Alone I know nothing

Yes, I admit, I know absolutely nothing when it comes to the Truth of this Reality.

I have to recognize that each time I forget.

Otherwise, I am just deluded.

The persona, Janet, which I embody, seems to be a mind/body/spirit complex Being who believes she is separate from What Always Is.

But she’s Not separate in Actuality.

And that’s where the Knowing comes in. And this is how Knowing showed up for me:

In February 2019 after my breast reconstruction surgery (post 2 years of “successful” breast cancer treatment), I began to have signals – feelings, big surges of desire for change, deep disappointment with my current state of affairs in every aspect.

It felt like an alien took over my body/mind complex and was informing me to make major life changes. At times, I felt like I was having an emotional breakdown.

It really did feel alien, because I’m typically very tolerant, an empathetic sort who deals with anger/judgmental emotions in a way that sets the feelings aside through deep contemplation of how to engage forgiveness and acceptance.

But this “alien” showed up and said in my head’s voice, “Fuck this. I’m done. I can’t live like this anymore.”

I felt possessed. I couldn’t stop the feelings, and the voice in my head was insistent.

This alien visitor (coincidentally?) appeared exactly at the time I began experiencing pain in the breast reconstruction area…..

This pain presented as sharp, burning, electric jolts of pain. This was in March directly after the February 25 surgery.

The alien informed me, “Get out of this marriage relationship and run far away, free yourself from the family drama and incessant codependent relationships you are witnessing.  Leave it all behind.  Get a van, live in it, and travel across county. Find out who you are.”

The alien voice further insisted, “It’s time to quit all these yoga jobs. You’re running around like a chicken without a head, wasting gas and time for piddling compensation, not to mention you’re exhausted. You no longer feel inspired to teach yoga, but required. And that’s not how you used to feel.”

I listened.

In April, the most grueling words I’ve ever felt forced to voice somehow came out of my mouth, and I informed my husband of 30 years, “I think we should separate from each other.”

Next, I gave my notice to 3 out 4 of my yoga employers. I would be taking a long term sabbatical from teaching yoga for personal/health reasons.

It was now May, and my pain turned into a visible rash on the skin of my right breast. The doctors guessed, Shingles?

In June my radiation Oncologist saw my growing, worsening rash, looked at me with a face of horror, and said, “I don’t think this is shingles. You need a biopsy.”

During all of this, my husband and I talked, yelled, cried, shared, but ultimately came to agreement that our relationship was worth working at….. together.. .We agreed to hold on to the foundation of love beneath all the dysfunctional and difficult stuff that has arisen.

Still experiencing burning pain, I couldn’t even keep the one yoga job I had held onto, and I asked for time off due to the painful rash. 

On June 18, my husband’s birthday, I had a skin biopsy. The result: Recurrent breast cancer in the skin.

In July, my PET scan result was: Inflammatory breast cancer metastasized to skin.

In August, it was confirmed that my disease is stage 4, incurable, and chemotherapy along with any eligibility for trials would be my best option and hope for remission.

And so I contemplate ……..

  • Did the “Alien” KNOW I had cancer before I did?
  • Did the “Alien” inform my actions based on the KNOWLEDGE that I needed healing through self love?
  • Did the “Alien” show up as actual cancer cells to bring me to my knees in surrender so that I could focus first on service to self, which automatically will then develop into service to others?

I feel inclined to believe that this thing I refer to as the Alien is Life Itself (God).

Does that mean God is the cancer too? I think so.

And although in this realm we perceive what happens as good or bad, this Alien Voice, Life Itself, God is NEUTRAL, but in Unseen Reality the inevitable result is always for the highest good…… something we cannot perceive or know.

And although Janet Alone cannot KNOW the highest good, when Connected to Source she can allow what Life Itself intends to live through her.

 Today’s prayer:

 Allow me to fulfill my purpose, whatever that may be.

the unknown and true healing

Having had so much time for contemplation, under different circumstances than usual (now that I’ve been diagnosed with an “incurable” illness), I am given opportunity realize the power of the unknown.

