The purpose of this blog is purely educational. It does not advise any reader to forgo medical treatment for any condition. It describes methods that have not yet been proven effective through widespread scientific testing. Readers who are concerned about their health are advised to contact their physician.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why is meditation a good prescription for cancer patients?

Stress is deeply implicated in cancer. Not only can stress contribute to the onset of cancer, but it can also help it spread. And I would say that there are few life events more stressful than living with a cancer diagnosis.

Meditation short circuits that stress.

One of the Buddha's Four Noble Truths, the first one, is that "life is suffering". According to the Buddha, life is suffering because of "old age, sickness and death", but also because of many subtle day-to-day discontents such as not having what we want, having to put up with what we don't want, and the subtlest one of all, being aware, even when we are happy, that the happiness won't last. But the Buddha might as well have said "life is stressful," because that would have been just as true.

Meditation was one of the Buddha's psychological remedy for the pain of the First Noble Truth. Meditation teaches you to live in the now. Regretting the past or dreading the future take up huge amounts of mental and physical energy. Every moment of living in the now is like a vacation from regret and dread, freeing up energy for healing, creativity and resilience. The peace of living in the moment without fear floods your bloodstream with positive hormones. It gives your body a rest.

Cancer can fill you with fear of the future and regret for the things that you have not done in the past. Meditation teaches you how to stop those thoughts. Fear in particular constricts you -- it makes your breathing shallow, so you don't get sufficient oxygen (and cancer thrives in an anaerobic environment). It constricts your mind too, so you become trapped in a circuit of negative thinking. Negative thinking in turn floods your body with stress hormones -- which cancer also loves.
(Meditation tips for everyday living)

One type of meditation I have done is called Radiant Mind. We were shown on a very vivid graph how everything happens in the moment. Your mind might travel back with memories or forward in anticipation or dread, but it still resides here, in the moment. Everything you experience in your mind affects your body. The quality of your life, and to a large extent the health of your body, depend on how you feel in the moment, and it is from moment to moment to moment that the tenor of your life is determined. One exercise we were taught was to stay in the moment, accept everything in the moment, observe everything in the moment and let everything go, moment to moment.

Another type of meditation I learned is Mahamudra. In Mahamudra you calm the mind by focusing on the breath, and then you ask "where is my mind? what shape is it? what size? what colour?" You discover that's it's nowhere and everywhere, that is has no shape and no colour, and that it is not you. There is more to you than your mind, more to you than your body, more to you than your self, more to you than your pain. You can wedge some breathing space between yourself and your pain, yourself and your fear, by looking at them as an impartial observer.

If you can learn to become that impartial observer called "awareness", and so stop identifying with your body, with your fear, with your pain, you will have won an important battle in your quest for health. Alastair Cunningham, the creator of the Healing Journey, recognized this and made meditation one of the cornerstones of his program. Many graduates of the program fared much better with their cancer than their diagnoses suggested.

Meditation resources abound. There are CDs, DVDs, local meditation centers and teachers, Buddhist temples both of the Zen and the Tibetan variety, and Youtube videos galore. I would in particular recommend Adyashanti's teachings. But there are many others, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Pema Chodron, Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, Ram Dass, Thich Nhat Hanh. Find one who speaks to you.

Postscript January 19: Just found this article on a cancer survivor who partly credits the Healing Journey program for her healing.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Open Letter to Oncologists

Dear Doctor,

Let me begin by saying that I respect the care and devotion you give your patients and that I understand that you are working within a widely accepted paradigm that you were taught many years ago in medical school.

But I am writing to you with some frustration because I have seen the suffering that this paradigm can cause.

I am not speaking of the many cancer patients who experience successful outcomes through the accepted practices of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. I am speaking of the ones who come to you to whom you have to say "I am sorry. Your cancer is too advanced to treat. All we can offer is palliative chemotherapy or radiation to improve your quality of life when it becomes compromised."

All too often "palliative" chemotherapy and radiation mean weeks or months of suffering (nausea, vomiting, hair loss, weight loss, exhaustion, pain) for a few weeks or months of added life. It is questionable how this improves quality of life.

I fully understand that because of your training you are not aware that there are alternatives. The purpose of this letter is to make you aware of at least some of them.

