Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Visualization and affirmation and cancer

I’ve always thought that mind and body are connected, but even without that predisposition, getting cancer naturally makes me more willing to look at possibilities I might have discounted before.

Could it make a difference to my treatment if I visualize a column of white light obliterating my tumors? Well, maybe. A friend of mine told me a remarkable story of a doctor whose patient imagined her tumor as a pie, from which she cut out a gradually expanding piece – and when surgeons removed that tumor, it was missing just that sort of piece.

Could it make a difference if I affirm that I’m getting healthier every day? Or that I am light, or that I am love, or that “All my feelings are trying to help me get well. I include them in love so that I may truly get well”? All of these come from a chapter on “Healing Affirmations,” from a book called “Opening to Healing Energy,” written by someone named Shepherd Hoodwin, whose website describes him as a channel to “Michael.” I have my doubts about channeling, to say the least, but I am ready to try to be as affirmative as I can, and actually saying or affirming these words may be a way to do that. I don’t mind trying; in fact I’d like to learn to employ all these techniques more fully than I currently do.

At the same time, I don’t always feel that affirmative. I’ve been fortunate that chemotherapy so far has not been more arduous, but even so it hasn’t been easy, and when my body feels lousy, so do my mind and spirit. So then the possibility arises that my failing to be more positive might be contributing to my illness; that it might be, to that extent, my fault. This, as my sister said, is really deeply unfair; to put it mildly, it adds insult to injury.

But what do you do when you really don’t feel positive? The best answer I know came from a very wise friend, who served in World War II. He said that fighting cancer is like combat. You don’t have to like it or feel positive about it or anything like that; you just have to keep fighting. You walk down the road, shoot at some enemy soldiers, then you walk down the road some more, shoot some more. It’s not fun but you keep going.

I found that prescription reassuring. All I had to do was to go to Sloan-Kettering for each treatment and say, “Hook me up, doc” – and then I’d be pushing forward. Now it strikes me that actually my mental image of combat is a form of visualization itself, even though the picture I’ve had in my mind’s eye is a far cry from a column of healing light. And the best thing about this way of keeping going is that once you know you only have to just keep going, maybe it’s easier for you to start to feel better too.

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