Category Archives: Wellness

Breast cancer and the LoA: Please don’t be afraid to feel afraid

In my therapy practice in Bryn Mawr, I work with women who have breast cancer. They are often afraid of their fear: the Law of Attraction has become a monster for them. The issue is the LoA and how it applies – and does not apply – to getting and fighting cancer.

I have studied the LoA for years. There is a lot of (I believe rather immature) stuff on the internet about the LoA. “Think well and you will be well”, the teaching goes. I think it grossly oversimplifies the case.

And worse, I think it freaks people out.

Is there nothing to fear but fear itself?

So many women I work with are freaking out because they are scared, and they are scared of being scared. This puts them in a bind. They can’t begin to grapple with the fear, move through it, and let it move through them, because they are afraid that in being afraid they are making themselves sicker.

Because they are afraid of the power of their fear they don’t allow themselves to express it. Consequently, their fear has no way out. It grows in the darkness. And worse, these women feel shame because they have fear.

For most of us, a cancer diagnosis is @%*&# scary.

And then things get better. Most of the time – by far, most of the time – my clients do, too. They learn about treatment options and they start the marathon. They find out that the sun still rises and they still laugh and have fun.

The marathon ends and they reflect on how much they have gained: they know a lot about mindfulness and meditation, complementary therapies, nutrition and natural beauty products. They have learned to tell the people they love that they love them. They don’t sweat the small stuff.

But for many women, the road to recovery is fraught with the boogey man named LoA. They come to me and cry: I am afraid, and I am afraid that my fear is killing me. If I let myself feel afraid, am I making my cancer grow? I am afraid to let myself feel afraid, and I’m still afraid. I have no power over this fear. It feels like life and death.

Don’t suppress your emotions.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But I know my clients. I read the research. I talk to people. I listen. And I can tell you that there is not a shred of evidence that feeling afraid makes people sicker. On the other hand, there is research, including a study of 94 women with recurrent or metastatic breast cancer, showing that unprocessed trauma hurts.

David Spiegel, M.D., one of the study authors, says “people do better in the aftermath of traumatic stress if they deal with it directly. Facing, rather than fleeing it, is important… In other words, don’t suppress your emotions.”

Please. Don’t. Suppress. Your. Emotions.

Emotions are not “good” or “bad”. What we do with them, however, has consequences. Suppressed emotions can cause some serious mischief. Keeping our fear pushed down is exhausting. And it’s inauthentic. And we can’t heal what we can’t allow ourselves to feel.

I think that having a dialogue with our feelings is healthy. In English we say “I AM afraid”. Other languages express it as “I HAVE fear”, and there is a certain mindful distancing that comes from framing our emotions this way.

What I want to say to my clients, to all the women who are fighting the fight, to you, is this:

Please don’t punish yourself by fearing your fear. Let yourself feel your feelings. Let the fear move through you. You will find yourself on the other side of that feeling and see how much you have grown.

My typo as a metaphor, and it’s OK to ask for help

I sent an email newsletter last week and it had a big mistake in it. The second paragraph makes no sense. It says: “Have you ever considered that what we do that with our spaces, we can do that with our energy fields?”

I knew what I meant.

I usually have a second set of eyes proofread for me, but this time I was late getting it sent and was impatient. I read it several times, and read it out loud. Reading my writing aloud is a good way to make sure it makes sense. But this time it didn’t work.

The problem was that I knew what I meant to say, so I didn’t notice what I actually typed. Knid of lkie you can udnresantd waht tihs syas.

I should have used my proofreader.

Which brings me to the point: We should always use our team!

Humans are social creatures. When we tell ourselves, very stubbornly, “I can do it all by myself” we are likely mistaken. The stubbornness itself is probably a sign that we are mistaken.

Of course there are lots of things we are supposed to do alone, but in the bigger scale, “no man is an island unto himself”. We humans thrive in relationships. We are happy in community. We gravitate to groups, try to find our tribe, we work out our issues in relationship with others.

