Hello, dear one,
As I sat down to write to you this month, all manner of politely encouraging messages I could potentially send drifted through. Polite, even potentially helpful, and ultimately superficial. There is a strong part of my personality who wants to be viewed as nice and polite and non-controversial. If I stay safe, maybe I’ll be loved and approved of, she reasons.
Yet the larger part of me — the one knows she is made of the same stuff as the stars and the moon and the trees — she knows that I am always loved, and always safe. She knows that everything that unfolds – whether I’m “rejected” by another or meet with some harm, is ultimately all for my highest good.
And so I decided to write what is really in my heart to share with you. I found a lump in my breast a few weeks ago. As I suspect happens for most women, I immediately went into fear mode – gripped, even riddled with tension and anxiety. My mother is a breast cancer survivor, and, like you, I know so many other women who have faced this disease as well.
Thankfully, at some point in that initial sea of fear, I remembered a wonderful little book I’d picked up years ago – it’s called Breast Cancer? Breast Health! by Susun Weed. I’ve always felt deeply empowered by Susun’s non-traditional, woman-centered, healing and supportive work, and this time was no exception.
As I thumbed through the book alternating between feeling numb and despairing at equal turns, a question jumped off the page. The question went something like this:“If you find a lump, what do you think your breasts are telling you?”
That question brought me back – back to center, back to the present moment, back to myself. Of course! As I’ve been on this journey of studying and practicing joy and peace, listening to my body has been an absolutely critical element. She is so wise, and if I will just take a little time to be with her, she tells me everything I ever need to know.
When I need to exercise more regularly, she speaks that into my left hip. When I’m not taking care of myself, she stages a melt down that requires me to pay attention. When I’m not eating the foods that make her sing, she sends a sore throat my way. And when I am taking great care of myself, she purrs and tingles and we sometimes skip around together celebrating!
And so why would I abandon my relationship with her now – why would I suddenly feel that I know nothing about what’s going on in my body, and that I must abandon myself and blindly go into fear mode, accepting the first thing a doctor who barely knows me will say? I can choose to go to a doctor, of course, but I can go remembering that I am my own best authority on my body. I can listen to what’s offered, but I get to choose how I wish to proceed – both in terms of concrete issues like treatment options, and also in the attitude of mind I bring to it all: love, not fear.
And so, my body and I sat down and had a chat. We read passages from Susun’s book, and some from Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Dr. Christiane Northrup too. We did a guided meditation to decide how to proceed. The information came through with stunning clarity – “It’s not malignant tissue, but you’re going to feel better to get it checked out anyway. And after this, we need to prioritize finding a great doctor and building a relationship with her.”
And so I went. Just as my body had told me, the ultrasound I requested to receive (rather than a mammogram) identified a benign cyst. I thanked the doctors, feeling great gratitude for the staggering amount of privilege I enjoy as a middle class Western woman, that allowed me to find peace of mind that easily. And now, I’ve begun looking for a doctor to build a relationship with going forward – someone who empowers and appreciates my views and will work gladly in partnership with me and my body wisdom.
And, my body also told me that the message this time was a wake-up call of sorts. There are a number of places where I’ve slid out of alignment in my life — too much time on the computer, some poor food choices, and not nearly enough time outside in the woods, dancing, singing, and playing just to name a few. So we’ve created a plan to shift this, my body and I. The plan may feel like two steps forward and ten steps back for a while, who knows, but we’ll stay with it through the ups and downs and celebrate each baby step.
We’ll also continue the loving, joy-filled breast massage we do regularly – using wonderful organic oils to nourish the breast tissue and move the lymph….rather than framing this as the “looking for land mines” fear-filled “self breast exam”.
And of course, some day the result may be different. We will all die of something – maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe many moons from now. And so I’m inspired by Thoreau’s words: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
For my part, while I am able, I will go to the woods, and I will dance, and sing, and tend to this vital practice of joy: listening to what my beautiful and wise body is telling me, so that I may truly live while I am alive. It is my deepest hope that you will too.
Thank you body. Thank you Life.
Thank you for reading this. I dearly hope it serves you in some way.
Has your body been trying to tell you something, dear one? Are you feeling a nudge that it’s time for you to live your life more fully and in more alignment with your heart’s deepest desires? From what I can tell, we all need support, and lots of it, on this path. If you think coaching might be a support to you on your journey, I’d be glad to have a conversation with you to talk more about it. Click reply to email me, and we’ll set up a time to talk.