clean. Picture me as a little candle. My involvement as a Buddha Chick is helping me stay lit and consistently burn with greater clarity, calmness and wisdom. Keeping my wick trimmed here, of so many of life’s extraneous distractions, beaming in tandem, with my Dharma sisters, we find ourselves living into this blessing with greater ease: May you be a light unto others this day. May our collective lights, shining brightly, illuminate the world.
Dear reader, on this day do you realize that coals of longing lay smoldering in your heart?
Might this poem from Danna Faulds invite you to the more that is being offered here.
Why wait for your awakening?
The moment your eyes are open,
Seize the day. Would you hold
back when the Beloved beckons?
Would you deliver your litany
of sins like a child’s collection
of sea shells, prized and labeled?
“No, I can’t step across the
threshold,” you say, eyes
downcast. “I’m not worthy.
I’m afraid, and my motives
aren’t pure. I’m not perfect,
and surely I haven’t practiced
nearly enough. My meditation
isn’t deep, and my prayers are
sometimes insincere. I still chew
my fingernails, and the refrigerator
isn’t clean.” Do you value your
reasons for staying small more
than the light shining through
the open door? Forgive yourself.
Now is the only time you have
to be whole. Now is the sole
moment that exists to live in
the light of your true Self.
Perfection is not a prerequisite
for anything but pain. Please,
oh please, don’t continue to
believe in your disbelief. This
is the day of your awakening.
~ Danna Faulds, Go In and In: Poems from the Heart of YogaReturn to Home Page