Now more than ever.

I wonder, do we all get that moment? To realize life’s infinite potential for the unexpected? I suppose I should feel immense gratitude for being given the opportunity to recognize, to revisit, to place all my attention, to value the absolute power of Life (God, Chi, Prana, Source, Brahman, Tao, etc.) and its ability to infinitely Create limitless potentiality.

So I begin to look back at my daily routine, only about 6-8 weeks ago, which would consist of morning breakfast, (after feeding the cats, of course), a lemon squeezed in my water, fresh blueberries and Kefir laced with Chia and flax seeds, along with my toasted slice of Ezekiel bread and a schmear of chunky almond butter. Coffee, of course. AHHH, pure heaven! Breakfast was always my favorite meal of the day. Then my home yoga practice, meditation, daily contemplative reading, stretching, and always a handstand to get the adrenaline flowing. And finally off to teach my yoga classes for the day ……..

I took that simple routine for granted. Not that I didn’t practice gratitude. I certainly did, as this was part of my work as a teacher to live and impart this knowledge. But truthfully, it’s not until one is faced with the reality of losing something that the actuality is available to knowing how valuable that something was. Now its REAL.

Loss, unexpected change, trauma, illness, is always a wake up call. Some may call it fierce grace. Whatever one chooses to call it, it kind of feels like losing your house to a tornado, and some of the neighbors houses are still standing. You wonder, Was there purpose in this for me?

Now, I have been given the opportunity to learn a new routine. I am awakened in the morning by pain, and I reach for the pills at my bedside. Then I hobble to the toilet, cringing at the stabbing, burning pain enveloping my entire right chest and armpit.

I have found that once I get the pain managed with pills, I’m able to conjure up the strength, slowly, to continue that morning routine of cat feeding and my breakfast. Now, I REALLY value this even more because it’s so difficult to achieve.

Then I spend time in contemplative reading, meditation, dream journaling, and admiring the scene of summer’s nature out the window. I know I won’t lose the ability to engage in these practices unless I should lose consciousness, and for that I am so grateful. The pain is less at this point after eating breakfast, although I’m very weak – the chemo has begun to do its job of killing my blood cells. There is no longer any ability to perform a physical yoga practice, unless walking very slowly can be considered my new asana.

There is no more driving. The painful rash and swelling enveloping my chest has created a limited arm movement that makes it unsafe to drive. It’s a loss of independence.

There is no more teaching yoga, floor or aerial, or home practice. It’s like losing a dear friend.

There is no more physical intimacy with my beloved the way it used to be. A reminder, the physical sensation of youth is temporary.

There is no more cleaning and vacuuming, cooking and grocery shopping on my own. Time to let go of control.

I have learned a few things from all of the unexpected loss and change:

I need to take strong pain medicine to have any decent quality of life. I will never harshly judge another who may have abused narcotics. We don’t know the reason for one’s sense of need to manage their pain.

I can only move my body in very slow motion to avoid any sharp pain. This has provided me with a deeper sense of gratitude for practices I’ve learned, such as Tai Chi, that enable slow graceful movements that feel energetically powerful.

I cannot hug anyone or lie on my side or lie prone. It is actually uncomfortable to lie down at all without strong pain medicine. But I do enjoy holding my husband’s hand, squeezing it during my chemo treatments, and looking into his loving eyes.

Of all the seeming loss this inflammatory breast cancer has caused, there is just as much gain in many aspects of new awareness.

As I took a slow walk outside today,

I listened more closely than I have in a long time.

I smelled the summer blossoms and country air.

I felt my emotional body and God’s presence more deeply.

I cherished nature’s beauty more sincerely.

I loved each moment’s opportunity to be a witness to my own awareness.

I forgave myself for all of my mistakes, misunderstandings, and wrong judgements.

I recognized that the potential for true healing has little to do with a physical body and that true healing is a mystery which is unsolvable by a human mind.

I sensed that true healing has infinite possibility to be experienced through the human heart.

post surgical quietude

For just a while last night I felt a deeper love for Life Itself. I felt a more compassionate resonance. Not that I had no compassion prior to last night.
But something came up for me .…..

