Master Healer Deborah King | The Official Blog
Thanksgiving is, quite literally, a holiday of giving thanks, so most people have some tradition of gratitude. Whether it is making a list of the things you’ve been grateful for this year, or sitting down at the family table piled with turkey and all the fixin’s with each person expressing thanks for one thing in their life, you probably consider gratitude as important a part of the Thanksgiving festivities as the turkey and pumpkin pie. But what about practicing gratitude the rest of the year?
Gratitude Is Not Just for Thanksgiving
Study after study has shown that gratitude is good for your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health, so the more often you do it, the better you’ll feel! Gratitude has been shown to have numerous benefits, from increased life satisfaction and happiness to more compassion to better rest. And in energy healing, gratitude goes a long way toward keeping your chakras clear and balanced.
The best way to practice gratitude is to add it to your spiritual routine. Just as you set time aside each day for meditation, set time aside each day for a gratitude session. Journaling right before bed about what you are thankful for is ideal, but any time of the day will work, and if you would prefer to speak your list, that’s fine, too. The most important thing is to keep it up. Here’s why:
- Gratitude can help you through tough times.
Listing what you are grateful for seems like a small thing, but it carries so much weight. It’s so easy to forget how lucky you are, how much there is to appreciate even when things are rough. Think about how often someone who goes through a trauma comes out the other side with a new zest for life—this is the power of gratitude in action. When you are aware of and thankful for the small joys of being a body on this planet as well as a soul born out of light, you create a reserve of happiness that boosts you through tough times.
- Gratitude is a natural sleep aid.
If you’re worried and anxious as you drift off—or toss and turn trying to drift off—the level of stress hormones in your body wreak havoc with your sleep quality, which results in you waking up feeling like you need another night of sleep. And a worried mind is restless, making it difficult to drift off. Gratitude improves your sleep quality and duration by keeping you calmer and less stressed, and having a positive attitude when you get into bed helps you fall asleep faster.
- It lowers your stress.
Stress is responsible for so much damage to your mind, body, and soul that you should do whatever you can to help combats its negative effects. Just as energy healing is a natural stress buster, so is gratitude. When you are being thankful, you are in a positive frame of mind and you are focusing not on your troubles, but on a little piece of happiness. This moment of respite increases your ability to cope with the stressors in your life.
- Gratitude deepens your relationships.
As part of your nightly gratitude list, try recognizing the qualities and behaviors of the people you are thankful for. Maybe your best friend always sends you birthday flowers or your partner makes you coffee before you get up each morning. Being thankful for the little things your family and friends do makes you appreciate them more, and improves your interactions with them. This shift in focus also helps train you to see the best in people, and the best in yourself, which makes you warmer, kinder, and better liked, because you are a better friend, spouse, sibling, etc.
- It speeds up your spiritual progress.
In my healing courses I often talk about the importance of service to others. It’s one of the best ways to increase your chances of an initiation by providing a solid base for the new energy. Gratitude makes you more compassionate and empathetic to others, which means you are more likely to engage in random acts of kindness and help others in need. Thinking of others also brings you out of thinking about yourself, which makes you happier and speeds up the process of processing old wounds and traumas, an essential part of energy medicine.
- Gratitude helps you live longer.
Grateful people are usually more optimistic, and optimism has been linked to longer life spans, greater immune function, and lowered blood pressure. Studies have shown that people who are grateful and optimistic are also more likely to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. Being thankful for all the small things makes you feel inspired, which turns into a desire to take better care of yourself, which can add years to your life.
- Gratitude begets gratitude.
When you begin to notice all the little things there are to be grateful for each day: the unconditional love of a pet, your health, the sun in the sky, a thoughtful email from a friend, the smell of freshly brewed coffee—whatever small and large things make you smile—you begin to feel even more grateful to be alive and experiencing all this world has to offer. Your happiness makes you more appreciative, which makes you happier and kinder to others, which then rubs off and makes them grateful and happier. Gratitude is a win-win, a vital part of increasing the love on this planet.
Do you see how gratitude affects all areas of your life and builds on itself? Thankfulness is an upward spiral. Being grateful makes you happier, which makes you kinder and more compassionate, which means others respond to you with more compassion and kindness, which makes you even more grateful. As an energy healer and spiritual teacher who has seen the power of gratitude, I’d love for Thanksgiving to be a spring board for you to begin your daily routine of giving thanks. Try it for a year, and I guarantee that next Thanksgiving, gratitude is what you’ll be most thankful for.
Are Bill Cosby’s lawyers working to defend their client’s name… or drag potential rape victims through the mud publicly?
More and more, it seems to be the latter. Despite the fact that there are now some 20 women accusing Mr. Cosby of sexual assault – and the list seems to be growing on a day-to-day basis – his lawyers continue to insist the claims are “old” and “ridiculous.” They ignore what could be an important truth and heap scrutiny and pressure on those who may have been victimized by their client.
As a fellow attorney and a recovered sexual assault survivor, I’ve written an open letter to Mr. Cosby’s legal team. In it, I explain why it sometimes takes the truth so long to get out, the myriad struggles these women could be going through, and why blaming the victim isn’t just a poor strategy, but also ethically bankrupt.
Follow this link to Psychology Today to see what kind of advice I have for Bill and his lawyers, the media, and society at large.
That’s the question being asked on TV news and leading websites across the country. Only a handful of people know the truth, but Bill Cosby’s accusers are now more than a dozen strong, and the stories they tell are strikingly similar to one another.
Maybe the real question isn’t whether or not he’s guilty, but what it means to young women everywhere if he’s been able to suppress these crimes for decades on end. He’s certainly not the first celebrity to be accused of sexual assault, and other Hollywood heavyweights have experienced little or no damage to their careers as a result of similar allegations. That sends a louder message than any headline ever could.
The allegations against Cosby are being treated as entertainment – it’s “good TV” it to see a high-profile comedian with a clean cut image linked with a sex scandal – but there are more important issues to consider. In this post, I discuss how Bill Cosby appears to be hiding behind his fame and money to prevent an important truth from coming to light.
