Tag Archives: body mind & soul

Having An “Off” Day

IMG_0641
Maroon Bells Wilderness, Aspen, Colorado

After having several days off, now I’m having an “off” day.

My husband and I have just returned from a few days away – we were in Aspen, Colorado, which has to be one of the most gorgeous spots on earth, as evidenced by the photo I’ve posted today.

So good to get away – to breathe in different air, to view the world from another angle, to hear the silence of nature.

We did some hiking – one trail took us up to around 10,000 ft above sea level.  It was so peaceful up there, and I find that sort of peace to be a balm to my soul.

You cannot experience that kind of peace anywhere else because it exudes from the earth, the rocks and the trees, and engulfs you in a peaceful embrace.

I highly recommend it for anyone who is going through breast cancer right now – get yourself into a beautiful location for a little while.  Breathe in that peace.  Your immune system will love you for it.

Now here I am sitting in my office and wishing I was back there.  I wasn’t quite ready to leave it.

To make matters worse, at lunchtime today I was cutting up some basil and managed to chop the tip off one of my fingers.  That makes typing hard, hence the brevity of this post.

I really should have stayed in the forest.

 If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Stress Hits An All-Time High – Here’s Some Relief

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and imagerymajestic
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and imagerymajestic

Everywhere I go this week, I’m running into people that are stressed.  And it’s only Monday!

For those of you who are stressed out, I put together this article today with some things that I hope will help.

There are some nice You Tube videos (links below) that will help you de-stress.

This first one features pressure points on your hands and collar bone that you can press to help relieve stress (they actually work): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPH0ihwVPkM&amp

Here’s one called How to Meditate in a Moment:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6eFFCi12v8

Here’s an hour worth of “Ocean Chill-Out Music” guaranteed to bring the stress down a few notches (skip the ad):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fz8yTq0cqhg&feature=related

Here’s a great one called “How to Calm Down in 10 Seconds”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xI3sVuH7rms

I feel better already just doing the research and finding the videos.  Hope it helps you too!

Remember to breathe.  And smile.  Everyone will wonder what you’re up to.

 If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

My Favorite Blog Lately…

flower, redWhile writing my blog articles, I do a lot of Internet surfing and I see a lot of different sites.  My favorite blog lately is http://thesilverpen.com so I thought I’d share it with you today, especially since my latest blogs have been pretty heavy going.

Written by Hollye Jacobs, a fellow breast cancer survivor, Hollye describes her blog as being “a way for me to document the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and oftentimes hilarious journey through, with, over and around breast cancer. One year later I’m still in recovery but now on a journey to find Silver Linings in all aspects of life.”

I love that – Silver Linings.  A wonderful way to look at life.

Every time I head over to Hollye’s site, I’m in awe.  It has an elegant feel to it – you might read an inspirational thought from Seneca, or a discussion of a book that she liked, or there could be something about gardening or stillness.

Today’s post is about Oscar de la Renta’s gardens in the Dominican Republic and there are some gorgeous photographs – the kind you can lose yourself in.

Head over there and take a look (you can use the link at the top of this page).  Thank you, Hollye.  Love your work and your words of wisdom.  I even love the occasional “f bomb”.

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

How to Journal: Your Cancer Experience

writing journalHow to Journal: Your Cancer Experience

One thing I found to be exceptionally helpful to me was to begin writing a journal when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer.  I didn’t know how to journal, I just knew that I needed to get some things down on paper and FAST.

I’ve always kept a diary ever since our son was born, so I didn’t find it difficult to begin.

I believe perhaps that others have some problems in that regard, so I found you a lovely resource in a website called “Journaling Saves!” written by Kristin Donovan.

Here’s a link entitled How to Journal in 10 Simple Steps.  Wonderful information, and that will get you started.

How Journaling Helped Me

Here’s how journaling helped me.  When I was going through breast cancer, I was reading a pile of information on breast cancer (sometimes several books at a time), a stack of natural healing books and heaps of inspirational info.  When I would find a passage that made sense to me or that I particularly wanted to remember, I wrote it in my healing journal.  Here’s one of my favorites:

“Think of cancer as a message from God to repair the delicate pattern of your soul and internal bodily health through love, nurturing, understanding and acceptance, and as a way to bring those aspects of your life that are out of balance back into balance.”  (Katrina Ellis, from Shattering the Cancer Myth).

