I know that’s controversial – but I have to take a position with this blog. I’d like to present a different perspective on cancer to the one being fed to us by the media and reveal how I think we can take the first step toward curing this health challenge that overshadows all others.
NO! I will not help to either “fight cancer” or “crack cancer”. That is an unbelievable rhetoric, which has verbalized for years, on how we face one of the major symptoms of our lifestyle: cancer. Instead, I want to do everything within my power to do the opposite – to love and soften cancer.
You might think I’m just trying to be provocative or a smartass. But let’s reflect together at a deeper level instead of just liking, copy-pasting and sharing messages, whose impact we don’t fully understand when it comes to our health.
The imbalance we call cancer is already a state in which the cancer-afflicted is fighting. Cancer is the body’s way of fighting itself – in short, we develop cancer, because some of our cells refuse to die and instead they mutate to the detriment of the whole organism. In fact, it’s natural and, thus, “healthy” that cells die, so new ones can form, and through this process life is preserved and continues. Death is, therefore, inevitable and natural at the cellular level, but in the cancer-state the body is fighting tooth and nail to avoid “natural death”. It can be seen as a symptom of our culture; a culture that refuses to grow old and recognize that eventually the physical body will die. And a culture dominated by the media, which, in turn, is spun on and fuelled by fear. But the more we react to this imbalance with combat-energy, the more the cancer spreads.
Do you like to exert control? Do you chase perfection or know when to let go?
That dosha – or life energy – which Ayurveda calls Pitta has to do with our ability to take and exert control. It’s part of every person, but it’s more dominate in some than others. Like all other qualities, control is great to exercise in some contexts, but useless – and even directly harmful – in others.
If, for example, we want to get results or fulfil our deepest desires, then undoubtedly it’s Pitta’s fire that we use for action and taking control – for a certain amount of the way.
Typically, those people who are particularly dominated by Pitta find it easy to set goals, have intentions and act on them. This takes them far, but at some point it may be necessary to let go of control and give things the opportunity to develop more freely. But why is it necessary to let go of control every once in a while?
It’s in the control-less mode that we can be innovative and original. It’s here that our perspective and horizons of the new – that which we don’t yet know or haven’t yet tried – are opened. This open and receptive state is natural for people with a lot of Vata, but Pitta energy experiences resistance to letting go of control, because it would mean also letting their guard down and disarming their inner warrior. Without control, we allow the world to see us as we are. When we take a – well deserved – break from managing and controlling, we become, in other words, very vulnerable. Because suddenly, there we are, standing there as a whole person. This means that even the sides we’re not so proud of are also visible, which forms the theme of this blog – daring to be imperfect.
We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world…
(from A Brief from The Defence by Jack Gilbert)
There is no doubt that we don’t have to look far in this world or down our own street to find injustice, despair, poverty and misery. That the dark, the hard, the difficult, the vulnerable await just around the corner. It’s perhaps for that very reason that I feel each and every one us has a responsibility to stand up for our joy, enthusiasm and lust for life. I love the line of poetry quoted above: it directly encourages us to be stubborn enough to stand up for our joy even in the midst of wanton misery.
It is impossible to imagine having a zest for life and being truly happy about life without including life’s challenges – without embracing that fact that the world is simultaneously infinitely beautiful and hard. Yoga means “union” and through various yogic practices, we begin to accommodate and embrace contradictions, because our practice leads us to glimpse perceptions and experiences of Divine unity behind the dance of duality.
You can say that we – just like the world – are one and the same: we are duality characterized as light and darkness at the same time as our deeper Self resides in eternity.
But as we are apparently here in human form right now, then surely we can just as well enjoy life and suck every ounce of joy, pleasure and glory out of it? Yes, even if there seems to be others who aren’t enjoying their lives at the moment.
Just think of how many of us have grown up with the idea that if we don’t clean our plates we’ll be making life more miserable for those Africans who have nothing to eat. This idea is based on the concept of sin: that we must sacrifice ourselves for others. That we can actually do evil onto others or take from them, if we have plenty – whether it be happiness or material items. If we have to wait to feel ecstatically happy until the rest of the world does too, we’ll be waiting until we’re in our graves.
Are lifestyle diseases, which may be triggered by the over-activation of the nervous system (called stress), in reality a reflection of a deeper existential crisis? The crisis of not knowing who we really are and why we are here?
With this blog I would like to open up a wider perspective on disease (dis – ease), which is based partly on the most fundamental principle of Ayurveda and partly on the people I come into contact with daily.
I think the majority of people either when climbing the career ladder or growing their families or once they have reached the top ask themselves the question is this really what life is all about?
Once we’ve worn ourselves out earning the money to maintain the comfortable lifestyle that is supposed to be so great, we suddenly realize that it’s not as fulfilling as we had hoped. And a feeling of emptiness follows.
It used to be called a midlife crisis. Today, my experience is that it happens to many much earlier, which I think is a good thing. Luckily, we won’t have to spend half our lives before we reach the insight that happiness is the journey and not the destination. That there is no goal in life – nothing we need to reach. If talking about a “goal” is to make any sense, then the goal must be to enjoy the moment, because we don’t know if we’ll be knocked down when we walk around the next street corner or if our hearts will suddenly stop beating.
