Today’s blog post is bitter-sweet. We are writing to let you know that Bob Buckley, our dear Mind-Body Medicine faculty member, has passed. Our deepest condolences go to Bob’s partner George and to his family.
I am no stranger to intense cancer experiences. I have been following my own healing path since a brain tumor diagnosis in 1998, a journey that has included three awake brain surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy plus hundreds of integrative cancer therapies. Along the way, I have discovered my lifetime purpose is to help others affected by cancer. Attendance at The Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s training events with James Gordon, MD specifically emphasized the importance of self-care strategies and supplied valuable tools that have enabled me to assist others with their quest for healing.
Shaking & Dancing Meditation has been my favorite exercise since I learned it in the Mind-Body Medicine Professional Training Program. To me, it’s a dynamic and effective method that immediately changes one’s state of mind.
In the groups that I have led, I have noticed that it’s one of the exercises that the participants enjoy and do the most in their daily lives. The group members who have practiced it say they feel more energized and happier, at least during the day they do it. It is easily practiced and duration can depend on the time and availability of each person.
I’d read about the work of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, knew that he was on the board of directors of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine and even read several articles and a book that he had written. Whatever impressions or ideas I’d formed were nothing compared to the pure presence of the Archbishop himself.
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Many things have happened lately to make me fearful of others and of life itself. My world seems to be filled with people who hold unfounded grudges that baffle me and choose to say vindictive things for no other reason than spite. We’ve had deaths and serious illnesses, difficult medical prognoses. Family members whose actions are more about greed than family values. Job losses and insecurity. It’s been difficult to hold on to the trust and acceptance that got me through past challenges. I see fear peeking out of every corner, tugging at me, knocking on the door, enticing me to believe that the world is full of anger, resentment, greed and struggles. Fear is ready to haunt me, settle into my stomach and my bones. In fact, I can already feel it in my body, aching and throbbing.
Shame is an inevitable component of binge eating disorder, so although it’s the most common of eating disorders, it’s rarely discussed.
Binging was a carefully hidden secret for me since my early teen years. I remember getting upset over a running injury and devouring a chocolate cake. Not a piece of cake — a whole chocolate cake — and it was still mostly frozen. Binging was my normal; I didn’t believe change was possible. So even as I got degrees in nutrition and ate more nourishing foods, there were still nights where I’d polish off a can of frosting, and suffer through the inevitable self-loathing hangover.
Most self-help books emphasize will and action. From The Power of Positive Thinking to Skinny Bitch, they sound the same affirmative, even aggressive, bass note. Judith Orloff, a UCLA psychiatrist, appreciates the effort necessary for achievement and its satisfaction. In The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life, she balances this emphasis on doing with a deep understanding of being and the great, transformative blessings of acceptance. Power, she tells us, gains grace when we wear it lightly and peacefully welcome its limitations. It serves us best when we share it with others.
I am facilitating my second Mind-Body Skills Group since completing both the Advanced Mind-Body Medicine and Food As Medicine courses. The first group started with eight members and ended with a core of four, who have since held two reunions with a third on the horizon. During the time between reunions these individuals have no contact except through me and yet they want to keep in touch, so every few months we get together for lunch.
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When I was growing up, my Dad always told me that I could do anything, be anything. You just had to work hard enough for it. Although that put a great deal of pressure on me to strive for excellence (and probably accounted for years of therapy), it also gave me great confidence. For me, there were absolutely no limits in life.
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I was raised as a completely non-religious person. I never learned to meditate, didn’t think much of the mind-body-spirit stuff because I couldn’t wrap my head around the ‘spirit’ part.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 44. I didn’t know a single living soul with cancer, and folks seemed to go out of their way to tell me about their next door neighbor’s cousin “but she died”, or their co-worker’s sister’s friend – “but she died”. So I had NO doubt that I would die – especially because I met with a surgeon on Thursday and was told they had an opening on Monday. I interpreted that to mean I was doomed.