Have you noticed that being outside lifts your spirits? Take a deep breath and picture yourself in your favorite landscape. Imagine the warm sun on your skin, the twittering of birds in the trees, the smell of pine, flowers, or maybe the ocean in the air…are you smiling? Do you feel more relaxed? The great outdoors is called that for a reason: spending time under the sky rather than a ceiling just makes you feel good. Mother Nature is full of healing power, and connecting to that earth energy can have incredible benefits for your mind, body, and soul.
But what if you can’t get outside? How can you get the same benefits, the same feeling of peace and wellbeing, without leaving your house?
What is Grounding?
Your ancestors had no trouble connecting with Mother Nature, and getting grounded. They were outside every day, all day, rain or shine. You are lucky to have a roof over your head but the downside is a loss of that daily interaction with the earth, and a corresponding lack of grounding. Grounding is the practice of energetically connecting to Earth. This releases negative energy from your field into the ground, and draws positive energy from Mother Nature into your field and chakras, which replenishes and recharges your whole being.
Feeling a Little Fuzzy?
Your first chakra, also known as your root or base chakra, is the foundation for the energy flow in your body. This chakra keeps you firmly in your body and grounded, and if it needs cleansing or charging, you may feel a little “spacey” or somewhat out of your body. Additional symptoms of a dysfunctional first chakra can include: lightheadedness or a “floaty” feeling, forgetfulness, clumsiness, a feeling of being lost or actually getting lost, having trouble staying focused or present, fatigue, and a general dazed sensation. With an imbalanced first chakra, your other chakras are likely to be affected and become dysfunctional as well.
Indoor Grounding 101
The best ways to strengthen your bond to Earth is to spend time outside—walking barefoot on sand or grass, swimming in the ocean or a lake, taking moon baths, and hugging trees. But as the weather shifts from the heat of summer to the crispness of fall and then the deep chill of winter, you are less likely to be spending time barefoot or sleeveless outside your heated indoor space. So how can you stay grounded?
- Sit in sunlight.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a part of the world where winter still gets some sunlight, take advantage of that! Not only does the sun provide natural vitamin D, which boosts your immune system, it also charges and replenishes your energy field. Sunlight is like natural rays of energy healing from the heavens, so soak it up as much as possible. Like a cat curling up for a nap in the window, have a seat in a patch of sunlight coming through a window and let it radiate into your skin, into your chakras and energy field. Twenty minutes in the early morning or late afternoon would be perfect!
- Keep a stone handy.
Stones are direct conduits to earth energy. They are literally earth, so they can help ground you just by touching them. Kyanite, hematite, and garnet are good choices for grounding crystals, but any piece of rock will do. Be sure to bless it for the purpose of keeping you centered and connected to Mother Nature, and then keep it in your pocket for quick access anytime you start to feel disassociated from the earth or your body.
Getting out of your head and being present in your body is an important part of grounding. Physical activity can help to shift your energy from your thoughts to your body as you focus your attention on your body and the world around you. Yoga, pilates or martial arts can be particularly effective because they center your mind, body, and spirit simultaneously.
Like exercise, mindfully eating brings your attention to your body. Gaining sustenance from the earth also helps to connect you to it—to remind you of that fundamental truth of energy medicine: you are connected to everything. Try to eat as many fresh cooked vegetables as you can, and especially root vegetables which grow under the soil and carry strong earth energy.
- Take a salt bath.
Salts have natural healing capabilities, as does water, so when you combine them in a warm tub, you take cleansing to a spiritual level. This helps to heal and cleanse your body, mind, and soul, including stripping unwanted negative energy you may have stuck to you from someone else. Salt baths simulate swimming in the ocean, which is one of the best ways to ground yourself.
There is an easy visualizations you can do from home that will help to connect you to the earth. Picture yourself as a tree, with roots growing from your feet. Feel your roots sinking into the soil, extracting nourishment and energy that you can bring into your body making you healthier. Imagine your roots sinking deeper and deeper, giving you a stronger foundation, a sense of calm, and a greater bond with nature.
- Healing courses are always a good way to get grounded: being in the presence of others and working on grounding exercise help you be in your body and connect to the earth.
And in just a short few months, the light will be increasing again, and next thing you know, you’ll be back outside in the sunlight!
Do you remember the first time you consciously told a lie, even though you knew it was wrong? Most likely it was to a parent, teacher, or other authority figure, and it was probably triggered by fear. How did you feel after the lie was told? Guilty, shameful, scared? Did it fester inside you until you admitted the truth, or did you stay with the lie?
Lying is a Defense Mechanism
As a child, you probably lied to protect yourself; you lied to a parent to get out of trouble or to a teacher to avoid public ridicule. As an adult, you may have lied to your partner, usually about either sex or money. But lying to others is only half the equation; that defense mechanism also includes lying to yourself. You may tell yourself that you’re fine, even when you feel crushed. No, that rejection didn’t hurt. I didn’t really care about that promotion or that relationship anyway.
You may tell yourself that your feelings are “unacceptable,” or that you “owe” it to a loved one to behave a certain way or follow a certain path. You may even convince yourself that someone else’s dream is really your own. But all of these lies create little pockets of darkness inside; they’re like cancer cells that fester and multiply until the truth comes out. That’s what happened to me: the sexual abuse that I couldn’t acknowledge even to myself became a diagnosis of cancer in my twenties.
Live Your Authentic Self
When you suppress your true feelings or follow a path that isn’t really yours, you aren’t living your authentic self. Your soul made a plan for this life before you incarnated, and that plan is your true life purpose. Acting in line with your life purpose is one way to live in the light, another step on the path toward expanded consciousness.
As an energy healer and spiritual teacher, I often see students doing their best to live in the light, but they keep hitting roadblocks. These students may practice meditation, they connect with nature, they participate in energy healing, but they may be still not getting the results they desire. When I look at their energy field, I can see that they are living a lie.
Perhaps they are gay but keeping it a secret; perhaps they want a divorce but are too afraid to upset the family; or their career was the dream of a parent and not what they wanted for themselves. As soon as they can admit the truth to themselves, the real healing can begin.
Unmask the True You
One of the greatest gifts of energy healing is its ability to reveal the true you. Just like those students, you, too, can admit the truth and take a big step toward living authentically.
Here are five ways to live your most authentic life:
- Find your authentic self.