Journaling was amazingly helpful to me, I found it essential to be able to refer to those passages I wrote and recall the information quickly.  To see it in my own handwriting also seemed to lend it credence.  I still thumb through the pages of my healing journal once in awhile.

Why Journaling Might Help You

The reason you might want to journal?  Think of it as a container for self reflection, self-expression and self exploration.  It can be a very healing thing to do.

It gets things out of your head and into the light of day – makes them more real.

You might discover some things that need healing – issues, negative beliefs, relationships – things will bubble up from your subconscious mind.

Researchers have found that people who write their deepest thoughts and feelings about upsetting events in their lives have stronger immunity and visit their doctors half as often.  Journaling reduces stress, it even helps your organizational skills.

Journaling can help move you towards wholeness and growth – to who you really are.

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Have You Read “The Biology of Belief” Yet? (You Should!)

reading a bookI have just finished re-reading “The Biology of Belief” by Dr Bruce Lipton, who was just in Loveland, Colorado last month at a speaking engagement.  Alas, too far away for me to get there.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dr Lipton for this book and I’ll tell you why.

When I was going through breast cancer in 2004, the thing I struggled with the most (my elephant in the room) was my inherited genes from my mother and grandmother, who both died from breast cancer.

There were times when I thought, “What’s the use of doing chemotherapy if I am just going to die from this anyway?”

Being a natural therapist, I was aware of how powerful the mind is and I knew what a self-limiting belief this was and that it wasn’t doing me ANY good at all.

A Friend to the Rescue

About that time, I shared that worry with a new friend of mine, another woman going through breast cancer.  She invited me to her house to collect a video tape she’d received from somewhere, so on one rainy day I drove over and met her and she gave me the video to watch.

It was Dr Bruce Lipton giving a talk entitled “The Biology of Belief” about how OUR GENES ARE NOT OUR DESTINY.

That video is now available on You Tube and you can access it here .  It’s an hour long so be patient but please do watch it – it’s very powerful and will change the way you think about genes.

I felt totally liberated when I watched that video, and I began to change my thoughts to more positive, nurturing beliefs.

There Is More In The Book

Once you’ve watched the video, you still owe it to yourself to read the book.  Dr Lipton mentions lots of interesting things in the book that the video doesn’t cover.

I especially loved the section where he discusses the genes that supposedly cause breast cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2.  Dr Lipton says that 95% of breast cancers are NOT due to inherited genes, but to malignancies derived from environmentally induced “epigenetic alterations” (not due to genes).

I really enjoyed the section on prescription drugs, “Buying the Pharm”.  Dr Lipton tells us that pharmaceutical drugs are responsible for more than 300,000 deaths per year.  Did you know that?  Definitely read that section of the book.  It should be required reading for all medical students.

Dr Lipton states “Using prescription drugs to silence a body’s symptoms enables us to ignore personal involvement we may have with the onset of those symptoms.  The overuse of prescription drugs provides a vacation from personal responsibility.”  Confronting, I know.

Another eye opener – did you know that drug companies are studying patients who respond to sugar pills (placebos) with the goal of eliminating them from early clinical trials?  It apparently disturbs pharmaceutical companies that in most of their clinical trials the placebos (the “fake” drugs) prove to be as effective as their “engineered chemical cocktails.”

Which just demonstrates to me that we as humans are susceptible to the healing power of “something” you feel is going to help you.  Makes me think of leeches, blood-letting, rattlesnake oil…

Placebo vs Nocebo Effect

In the book, Dr Lipton discusses the interesting difference between the placebo effect, when the mind, through positive suggestions improves something injured or diseased in the body, and the nocebo effect, when the same mind is engaged in negative suggestions that can damage health.

How many of us have heard of the patient who walked into his doctor’s office, is told that he only has 8 weeks to live and 8 weeks later he promptly gives up the ghost?  That’s the nocebo effect in action.

I was telling you just the other day of a friend of mine who was told he only had a few months to live, to go home and get his affairs in order, but he chose not to accept that.  He went in search of holistic medicine and he’s still here with us 16 years later.  That’s the placebo effect working (along with a whole bunch of other things!).

Finally, I have found Dr David Hamilton’s wonderful YouTube video called How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body.  And he has a wonderful Scottish accent.  Enjoy (it’s only 6 minutes long).

