15. Thoughts Become Things
I’ve had somewhat of an epiphany this week. In all my research about cancer, I’ve come to the conclusion that for most it’s a symptom of something else, which is why it’s so hard to treat with conventional methods. That is, the cancer has been given the chance to take seed and grow because of that “something else.” Without each individual qualifying and treating the underlying issue(s) -- whether genetic, emotional, physical or environmental -- it’s difficult for conventional treatments to be effective across the board. That’s why some respond well to treatment and others do not. It’s all about integrative treatment, and was something I had to uncover the importance of for myself. I really wish that during the initial couple of weeks after diagnosis that someone told me about the importance of integrative care. I intend to spread the word to all that will listen!
For me, the cancer is definitely emotionally-based, and I think my positive response to treatment is also because I’ve been facing those emotional issues head on and working to release them. My behaviors and cognitive processing were affected by some things that happened when I was very young, some real and some perceived. And in that, it’s all about taking the responsibility for yourself to change and release those holds and never blame, whether as a direct result of a situation, or the perception of a situation. Your mind and body don’t know the difference between the two.
On the recommendation of my One-Brain practitioner, I’ve been reading Dr. Joseph Murphy’s, “The Power of the Subconscious Mind.” It’s a fascinating read, and totally up my alley, even pre-diagnosis. I’ve often geeked out on neuroplasticity, how to make behavioral change and break bad habits, and the role meditation plays in positively reinforcing it all. This book is about harnessing your subconscious mind to remove whatever obstacles stand between you and what you really want (or need). He says, “There is no true success without peace of mind.” We could all use more of that, no?
The basic premise is that our thoughts become things, i.e. our experienced reality. A belief is just an ingrained thought, and you can either create positive or negative outcomes from those thoughts. It’s a call to clean up your thought processes and refine things to a more simple state, it’s your choice which thoughts and emotions you want to invest in. Dr. Murphy is also an advocate for self-forgiveness and being able to authentically forgive those who you feel have wronged you. Not those little inconsequential things, but those big-ass things that still trigger you all those years later. There is great freedom in releasing them.
We already know that forgiveness is a big part of healing. With the gains that I’ve made in that letting go, I speak from experience about the quality of that work and what it can afford you. Each time, I feel that my psyche becomes lighter and less encumbered by shit that just simply does not matter. Like the snow globe that’s been shaken, the settling of the snow happens more quickly and the globe itself gets upended much less often.
For me, it’s obviously specifically about affecting physical healing to promote overall well-being. Dr. Murphy suggests using mantras to speak directly to your subconscious mind when you’re drifting off to sleep, or just waking up… when you’re conscious mind is less likely to get in your way. My mantra for this is: “All my cells, nerves, tissues and organs are now whole, pure and perfect. My entire body is restored to health and harmony. Optimum wellness is my divine right, and it is so.” You speak to your subconscious mind as if whatever you’re working on is already realized. A total case of fake it ‘til you make it! I get that same feeling of energy in my body when I say the “my entire body” part of the mantra, and it makes me smile every single time. More immune-boosting properties, thank you very much!
The book has also made me think more about being religious vs. being spiritual. This is something that everyone has an opinion on, so please be kind with your judgments. I started giving more thought to it when I read Anita Moorjani’s book, “Dying To Be Me.” She has a really interesting take on it, you should read it when you have the time. When asked, I say that I’m spiritual and not religious. My spiritual practices involve meditation and being in the natural world. I feel connected with my hiking boots on the trail and I’m always scanning for animals, looking up at the trees, the sky, the clouds -- it’s how I experience a connection to something greater than myself. It makes me breathe those deep inhalations and exhalations that fluff up my soul. I know that my lack of religious practice has to do with my experience with it as a child, it just didn’t fit my thoughts and feelings about equality and women’s place in it. So, to the trail for me.
Dr. Joseph Murphy is religious, and he uses quotes from the bible in ways that I’ve never come across before, applying what is usually taken literally and applying it instead to the subconscious mind. I was really pleasantly surprised when I experienced his explanations of things, it was a refreshing take. For example, this is what I read in the chapter on using your subconscious mind for forgiveness. He writes, “To forgive is to ‘give for’... The true meaning of forgiveness is to forgive yourself. Forgiveness is getting your thoughts in line with the divine law of harmony. Self-condemnation is called hell (bondage and restriction); forgiveness is called heaven (harmony and peace)... [It] is to sincerely wish for the other what you wish for yourself: harmony, health, peace and all the blessings of life… . You are not being magnanimous when you forgive, you are really being selfish, because what you wish for the other, you are actually wishing for yourself. The reason is that you are thinking it and you are feeling it. As you think and feel, so are you. Could anything be simpler than that?” I like this guy! His thoughts on being “selfish” are right in line with mine.
Exploring thoughts of letting go also leads me to explore what we choose to hold on to. Regarding physical possessions, I’m a self-proclaimed minimalist, but I do love beautiful things. I’m always drawn to those creative things made by artists that share something of themselves in the making and presentation of it, whether it’s a pair of artisan earrings, a logo, a photo or print, a sculpture. If it speaks to my soul, I usually find some way to justify it coming to live with us. When I was in Boulder, CO., I used to work near the Boulder Art & Craft Co-op. In my lunch breaks I’d walk the outdoor mall taking in the gorgeous flowers and would often find myself in the store perusing all the gorgeous works of art, regularly falling into conversation with one of the artists. There is such love in that building, and it was always good reminder of what creative souls we all really are. It was always a great soul recharge.
Amassing stuff does comes with mental baggage, so you need to be careful. The old adage, “A cluttered house equals a cluttered mind” is definitely true for me, and probably for you too. I like the KonMari method, which is to keep only what truly sparks joy and discard everything else, and assign a home for everything within your home. Simple, but not always easy! While I admire the Buddhist mentality of impermanence and letting go of physical items for true freedom, I like the feelings of joy that those special items bring, so this definitely falls into my “everything in moderation” category.
When I was first diagnosed, I was really angry because I’d just spent a couple of weekends completely dissecting my wardrobe and bedroom, refining and discarding, actively decluttering my space, and therefore my mind. Everything nicely organized and joy-producing, and then bam… stage four fucking cancer. Okay, I told you I’d cop to every time that I cracked myself up, and writing that last sentence made me belly laugh. In hindsight I was mad because I could have just enjoyed those weekends outside with friends and left my crap for someone else to deal with (i.e. husband, sister…), unfair as that is, because I’d be dead and not need anything other than a really stylish coffin outfit. So overly dramatic! Big eye-roll. Go on, you too now. Looking back, it’s a good reminder of how we choose to invest in how we spend our time.
And now, I took time while Dave was on the road to do it again. It’s so cathartic. When my eyes roam over my quiet space, I see the painting of Sydney Harbour that Dave and I found at an outdoor market while there, the small hand-carved wooden penguin and iguana we got in the Galapagos, the jade egg that I found with my girlfriends at the Mapleton Hill rummage sale that I also shared with my sister, the unicorn dinosaur sculpture a dear friend’s daughter made, a hand-drawn comic book from a young friend, the bookmark from my niece, the koala print from my nephew, a painting from my sister-in-law. New leg warmers that miraculously turned up in the mail that are so perfect. Oh, the joy! These things enhance my daily experience, reminding me of my connections to my loving community.
All these months later, I’m just about over the anger from that first “refinement.” Just about. I know what I’ll be working on letting go of this week! Thanks for the reminder.