In order to live as your true self, you first have to find out who that is. There is an entire spiritual practice based on a seemingly simply question: Who am I? Are you really any of your labels—daughter, partner, mother, sibling, teacher? Are you your job? Who are you if you are not any of your societal roles? As the practice takes you deeper and deeper into meditating upon who you are not, eventually you come to realize that who you are is a soul, a spiritual being connected to Source. Indeed, you are Spirit. This is the deepest level of understanding your authentic self.
Even knowing you are Spirit, you still need to live in the world as authentically as possible. Ask yourself: what makes you feel joy? What are your passions? Your strengths? Your weaknesses? What qualities would you like to cultivate in yourself? What do you want? What makes you feel free? What would you fight for? What values are important to you? This last one is particularly important, as your actions should be in line with the principles you want to live by. When you know what you want and what you care about in this world, then it’s much easier to be authentic.
- Express your truth.
The first step is admitting your truth to yourself, and the next step is expressing it. Even if you can’t yet speak your true feelings or beliefs aloud, write them in your journal. Eventually you may be able to say what you think and feel to the important people in your life. A heavy weight lifts when you admit your truth. Imagine how great it feels to have your loved ones love the real you! A friend of mine recently admitted, first to himself and then to his family and friends, that living as a male was a lie and his most authentic self was really female. It took a lot of soul searching and bravery, but decades of unhappiness lifted as he started his transition, and now “he” is happy and proud to a “she.”
- Confront your fear.
Often the truth that you keep hidden is directly related to fear. Maybe you worry your loved ones will reject you or cut you from their life if they know the truth. You might fear isolation, loneliness, anger, or even attack, but if you keep repressing your feelings, they can become lodged in your chakras and create mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual problems much worse than the possible repercussions of expressing the truth. Many students come to my healing courses and workshops looking for relief from pain, but what they also find is relief from the constant struggle of dealing with fear.
- Discover what you truly believe.
Energy medicine will help you dig down and discover what you really believe, rather than what you were taught to believe. As a child, you soaked up every tidbit from your parents, teachers, and the culture at large. You learned things like “boys don’t cry” or “girls must be seen but not heard,” or more personal messages, like “you must follow in the family business.” A large part of becoming your true self is figuring out what it is you truly believe, and what beliefs are not true for you and should be discarded.
- Trust your gut.
The messages you get from your gut come from your higher self, which knows your soul purpose in this life. When you need to make a decision, listen to your gut. Your body doesn’t lie, and following its direction will steer you toward the course you are meant to travel.
People who live as their true selves are happier, healthier, and don’t carry the heavy burden of living through lies. Energy medicine will facilitate your ability to hear your intuition, express and release old emotions and traumas, and connect you to your higher self—all of which move you toward becoming your true, authentic self.
Brittany Maynard opted to take her own life at the age of 29 to avoid whatever suffering her brain tumor would have brought as it progressed. She is being hailed by some as a hero for making a courageous choice and for being willing to bring the debate about “death with dignity” to the forefront of the public’s attention.
I feel differently. To me, “death with dignity” means the willingness to take whatever life may have in store for us; it means going beyond the physical disintegration that is taking place in order to reap spiritual benefits.
Even though I did not agree with the choice Brittany made, for reasons I explain in my blog on Psychology Today, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mining-the-headlines/201411/did-brittany-make-the-right-choice, I do applaud her courage in making her decision public so we could discuss this important topic. I do believe in the “freedom to choose,” which in Brittany’s case required a move to Oregon where assisted suicide is legal, but I view her choice from a moral and spiritual perspective rather than a legal one. We’ll never know what gifts life could have given her had she held on.
I posed these questions to my upper level students in the LifeForce Energy Healing program. You can read some of their responses below.
“Death with Dignity” by Darby Ryon
Was it fear? Was it ego? Was it compassion or insecurity? Was it for financial reasons or for a cause? What was going through Brittany Maynard’s mind when she chose to take a fatal dose of barbiturates on November 1st? In the end the reason doesn’t matter. She made a choice and followed through with it.
Having watched my husband, Dan (seen here with a family friend), go through the debilitating effects of glioblastoma mulitforme (stage 4 brain cancer), you would think my first reaction would be compassion for Brittany. In some ways, I do. At first the problem-solving abilities start to disappear, then the small motor skills, and then the large motor skills. Some days you do not see the effects the swelling in the brain can cause, and other days you just want to hold him or her tightly to try to bring them back to reality.
I was fortunate that Dan never had the anger episodes that we were warned about. Somehow he was always able to keep his cool, and to laugh at himself. One day my daughter took him to the hardware store for supplies for a project he had concocted. Dan was an engineer and always needed to be busy doing something. Thank goodness he didn’t recognize that I had disabled his large power tools for fear he could lose a limb, which he was slowly losing control of anyway. While in the hardware store, my daughter went down an aisle to get one of the items on his list and he went down another aisle. To this day she laughs hysterically when she tells about how she turned the corner to see her dad walking down the aisle with his pants around his ankles! He couldn’t keep the bloody things up BEFORE the cancer diagnosis, but now it didn’t seem to bother him. He just laughed at himself and went about his business. What an amazing attitude!
When Dan was diagnosed, we were told he basically had three months to live. Here was this strong top executive of a large corporation curled in a ball and reduced to tears. Yes, we were told about all of the horrible things to come, just as Brittany was. And I am sure at some point Dan wanted it all to end before it got too bad. Instead, he chose to fight it. He had two teenage daughters that he wanted to spend time with and he wasn’t willing to give that up. Dan chose to set goals for himself and not let the cancer rule his life. When he was told he could no longer drive, he worked to improve his motor skills so he could retest to get his license back. And when he failed the test the first time, he tried harder. He rode his bike to his radiation treatments. We took walks in the fresh air.
Dan always had the goal of going back to work, but in the meantime we spent quality time together as a family. We took a special family vacation in the middle of the school year. And then on Spring Break we went on a cruise with our extended family. The memories we made during those holidays were some of the best!
The girls and I laugh about situations that arose because of his condition, like the time he was lost on a small island for two hours because he wandered left instead of right. We were on opposite sides of the maze of bushes. Then we happened upon a bar on the beach at the same time; we laughed, sat down and had a beer, toasting that we had finally found each other. There was no yelling or blaming . . . just love.
