February 10, 1997 – Moving Toward Health
Up until now, I have been reporting on external events and meetings with physicians. It has certainly been a whirlwind of activity for the last two weeks, but I haven’t mentioned too much of what is going on inside. Believe me, a lot is taking place and has transpired. I have continued to do “mind stories” daily, sometimes three or more times a day, especially when I feel tired. While the method I use to invoke the relaxed state of mind that I need to do my meditation is described elsewhere, the content of my meditation is made up of at least three kinds of processes.
The first process I use is based on Buddhist meditation. Having been trained in both Zen and Vipassana, I use a hybrid method that incorporates the best of both for my purposes. The method involves following the breath in the belly, which is a common practice in both Zen and Vipassana, with a healing twist. What I used to do prior to my diagnosis was “breathing in … breathing out” – following the physical movement of my abdomen. The modification I make, based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, along with bringing my attention a little lower to my bladder, I generally repeat, “Breathing in, I know that I am healing myself, … breathing out, the cancer is gone!” Much of the time, when the breath is fairly short, for example, I use the trigger words, “healing” for the in breath and “gone” for the out breath, knowing that I am referring to the elimination of the cancer cells.
The second method is to visualize the insides of my bladder, and visualize that I am scraping off the cancer cells into the bladder, to be easily eliminated through normal bladder function. This is a quite effective technique, as sometimes I really feel the cells dying and being eliminated. This process takes a good deal of concentration to be effective, but many years of visualization practice have helped in this area.
The third method is to visualize events in my future with a positive regard. For example, I see myself playing tennis in Sausalito, Edgewood Park and Boyle Park, with my different tennis buddies. Or, I might see myself lying on China Beach in Point Lobos State Reserve, and listening to the waves crash against the shore. I can smell the sea air and virtually taste the salt water. I feel the texture of the sand on my feet, legs, buttocks, hands, and arms. Or, I might visualize R.’s graduation coming up in June or a trip to Hawaii, or whatever my mind brings up. I’m not focusing on my disease at all, as these events take me beyond recovery.
Why, you may wonder, am I bringing all of this up today? Well, after spending the day requesting the Shipley protocol and ordering all of the ingredients in Michael Broffman’s protocol, I attended a support group led by Anna Halprin. Anna is a dancer in her late seventies that diagnosed and treated her own cancer with movement and art. Twenty-one years ago, I studied with Gabrielle Roth, one of Anna’s protÃƒÂ©gÃƒÂ©s, so I was familiar with her work. I also attended a retrospective performance by Anna and her students about a year ago. I was very excited to attend her group this evening because I hadn’t been allowed to play tennis since before the “red stream.”
Anna’s group consisted of mostly women who had already recovered from cancer. There were several ladies who were in the throes of treatment, but they were in the minority. Anna began by allowing my friend J. M. (the same friend who took me to lunch after “yellow stream”) to tell his story of three and one half years of prostate cancer which is no in total remission. Everyone was encouraged by his story.
She proceeded to direct us to get grounded in our chairs and begin breathing in and out. Naturally, my Buddhist practice came to mind and I was in a rhythm of “healing… gone.” We then started moving in time with our breath, expanding way out with our arms open wide on the in breath and contracting inward on the out breath. This theme was developed to standing, bending, and movement around the room to Native American music of some kind. We eventually had some group interaction through the movement and all along Anna kept us focused on our breath. She would have us focus on being grounded, relaxed, aware, centered energy (grace).
After the period of movement, we were to draw a picture inspired by the movement. This was a difficult task for me, for I have never enjoyed drawing too much. With her inspiration and support, I drew the “yellow stream.”