Monday, 18 June 2012

Near death experiences, cancer and drinking champagne


‘You should read this,’ said Hilary.  We were sitting on the beach (yeah, yeah, in Greece) watching the waves.  I looked at the book.  Dying to be Me by Anita Moorjani.  My first thought was that I didn’t like the cover (yeah, I’m shallow like that but really - it IS foul, isn't it?).  Then I read the subtitle: ‘My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death to True Healing’ and my second thought was ‘Eeek, no way.’


I have a pathological dislike of cancer. Not because I dwell on getting it myself particularly.  It’s probably a hangover from my father dying of it…maybe more of a habit now than anything else.  But still. 
And then, on the day I was leaving, I talked to Hilary again.  One of those conversations where, for every word spoken, another fifty were unspoken but the meaning caught.  It was a good talk/nottalk and, at the end, she said it again.  ‘You should read this.’  I sighed.   

Anita Moorjani was diagnosed with cancer in April 2002.  In 2006, she was rushed to hospital as an emergency, as a terminal case. Her organs were on the verge of shutting down and, to cut a long story short, she went into a coma and did all the usual NDE stuff – watching what was going on; going off to the place of unconditional Love; realising being dead would be totally cool; being given the choice and deciding to come back to life.  But she didn’t just come back – she came back healed, to the total stunned amazement of all the medics.

I checked her out with my sceptical cap firmly on but her story is pretty watertight and firmly backed by oncologists.  It was a spontaneous and downright miraculous recovery.  Which is great, of course, for her and her family…
But…for the rest of us?  What did she discover, what did she discover?  This is what I found really interesting – as often it goes directly against a lot of the perceived wisdom in handling cancer – and other diseases.

She felt that illness is often caused by suppression (and I have long had a suspicion about that link with cancer in particular):  “When we judge some of our emotions as being negative and try to deny them, we’re suppressing part of who we are.  This creates a blockage within us and prevents us from expressing the fullness of our magnificence. It’s about not being afraid to feel anxiety, sadness or fear, rather than suppressing everything until those emotions pass. It’s about allowing myself to be true to who I am.’

She says that she used to be terrified of negative emotions because she feared they would attract negativity into her life. “It’s about allowing what I’m actually feeling, rather than fighting against it. The very act of permitting without judgment is an act of self-love. This act of kindness towards myself goes much further in creating a joyful life than falsely pretending to feel optimistic.”

She felt that her cancer was her own unexpressed power and energy, turning inwards against her body, rather than outward.  “I knew it wasn’t a punishment or anything like that. It was just my own life force expressing it as cancer because I didn’t allow it to manifest as the magnificent powerful force of Anita.’

She discovered that there is no condemnation in the ‘other realm’ because there is nothing to condemn – we are all pure consciousness.  “I believe that people who hurt others only do so out of their own pain and their feelings of limitation and separation.  In fact they need the most compassion – not judgment and further suffering in the afterlife… I realized in the NDE state that it was myself I hadn’t forgiven, not other people.’

She realized that there really is no time.  “In the NDE state, I realized that every moment in all our lives, past, present, future, known, unknown, and unknowable – exist simultaneously.’ And that we can effectively alter our past by the moment-to-moment choices we make…  “I feel that the present moment is the only point in time we have to create our reality.” 

She learned that religion is immaterial.  “It doesn’t matter whether you believe in Jesus, Buddha, Shiva, Allah, or none of the above. What matters is how you feel about yourself, right here and right now.”

She found that there is no one right diet, one right way to eat, drink, live, be.  “I used to be paranoid about what I ate. I thought everything caused cancer.  I used to eat very healthfully, but I did so out of fear. Now I eat what I’m drawn to. I enjoy chocolate and a good wine or champagne from time to time.  I think that’s it more important to be happy than anything else.  It’s no fun eating all the so-called right foods out of fear of getting sick and being miserable about it.”  

Above all, she says, we should try to be kind – to ourselves.  “We always attract the perfect results, and like calls to like. So the kinder I am to myself, the more outward events will reflect that. The harder and more judgmental I am toward myself, the more my situation will match it. The universe always proves me right in my opinion of myself.”

Bottom line?  “Don’t take yourself or life too seriously. If I ever had to create a set of tenets for a spiritual path to healing, number one on my list would be to make sure to laugh as often as possible throughout every single day – and preferably laugh at myself. This would be hands down over and above any form of meditation, prayer, chanting, or diet reform.”





