Reversing my husband’s heart disease through diet alone (lowering his cholesterol by 100 points in 6 weeks!) propelled me into graduate school after a long career as a teacher and composer. I wanted to share what I had learned; that eating well and living well can drastically improve our chances of avoiding disease.
Back in school, I fell in love with what we know, what we don’t know, and the body/mind/spirit puzzle that is each of us.
On graduating, armed with some knowledge, a lot of eagerness and the desire to help everyone stay healthy – like me, the invulnerable vegan! – I was brought to my knees by a diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer.
But there, on my knees, is where my education really began, in the strange and tender land one finds oneself when coming face to face with mortality.
For it was only there, in that dark tunnel, that I would do the work, day by day and moment by moment, to bring my mind–which had lurched into future fears–and my spirit–which had gone into hiding–back into the ‘body, mind and spirit’ equation which I knew makes up the whole person.
And so commenced what I thought of as my Post-Graduate Studies in Integrative Health, when I had to integrate everything I had learned on paper–and everything I was learning in my dark tunnel–to become healthy again.
These were studies in Empathy, because….just like that!….I could identify with all those who were suffering, sick, afraid, anxious or ashamed. I was all of those things.
I had a LOT of homework.
Early mornings, QiGong and walks in the woods helped take the edge off my anxiety. Evenings, meditation helped harness my chattering mind. Breathing exercises helped me find sleep and a new stillness. Opening myself to prayer, visualization and ‘radical acceptance’ fed my spirit.
Many loving arms and lovely rituals ultimately lifted me up (along with, crucially, Big Pharma, which...joke's on me!....I used to love to hate).
I got my health back, and so much more.
As a result of navigating this turbulence, I am more aware of poignancy of every moment, the beauty and complexity in each of us. This has given me a fuller 'tool box' for emotional, psychological, spiritual and physical health, resources which accompany me to every meeting with every client.
What I know is that now when someone comes to me, I experience in my bones the suffering, great or small, that has brought them to the chair across from me.
Thanks to my ‘post-graduate studies’, I know that we’re in the same human family facing the same challenges.
And I know now that to live a 'nourished' life, a life that is big enough to hold us up through whatever turbulence might be ahead, we need not only to eat well and live well, but to strive to live a life that is spacious and kind, awake and aware.