I have personally dealt with illness and the diagnosis of a life-threatening disease when I was diagnosed with Stage 4 uterine cancer in December of 2016. I understand how scary it is for people now with the coronavirus outbreak. Literally, you are faced with uncertainty, sickness, isolation, career and financial issues, the wellness of those you love and your own mortality. You must weigh your options from the information given by medical professionals and proceed in an unprecedented direction, completely changing everything you knew before this time.
A few years prior to my diagnosis, I began to read and study the bible. I don’t think the timing was a mistake. The words on the pages were powerful affirmations of love, safety and hope for the future. The words I carefully read and studied about were now coming to mind in a more powerful way. The verses rang in my ears. Whatever the outcome, I was comforted by the words and the direction to keep my eyes on Jesus during the storm. And this was a major personal storm. The promises of my God were on every page. Already knowing about the importance of the mind/body connection, I studied more and more. I began to see, in a greater way, how spirituality could be a powerful way of coping with and moving in the direction of healing.
You could always find me in the self-help section of libraries and bookstores since as far back as I can remember. I was absorbed and could not get enough. I thought there was a kind of separation between self-help and spirituality. As a hypnotist, instructor and coach, I found deeper meaning than I ever expected in a lifetime spiritual walk for myself and even for my clients. My studying the bible and improving myself just opened my understanding of myself, life, others and living with purpose.
Prior to my diagnosis I was working in the CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) Department of a hospital, using guided imagery and Reiki before the hospital changed leadership and the program ended. I’ve held an emergency hypnosis certification, as well as a certification as a Spiritual Care Companion, which was a pastoral studies course. I had the opportunity to work with many people in hospital rooms, emergency rooms and the cancer center. At the time, I was working with patients, I didn’t have an idea I would become a patient in that very hospital.
One particular time, I was asked to go to the ICU, which was a rare request from the CAM department. The man they asked me to visit was in his forties and had a heart condition. He was very quiet at first as he refused services, but he didn’t want me to go. I searched my entire “bag of tricks” to connect with him, which he was not making easy. Finally, I found he was an avid reader of the bible and fell away from his church. He had a young daughter of about 10 years, who he rarely saw and didn’t feel his connection to the world. He didn’t feel he had a purpose.
He didn’t feel his connection to anyone, but he absolutely came alive when we talked about what is considered the inspired word of God. In his perceived solitude, past and present, he was comforted by God’s presence and words. There was no need to “guide” him into a visualization of peace and tranquility as the verses we discussed already brought him there. Had I been sent to remind him of what he already knew? Was it also for me? Was negative self-talk keeping him distanced from his spirituality?
I asked why he no longer attended his church, where he had been active. I asked if they would pray for him and he said they would. I encouraged him to contact them, as well as to attend when he was able. We held hands and prayed together. He (and I) felt the power of our prayer and the scripture we repeated. You’ve felt it before…God’s love personified in the care and uplifting of a fellow human being.
Our conversation was a long one. I saw a renewed vigor for life, a hope in his eyes and I heard it in his words. Upon leaving I asked the nurses for a bible and told them why they should give it to him. I filled out my paperwork, went downstairs in the elevator and by the time I came back with a bible, he already had one. The nurses knew the power of his connection. I was impressed by their care and it wasn’t the first time I had that positive experience with a nurse in that hospital. After all, we were on the same healing team.
My diagnosis was downgraded to a Stage 3 and I had a very big operation. Previously, I was a very active person and now I was secluded and immobile. It was a difficult time. I didn’t go out much. I did feel alone. Upon reflecting on that time, I am happy I made the choice to stay positive. Often times, I had to get creative and stay away from negative, limiting thoughts. There was value in the downtime…an opportunity to make things happen….to regroup, to learn, to be with myself, explore my self-talk, to go in another direction instead of mindlessly walking through life. I developed a better sense of going with the flow instead of pushing back and struggling because of engrained habits. I developed a deeper relationship with God and with my own spirituality. I was left with limited choices, but my life choices were not limited, just different.
Essentially, life circumstances at that time made sure that there was no one to rely upon but God. I used hypnosis recordings and affirmations daily for my healing to keep my mind positive, as well as reading scripture. During my 30 radiation treatments I drove over an hour each way. Most times I went alone. Except for the last day, which was emotional for me, I didn’t feel alone. I knew God was with me at my other visits, working in my best interest. I felt so safe, even during the treatments. The only one in the radiation room I felt His presence. Was that the deciding factor for me to be here today?
My faith allowed me to be a positive influence on the patients and even the healthcare workers I interacted with daily. Not because I thought I had to be, but because that’s how I felt. It was a pleasure speaking to them about our common circumstances and hope. I kept my mind and spirituality healthy and held onto hope. It was a choice. And I’m grateful to be here, enjoy life and bring any sort of comfort and hope to those who may need it. Did it make a big difference? I cannot prove it, but YES!
There was a man that I interacted with every morning at the cancer center. He had his own business and was coming there for his radiation treatments every morning, like me. I had secured the first time slot and he, the second. We had plenty of time to talk about many things. One day close to the end of my treatments, I pulled a coin out of my pocket that had the word “Faith” in raised letters. I gave it to him. When I came back in from my treatment, he was watching television, as he usually did. This time, it was different. This time, he was watching a religious program.
I understand. I get it. The corona virus is probably the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you. Maybe it’s not the scariest circumstance in your life, but it’s still scary and uncertain.
Either way, it’s your choice to find the spiritual part in your life. Whatever, that is, that helps you cope with the events in the world. As a hypnotist, I use the client’s belief system to find their motivation to reach their personal goals. I always stress the importance of balance when it comes to all aspects of a person, including spirituality.
Science and spirituality used to be very separate, but now it’s becoming more commonplace to acknowledge the role spirituality plays in our lives. Addiction programs have used an emphasis on spirituality programs for many years.
There is no doubt that spirituality and the mind/body connection are important in our well-being and in our healing. In a study conducted by Marilyn Schlitz, PhD, entitled “Meditation, Prayer and Spiritual Healing: The Evidence” she found that:
“In terms of public health research, through the use of epidemiological methods and tools, we are beginning to understand the correlations between spiritual and religious practice and physical outcomes.”
Studies are fine for discovering information. In times of unexpected circumstances, a spiritual practice will help you to cope and take positive action.
In these difficult times, I urge you to explore your spirituality. We are all on an equal playing field right now. Circumstances have left us with the inability to rely on others. We have worries and stress about so many things we took for granted. Now, in this time of solitude, is the time to explore and rely upon your idea of spirituality to explain and make sense of things. Now is the time to allow your thoughts to be positive and believe in things bigger than yourself, as well as believing in a positive outcome.
Sometimes, clients will say they don’t want to explore their spirituality because of an event that happened or their perception of the world of religion. I’m asking you to not buy into your old beliefs, but to be open to new information. I’m urging you to explore your spirituality at this trying time. In the event you find your thoughts limited or you see perceived roadblocks to doing that, contact your local hypnosis professional to help you see more possibilities.