Last week four years ago I heard voices in my head. Well, one voice really and it was answering a question I had asked. I got an answer I wasn’t expecting and one that I knew I hadn’t come up with myself since it made no sense to me. It wasn’t logical or simple. But it ended up providing moments of ease in what ended up being the three hardest years of my life.
I had asked “What does my body need to heal?” at the beginning of a meditation session in the beautiful backyard of a friend who lives right on the Puget Sound. I had just been diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which as a perfectly healthy, 48 year old integrative nutrition health coach, was a total and complete shock. As I sat next to the sea, listening to the high tide lap gently against the bulk head, I immediately heard in my head an answer to my question. It was “Pure Acceptance”.
My body needs Pure Acceptance to heal? I was expecting something along the lines of “Sleep more.” or “Drink green tea.” What did “Pure Acceptance” even mean? Thus began three years of exploration into what it means to let go, to accept, to forgive, and to do it again and again, over and over.
Over the next three years I was treated for Mantle Cell Lymphoma, which included super harsh chemo, a harrowing stem cell transplant and weeks and weeks in the hospital and an incredibly slow nine-month recovery only to be followed by the discovery of an unrelated breast cancer requiring a bilateral mastectomy and more chemotherapy. Add to that my brother suddenly dying from the non-smoker kind of lung cancer, and my father dying from a rapid Alzheimer’s related decline, and I had a lot of opportunity to practice Pure Acceptance in those three years.
What does Pure Acceptance mean?
Let’s start with what Pure Acceptance doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean that you agree with, condone, or in any way necessarily like what is happening. It simply means that you accept it—this is what is happening and there isn’t anything you can do about that fact.
By accepting an event, it simply means that you are not resisting it. You’re not in denial. Whether you like it or not, this is the reality of the situation. You quit saying to yourself “This cannot/should not be happening to me.” It is happening.
Next is where the juice is. By accepting the situation and letting go of the resistance to it, you allow peace to step in. Anger may subside as you see that your anger isn’t helping. You are able to breathe (I don’t know about you but when I am resisting something, I am practically holding my breath). Once you feel at peace with the situation and can breathe again, you may see what your next steps are. Next steps are usually pretty hard to see when you are not even willing to be with an event.
Sometimes next steps are taking an action like making a decision or a choice, other times they are more spiritual like forgiving someone or letting go of resentment. When you have first accepted, you can move on to healing.
Can you heal while you are resisting/pissed off/full of resentment? I’m not sure, maybe. I can’t imagine that resistance would help the healing process though. To me, the feeling of peace I felt after all of those times I let go and accepted, was a lightness and a flow of energy whereas resisting feels like a blocking of energy to me. Optimism and positive thinking are important parts of the healing process.
I’ve written in more detail about my cancer journey in my book WTF?! I Have Cancer?, and this story of hearing an answer to my question “What does my body need to heal?” was recently published in a compilation of stories called Modern Heroine Soul Stories. Check them out and let me know what you think.
Also, please share in the comments below about your experience accepting or resisting life’s curve balls. I’d love to hear how you handled them.