All of this makes me wonder what experiences Brittany missed out on. Watching my husband lose his cognitive skills, his fine motor skills, his large motor skills, and eventually his mental presence was incredibly difficult. Not to mention watching the seizures, the looks of pain and sadness in his eyes that crushed me. At the same time, I wouldn’t trade those nine months—yes NINE!—that we got to spend as a family with him. In some ways I feel that watching Dan get weaker helped us to prepare for his death. It didn’t make his death any easier, but at least we were eased into it.
Four years later, I have a different view of death than I did at the time of Dan’s passing. I have discovered energy healing; mind over matter; Ayurvedic medicine; spiritual presence; a connection with guides and angels; and the concept of Oneness. I wonder if Brittany was aware of these things prior to her decision to end her life?
What does it really mean to “die with dignity?” Is it to die knowing you lived well? Is it to die with your head held high, proud of the choices you have made? Is it to die with respect for all that you have represented in this life? For that matter, isn’t respect a relative term? I will never know what was going on in Brittany’s mind or what made her choose to end her life. But it was her choice.
Yes, the last two weeks of my husband’s life were not easy, either for him or for us. Yet, I believe he was watching from above at that point, and the occasional look of clarity and love in his eyes warmed my heart. My husband died a fighter. And yes, he died with dignity.
The Choice to Die by Karen Polk
While I completely respect Brittany Maynard’s decision to die, I had a hard time understanding it. I have spent the past nine years doing everything I can to stay alive and thrive in the face of so-called incurable cancer. I have chosen to live—in whatever form that may take—which makes it hard for me to agree with her choice. So this is a very personal issue for me. But it is also a reminder of how little information most people have about their own bodies and what they are capable of, and how much we give away our power to a medical community that often only sees disastrous, limited futures for many of us.
What I have learned in the past nine years is that these flesh-and-bone bodies of ours are more resilient than we ever give them credit for. The life force energy that animates us is bigger than we can ever imagine; we are capable of extraordinary physical changes even when the medical community feels that our bodies are “broken.” But we often don’t want to hear some of the non-physical reasons why we might be experiencing bodily problems, and we certainly don’t want to take responsibility for them. We are so disconnected from the unseen world that when we hear a phrase, like Plato’s “don’t even think about healing your body until you’ve healed your spirit,” we turn to another institution to which we have relinquished much of our power: religion, which is often the source of misunderstandings about our place in the universe to begin with! Sigh.
I have been blessed with time when it comes to my health issues. Time to explore, learn, research, change, compare and come to new understandings about me and this disease. Were I to face an ugly, aggressive cancer like Brittany faced, I might think differently. Could she have overcome her disease? Maybe, maybe not. Where do you turn if you don’t have the tools, like the ones we learn from Deborah’s 21st CEM program? Or have studied Buddhism? Or embraced the real spiritual substance which all religions share?
What if you can’t overcome the fear of a natural death? Or more importantly in this case, the fear of pain, disfigurement, and loss? What if you don’t really see how every little thing about your own life and your struggle through challenges can affect others in your life in ways that you never could have predicted? I keep checking my own tendency to analyze the science and outcome of the illness I am dealing with by remembering a quote from medium John Holland: “I don’t know anything. But I am connected to something that knows everything.” The grandness of the universal “plan” is often beyond our comprehension. Brittany Maynard’s choice to end her life has its place in the universal scheme of things that I can’t begin to comprehend.
I read a book by Neil Donald Walsch in which he says that all paths lead to the same destination, but some are more arduous than others. If I accepted all that my doctors have said and honestly believe about my health issues, my path would be arduous indeed. But even if I were to experience all that this disease can do to a body, I would still want to pass the way my father did. The lesson I learned from his own arduous journey was that you LIVE until you die. Even through the pain and changes that cancer can bring. As my tai chi teacher said when I told him of my diagnosis, “Life is like this sometimes.”
Brittany Maynard’s Choice to Die by Kathleen Kalbas
I totally support Brittany Maynard in her choice of Death with Dignity this past weekend. I am grateful that she had the right to choose when and how she exited this life. While in graduate school, we were encouraged to choose a controversial topic to research and take the opposite side of what we supported. I chose the Death with Dignity Act in Oregon that had just gone into effect in 1997. Coming from a conservative Lutheran religious background and having been told all my life that taking one’s life was a quick ride to spending eternity in hell, I was against the Death with Dignity Act at that time. After doing my research of the Oregon law, I came to support this end-of-life option for those who felt this choice was right for them.
Having worked in hospice, offering comfort to patients who had six months or less to live, I witnessed many patients struggle with terminal illnesses while receiving palliative care. This job only validated my belief that every individual should be able to choose the sort of death that gives him or her the most peace and comfort when life is most difficult. No one should be forced to endure intolerable suffering at the end of life. Pain management is instrumental to individuals with terminal illnesses. Patients may become resistant to morphine, which makes life unbearable. It is heartbreaking for family members to watch their loved ones suffer and decline as they faithfully hold vigil by their side, all the while praying for a peaceful end.
I also respect the religious view that God is in control and will call you home in His time. Suffering is viewed as a part of life, even as Jesus suffered for us. Patients with these beliefs bravely endure their suffering just to be with loved ones for even one more day. In this view, the natural process of death should not be interfered with since God has the ultimate plan and forbids taking one’s life under any circumstance. This path is therefore right for those individuals with these views. I live in a conservative community where this is the only acceptable view, yet I respect every individual’s choice when his or her time comes.
I cannot say which way to exit this life is best. I cannot speak for anyone other than myself. I do know that quality of life is so important. Having witnessed terminally-ill individuals in their last days, I saw first hand how the act of dying can be almost unbearable for the family. I support Brittany’s decision to die with dignity and to save her family the pain of watching her suffer in her last days. I do not judge anyone’s choice. I look forward to the day when Death with Dignity is an option available to everyone. The request of the terminally ill should be honored, whether it is for a natural death or for Death with Dignity. It’s having the right to choose that is important!