A deeper feeling. A deeper knowing. Something that knew even though this life is a sham in so many ways, it is also the most important thing that there is.

It’s so much more than body parts.

The post mastectomy quietude requires watching, witnessing, being present with everything as crazy as it seems…..

It’s noticing the sense of EMPTINESS I feel around my chest.

The first time I recall having a knowing experienced around “emptiness” was in a self-hypnosis therapy session.  Being talked gently downward into hypnotic relaxation, the therapist asked me to “LOOK INSIDE” and tell her what I saw.

I “saw” NOTHING, and said, “it’s HOLLOW, it’s EMPTY”.

She replied, “That’s a brave observation, something many people are afraid of”. I wasn’t afraid. I felt more at peace than I ever had.

It’s noticing the physical pain, which is certainly present.

Being curious about how it feels. The heaviness – like a ton of bricks is sitting on my chest, pulling, stretching, pinching. And noticing that there’s actually a choice about one’s reaction to the feelings of pain.

When the surgeon took out 2 of my drainage tubes yesterday, I was terrified …. Worked myself up into frenzy thinking about what I’d heard from others that it would “feel” like when they yanked out the tubes.

I closed my eyes, took giant breaths, kind of like breath of fire pranayama, even chanted Om Namah Shivaya ……
The actual puling out tubes EVENT was not as bad as the thoughts that I CREATED from my high anxiety mode.

It’s accepting the need to REALLY REST

There’s so many things I WANT to DO, it’s just my nature. Especially movement and change, which I ADORE ….. learning to move the body in new ways. The thrill of being upside down.
But I can’t do my morning handstand now. I have to accept that. It’s time to REST. The handstand will be there when I heal.

For now, slow walking, sitting, reading, looking at nature outside the window, dreaming.

It’s being more aware of TIME, and its illusive quality

Having so much time on hand with no work obligation can be tricky if your personality is conditioned to be busy and productive all the time.

I now have to view this abundance of time as an OPPORTUNITY to notice the VALUE of each and every moment as it REALLY IS. Not just a damn RAT WHEEL. Not just setting and meeting goals, not just carrying out obligations and duties, not just working toward achievements of any sort.

HERE I AM.

That’s really the only TRUTH I can know for Absolute sure. WHERE that really is – I don’t know, and WHAT that really is – I don’t know, and certainly HOW that really is – I don’t know.

The acceptance around TIME being illusive is a huge opportunity for me now having so much of it on my hands. The recognition of it again and again is so liberating.

It’s being more TRUSTING and HOPEFUL that by consciously bringing my attention back to benevolence, more of that will appear to manifest

When I look at my surgery site, what I see is HIDEOUS. Blue pen markings, glued puckered ugly skin incision sites, the rim of the flat pancake spacer showing through from under the skin. It’s so gross to me that I wince looking at it.

What if this “hideous” mastectomy site were viewed instead as an amazing masterpiece holding the potential for a new body, a work of art in progress, a site of regeneration and healing?

Instead of grimacing each time I view my surgery site, what could happen if I remember to place my attention on the wonder of being ALIVE…….. a human BEING Radiating with a Divine Luster?

Yes, exactly as I’ve chanted a zillion times in my Anusara yoga classes:

Niralambaya Tejase “This describes Shiva, or the auspicious energy that Is, as completely free and illuminated.

NIRALAMBAYA means without support. Source has no outside support because there is nothing other than Source. It is a stable ‘IS-ness’, if you will; completely free from limitation for it is all that is.

TEJASE is a light that is always present, even if we can’t see it. It is the fire of passion, the luminous divinity that is in every heart. It is the spark of the conception of a new being, the sparkling beauty that shines out through all of creation and within the meditative realms. It is the purest, most powerful light, and it is beaming its goodness within you!” Katrina Ariel

Today, I am making a conscious vow to continue my work on radiating this attitude.

Namaste.

Photo: alexandra-levasseur