When my little sister was in a high chair and just learning to talk, she wanted to do everything all by herself. One night we were having stir-fry with soy sauce, she was at that age of budding independence and wanted to pour it “all by herself”. The over-sauced food made her shudder.

This is what happens to us even as adults when we stubbornly, and I dare say immaturely, decide that we can do “it” ―anything, everything―all by ourselves. We shudder as we learn the hard lessons of ego, and come to realize the beautiful reality of interdependence.

I see many brave and strong clients who mistakenly believe that asking for help in time of crisis is a sign of weakness. I have done this too, but I try to remember what I remind my clients.

Getting help is not a sign of weakness: It is a sign of humanity. Sometimes we find that the best thing we can do is to ask for help, to let others in. When we deny ourselves the help, and deny others the opportunity to be of service, we throw things out of balance.

Sometimes we give, and sometimes we take. Sometimes we lead, and sometimes we follow. But we never travel alone. And when we forget that, we have forgotten the very thing that makes us human.

The Chakras: Foundations of Health

The chakras are energy vortices that conduct energy though our energy field and into our bodies. Each of the seven major chakras is associated with a particular gland, and the functioning of the glands is a reflection of the functioning of the chakras. The chakras also affect the organs near them. Each chakra is also associated with a particular set of emotions and with a level of our aura, or energy field. An understanding of our energy and the chakra system informs my work with clients in my therapy practice in Bryn Mawr.

Energy moves through our chakras and into our bodies via nadis, which are etheric or energetic patterns of our nervous system. They also send energy into the governing and central vessels, which run our meridian system; from there, energy is distributed throughout the entire meridian system. It is not an overstatement to say that the function of our chakras is foundational to our overall health and wellbeing. Here are some basic ways the chakras affect our health:

1st chakra: Imbalances in the first, or root chakra affect our “will to live” and ability to get along on the physical plane. When we have a block or sluggishness in our root chakra, we may be “spacey”, or unable to manifest the best life we are meant to live. Over-activity of the root chakras is associated with over-activity of the adrenals, so we feel stressed.

2nd chakra: Imbalances in the second or sacral center are common, as this is the center related to our emotional life. The sacral chakra is related to the gonads, so imbalances lead to sexual problems and problems with the sex glands. Sacral imbalances also lead to emotional problems, and problems with money and relationships. This is an area of creative expression, so a block or over-activity will also affect our ability to create.

3rd chakra: The third or solar plexus chakra is related to the pancreas and its neighbor, the spleen. The spleen is responsible for circulating prana, or energy, throughout our body; it actually has its own mini-chakra, but is closely related to the solar plexus center. The pancreas, of course, is responsible for fueling our body by regulating blood sugar levels. Dysfunction in the solar plexus can lead to blood sugar problems (hypoglycemia or diabetes), lethargy or over-energy, and stomach and digestive complaints.

4th chakra: The fourth or heart chakra is related to the thymus gland, which runs our immune system and is critical for our overall health. Heart chakra imbalances can lead to problems with the thymus and also to heart and circulatory problems. These problems are most always because the heart chakra is blocked or drained.

5th chakra: The fifth or throat center is associated with the thyroid, which regulates our metabolism. Thyroid problems are linked to dysfunction in the throat chakra. This center is also involved in many throat problems and respiratory complaints.

6th chakra: The sixth chakra, the forehead or “ajna” chakra, is associated with the pituitary body, which is responsible for running our entire glandular system. Blocks in the ajna center are related to endocrine imbalances and some sinus and head complaints, as well as vision and hearing problems.

7th chakra: The seventh or crown chakra is related to the pineal gland, which is responsible for producing melatonin, the sleep hormone; it regulates the body clock. Dysregulation of the crown chakra (and its polar opposite, the root chakra) can lead to sleep problems as well as migraines and other brain issues.

