My Story – The Prequel
There is no use trying, said Alice; one can’t believe impossible things. I dare say you haven’t had much practice, said the Queen. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast…”
2008: I am at a yoga class, enjoying the last part of class, chavasana. For those not familiar with yoga poses, chavasana is the “corpse pose” or “rest pose.” In my opinion, the best yoga classes offer a chavasana period that lasts at least 15-20 minutes at the end of the class, because the “rest” you get after an hour or so of yoga and intentional breathing is so sweet, it can take you to places you didn’t know existed.
I am enjoying chavasana at a yoga class sometime before any lumps were detected, etc., etc. I am breathing my intention for the day’s class. Back in 2008, my yoga goal was usually to feel more patient with my children by the end of the class. Breathe in patience. Breathe out love. Breathe in patience…Expel Angry Mommy. You get the idea. Aaaaaah.
On this particular day, my breathing took me on a surprising mental and spiritual ride. I don’t know if it lasted 15 seconds or the entire 15 minutes, but for an instant or an eternity, I was in a state of sheer bliss and light. I remember feeling that I was no one’s mother, no one’s wife, no one’s sibling, daughter, friend…I was only me. Me at my most essential. Me at my most pure state of being. I was one with, I don’t know, God? Light? The Universe? I did not consider myself a particularly spiritual person at the time, and yet, this was clearly a spiritual experience.
When my teacher called us back to earth to finish the class, tears started streaming uncontrollably down my face. My first thought was, “This must be what it is like to try heroine.” I was sure I would spend the rest of my life trying to chase that high so I could just have it – One. More. Time. The good news: it wasn’t heroine. I learned later that with practice, I can get “there” whenever I really want to. The other good news: this was the first day of my recovery, even though I didn’t know I was sick yet.
When my lump was discovered, I decided I wanted to be proactive about getting rid of it, and if at all humanly possible, I wanted to avoid surgery. I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to do this, but I wanted to attempt to treat the lump holistically – whatever that actually meant. Nancy, my massage therapist and now-friend, had given me a massage at the holistic center where I took yoga classes about a year earlier, and I remembered it being a really great massage, during which she had mentioned that she did Reiki, too. I had a gift certificate for another massage and made an appointment.
When I arrived, I told her a little bit about my lump and fear of an impending surgery, and I asked her if she could incorporate a little Reiki into our session. “Just throw a little Reiki in there while you’re at it.” Nancy got very excited. “Sure, I can do Reiki, but I am studying something even deeper than Reiki, and I need to practice on someone as part of my certification. It’s called Qi Gong. I can give you three free sessions as part of my practicum if you are interested.” Super. Sign me up.
When I arrived for the appointment, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Nancy had me lie on her massage table on my back, fully clothed. She explained that she would be doing some breathing and motions with her hands and body around my body to get the energy flowing smoothly through my chakras. Do you know about chakras? If not, click here and scroll down. I didn’t know much back then, but chakras are pretty cool. And apparently, there is one at your throat, which “physically (it) governs communication, emotionally (it) governs independence, mentally (it) governs fluent thought, and spiritually, (it) governs a sense of security.” I didn’t know any of this on the day of my first session, or how healing this particular chakra would change my life, but I was game. I figured it couldn’t hurt (I asked), and I just tried to go into it with an open mind. Nancy left the room so I could get myself situated. The walls were a lovely shade of deep purple, and the blinds were closed. Drapes of translucent fabric were ballooned to cover the overhead lights so that the room was pleasantly dim. Soothing music was playing faintly in the background. My strategy was to meditate on sending a healing light to my throat and to visualize shrinking the nodule until it disappeared. (I made that strategy up all by myself.) I gently closed my eyes, and shortly after, Nancy re-entered the room. I saw out of the corners of my eyes that she was taking deep breaths while extending her arms over her head, and exhaling them down. She then proceeded to move her hands over my body, but without actually ever touching me. I tried to visualize white healing light. The image of the nodule, as seen in my mind’s eye, was actually just purple and black light, perhaps from the colors of the walls mixing with the little light that was actually in the room. I tried and tried to imagine the purple ball enveloped with a bright white or yellow light and then make it smaller and smaller. I was never quite able to make it disappear.