I think I’m in love…

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

The Best Chance to Heal Yourself – Own It

elation

The Best Chance to Heal Yourself

I’m seeing a trend with breast cancer patients that worries me a bit.  To put it bluntly, I think that it’s misguided to put your entire healing process totally in the hands of your medical team.  That gives them all the power and none for yourself and that does NOT give you the best chance to heal yourself.

Your medical team, no matter how highly esteemed or how accomplished, function largely in the role of body mechanics.  They are trained in terms of body.  They can operate on you, they can prescribe a treatment strategy, but they are not responsible for your life or your health!

You are.

Nobody can get well for you.  You have to do it for yourself.

I think it’s wonderful to select a medical team in whom you have a great degree of confidence.  That’s important to do.

But once they are in place, your attention must also focus on the role of mind and spirit in this journey with cancer.

You are a totality of body, mind and soul – to ignore the other aspects and focus only on the body I believe is a mistake.

What Helped Me

I sought out a psychotherapist to help me with stress levels, I went to a person who taught me something called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to deal with my negative thoughts about cancer, my husband and I did some relationship counseling, we learned to meditate from a group of Buddhist monks — I did all this to give my body and my mind and my spirit a chance to heal.  These things might not work for you, but I would encourage you to find the things that DO work for you.

Honestly, I felt so good after taking care of all the emotional baggage – so much lighter and like I wanted to take on the world.  For me, that’s when true healing began to take place.

So empower yourself.  Do what you need to do to get beyond this – and be the beautiful spirit I know you can be.  You deserve it and the world needs your healing.  Now, more than ever.

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.

Love Yourself – It’s the Most Important Thing to Do

I don’t know if it’s just me or what, but it seems like a lot of the breast cancer patients I’ve spoken to lately are really struggling with a very simple concept, that of loving themselves.

Anthony Powell once said “Self-love seems so often unrequited.”  For many, a lack of self-love has left a hole inside their spirit and how can one heal with that going on?

I think that love is the most significant thing in human life.  Why is it so hard for us to love ourselves?

Often, I believe it goes back to those messages received from parents during very young, formative years.  We might have heard “I wasn’t planning to have another child when you came along”, or “Why can’t you be more like your sister?”  Such statements can be so damaging and can set our unconscious minds to thinking we are not worthy of love.

God’s Reset Button

For me, having cancer was simply a matter of  my inner healer saying “Pay attention!  You’ve been stressing about everything lately.  I’m going to make you hurt a little right now so you will wake up and get back on your path.”

Dr Bernie Siegel calls pain and suffering “God’s re-set button”.  I like that.  Going through a life-threatening disease like cancer is sometimes the only way we will make the necessary changes.

Getting Some Help

There are some self-love exercises that various mind-body medicine teachers suggest, for instance, stand in front of a mirror every morning and look yourself in the eyes and say “I love you” and mean it.  Sounds like a good place to start.

You can also join a support group focused on self-love and healing.

From what I’ve learned about the mind and body, though, we need to delve deeper to change those long-standing beliefs because our subconscious mind is controlling the show.  You can consciously decide to start loving yourself but if your subconscious mind believes you are not worthy of love or that you are useless, no amount of positive affirmations is going to change that deep seated belief.

One good therapeutic method is hypnosis,which is when a hypnotherapist induces a trance state in a patient whereby relaxation and heightened imagination or visualization can help bring about some real changes in beliefs.  There are some very helpful YouTube videos (I like Steve G Jones and a site called hypnosistoday.com).

Another method is neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) which is a method of retraining the brain – it’s difficult to describe it more fully than that.  If I had to choose between hypnosis and NLP, I believe I’d choose hypnosis, it has more research behind it and is generally employed by board certified psychiatrists.

Why Loving Yourself is Important

Vast quantities of research has been done on healing and why people don’t heal like they should and what researchers have found is that if people can be brought to love themselves, they heal not only psychologically but also physically.  Love comes from our deepest essence, when we feel love it becomes a whole body experience and true healing can take place.

According to www.hypnosistoday.com, “Self-love is the great healer. It purifies and fortifies your body, mind, and spirit. It makes you stronger and softer. Self-love is magnetic: when you love yourself, you draw other self-loving people into your life.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.

The Healing Power of The Kiss

The Healing Power of the Kiss

I came across an interesting statistic today that fired up my imagination: I read that a kiss stimulates 34 muscles and lots of hormones and chemicals known as neurotransmitters.