DYING WITH DIGNITY by Ruth McAdams
On November 2, 2014, terminally-ill Brittany Maynard ended her own life. I completely support her decision to die with dignity. When Brittany was diagnosed early in the year with stage 4 glioblastoma, she soon learned this was a rare and aggressive brain cancer for which there was no known cure. The surgery she underwent to stop the growth of the cancer was also aggressive. However, the tumor continued to grow and Brittany was told she had only months to live. Since her death was inevitable and imminent and the effects of the progressive disease would be terrible, as Brittany’s condition worsened she made the decision to end her life with dignity. I believe that anyone struggling under such conditions should have the choice to end their suffering and that this choice should be supported by the laws and health care policies in our country.
I have not come to my position on “dying with dignity” either quickly or lightly; I have been thinking about this for many decades. I have been married twice and both my husbands died from rare cancers. My second husband, like Brittany, had stage 4 glioblastoma; it was aggressive, unstoppable, and deadly. He chose the most aggressive treatment—two radical surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy—and even with all of this, he died seven months after he was diagnosed. I have often wondered if “death with dignity” had been an option, would my husband have chosen to end his own life? And what do I think I would do if I were in a similar situation? Each person is different and no one decision is right for everyone, but I do feel that each should have the choice.
In learning about Brittany Maynard, I read about another young woman, Michelle Myrick, who also is dealing with glioblastoma. She has had two surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. About Brittany she writes, “But it saddens me that she took her own life, because she took the joy out of her family being able to love on her through it.” While I definitely feel that I was specially chosen by God to help my husband in his passing, I would not use the word “joy” to describe what this experience was like for me! I nursed him at home with the help of hospice and, while it has proved to be a great spiritual blessing for me, at the time it was horrific. The things that Brittany feared would happen to her, happened to my husband. The surgery took away a lot of his brain, and with it went his rational thinking, bodily functions, and mobility. I can understand why Brittany did not want to endure all of this, along with the possibility that she might become resistant to morphine and suffer even further. Thankfully, I had all the morphine I needed to keep my husband out of pain.
During my husband’s illness, we had wonderful doctors and I know they struggled with the extended pain and suffering of their patient. I remember one saying to me, “We have to consider whether we are extending this person’s life or simply extending their death. And if we are only prolonging their dying, this is so hard on the patient, family, and all who are caring for them.” I believe there are many doctors across our country who, under certain circumstances, would favor laws and policies that support dying with dignity.
I know that the Roman Catholic Church and other religions are firmly against the ending of one’s own life under any circumstance. I believe in God; I do not believe God would want me, or anyone else, to endure prolonged suffering when there is no hope. The God I believe in is compassionate and caring.
After my husband’s passing it became very important that I talk with my family about my own end-of-life wishes and put in place my Living Will and Powers of Attorney to make things as smooth as possible when my time comes. I urge everyone to do this, no matter their age. It’s a lot easier to do while you are healthy and feeling good!
Choosing Death by Barbara Sinclair
Brittany’s Maynard’s choice to end her life was just that: her choice. I cannot fathom passing judgment on her without walking in her shoes.
I lived through years of extreme pain that I thought would never end, but it wasn’t a death sentence handed to me by doctors. I imagine the pain Brittany felt was many times worse than anything I’ve experienced, so to make comparisons seems wrong. But I do know that living through that pain changed me in ways I couldn’t fathom at the time. It was a gift and most definitely part of my path.
Brittany will never have that chance. I can’t help but think about Anita Moorjani and her recovery from Stage 4 “terminal” cancer. Her story is truly remarkable and offers us the gift of hope in the very bleakest of circumstances and death sentences.
Then there is Ayurveda teacher Maya Tiwari, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the tender age of 23, when she was a well-known fashion designer. After 12 major surgeries and numerous rounds of radiation over the course of 2-1/2 years, Maya was sent home to die. Instead, she went alone to a friend’s cabin in Vermont in the dead of winter, where she faced herself, her ancestors, her demons, and ultimately healed. You can read her story in The Path of Practice: A Woman’s Book of Ayurvedic Healing. Today, Maya is a healthy woman in her 60’s who brought the first school of Ayurveda to the United States. She had written numerous books and taught thousands of eager students, like myself.
All things are possible.
I cringe whenever I hear of a diagnosis that states “you have X number of months or years to live.” There is a negative power in those words that can disrupt the possibility of healing. I have to wonder what Brittany would have decided if she hadn’t been handed a “death sentence.”
Author-poet Mark Nepo also survived a harrowing experience with brain cancer. Perhaps his wasn’t as life-threatening as Brittany’s; I don’t know. But he did survive two bouts (the first time a tumor the size of a grapefruit miraculously disappeared right before treatment was scheduled.) What I do know is that Mark’s survival gifted us with words that are balm to the soul. His path of pain, suffering, fear, and ultimately healing became a catalyst for him to become a wonderful spiritual teacher through his incredible writing.
There has been a lot of debate whether Brittany taking her own life was any different than suicide. I believe it was a form of suicide, which always involves pain and an inability to cope with the pain. Whether the pain is physical or emotional, suicide is a decision to put an end to that pain. We know that pain in the body always has an emotional component. No one but Brittany knows what it was for her, whether she was aware of it or tried to work through it.
Brittany’s story is a sad one, for sure. I don’t think any of us knows how we would react in the same situation. I send only love and light to her departed soul.
Suicide or Death with Dignity – Is It a Choice? by Susan Ganz
Brittany Maynard was terminally ill and selected to die before her cancer took away her dignity. The debate centers around whether it is right or wrong for someone who is terminally ill to choose to end their life. Should assisted suicide, “death with dignity,” be a choice?
Our country is founded and operates on the principle of protecting our fundamental human rights. Aren’t choices about life and death FUNDAMENTAL rights? What could be more fundamental to life than dying, especially if you are terminally ill?
I believe Brittany’s choice was hers to make. It doesn’t matter if I agree or disagree with it. It’s all about having that fundamental right to choose. I support the right to choose on pregnancy issues, the right to choose whom to marry, and the right to choose when to die if terminally ill. I don’t have to like the person’s choice or agree with it, but I have to accept it and respect it. No one else can know someone else’s beliefs, their support, their pain, and their love.
