September 8th, 2016
| Survivor: Ovarian Cancer
I grew up in the Bible belt in a family that wasn't religious. Setting aside the inherent difficulties in that, I always associated faith with religion, and didn't think it had much of a place in my life. Though I still don't consider myself religious, I am deeply spiritual, and becoming more so each day. It was after my cancer diagnosis that I began to focus on the role of faith in my life, and to really trust in something bigger than myself more fervently than I had before.
Though I have always been a positive and hopeful person, there was a sort of block when it came to faith. I wanted evidence before I could trust. I believed that science and faith were at odds with each other, and that faith required a suspension of reason. I wanted to believe some of the things I was reading and hearing about the nature of the universe and the metaphysical, but I was skeptical and sometimes even cynical.
I now see that science and spirituality are actually intertwined, and there are a number of scientific studies that have proven the power of faith, like those that confirmed the healing power of prayer. Quantum physics offers an explanation of how our thoughts and attention affect our physical surroundings and circumstances. And while researcher Masaru Emoto's experiments have been criticized in some circles, he demonstrated that human consciousness has an effect on the molecular structure of water.
Emoto's experiments involved exposing water samples to concentrated thoughts of either a positive or a negative nature. Thoughts such as "you make me sick," "I hate you," etc. were juxtaposed with loving and positive thoughts. Water frozen and examined under a microscope showed incomplete, malformed and distorted crystals from the negative thoughts and beautiful, symmetrical, colorful patterns from the positive ones.
A few years ago, I participated in a program for young adult cancer survivors in Hawaii with Athletes for Cancer. This surf camp asked us to choose a camp name that represented our power, and I chose Kale'le', which means "to have faith" in Hawaiian. I chose this, not because I already had an abundance of faith, but because I was seeking to foster more of it in my life. Following that, I put a sign on the ceiling above my bed that reads, "I trust that I will be taken care of." It was great to have that reminder each night before going to sleep and again first thing when I woke up, and I really do believe that it is true.
In the past, I worried a great deal. I didn't necessarily express my worries to others, but internally, I was always focused on what was "wrong," and on the problems in my life. Now, I choose to focus on the positives instead. It's a subtle shift with profound implications. The circumstances of my life haven't changed dramatically, but my inner state about them has. I am much calmer, more peaceful, grateful, and loving in my thoughts even when my cancer recurs or I am struggling yet again with my finances.
I have often viewed religion as a sort of crutch, giving the faithful a certainty that was comforting, no doubt, but provided little basis in reality. Sure, it was helpful in getting through day-to-day life, but wasn't it also folly of a sort to believe in something for which there was no evidence? Now I see that there is no downside to faith. If we believe in something bigger than ourselves and are wrong, we've lost nothing, but if that belief gives us comfort in life, we've gained a great deal.
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