For eighteen months in 2007 and 2008 I trained in an energy healing method that was specifically said to be effective for cancer. Since then, I learned another one that is likewise said to be helpful for cancer sufferers. Over the past four years I and a colleague have worked with many cancer patients. I would like to tell you of our experiences.

In our work treating end-stage cancer patients we found that most of them experienced significant pain relief. In one case a patient in hospital who was expected to die within days of stage-4 pancreatic cancer instead rallied, and was sent home a week after we began treating him. Five days after the first treatment he no longer needed morphine. His jaundice reversed. Instead of dying within days, he went on to live another 10 weeks, able to resume some normal activities, including shopping, barbecuing, and going to the cottage. This was an extraordinary case.

In other instances we asked end-stage cancer patients in significant pain what their pain level was after treatment. Before treatment, it was 10 out of 10; after treatment 2 out of 10. Pain relief could last a couple of days.

In one instance a patient with end-stage bladder cancer, who developed a large inoperable metastatic tumour while receiving chemotherapy, came in supported by his wife, visibly in considerable pain. After treatment he walked out unassisted and laughing. He then opted for a round of heavy duty last-ditch radiation and died. His wife said he told her he wished he had continued working with us.

Energy healing modalities such as Reiki and Therapeutic Touch are already accepted under the current medical paradigm as adjunctive treatments. So a terminal cancer patient might receive palliative chemotherapy and radiation, and then receive Reiki or Therapeutic Touch from a nurse or a hospital volunteer to deal with the side effects of the treatment. But I would submit that the new energy healing modalities, which seem to pack more punch than Reiki or TT, would not need to be adjunctive to chemotherapy or radiation. In cases where the aim is palliation, they can be used as stand-alone treatments.

In our experience patients who have no hope of beating their cancer can live far longer and far more productively with energy treatments than allopathic ones. One man we treated who had bile duct cancer with metastases to the liver, and was expected to live 7 or 8 months, instead lived 20. Significantly, for the first 12 months while he was receiving energy treatments, he was able to walk the dog, paint his house, rearrange his garage, help the neighbour build a deck, and (at the end of the 12 months) travel to a national park to go salmon fishing and white water rafting. After 12 months he terminated energy treatments and was eventually persuaded to try chemo and radiation. He died 8 months after ending his bioenergy treatments and once again his family told us that in retrospect they believed it would have been better if he had continued working with us.

You are too quick to dismiss us. One doctor said of our pancreatic cancer patient who was sent home to live 10 extra weeks, instead of dying within days as expected, that his sudden turn-around was probably "the natural course of his disease". This in spite of the fact that man's own doctor called it "a miracle".

My point is that the patient has nothing to lose and a lot to gain. No side effects to treatment. An extended life span. Pain relief. More energy to live daily life. Society would also benefit, given the runaway costs of allopathic hospital treatment (e.g., $5000 a month per patient for chemo pills). I would think doctors and nursing staff would also benefit in not having to witness, helplessly and on a daily basis, the suffering of these patients.

All I ask is that you be willing to work with us, in particular if the terminal patient in question is a child. I just saw an interview with Dr. Andrew Weill in which he said that already twenty percent of medical schools are teaching an integrative healthcare model. What I propose is as good as integrative medicine gets. Everyone benefits.

Please think about it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Anatomy of a miracle

When you write a blog about energy healing and cancer you become a magnet for stories of miraculous healings. You read about them in your research and people contact you with links and even personal stories. You find out that miracles abound.

After a while you begin to ponder why some people see miracles while many others get a mundane reality of painful treatment, side effects, decline and death. What's the difference? Why did Anita Moorjani come back from the other side and heal from her stage 4 cancer? How did Jeff in chapter 5 of Leigh Fortson's Embrace, Release, Heal become cancer free in 6 weeks after being told to go home and put his affairs in order? How did many others in Leigh's book experience miraculous healing? How did David, the "Geordie Healer", beat multiple myeloma not once but twice? How did John Hill's 93-year-old mom get cured? What's the secret?