I watched my mom die of cancer. She gave it a good run and fought a great battle. However, when her last experimental drug had stopped working and the next new drug was several months away, she declared she was done. Ten days later she was gone. I often feel she willed herself to die in those 10 days. I was mad at her for giving up. She wasn’t going to ultimately win, just buy some more days. I wanted her to stay, but that was for me. She’s now in a place of no more pain, reunited with my dad. But if she had hung on “long enough” would that next drug have been the miracle cure? We’ll never know.
I don’t see my mother’s choice as much different than Brittany’s. Although she didn’t take drugs to end it all, she mentally shut down her will to live. Her death left so many unanswered questions. When is enough enough? How hard should one fight to survive? How much dignity should be sacrificed? How do you choose to leave those you love in this world? Do you live each day to the fullest and bring as much love, joy, and inspiration to the world as possible? Frankly, Brittany made her decision quite some time ago when she refused chemo and other treatments. She had already “given up.” What if she had chosen differently?
I look at a young boy named Clayton McDonald (claytonsstory.com), who died in 2009 at the age of 18. Most of his life he lived with cancer, but he lived every day to the fullest and had an incredible impact on everyone he met. He made a video on March 15th and died March 16th. His video still inspires people around the world. He viewed his life as a gift. Could Brittany have better used the last few weeks or months of her life inspiring others? We’ll never know.
My thoughts have drifted to Randy Pausch and “The Last Lecture.” Randy was a professor at Carnegie Mellon and “The Last Lecture” was his final speech. He was dying, but he CHOSE to use his time to talk about living. The wisdom he left behind was meant for his wife and children, but I think about all the people he encouraged and inspired to embrace life and live it to the fullest.
Would you consider Brittany’s choice? Would it be YOUR choice?
It’s a really tough question to ponder. No one can stand in another person’s shoes at that moment and make that decision. How can “we” as a society tell a person what their thoughts and actions should be about death and beyond? Is there ever a “good” time to die?
Personally, I can only say my choice would be: “it depends.” I’m such an optimist, always holding out hope for that miraculous healing or cure to come about. There are too many stories of spontaneous healings not to consider that an option. I’d be constantly asking myself lots of questions. Have I tried everything? Have I given it the best fight possible? Have I tried all the alternatives? Have I lived my best life and learned my lessons? Maybe I chose this life and set of experiences, including how I die, to provide certain experiences for others and myself. Who will I inspire?
Today, not faced with that decision, I believe I would fight to stay for every last breath and to love for every last moment and inspire those around me to live their best life, like Clayton and Randy. Most importantly though, my hope is that when the time comes you will accept and support MY choice, and my fundamental right to choose . . . whatever that choice might be.
DEATH WITH DIGNITY by Ellen Waselewski
I do not feel that I have a right to comment on Brittany Maynard’s personal decision to end her life because I was not in her shoes. I’m sure that she and her husband discussed her situation exhaustively. However, I do not believe in “assisted suicide” in general or feel that suicide is ever a good choice. By law assisted suicide is allowed in five states, but I do not believe it is a right choice spiritually.
As a nurse I frequently have been present at death. When I was in my 20’s, I worked in a nursing home. I remember one elderly male patient who did not have any fatal illness. He told the doctor and the staff that he wanted to die and he would do so by stopping food and water intake. The doctor allowed him to do this. It bothered me, but the patient could not be dissuaded from his choice. He refused all food and water, yet he lingered for several weeks. His dying process made a painful impression on me. I have had other patients that lost the will to live and subsequently died. These patients were elderly and of sound mind.
When I worked in the state psychiatric hospital, there were younger patients who were mentally ill and wanted to die. Since they were not of sound mind, everything was done to prevent them from hurting or killing themselves. When they were feeling better and able to work through their problems, they were relieved and thankful that they had not been allowed to die.
I’m not sure, Deborah, whether this is on topic, but I would like to mention abortion. I have known women who have had abortions and regretted their decision for the rest of their lives. I have to qualify this by saying that most of the women I worked with were being treated for some type of mental health issue. There are probably women who have had abortions and do not regret them. I personally would never have had an abortion, although I am pro-choice in certain circumstances. I’m sure there is a karmic debt to pay for abortion as there is for suicide.
Do we choose the animals in our lives, or is it the other way around?
A friend of mine once had a cat show up outside her door on the same day she found out she had breast cancer. She hadn’t been looking for a cat, but he moved right into the house as her companion and became her new best friend.
You hear the same thing all the time from dog and cat owners who will tell you they weren’t looking for a pet, but were simply “adopted by” an animal and couldn’t let them go.
I was actually looking for a horse when I first met Influence, my Dutch Warmblood. For more than a year, I had been riding stable horses, but wanted a horse of my own to love. As I tried to narrow the list, I sent my Vedic astrologer three horse names from every weekend search. Unfortunately, he rejected them all, telling me to be patient, my horse was out there.
Just when it seemed like I would never have a horse of my own, I met Influence at a horse show. He was huge – 1,600 pounds – and black with a white blaze on his forehead and four matching white socks. As I watched him being unloaded from the trailer, I could tell instantly how calm he was, even while many of his counterparts jumped out and were difficult to control. To my surprise, the owner told me this show was his first time away from the farm, and that he’d never been saddled.
As Influence and I looked at each other across the stall railing, I could only describe myself as smitten. He must’ve felt the same, because I heard him ask me very clearly in my mind to take him home. Even my astrologer agreed, telling me “this is the one you’ve been waiting for,” but warned me not to bring him home right away since he was at risk for an injury in the next few weeks.
Like a lot of us, I ask for advice I don’t necessarily follow, so it’s probably no surprise that I brought Influence back to our ranch, in the wilds of the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Lake Tahoe, right away.
Sure enough, three days after I brought him home, I peered out the window and saw him looking frightened. Influence was holding up his front leg and blood was spurting out – the sure sign of a serious injury. My vet warned me that he’d probably never be “sound” again, but I took him to a clinic anyway.
That turned out to be a good thing, because not only did it save my horse, but he went on to recover fully. In fact, just a year later I took him to a breeding show and he won the top award for the finest conformation in North America. “Don’t let that go to your head,” I cautioned him. “Pretty is as pretty does!”
