I have never really thought about what dying of cancer would feel like. I have no desire to start now. It is not a visualization I find useful. Instead, I remember what my body felt like when I was a child. I go back to my freshman year of high school. This was the last year I was kind to my body. I was fourteen. By fifteen, I would be starting down a road of harmful coping behaviors. My freshman year I ran track. I have pictures from a race where I came in first in my heat… or maybe it was second. I can’t remember at this point, just that I placed. I felt strong within my body on that day. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year thinking about that time in my life. Remembering how I felt as I ran.
This process came after I discovered Dr. Joe Dispenza. If you’re not familiar with Dr. Joe Dispenza I’d recommend you do a little research. This man was in an accident that left him paralyzed. What stood out for me in his story is that he says as a doctor he would have made the same recommendations as the other doctors he consulted. It stood out to me because it was a doctor going against traditional advice. Sometimes the best path is not the traditional one. He decided to try a new path. He used his mind to heal his body. This isn’t an easy task. It takes commitment, focus, and time. These three reasons make it so we don’t focus on this type of healing. Most of us want an easy fix so we can get back to our life.
Sometimes, we are faced with an easy fix that isn’t so easy. I have undergone chemo treatment before. I will do everything I can to avoid it again. When I say this, I actually mean it… I have quit smoking, changed my diet, focused on self-care, healed myself emotionally and spiritually (this is an ongoing process), and the list goes on. I’ve changed so much that I realized the other day I almost don’t recognize the person I’ve become. I no longer feel the same; I don’t think the same way.
I know that visualization plays a part in my transformation. I use it to remember a time when my body and I were in harmony. I also go forward in time. I breathe deep and imagine myself running and feeling strong. I imagine myself walking up flights up steps without being winded. (I had cancer in my lungs at one point hence the focus on my breathing). I imagine the day when I realize I have accomplished these goals.
We underestimate the power of visualization. Numerous studies have shown how during visualization our bodies respond as if we are actually performing an act, meaning your nerves activate and blood flows to your muscles as if they are in actual use. Athletes use this skill regularly. Everyone should be consciously using this power, but especially if you are ill. Take time to imagine yourself healthy. If you need to, go back to a time in your life when you felt completely healthy to remember how it feels.
When we are sick, we focus on being sick and it doesn’t help us get better. I use to do this. I’d wake up in the morning and lay there for a moment determining if I felt better or worse than the day before. Now, I do internal checks throughout the day, but they focus on if what I am doing is satisfying a need that I believe is important or if I’ve fallen into the trap of living an unconscious life. What I mean by an unconscious life is am I acting out of habit or limitations I’ve put on myself or society has put on me. I remind myself daily that life is magic. If I don’t, I forget and end up worrying about a million pointless things.
I’d recommend visualization even if someone had a cold. Often when we are sick we talk about how we just want to be able to breath, smell, think, or how our nose is going to fall off from blowing it. We spend time focused on the symptom and evaluating how it feels. Sickness is our focus. Instead we should try to focus on anything else. We should spend some time visualizing how we feel when healthy. Our subconscious communicates with symbols. The best way to communicate with the subconscious is visually or in symbols. Our subconscious has access to systems in our body that our consciousness doesn’t. Might visualization allow us to interact with our immune system, strengthening it to fight whatever battle is needed?
Visualization is a skill. We all have the ability to do it. Some of us are better than others. That doesn’t matter, what matters is that you use the skill. Any skill you use will improve. And learning this skill is private; meaning it’s hard to compare yourself to others since you can’t actually see their visualizations. Start small. You don’t have to spend hours visualizing. You can spend a minute visualizing. Do it for a minute, three times per day, set a reminder in your phone or do it before or after you eat. Increase it as you feel comfortable. Visualization is something you can do while you’re bored in a meeting or while at a stop light (although you might get honked at). Over time your ability to focus will improve along with your ability to visualize.
You don’t have to reserve visualization for healing. I spend a lot more time visualizing the future I want to have. This is why you won’t find me focused on how dying feels. I was there, I have a vague idea, but I don’t let myself focus on it. I’ve acknowledged it; it is a part of my story, but only a part. The story I’m writing has a heroine that goes on to live to 105. I visualize myself as the nice old lady who everyone loves, but wonders what trouble she is causing now. It’s the end goal.