Alastair Cunningham of Toronto, who developed the Healing Journey program, has seen many cancer patients over the years, most in very dire stages of the disease. Many of them died, but a handful of them transcended even stage-4 cancers. These survivors were warriors of the spirit, who remade their lives, looked into their own hearts, dropped their grudges, and faithfully followed the program, which was heavy on meditation (or maybe I should say "light"?) and self-understanding.

It is a tenet of psychoanalysis that everything in a patient's life contributes to the neurotic structure causing the problems that brought him to the analyst's office in the first place. With cancer patients we assume that what brought them to their disease had to do mostly with physical things: diet, unhealthy lifestyle, poor genetics, or outside influences such as smoking, excessive alcohol, asbestos or other carcinogens. Few people dare to mention other factors such as lack of a self or depression or unexamined emotions. But in fact we should be looking at the whole picture, as Leigh Fortson did. When Leigh looked deep inside herself, she found a raging artistic younger self who felt left behind. When she took account of this part of herself, she got better.

Anita Moorjani through her near-death experience discovered that we are far more than bodies. We are spirit and we carry everything that becomes our life in our energy field. If cancer is in our energy field and we weaken, we develop cancer. If cancer is removed from our energy field, it is also removed from our bodies. Our chief task is to love ourselves, and from that love we will see arising a genuine love for others. If we love others but not ourselves, we will weaken. Many cancer patients I've seen loved others to the exclusion of themselves.

David, the "Geordie Healer", has an amazing blog. When I first found it, I contacted him to ask if I could quote from it. He said I could. So here is an excerpt:
If I tell you that cancer is no more than an energy; you could visualise this energy as a darkness within the light of our being, then you give it recognisable form. This energy, or darkness has affected the cells in your physical body, and you have 60 trillion of them. Your chemical DNA is also an energy that allows cells to die and new cells to grow according to your DNA blueprint. DNA is affected by thoughts, fear, food we eat, our environment and our thoughts about ourselves. Negativity is poison to our body, negative thoughts, feelings, anger, fear, keeping alive past hurt, extreme emotion, ego responses. Our preoccupation with negativity has a resonance that usually manifests dis-ease...disease. Every cell in your body is replaced over a 7 year period, this slows with age and we are meant to degrade slowly, to eventually die. What are we physically, not much according to science, cells are made up if atoms and molecules, these are 99.9999999% empty space. If you compressed 7 billion people in this world into a structure that had no spaces in between the atoms you would have a structure the size of a sugar lump. We are so much more than physical matter and we all need to know this.
David beat multiple myeloma once, but then in 2010 it returned.
In 2010 my cancer was again found in my body. I had just been through a clinical depression, my world was black, I did things that were alien to me and was in a hole of my own making, lost for a time to light and love. I lost my wife, my business nearly failed and I was doom and gloom. No wonder my cancer returned. It was a major lesson for me and having learned it, the cancer that threatened to kill me was removed for a second time. This time it will not be back, I learned the lesson. Hells bells who could beat MM twice; I did.
What did David do?
If I tell you that you have the tools within you and the connection to your soul that sees Multiple Myeloma as a minor disturbance in your energy field, and that it can be removed completely. Would you listen?

You can never access this healing power with your mind, your mind is weak. You must go within, meditation, where you still the mind and take your awareness in silence into your heart area. Your heart is your doorway and your shield of protection. You may be surprised to know that the heart carries an energy that is 50 times stronger than the brain. Relax and take several deep breaths, on each breath feel yourself going deeper into your heart, visualise a doorway and walk through it when you feel calm. Through this doorway visualise a landscape that is calming for you, by water, in nature, walking on a beach, etc, etc, close the door behind you and feel the warmth of the sun as it bathes you in light. In this place the sun is your soul and you can visit this place any time you like, in this place you will carry the energy from your soul into your heart. Light chases dark and this light and warmth from your soul connection will flood your cells with light. See it chase away the darkness that is cancer, it cannot exist in the light of your soul. Importantly...KNOW IT IS HAPPENING. See the colour black being washed down through your feet and into the earth where the energy is recycled and cleansed.