As Nancy proceeded with her motions, my thoughts shifted as I started to notice some very real physical sensations. I was suddenly hyper-aware of where her hands were, despite the fact that my eyes were closed and she wasn’t actually touching me. I could feel a warm sensation, almost magnetic, in the space between her hands and my body. As she moved her hands in a circular motion over the trunk of my body, I felt like she was stirring my insides with a large wooden spoon. Then she moved up to my head. She placed her hands about two inches away from each of my ears, and started moving them again, this time in a small circular motion, as if she was rolling a ball against each temple. I could FEEL balls of heat being rolled, and my head got a little foggy and dizzy. I continued my breathing and just focused on each sensation. She actually touched my body twice: the first time, she placed her hand on my shoulder as she walked to change her position to the other side of the table. The second time, she was at my feet. She placed her palms flat on the bottom of my feet, and I felt a current shoot through my body, take a little jump when it got to my throat and then release at the crown of my head. It was as if she was cleaning a pipeline of energy from toe to head, and there was debris stuck in my throat that the current needed to break through, like a clogged drainpipe. I had to stay on the table for a few minutes after she was done, to recover from the dizziness. I was nervous and excited about the crazy sensations I had just experienced and looked forward to my next appointment. Nancy was excited, too – clearly she was a good student if during her first practicum session her subject was having her insides successfully stirred. At that point, I had no idea what all of the stirring would bring to the surface, but it felt like things were happening. I was optimistic about making my lump disappear.
My next ultrasound was on the calendar for December of 2009. After my three “freebies” with Nancy, she generously decided to take me on as an “internship.” She offered me free weekly sessions until my ultrasound. We were hopeful for a miracle story. And so the adventure rose to a new level. You may be thinking right now, “Wait a minute. I already read that you had two surgeries in 2010. A total thyroidectomy. Qi Gong was clearly a lot of hooey.” You would be correct that the Qi Gong was not successful in physically removing my lump. I was discouraged to find that when I had my ultrasound in December, the lump had actually grown to a point where it was imperative to remove it surgically. However, I still maintain that the Qi Gong was a huge success. In fact, I still go for “tune-ups” every now and again, whenever life has me feeling a little unbalanced. Qi Gong healed me in areas I didn’t know were broken. It taught me about the intimate connection between my mind, body and spirit; how when one is out of balance, it may be indicative that the other two need some work. During that six-month period, within a few days of each session, new thoughts would just “occur” to me. My perspective on challenging situations in my life would suddenly shift, like someone flicking a switch to turn on the lights in a dark room. During the sessions themselves, I found my thoughts gradually evolving from the lump to my neck, just as a body part. Hmmm…what goes on in a neck? Well, it’s where your voice box lives. (Remember, I didn’t know about chakras back then – I thought I was making all of this up myself). My neck, my voice, my neck, my voice…heal my voice, heal my voice. Suddenly, I wasn’t trying to shrink a lump; I was meditating to heal my voice…heal my voice…what does that mean? Be true. Be true to what? To your voice. What do I need to say? To whom do I need to say it? Questions and thoughts like these just started popping into my head, and as the thoughts popped, I would use them as the basis for my meditation at the next session. Breathe in truth, breathe out love. To thine own self be true. Turns out, there was quite a lot that had gotten stuck in my throat over the years, and stirring my insides with that wooden spoon was unclogging the pipes and bringing out all sorts of things I needed to deal with. Qi Gong was like therapy, but without the talking. My body was leading the discussion, and I just had to stay open and listen. The discoveries I made were life changing. Life Changing. Once I started speaking my truths, as difficult as some of them were, my relationships became stronger and more honest than they had ever been before. Singing has been a passion of mine my whole life. It was thanks to Qi Gong that I started singing again; in the car, in the shower, and eventually, I would find an outlet where I could sing regularly after a much-too-long hiatus of silence. I was happy. I was open. I felt connected in a way I hadn’t felt, well… ever. I found and healed my voice. Once Qi Gong helped me symbolically remove the lump in my throat, it was time to physically remove it. And so there was surgery. But these lessons, these seemingly impossible things, would be key in my recovery and in lighting the path for the rest of my journey. There’s more to the story… “My Story: Part 1 – Statistics, Probability & Cancer” “My Story – Part 2: To Glow or Not to Glow, That Was The Question”