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On Healing

October 15, 2008 by Lightwaves

Swami Radhakrishnananda, who lives and teaches at the Radha Yoga Centre in Spokane, Washington, has been bringing Yoga and healing together since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2001.  Here she shares the inspiring stories of three people who have taken healing to a deeper level with prayer, reflection, visualization, and connection to a sense of purpose.

What exactly is healing? It seems to operate on so many different levels. Why do some people diagnosed with a terminal disease die within a few weeks while others live for years? Is it the person’s attitude? Their karma? Their recognition (or not) of the purpose of life?

My sister had a profound experience. Diagnosed with ovarian cancer, fatal for many, she took control of her healing process dynamically and effectively and has been in remission now for 4 years.

How did this healing come about? She did two very important things. Her naturopath asked her if she had any resentments to which she said “Not at all!” Her prescription was to keep a little notebook with her for two weeks and write down anything that came up even resembling resentment. Diane scoffed it off but carried out the exercise to satisfy the doctor. Within a few days the book was full. “I had no idea how much was unresolved in my life.” she told me. “And I went to work on it.”  Issues with her husband and family all came out for airing and the anger that had been sublimated for too long started to heal.

The second step also relates to her naturopath who asked Diane a few months later, “Do you ever pray for anyone?” Diane demurred, feeling put on the spot.  “…oh yes, my sister who has parkinson’s.”  She felt relieved to be affirmative.  “Who else?”  “My mother.”  “Who else?”  “Uh…”  So again Diane returned home to do her homework.  She began saying her rosary every day for her prayer list which started small and then grew.  Another important step was to acknowledge the importance of praying for herself.  recently she wrote to me:

“when the naturopath asked me draw up a list of people for whom I pray, I finally produced a list, one with my name last. She urged me to move my name up to the top, something very difficult for someone steeped in Christian principles. After all, shouldn’t we be reaching out to others and forgetting about ourselves? She convinced me by reminding me that emergency procedures on an airplane always tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first before putting one on your child. FIRST you look after yourself so that THEN you can help others.”

Today she keeps herself clear with reflection and reaches out to others through her practice and her health is vibrant.

I’ve been fortunate to meet many people in the Radha community who have shared with me their powerful and inspiring healing stories.  I asked two of them to share their stories here in their own words.

Mary Ruth Green

Mary Ruth Green lives in Sunnyvale, California where she teaches community Radha Yoga classes and serves on the board of the ADHP (Association for the Development of Human Potential – the U.S. branch of Swami Radha’s work).

I had my first major flare of lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus –SLE) in 1991, although it was not correctly diagnosed for another ten years. I had been sick the prior year with hepatitis that turned out to be an auto-immune form rather than one of the alphabetic varieties which meant my own body was attacking itself. It improved with immune system suppressing drugs. However, within a few months my feet were swollen and painful and I was running a fever, losing weight, and could hardly walk. A biopsy showed vasculitis – my blood vessels were breaking down. My doctor explained that this is a very rare event that sometimes occurs in women after auto-immune hepatitis. The treatment is chemotherapy and 85% of the women recover. I felt lucky because my research showed that 10 years prior to this there was no treatment and most of the women died.

I also felt lucky to be involved in Yoga. My body was strong from Hatha Yoga, and Swami Radha’s Kundalini Yoga had trained me to reflect on my thoughts, reactions, emotions and feelings: to see that there was often more there than my initial quick response. My initial thought about the disease and treatment was I would either die or return to the healthy person I was before. In reflection I saw that in the Divine there are many more possibilities and the outcome was more likely to be something other than what I imagined. The process of healing became an invitation to trust the Divine.

Even though my prospects were good, death seemed a very real possibility. I awoke each morning and was grateful for another day even with the inconveniences of illness and chemotherapy. It was the beginning of fall and I watched the leaves of the liquidambar trees turn from green to bright red and yellow, then brown and then fall from the trees. It seemed that nature was showing me death and it was beautiful. Even through 16 more falls and winters the turning of leaves is special to me but it does not have the intensity of 1991.

A friend who did Touch for Health massage showed me a way to hold my feet. As I did this I would say the Divine Light mantra and visualize the light flowing through my blood vessels cleaning out the debris and healing them. Slowly I began to get better and the medications were reduced and I noticed that the trees had buds on them. One day as I was driving home from work I saw a tree covered in new yellow green leaves and I knew that I had made it.

I had another bad lupus flare-up in 2001. This one affected my brain and I lost parts of my memory for a period of time. I told myself if I could remember my husband and the Divine Light mantra I would be all right. The light did quite tangibly sustain me during my recovery.

Alanda Greene

Alanda Greene lives in Kootenay Bay, BC, and is involved with the Ashram through working in the bookstore, teaching classes, and bringing lively devotional music to our satsangs.

Healing is a mystery, no doubt. Kin to life itself, and just as much beyond my personal control. I can cooperate with a healing process, just like I can cooperate with life, but I don’t control it. Sometimes, I feel discomfort talking about healing, talking about my own healing, as if it was a success story, as if healing from cancer was a victory. I’m uncomfortable about it because it suggests that death is a failure. We all know not one of us is getting out of here alive. Death is not a failure. Yet life is precious and I know it is a tremendous opportunity.

I am grateful to have healed from a cancer described by my oncologist as “an especially aggressive form.” I am grateful because I have been given time to learn, to live up to promises, to continue to commit to living with purpose. The essential core of my own healing process was this: that while engaged in the investigation of what makes life worth living, while I questioned “Do I in fact want to live?”, I was fortunate enough to access the memory of a deep promise that this life would be lived with meaning and purpose. While engaged with the workshop of the StraightWalk during the Yoga Development Course, I experienced what I can only understand as an opening of the gates of memory.  I remembered from a time that felt before this birth, that I made a promise.  The promise was that I would never give up on the spiritual commitment of this life.  “Even if I have to sit at the gates forever” were the words and image that accompanied the memory. This felt like the turning point and when real healing began to manifest.

I am grateful for the insights that cancer gave, grateful to experience a realignment with purpose. At the same time, I know that healing doesn’t mean “getting better”. Death is not a failure. Living in forgetfulness of the promise of this lifetime is the real illness. Cancer was the opportunity to remember.

The Radha Yoga Centre in Spokane, Washington offers a weekly Yoga for Health and Healing class, described as “gentle Yoga for dealing with physical conditions.” Click here to view their schedule.

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