Musings: Miracles, Midlife, and Waking Up the Mind

A good friend’s husband was recently diagnosed with stage four inoperable brain and lung cancer. Howie is a vegetarian, TM meditator of over 30 years and the most creative, optimistic and lovable person you could ever hope to meet.

His diagnosis and disease is shocking and disturbing to everyone who knows him. How did this happen? Doesn’t it count for anything if you’ve taken good care of yourself and others around you? Apparently not. Perhaps it’s the inescapable sea of toxins we live in.

With the current rate of 50% of the population developing cancer and 35% of those dying within 5 years (as reported on the American Cancer Society website), we have to admit that western medicine has lost the battle in preventing cancer. Although your personal food and lifestyle choices might be able to help tip the odds in your favor, there are no guarantees of immunity. Cancer is not just about individuals anymore; it’s become an epidemic, forcing us to mobilize a different kind of thinking about how we can protect ourselves and society.

God bless each and every individual and family that has had to suffer with cancer to bring us to this point of epidemic awareness. It’s only by the sheer volume of numbers in seeing our loved ones taken from us that we are forced to explore new ways of thinking in the vast field of healing and medicine. As cancer creeps in to all sectors of society — children, middle age, elderly — seeming to strike randomly with increasing frequency and speed, we can no longer ignore the threat we feel on a daily basis. The powerlessness and frustration is evident in speeches from presidential candidates trying vainly to soothe voters’ fears about catastrophic illness by outlining programs providing “health care” for all citizens.

But as Republican candidate Mike Huckabee noted in one of the campaign debates: it’s the medical system itself that is broken. It’s too expensive to fix broken bodies with our western medical treatments. We need to take better care of ourselves. While western medicine has made huge progress saving cancer patients and performing miraculous procedures to reduce pain and extend lives, it also creates an equally large ocean of patients and their families living a medical nightmare of harsh treatments, unwanted side effects and financial devastation. With cancer rates rising and not declining, mandating medical insurance and hospital care for everyone is clearly not the answer.

As a result, more people are considering the options offered by Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). CAM’s underlying principle is that we can keep ourselves healthier longer, and possibly even disease free, by learning how our bodies heal themselves. A recent cover story in U.S. News and World Report (Jan. 21, 2008), explored alternative medicine in the mainstream, citing dozens of hospitals and medical schools in the country with active CAM programs. Surgeons in hospitals regularly report the effectiveness, and sometimes miraculous recoveries, of patients using CAM treatments.

Is it possible that we really CAN heal ourselves? That we are endowed with a miraculously powerful built-in healing system, just waiting for us to crack open the owner’s manual? Holistic thinkers and researchers have been publishing books about our inner healing abilities since books appeared in print, but in the past few decades we’ve witnessed a great surge of this information coming directly to our attention. Our increasing vulnerability to cancer and immune disorders is pushing us to seek out and evolve new skills.

Although she is well aware that I receive more books than I could ever hope to read in many lifetimes, Pat Burke of Earthsong Yoga wisely gifted me a book called Women’s Power to Heal Through Inner Medicine by Sri Swamini Mayatitananda (Maya Tiwari). In the book Maya Tiwari, aka “Mother,” describes the “miraculous” healings that take place among the mostly poor women who come to her centers in New York’s inner city and Guyana, South Africa, facing AIDS, cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, who have no access to western medical health care. Because they want to live to see another day and to take care of their families and loved ones, they learn how to bring themselves back to health through the power of their own feminine cycle, the food they prepare and eat, and nurturing the body with self-care. The book details case after case of gentle recovery in the face of serious disease and offers recipes, remedies and prescribed regimens of body, mind, lifestyle and spiritual care a woman can follow to heal herself. The success of Maya’s work has even prompted the opening of outreach centers across the United States to teach these skills.

Inner medicine is every bit as powerful and successful as surgery and chemotherapy, but without the lethal side effects. We have been conditioned to believe that medicine and healing equals surgery and drugs. Reinforcing this public mindset with lots of advertising is critical to keeping that medical system in power. It’s time for this deeply-rooted belief to give way to the truth that there are as many ways to study and practice medicine as there are diseases to treat. We can learn to heal ourselves. We can do this; we can change our mindset about healing and disease.

According to Louise Hay, with our mindset we can even change the world. I watched Louise’s new film, You Can Heal Your Life: The Movie (Expanded Version), and watched it over again twice to absorb even more of its powerful impact. Currently 81, Louise started her work of bringing the power of affirmations and positive thought to the public in her early 50’s. At midlife, she awoke to the realization that every thought you think is creating your future. Change the way you think and you will change your life. And that’s exactly what she did for herself and millions of others through her books, videos and conferences which have educated the public for 30 years about the most powerful tool for change on the planet: our minds.

It’s no secret that most of us feel humanity is headed in the wrong direction today. We face ongoing war, dramatic climate change and environmental destruction and rising levels of disease and poverty as the population increases around the globe. There are those, including Louise Hay and the host of visionaries interviewed in You Can Heal Your Life: The Movie, whose personal and professional lives are a testament to the power of thought to change our health, our happiness and even the negative trends in the world. They are speaking out to proclaim that, like Dorothy’s red ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz, the power to create a better life and world has been with us all along. We just didn’t realize it. It’s time for the people to wake up and focus the power of their minds to create miracles in health care, in keeping the peace and minding the environment. Ironically, most of these celebrities are midlifers — 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s — the old hippies generation. Perhaps it’s taken 40 years for the passions and ideals of the flower children to blossom.

Changing the world begins with paying attention to your inner dialogue with yourself. Health counselor Karin Weinberg offered this poignant observation in her last email newsletter: "On a daily basis, we talk to ourselves in ways we would never speak to another. Imagine speaking to your child the way you speak to yourself about your body. It would devastate him or her. The body you have right now is incredible! It never misses a heartbeat, it maintains homeostasis, and it miraculously digests whatever you put in it. By focusing on the 1% you don't like or wish was different, you may be ignoring the remaining 99% about your body that is beautiful, unique and amazing!"

The next miracle in your life is never more than one belief away. Create a beautiful garden of thoughts in your mind and you can create miracles everyday.

Carol Bedrosian is the publisher and editor of Spirit of Change Magazine.