Two weeks ago I wrote about how each of us needs to step back from our busy lives and find time to be still; to connect with our voice within. If you’ve never heard that little voice, then you’re not listening. I’m not talking about hearing voices. I’m referring to our internal compass that’s privy to things we’ve forgotten; things we don’t want to remember; the instinctual thing deep inside us that says, “Don’t walk down that street.”
Some of us are better than others at positioning ourselves to hear our little voice, but if we know how to access it, it’s there. One of my favorites ways is guided imagery.
“WE WILL HOLD YOU IN OUR HEARTS, WHILE YOUR HEART HEALS, FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES.”
Guided imagery is a powerful relaxation technique that helps us engage our breathing while we create images in our mind. Images that allow us to unplug and cope with the negative emotions and situations that bind us. Guided imagery has been clinically shown to help reduce stress, anxiety, depression, pain, effects of chemo, substance abuse, even PTSD in soldiers returning from war. Guided imagery helped me heal after breast cancer; it helped me regain my footing after my darling James died, and it continues to help me find stillness in other ways. The best guided imagery audios I’ve found are by Belleruth Naparstek.
Belleruth Naparstek is an acclaimed psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer. Her first book, Staying Well with Guided Imagery, is widely considered to be the primer on imagery and healing. After James died, I was dealing with not just the grief of his sudden, unexpected death, but the dissolution of our family. It was almost more than I could bear.
Grasping at anything that would pull me from the abyss, I went to Naparstek’s site, HealthJourneys.com, and downloaded, Heartbreak, Abandonment & Betrayal, onto my iPad. For months I listened to her soft, yet strong steady voice. She reminded me that I’d endured and recovered before. “I promise you, even this pain shall pass.”
She spoke as though I were talking to myself. She painted a picture of loved ones who’d gone before me, who’d formed a protective circle around me. I imagined James was there in the circle, as was his father, a man I called Dad; my grandmother, Mamie, and her brother, Clark; my friend, Norma; even my real father who died when I was 12. I can still hear Belleruth Naparstek’s words: “They are invested in my well-being, because parts of them reside in me.”
“We will stay with you as long as you want. You can come and go, but we will be here. We will hold you in our hearts, while your heart heals, for as long as it takes.” Naparstek then said, “Breath out, sighing to relieve the pain you’ve absorbed from taking this injury so deep into your heart and holding it there.”
By then, tears were flowing down my cheeks, onto my pillow. Other than crying out to God, guided imagery was the single most powerful thing I did to heal. Is there something in your life you need help with in order to heal?
What a wonderful and helpful post, Brenda. I lost my 16- yr old niece three years ago to leukemia. At times, the wound feels very raw and open, but I can’t even imagine what it must be like for my brother, as Sarah was his only child. I wish I could share this with him. You can’t make it through grief on strength alone.
MamaVal, It’s never too late to heal a broken heart. I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a child… your only child. That must be a pain of the worst kind. I lost my stepson, and for a while, I didn’t think I would recover. If we don’t heal that raw place in our hearts, then we’re more susceptible to cancer and heart disease, not to mention the ache and sadness that never goes away. You write that you “wish” you could share this with your brother. I don’t know what your relationship is like, but you might consider it. What if you send him the link to HealthJourneys.com Perhaps he’ll take a look around. Maybe not, but at least you’ve planted the seed. xoxoxo, Brenda
Oh my goodness. Brenda, it’s been a few years for myself and cancer but for the people I have met/knowen with the same unforseen tragedy just live there lives as full as possible. Self less ly is a BIG word with HUGE giving actions. Starting with ones self, we all need to for give ourselves before we can even start to rejusting to THIS new way of living. Personally it took me five argumentive years to confirm that it was my none healthy life style that was making me sick. But pointing fingers at people that weren’t even remotely involved with my life got a blast. Poisoning and discouraging and with death not far away its been eye opening to say the least. Reading your insightful stories have so helped me out too. Your husbands passing was just another hurdell, and the loss of strength, for that alone would tale spin me too. In time we DO heal. But like mother nature, it happenes in her sweet time. Love yourself to forgive others is so important.
I’m sorry you know what it’s like to hear the words “you have cancer.” It’s scary! You find yourself examining every part of your lifestyle, personality and family history, looking for a cause, looking for a reason. In reality, we’re breaking down the word “disease.” “Dis” “Ease.” Somewhere, something is not right within us. I believe that just as we’ve made ourselves sick because of our lifestyle and our way of viewing ourselves and the world around us, we can make our selves well. While that doesn’t always mean we can cure our cancer, we CAN fix the way we treat ourselves. You’re right: We must love and forgive ourselves in order to love and forgive others. xoxoxo, Brenda