• Explores the practical and spiritual aspects of confronting a life challenge
as a springboard for spiritual growth.
• Includes accounts of dreams, exercises, and visualizations that inspire profound healing.
• Outlines 12 self-help practices of wellness--emotional clearing, meditations, and lifestyle changes--through the living example of a cancer survivor.
• By the co-compiler of the spiritual classic Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words.
At the age of 41 Cheryl Canfield was diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer. Going against warnings from doctors, she rejected proposed surgeries that would involve removing her uterus, cervix, lymph nodes, and surrounding nerves. Instead, she decided to accept death and focused her energy on attempting to die well. In the process, she cured herself.
Profound Healing is Canfield's down-to-earth account of her journey as she inadvertently experiences a modern-day miracle, and her subsequent reflections on physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual healing. More than a biography, Canfield's story contains exercises, dreams, visualizations, and experiences--from encounters with the modern mystic Peace Pilgrim to her own acceptance of cancer--that assisted her healing process. Others can use her hard-earned insights as a source of hope, inspiration, and practical advice. Relevant to anyone seeking personal growth and life wisdom, Profound Healing is not merely about dying or living. It is about discovering one's life and living it fully while here.
Cells taken from my cervix came back positive. I had cervical cancer.
It didn't seem possible. I wasn't a likely candidate for cancer. I had a daily hatha yoga practice, followed a balanced vegetarian diet, and meditated. I had a retreat center and taught steps toward inner peace. I was teaching other people how to live healthy, balanced lives! Cancer didn't happen to people like me! . . . .
The doctor began describing in detail the radical surgery he believed was necessary. When he finished he drew a picture of my cervix to illustrate how the cancer had already traveled beyond the section of cervix that had been removed and was likely to have traveled outside of the uterus as well. This meant that even a radical hysterectomy would not be enough. . . . .Surgery would entail removing not only my uterus but also an outer lying margin that was filled with nerves and muscles. Very delicate tubes would need to be lifted out, stripped back meticulously, and pulled out of the way of cutting. There would be inevitable damage, the doctor explained. Lymph nodes must go, tubes, uterus, cervix, and most of the vagina. Because the uterus lies against the bladder and rectum, it was possible that those areas could be damaged. The worst-case scenario would include the removal of my colon and the insertion of a bag on the outside of my body to collect waste. That was not a probable but a possible outcome. It was more likely that I would not be able to urinate on my own following surgery and would need a permanent catheter.
With such delicate surgery it was inevitable that repair surgeries would be needed following the initial procedure. All of these things increased the potential of my developing heart problems, not to mention that when lymph nodes in the groin area are removed, swelling and infections in the legs can be very serious. I'd read about a woman who'd had to have first one leg and then the other amputated after such a procedure. I don't know at what point the images that were forming in my mind began to impact what was showing on my face, but
The doctor glanced up as he finished and said, "You look overwhelmed."
"I don't think I want to live in the body that would be left," I blurted out. "I'm not afraid to die."
Time is that precious commodity in life that is so easily taken for granted. When I thought I might not have much left, I wanted only to do what I could to buy more. The most pressing need was to support my body so it could at least maintain its current state while I worked on establishing a sense of inner peace and completion.
Nature has always been a model for me, and I trusted my body's natural process. If my body was producing a profusion of cancer cells, there must be a reason. Cause is somewhat nebulous in any case, encompassing many dimensions and complexities, but if I could only find some trigger I might be able to disarm the cancer. In the meantime I would continue to do research. We don't often know what we're working on at the time we're in the middle of it. It is in retrospect that we gain perspective. When I went inside the answer that came was always the same: Find out everything you can about cancer and then follow your intuition.
I started by reading books on nutrition that related specifically to cancer and then I weighed what I read against my intuition. I used that inner guidance for everything?even when adding a new vitamin or herb to my regimen. I would retreat into a receptive state of meditation and wait for the subtle feeling that I thought of as my "no" sense or my "yes" sense. When it came I didn't question it. I knew from experience that questioning would only take it into the yo-yoing of rationalization, which so easily leads to confusion. I just accepted the feeling. Yes. No. I followed the intuition that came.
The best way to deal with something you're afraid of is to get acquainted with it, so I learned everything I could about cancer. One of the things I read is that cancer doesn't grow in oxygen. The particular type of cancer I had tended to metastasize to the lungs, so I reasoned that oxygenating my lungs would be a practical step toward preventing its spread.
I took up jogging. Every morning Plato and I would go out at sunup. At first I was so weak that I could barely jog half a block, but I built up my endurance until I could finish three miles. It was never effortless; it was hard work. But it felt good. It was an accomplishment I was proud of, and it helped me to feel stronger.
The way I experienced healing was not in one dramatic moment, but in a series of realizations amid various struggles, which offered deepening insights: when I woke up and knew I could deal with death naturally; when I perceived my cancer cells as frightened young children; and when I experienced compassion moving through me where fear or bitterness had been. During each of these moments and others, I knew that something major had shifted inside. I didn't know whether I would live or die, but I knew that, whatever happened, I would be all right.
One--Face to Face with Mortality
Two--Weighing the Alternatives
Five--Tying Up Loose Ends
Six --Making My Way Through the system
Seven--The Spiritual Path
Eight--Encounter with a Modern Mystic: A Woman Called Peace Pilgrim
Nine--Peace Pilgrim on Healing
Ten--The Journey Home
Eleven--Land of Vastness
Twelve--Sojourn in Paradise
Thirteen--Testing the Water
Fourteen--The Greatest Gift
Sixteen--Surviving the Dark Night
Seventeen--Time in the Wilderness
Eighteen--Embracing the Possibilities
Nineteen--Five Healing Storie
Twelve Steps in the Healing Process
Twenty--The Beginning of Self Transformation
Twenty-One--Step One: Take Charge
Twenty-Two--Step Two: Develop an Empowered Attitude
Twenty-Three--Step Three: Create a Healing Environment
Twenty-Four--Step Four: Practice Forgiveness
Twenty-Five--Step Five: Explore Attitudes and Beliefs
Twenty-Six--Step Six: Transform Negative Feelings to Heal and Release the Past
Twenty-Seven--Step Seven: Build a Support System
Twenty-Eight--Step Eight: Simplify Life
Twenty-Nine--Step Nine: Establish Personal Integrity
Thirty--Step Ten: Open to Intuition
Thirty-One--Step Eleven: Love Yourself
Thirty-Two--Step Twelve: Do All You Can and Release the Rest
Epiloque Heal Ourselves, Heal the World
Appendix: Summary of Steps in the Healing Process