10 comments:

Zoë said...

laughed out loud at the cartoon, cant tell you how many times I have said that to people who have told me to cheer up

As for my opinions on cancer - hmm, the article kind of implies that I am responsible for having got it, and will be responsible if it returns.

my response to that is you(the author) can piss right off too.

Shit happens, there isnt always a reason, its called fate, deal with it. As a cancer patient, I have to every day.

Suzie Grogan @keatsbabe said...

I am inclined to agree with Zoe - perhaps it is because I too have had cancer and I get fed up with the constant suggestion that I have somehow been responsible for it - even tho I don't smoke, drink much etc etc. I don't think I could carry on at all if I didn't believe that my getting it was truly random.

This piece offers, on the face of it, a wonderful idea, but it really does suggest that many people suffering from mental ill health are forging a pathway to cancer - not a great message in my view. If more than one person has found this a way to deal with their illness then that's great for them - but for the majority? Not sure...

Exmoorjane said...

@Zoe - It's good innit, the cartoon?
I wondered what you'd think of her take.. She's very clear that it's only her opinion and that she is only talking about her own experience. I do feel that not being true to our selves, trying to be what other people want us to be, rather than what we really are - is unlikely to be conducive to good health or a calm mind. Whether that can lead to cancer...sheesh, I dunno.

Exmoorjane said...

@Suzie - Maybe I haven't explained it very well. I didn't get the impression she was attributing blame at all. Far from it.
I do feel that mental and physical health are intimately connected...and science is showing it more and more. How we think can - I feel - affect our bodies. And the implications of that are huge.

Frankie said...

I think when bad things happen to us or to others (like illness) we like to assign responsibility. It is much, much easier to say "I gave myself cancer by bottling my negative emotions" than it is to deal with an implacable, uncaring universe where bad shit just happens -- taking (or assigning) responsibility lets us hold onto the illusion of control.

Ashen said...

The cartoon makes the point that one person's joy is another's ire. Some stuff (trauma) has lodged too deep in the brain to be re-framed cognitively through re-drawing the map by which we create our individual meaning.
Stories of healing will inspire some and piss off others. It takes a journey through pain (often somatic) for trauma to be released. Each journey is different.

akisdad said...

I think it was Barbara Ehrenreich who wrote an article about getting cancer and feeling that she was being blamed for not being positive enough about it. There were people who thought she should treat it as a life enhancing experience (I'm quoting from memory here and I'm not great at that, but I think I'm fairly accurate)and she was responsible for it 'cos she felt like it was a shitty thing to happen to her.

That being said, I suspect that I'd be interested in the book and the ideas. Maybe you need something to happen that blasts your world apart before you get well and happy. As long as she remembers the order things happened in and doesn't advise people to drop dead as an infalible cure for whatever ails then I'd be happy to read it.

Westerwitch/Headmistress said...

Very interesting. Hard to accept that we cause our own illnesses - but very much something that should not be dismissed either. If you think that being nervous before an event can cause you to vomit, or have the runs, or even faint - then why can't other emotions manifest in other ways.

I have never had cancer so I don't know how that feels - although my Mum died of cancer, but I do have Sjogrens with severe fatigue and inflammation and constant pain during a flare up. This has been going on for 30 years, but for six chronically. I do wonder if there is something going on within me to manifesting itself like this.

I also studied Stress Management and was amazed at just how much stress over a long period of time can cause damage to the body . . .

I will read the book I suspect :)

Westerwitch/Headmistress said...

Very interesting. Hard to accept that we cause our own illnesses - but very much something that should not be dismissed either. If you think that being nervous can cause you to vomit, or have the runs, or even faint - then why can't other emotions manifest in other ways.

I have never had cancer so I don't know how that feels - although my Mum died of cancer, but I do have Sjogrens with severe fatigue and inflammation and constant pain during a flare up. This has been going on for 30 years, but for six chronically. I do wonder if there is something going on within me to manifesting itself like this.

Westerwitch/Headmistress said...

PS I loved the cartoon as well.

Years ago I was standing in a queue in the Co-op when a guy behind me said 'cheer up it might never happen' I froze and then turned to him very slowly and said 'my husband has left me for another woman, we have had a major fire, I have just had to have my cat put down and I found my favourite rabbit dead this morning - I think we can safely say it HAS happened don't you?'

I bet he never ever said cheer up to anyone ever again LOL