When you question consensus thinking and beliefs and know who you are, as an eternal being having a physical experience, connected to an awesome power of soul, you can transcend the limitations your parents and caregivers instilled into you. You can change the fear, the stress and be comforted by the connection to your soul that you might not have known you have. Your soul loves you unconditionally and will revel in the connection. Do it once or twice a day, and remember, nothing relevant is past, nothing happens in the future, the future only exists as possibility, EVERYTHING HAPPENS IN THE MOMENT OF NOW. Now is the most important moment you have, make it work for you.
This is the same message Anita Moorjani brought back: love yourself, love the moment, and build on each moment to make your life a work of art. The only thing required of you in this lifetime is that you be you.

And here is an excerpt from John Hill's qigong meditations, which he used to help heal his mom:
Hold the general intent that you are the Center of the Universe, your breathing goes infinitely in/out to the ends of creation, including all centers – the hollow center of a seed, the Big Bang, you as a tiny dot in your mother’s womb, the consciousness center of everyone past/future on the planet, every living thing growing from a dot to full growth, etc. Hold this macroscopic intention in a free-floating relaxed manner. As in all these meditative efforts, our minds will tend to drift from the intent – that’s fine, in fact this drifting adds to the ground covered, as long as you allow yourself to come back to your original intent/visualization. While existing as Center, also include the center of each cell, molecule, and atom of your body. Since you are breathing love from the center of creation to the infinite ends of creation, you are also breathing this love from the center of each cell in your body throughout the universe that is your body/mind/spirit. Your universe is also your mom and dad making love at your beginning through all things you have and will experience – all these things are visible from the center of your sphere.
He did this meditation and some others he mentions while visualising being one with his mother, one cell not yet differentiated. Here too, love is the centre.

People will scoff that this is simplistic, but it has vast advantages over radiation and chemo. I suspect that when the practice becomes genuine, it floods the body with hormones that do a world of good, suffering is eased, and even if death must follow, it will be a far less harrowing experience than what physical medicine alone has to offer.

Since all these people who experienced miraculous cures bring us the same message, I for one believe that there must be something to it. Namaste.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Waivers, disclaimers & legal releases

Energy healers sometimes ask clients to sign disclaimer or release forms in which the client acknowledges that the practitioner works in the energy field and not on the body, and makes no promises about any actual healing taking place as a result of the treatment. The client is often informed, as for instance on Dr. Bengston's website, that "the physical body ... is the domain of the medical field and other allied health care professionals." But these days, probably as a result of malpractice suits, the medical field seems quite reluctant to take on the responsibility that we have been allotting to it.

Yesterday I had to make a visit to walk-in clinic in an American city to be seen by an actual bona fide medical doctor, and I was asked to sign a form that said
I am aware that the practice of medicine is not an exact science and I acknowledge that NO guarantee or assurance has been made or implied to me as to the results that may be obtained by examination or treatment.
In other words, we make no promises, folks. But hold on, isn't medicine supposed to be evidence-based and scientific, in contradistinction to energy healing, which is not? Isn't the perceived superiority of medicine based on its alleged scientific and evidence-based nature, and the resulting belief that we can pretty much count on certain drugs doing certain things to certain diseases in a relatively large percentage of people? Apparently we cannot count on our doctors either. Perhaps all of us might want to adopt the disclaimer used by the mutual fund industry: "past performance does not guarantee future results".

In related news, GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, has just been fined a record-setting $3 billion, yes billion, for fraudulent practices in marketing nine drugs, including Avandia and Paxil. These practices included marketing drugs for off-label use, meaning uses for which the drug was never tested, approved, or intended. The response of the pharmaceutical industry has been to prepare "an appeal to the Supreme Court to receive a ruling that permits off-label marketing as Constitutionally protected free speech under the First Amendment." The mind boggles.

The $3billion fine follows closely on the heels of a $750million legal settlement (announced October 26th) levied against GlaxoSmithKline for knowingly selling substandard and contaminated products manufactured in a plant in Puerto Rico that "for years was rife with contamination". Caveat emptor ("let the buyer beware").

Postscript February 25, 2012: This is why I was asked to sign the waiver. Mind-blowing statistic: at least 75% of doctors are sued at some point during their medical career.

Postscript April 16, 2012: Johnson & Johnson fined $1.2 billion for fraudulent marketing of Risperdal.