Together, Influence and I were a green horse with a green rider… absolutely the worst combination there is, according to the experts. When I look back now, it occurs to me that I never actually became Influence’s master. Instead, we were like classmates together. We were best friends.
I took Influence everywhere with me: to the doctor, the dentist, the supermarket. Whenever I would return to my truck, he would be there, patiently waiting for me. He became the child I never had. After a peacock suddenly flew out of the trees one day as we rode by and he reared, unceremoniously dumping me on the ground, I wanted him to be “spook proof” so I could fulfill the old adage of always keeping the horse between me and the ground. To that end, I got him nearly every animal on the planet and we raised them together: our dearly beloved pig, a billy goat who chased us around the ring while we rode, Bessie, the black and white milk cow that I bottle raised from infancy, chickens, ducks, a dozen llamas, and a pond of fish. Despite his size, Influence was very gentle and loving with the other creatures.
All of our vacations for the next 25 years centered around where Influence wanted to go: one summer we trained with Jane Fonda at her ranch in Montana, another at a Healing Touch workshop on the Pacific Coast, and countless trips centered on horseshows around the country where we got to play dress-up together.
His stall had a sliding door that faced into my office so even when I was working, we were together. If he got sick, I slept in a hammock in his stall. What can I say? These are the things you do for a good friend.
Influence taught me how to talk to the animals. I had only been riding him about a week when, one day, we found ourselves out in the desert for a short walk. I can still remember him saying to me – quite clearly – “It’s too hot out here and my feet hurt.” As if to reinforce the point, he gave me a cute look that said, That’s right, you heard me.
He’s also spoken up on other occasions. For instance, he used to complain how it wasn’t fair that the dog got to come inside and he didn’t, saying, “I’d be perfectly happy sitting on the couch and eating popcorn, too.”
The first time he ever saw me ride another horse, he got so upset, he turned his big behind to me, and refused to speak to me for the rest of the day. Animals have feelings too!
Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned from my horse, though, was when I figured out he was staying with me because he wanted to, not because he was fenced in. One day, as I was walking another horse around and feeding him carrots, Influence jumped his fence and cantered over to us with no effort at all, flouncing his tail and prancing in circles around us. He made it clear that he was angry when I fed treats to another horse and not him. Apparently you can be a good Influence and still have a bit of jealousy now and then.
At the same time, he made the instant point that he could leave anytime he wanted to. That actually made me feel better about our friendship than anything else.
Over the years, I have learned so much from Influence. He showed me how to move as one with him in performing the difficult movements of dressage, and then on a deeper level, took me down a path of studying the energetics of animals and learning to communicate with them telepathically. Best of all, he taught me about the unconditional love that can exist in the natural world when we’re open to receiving it.
I’m so thankful to Influence for choosing me.
Halloween is one of the few times of the year when it becomes acceptable to embrace and celebrate the dark side, but what happens when the darkness crosses the boundary of fun and games and begins to actually harm you?
You may not have to worry about the trick-or-treating witch on your doorstep casting a spell on you, but “spell casting” is in fact real, and Halloween is a good time to learn how to recognize the signs of someone sending you negative energy and what you can do to protect yourself.
What is real-life spell-casting?
Spell casting, which is referred to in energy medicine as psychic attack, is negative energy that comes in from someone or somewhere else and gets lodged in your energy field or body. That negative energy can come from a variety of sources and arrives in varying degrees of intensity. In the movies, curses and spells are intentional affairs—they take planning and ritual and magic, but in real life, “spells” are usually unconscious and more subtle. Any time another person forms an intention, perhaps consciously, perhaps not, to harm you in some way, the “spell” is cast. A person may be sending you negative energy and not even realize they are doing it, like someone in a bad mood who is rude to you in line at Starbucks or on the freeway.
Who casts these spells?
Someone you briefly interact with who transfers their negativity to you is a small “spell,” a mild and temporary attachment of negativity that will likely dissipate in a few hours or with a clearing salt bath or dip in the ocean (which, by the way, are helpful clearing techniques for many psychic attacks). It’s also an example of a non-specific attack—that person would spew their negative energy at anyone in range.
Energy attacks can also be directed at you purposefully, often over the course of many years, and you can guess that these would be stronger and harder to shrug off. The stereotypical “evil” mother-in-law who nitpicks and makes snide comments at her son’s wife, or the overbearing older sister who say things like, “When are you going to get a real job?” while flaunting her expensive jewelry are examples of individuals shooting negative energy into your field. These types of continual attack, especially when coming from a loved one, can really wear you down and start to close your chakras and crimp your energy flow, making you feel even worse.
Basically, a physic attack can come from anyone at any time. These attacks can be minor like a harsh email or phone call, or a friend who wants to gossip about your friends, or major, like in the cases of stalking, bullying, or abuse. Since the “spells” can be subtle and come from seemingly insignificant exchanges, how do you know if you’ve been “cursed” with someone else’s negative energy?
How do you know if you’ve been cursed?
The symptoms are unique in each situation, but there are some signs to watch for. Sudden and unexplainable physical pain, especially in the back or head, that won’t go away; depression or other intense emotions like irritation or paranoia that don’t seem to have a cause; a fuzziness in the head or confusion or lack or focus; or just a general feeling of being totally “off.” These can all be symptoms of negative energy clouding your field. If you’ve truly been “slimed” with negativity, you will feel it, trust me. And trust your intuition. If it’s telling you that the migraine you’ve had for three days is the result of your partner’s belittling, it probably is.
Chronic symptoms or health issues may be caused by psychic attacks from earlier in your life as well. Perhaps you’ve had consistent back pain for years or depression that always returns no matter what you try. In that case, you might ask yourself if negative energy you absorbed from someone else during a trauma or betrayal could be lingering. Working with an energy healer or spiritual teacher and attending healing courses can help you identify where you may have been “cursed” with someone else’s negativity so you can release it and finally heal.
What can you do to avoid getting attacked?
The best medicine is prevention. Just like energy medicine can heal your field before any physical symptoms manifest, the best thing you can do to avoid being “cursed” by someone else is to keep your energy field healthy. Negative energy from others can find the chinks in your armor, the holes in your energy field, and sneak in under the radar. If you are diligent in your energy healing practices and keep up a daily meditation routine, journal regularly, connect with nature, and chop wood and carry water in service of others, your chakras will be clear and your defenses will be tougher. Your force field of protection will be so strong, negative energy won’t be able to pierce your light-filled field.
