This guest post was written by Judy Erel, who utilised mindset, meditation and the power of transformational art to cope with a diagnosis of incurable cancer in 2007. Judy has shared her personal story, as well as the practical tools and mechanisms that guided her along the way, in Dancing With Cancer (Watkins Publishing, 2018).
Being told you have incurable cancer is definitely up there as a worst-case scenario for most of us and our loved ones, though I never actually thought it would happen to me… until it did.
After the immediate panic released itself in tears, I took stock of my situation. I was a total invalid with a collapsed vertebra, needing a 24/7 caregiver, sporting a corset brace to be worn whenever I wasn’t lying down, and I wasn’t allowed to lift more than a glass of water.
Yet for me, this unforgettable moment is strangely remembered as the beginning of one of the most important, creative, exciting, authentic and empowering times of my life.
I examined my options on every level – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual – as I faced the moment-to-moment challenges of living. There was very little I could ‘do’ that was part of my ‘normal’ life, so I did what was possible and made me feel good. I journaled, painted, meditated, was attentive to intuitive thoughts, emotions and feelings, and asked myself questions to understand what was really going on and what I could do about it. Somehow, from the very beginning I ‘knew’ I would know, and I ‘knew’ very deeply that I would find my health and would share what I had learned with others. Needless to say, I am no longer an invalid, and for the last 10 years I’ve been working with other cancer patients and their supporters privately, and in some of Israel’s largest hospitals.
My book Dancing with Cancer reveals my journey to remission and beyond, and provides doable, practical tools to explore the path to healing and empowerment. The idea that our reality reflects our choices, beliefs and emotions is an important key to forming the clear conscious intentions we desire to become part of our reality. It wasn’t enough for me to simply say I want to be healthy; I found myself taking certain actions which enhanced the power of my intentions and clarified my ideas into conscious choices.
For example, I defined my intention as having a fully functional, pain free back. How my vertebrae looked didn’t bother me at all as long as they functioned properly. I drew my vertebrae as they appeared in a CT, and then drew the injured vertebra gradually becoming normal… as if I was using Photoshop. For hours I placed my attention on transforming my vertebrae, changing them, strengthening them so they could respond perfectly. I did this again and again, and my body got the message. After about 4 -5 months my X-rays showed no change, but to my doctor’s surprise, I had a fully functional back with no pain – exactly my intention.
Transformational art was one tool I used to manifest my goals and ‘be’ in the here-and-now reality of my life. I gave the name ‘Thought Work’ to the entire process of consciously using tools (i.e. art, meditation, mindset, change of perspective, journaling and more) to meet the challenges before me and unite intention (thought) and action (work) for conscious manifestation.
And I’m still at it. My life has shown me that nothing happens by chance. So when I’m not sure what comes next, I repeat this phrase to myself, and now say to you: Trust yourself; be aware of your feelings; love and listen to your body; and know: “You (and I) are guided, guarded, and everything happens at the right time for our highest good.”
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Judy Erel is a painter, a poet, an art teacher and a meditation guide living in Israel. In 2009 she began providing guided meditations and mandala-drawing activities in the haematology and oncology departments of major Israeli hospitals supported by the Roche Pharmaceuticals ‘Roche Lends a Hand’ project.
Dancing With Cancer combines the personal and the practical, mixing Judy’s own cancer story with the tools she discovered and adapted to support her treatment along the way. Dancing With Cancer: Using Transformational Art, Meditation and a Joyous Mindset to Face the Challenge is available from Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes and Noble, Hive and all other good bookshops.