Energy Healing

Energy work is gaining popularity. It is a powerful tool for personal growth and healing. Clients are amazed at the transformation they experience in just one session. One client texted me the day after our first energy work session to say, “That was amazing!” Her physical discomfort was gone and she felt emotionally at ease with an objectively difficult situation.
Remember we are energy beings! The physical body is an automaton responding to the energetic input from the etheric levels. The aura is real, and you have probably seen it. Have you ever noticed that white outline around things? Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you, you are seeing energy. This level of the aura contains the template that runs our physical existence.

In the film A Thin Sheet of Reality, from the 2011 World Science Festival, a panel of four physicists (a Nobel Prize winner, and professors–interesting ones!–from MIT, Berkley, and Stanford) explain their theory that our three-dimensional world may be a holographic projection of a two-dimensional template. The theory developed from their research into black holes.

As an energy healer with a penchant for research and scientific investigation, I was so happy to see a scientific explanation of what to me is a very real and very important part of reality. Another constant source of scientific backing for the energy-healing world is Bruce Lipton, author of the Biology of Belief.

Luckily we don’t need a PhD in physics or biology to receive the benefits of energy healing. If you would like to experience the peace that comes from releasing energy blocks, whether for physical healing or spiritual growth, please contact me.

The Cinderella of Health

Of all the things we do for our health, one of the most important is probably the least respected. We know about healthy eating. We don’t always do it, but we sure hear a lot about it. We know about the importance of exercise, and there is a whole industry built around our need for it. We don’t always do it, but we all know we should. We hear more and more about the importance of meditation, which may be on its way to being as routine as brushing our teeth—which is another thing we do for our health. We get regular physical exams, have our eyes checked, and go to the dentist.

What we don’t do, as a culture, is get enough sleep. And that is a shame, because sleep is a cornerstone of health and a pillar of good mental health. When we get enough sleep, our brains operate efficiently. This improves both our cognitive skills and our moods. Our reaction time is better, we are easier to get along with, we even eat less.

But as a culture, we adore staying up late, getting up early, and applauding ourselves for being so busy.

When Edison invented the light bulb, he rejoiced that human beings would no longer “waste” so much time sleeping. Before electricity, people slept when the sun was down. In the winter, that could be a very long time. Now we do have electricity and we certainly won’t be in bed for 14 hours on December 21st. But the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. We have plenty of light, and illuminated screens, to guide us through endless and, contrary to Edison’s hopes, often mindless activity. We do this to the detriment of our health and wellbeing.

Even one night of poor sleep causes irritability and moodiness, and decreases our inhibitions. Over time the consequences can be severe. Research shows that chronic sleep deprivation leads to increased mortality risk, weight gain, moodiness, irritability, accidents, heart disease, and decreased immune function. And the consequences for teens are grave: sleepy teens have trouble with weight gain, moodiness, and learning, and sleepy-driving accidents are most prevalent in drivers under age 25.

How much is enough? You probably have heard that adults need seven hours of sleep. In reality, while individual sleep needs vary, we need about eight hours of sleep each night. Teenagers need more, about nine and a quarter hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, 85% of teens report getting less than the recommended amount, and 15% get fewer than 6.5 hours. Adults do a little better, but still 30% of us sleep less than seven hours a night and increasing numbers of us are getting fewer than six hours of sleep per night.

So what can you do to get more sleep?

  1. Make sleep a priority.
  2. Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule.
  3. Avoid heavy meals and alcohol before bed.
  4. Turn off “blue screens” (TV, iPad, monitors) two hours before bed.
  5. Decrease caffeine consumption and don’t drink caffeine six hours before bedtime.
  6. Keep your bedroom dark and cool.
  7. Restructure your day so that you can get eight solid hours of sleep.

Try it for a week and see how you feel. Try it for three weeks and create a new habit. Model it for your children, and make sleep health a priority in your home. You will find yourself slimmer, more alert, easier to be with, happier, and healthier!