It’s also smart to avoid people who emanate negativity when possible, and in order to do that, you need to learn how to discern what type of energy someone is putting out. This is one of the things you learn in my energy healing courses: how to recognize and handle dark forces and incoming psychic attacks.
So this week, as you enjoy the décor of the season, the fake spider webs covering shrubs in yards, windows full of hanging ghosts, and jack-o-lanterns sitting on stoops, try to be aware of the energy around you, as well as the energy you are putting out. Remember that light attracts light and dark attracts dark. To keep the curses at bay, be full of positivity.
Whether it comes in the form of spouse battering, beating or molesting a child, intimate partner rape, or emotional control over another, domestic violence ruins lives. I know, as I experienced both emotional and sexual abuse as a child. I know how it leads to various addictions to cover up the pain. I know how hard it is to face the shame and embarrassment, to want to keep this secret covered up.
Domestic violence does not respect any boundaries. You can be white, privileged, and rich enough to buy really good concealer, but that black eye is the same one sported by those of every race, religion, and socio-economic status. It doesn’t matter how famous you are, how gifted as an artist or athlete or star, you can still be either the victim or the perpetrator of domestic violence.
And nothing is worse than keeping it a secret. As anyone who has read my book Truth Heals knows, it’s that buried pain that can wreak havoc with our lives—certainly with our relationships, our health, and our happiness.
Go to Psychology Today to read my blog on this topic at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mining-the-headlines/201410/the-secret-shame-domestic-violence.
Have you made successful contact with spirits from beyond? Now is the time to try! You do not need to be a medium in order to connect with spirits beyond the physical plane, but there are certain times of the year when it becomes easier. As a spiritual teacher and energy healer, I can feel the spiritually significant shift in seasons occurring this month, which means it’s the ideal time for you to bridge the gap between the physical realm and the spirit realm for guidance, support, love, and reassurance about the immortal nature of your soul.
Blurred Lines Between Worlds
Autumn is a time of transition, a time when the leaves change color from red to orange to yellow, when the clear skies of summer become filled with rolling clouds, and the days begin to get darker earlier. The winds of change are in the air, and these visible forms of transformation on display from Mother Nature are a good reminder that there are other blurred lines occurring right now as well: between the living and the dead, between your body and your soul, between HHHeaven and Earth.
The end of October has been a spiritually significant time for centuries. Ancient people held rituals and harvest festivals at this time to mark the end of summer and begin the preparations for the colder months to come. What we now call Halloween has its roots in Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival called Samhain, which means “summer’s end.” These cultures recognized that this date was the midpoint between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice, which makes it a period of indistinct boundaries between physical and spiritual, and a powerful time for communion with spirits. As part of their celebrations, the Celts would honor the dead and invite them into their homes, make offerings of freshly tilled food, and communicate with loved ones who had passed to the other side.
More recent and contemporary traditions still celebrate the thinning of the veil between worlds in similar fashion. The Mexican holiday Day of the Dead includes gatherings of friends and family to remember and celebrate loved ones who have passed on. People build altars and bring these along with the deceased’s favorite foods and drinks to the grave sites. Similar rituals take place around this time in many other countries as well. It seems the whole world is aware that the transition between seasons is also a time to pay tribute to the transition between life and death and connect with the spirit realm.
So how can you take advantage of this in-between time to increase your connection with the other side?
- Honor the deceased.
Just as Day of the Dead or Samhain traditions included inviting the spirits of loved ones to visit by putting out favorite foods and drinks, you can set a place at the table for a loved one during this month as an invitation. You might bring valued possessions of the deceased to their gravesite, or set up an altar or light a candle in their name, or have a party to tell stories about their life and celebrate the time they spent on Earth. Honoring the dead can happen many ways—choose the method that feels right to you.
Once you have made room for a spirit in your environment, be aware for signs of their presence. A photograph of them may levitate or fall off a wall, or an object the loved one gave you that you lost might suddenly reappear. You may hear their voice or even see an apparition. During this month of easy cross-overs between worlds, you can expect a noticeable response from the spirit realm, so stay alert.
- Pay attention to your dreams.
Spirits without bodies often prefer to make contact with you through your dreams. Sometimes a spirit will visit you to give you a warning of an impending event, or advise you about your health, or provide other helpful information or guidance. When you attend healing courses and have an active practice of energy healing and meditation, you become more open to the other side than many people are, so a spirit may visit you and ask you to pass on a message to someone else who is less receptive.
You can usually recognize a true visitation dream by a few tell-tale signs. The dream might feel much more “real” and vivid than other dreams; the spirit may reach out or hug you, and you still feel the contact when you wake; a deceased friend or family member will appear as a much younger version of themself; you may experience extremely intense emotions of forgiveness, anger, relief, and love; and lastly, there is likely to be a gut sense that it was that person “for real” and not just a memory or projection. As you’ve learned through energy healing, go ahead trust your third chakra, trust your intuition—it’s most likely telling you the truth.
- Remember you are not solely a physical being.
When you make a true connection with a spirit from the other side, it will reinforce what you learn in energy medicine: you are not just your body. You are a soul housed in a body for this lifetime on Earth, but when your body dies, your soul does not; it simply transitions back into the spirit realm, back where it came from.
Once you have interacted with souls who no longer have bodies, you will have no doubts that spirits live on, or that you will continue to live after you leave your body. When the veil is permeable, it’s easier to recognize that the illusion is the physical world; the reality is that you were born in the spirit realm and you will return there. This life is a stepping stone in a long soul journey. This expanded perception of mortality gives you the strength to confront the fear of death, which just may be the greatest gift of piercing the veil and connecting with spirits in the beyond.
The upcoming winter solstice is the next time of year when the veil between worlds will be at its most permeable, so if you are interested in learning more about how to connect to the other side, I hope you’ll consider joining me in person or by live stream in December for my Piercing the Veil event, where my special guest, James Van Praagh, internationally renowned medium and spiritual teacher, and I will bridge the gap between this world and the next. Hope to see you there!