So I decided to investigate.  According to researcher Dr Andrew Scholey (wouldn’t you love to be a kiss researcher?  what fun!) senior lecturer in psychology at Northumbria University, the reason kissing feels so nice is because of the disproportionately large area of the brain dedicated to lip and tongue movements. He stated that “Only finger or hand movements occupy as much brain space.”

Apparently, a multitude of changes is going on in our bodies when we kiss – here’s the breakdown.

The Electric Moment

The moment your lips meet is often described as electric, and apparently that’s exactly what it is.  Studies using electrodes on people’s lips during a kiss showed electric currents flowing along the nerves from the brain to all of the 34 facial muscles. Hence, those tingly sensations!

A Flood of Hormones and Neurotransmitters

Kissing stimulates the primitive part of the brain involved in automated functions (the four Fs: feeding, fighting, flight and, um, mating).  “As you kiss, signals received by nerve endings in the lips are sent to the limbic system, which releases hormones that tell the pituitary glands to produce gonadotrophin.  This hormone attaches itself to the ovaries, causing the release of estrogen and testosterone, which increase sexual excitement,” says Dr Scholey.

Another hormone released at this point is oxytocin (which is also secreted during breastfeeding and orgasm, and promotes caring feelings towards your partner or baby – sometimes referred to as the “bonding” hormone).

Your growing excitement causes a rise in the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline and adrenaline causes blood to switch from the stomach to the limbs, ready for fight or flight and turning off digestion.  As your heart rate increases, blood rushes to the surface, making your body warmer and creating a rosy glow!  It also causes your whole body to receive more oxygen than it does when you’re just standing around.  At rest, your heart beats about 60 to 80 times a minute, but mid-kiss this accelerates to over 100 (unless of course you’re kissing your mother…).

As adrenaline increases, levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin fall – this keeps you focused and less likely to want to break off to go feed the cat.  As serotonin drops, so do your inhibitions, making you more impulsive.

Once your kiss reaches its peak, your body is working overtime – it makes you feel nice by releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine into the brain, which intensifies your desire.

That light-headed feeling is from the release of endorphins, the brain’s natural opium-like substances.  Endorphins produce the euphoria most people feel during a good kiss – they make us go all gooey.  Do you ever wonder why you feel better after a long run, a good laugh or a great kiss? It comes from a release of endorphins.

So – wow!  More oxygen (always a good thing), dopamine and endorphins that make you feel good.  I think we should incorporate kissing into our healing plan – what do you think, girls?

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.

The Incredible Gift of Gratitude

incredible gift of gratitude

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net and Felixco

The Incredible Gift of Gratitude

I don’t know about you, but I don’t wake up every day thinking it’s going to be a great day.  Some days, I am just not feelin’ the love!  In fact, some days, more than anything I just want want to hide out under my sheets.  Fortunately, that doesn’t happen to me very often.  When it does, though, I usually go to my shelf of inspirational books and find one that resonates with me on that day.

Which is how I came to today’s topic: Gratitude.  The book I picked up was “Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy” by Sarah Ban Breathnach.  It’s one of my favorite books and often helps me to get out of an undesirable place in my head.  I was feeling trapped in a place of lack – you know what I mean, that place where you hunger for more (whether it be more money, more love, more peace, more work…).  The book offered me this bit of advice and I wish to share it with you today.

When we surrender our desire for MORE of whatever it is we are wishing for and begin to be grateful for whatever we have and truly appreciate all of our blessings, we are really opening our eyes to what’s around us.

It helps to make an inventory of your life’s assets: your work, your health, your partner, your friends, your pets, a roof over your head, the food on the table.  Think about how each blesses your life.  Grow your list from there: the flowers in your garden, the way chocolate melts on your tongue, or how the beach sand squeaks beneath your bare toes.  Once I traveled to a place where running water inside the home was a luxury most couldn’t afford, so I even include “running water” on my list of blessings!  Notice and appreciate each day’s gifts, then pause for a moment and give thanks for them.

Sarah Ban Breathnach reminds us: “Know that your personal net worth cannot possibly be determined by your bank account balance.  Be open to exchanging your need for emotional and financial security for serenity.”

May you feel the serenity and gratitude of this perfect day.

GET MY BEST TIPS on healthy ways to beat breast cancer and prevent recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.