It’s not because I want to sound morbid; but reflecting on death can actually change our perspective and lead us into living more. I know several people who have had their so-called “wake-up” call when either a close friend or relative have died or they themselves have faced death.
Seen from this angle, I present the hypothesis that we might – at a subconscious level – choose a stressful lifestyle so as to avoid noticing the emptiness of not knowing our true existence. We fill the hole of emptiness by keeping busy, going with the crowd, eating more than we need, getting drunk or dulling ourselves with something else.
When we have lived with these artificial ways of finding meaning in life for some time, then one or more of the consequences of stress can be triggered. Ayurveda tells us that there are six stages of disease. This means you never go from being completely healthy to sick from one moment to the next (not even if a bacteria or virus attacks you). It is a process that starts when you overload your system by forcing yourself to live in a – for you – “unnatural” way. It may be the struggle to maintain a lifestyle that basically doesn’t make sense for you and the stress of living in an unauthentic way.
Through the first four stages imbalance goes from being subtle with few symptoms to spreading and manifesting itself and finally attacking a vulnerable area of your body or psyche. Only in stage five will a doctor call this a disease, and stage six indicates deterioration and complications. Ayurveda encourages us to address the imbalance as early as possible; to be aware of the early symptoms that can include fatigue, discomfort, sadness or a lack of energy.
That which we call stress is indeed a broad term and as I see it a description of the first four stages – from mild symptoms to disease. Once stage five is reached, the imbalance can receive a diagnosis, which could be high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, diabetes … Disease hits the part of your system that is most vulnerable – that being a part of your body or psyche.
That means we don’t actually deal with a lot of different diseases, but rather with a lot of different symptoms of one fundamental imbalance. And that’s good news! The prescription, as I see it, is called “profound inner peace”; enjoying life while we have it and getting to know ourselves better by starting to ask life’s existential questions:
Who am I?
What do I really want?
What is my life purpose?
I have attached a relaxation exercise for you, which will guide you to be present in your body and from here will take you on a journey into life’s existential questions.
Stay tuned for the next blog! Within a few days I will launch my Bali Women’s Retreat done with the beautiful Kali Love from the Chopra Center <3
A tradition of holistic health exists that celebrates individuality and rejects the idea that ‘one size fits all’: Ayurveda. The Science of Life, Ayurveda, does away with the universal paradigms of “healthy” and “unhealthy”. Ayurveda confirms what we feel intuitively – the road to health is not the same for you as it is for me. No matter how often we try to look and be like others, time and again, the truth smacks us in the face: there is only one of you and one of me and balance and harmony look different in each of us!
I often wonder why we let ourselves manipulate by the news or women’s magazines – and sit and nod when one article after another about health and new research is published? One week we’re told that it is unhealthy to drink coffee, and the next that it is healthy. We become swamped with all the “new” healthy things we are supposed to do. Why do we follow the changing winds when we may not like it or it doesn’t feel right? I think many of us are drowning in the everyday comings and eagerness to perform – which I allow myself to call “the struggle”. And in the heat of battle, we may have lost confidence in ourselves or have become lost and we end up listening to others.
I have always loved to away travel from the so-called “western” world. To get away from the comfort and the ideas so ingrained in our part of the world and to observe the exotic and the different. It has been with equal parts fascination and discomfort, I have observed life in countries such as Uganda, India and Mexico. And I noticed that often, when I met a stranger, I would ask myself questions like: What fills this person’s life? What are the values and life perception behind their culture?
I have found it especially difficulty to understand the apparent lethargic attitude to life, which, I believe, I have seen in many people’s lives the places, where I have travelled. I have seen many use a half or a full day sitting by the road side, greeting those who come by. “What do these people do?”, I would wonder. Or sometimes, I would grapple with the little less charming “Why don’t they get the finger out?” Though, whilst on my physical trips, I have also been on an inner journey. I started with the little conceited and self-centred western opinion that we know better, and that other cultures are merely stages behind our development. But from my meetings with people from other cultures, I have developed a true humility and gained an insight into the insidiousness, I have experienced in my own culture.
I began to think that perhaps the lifestyle, we are so busy preaching to the rest of the world is not the final answer. Perhaps our conquering and ravaging from the vikings to the colonists to today’s soldiers “fighting” against terror is not that sophisticated? Perhaps the urge to continually conquer new things, develop ourselves and fight against everything and everyone, we don’t understand, comes not from a place of profit but rather from hard-line survival?
Let me tell you about an experience I once had, which made me really reflect on these things and change my worldview. I was walking in a market in the small town of Kapchorwa in Uganda, where I was posted as a youth delegate for the Red Cross Youth in 1999. I saw a man, as I had so often seen him, sitting and selling mangos with a smile. He joyfully exclaimed “good morning” in the local language, which I have unfortunately forgotten today. I think, I was homesick that day and felt everything was so foreign and strange in Africa. I could not rein in my wonder or my sarcasm, when I asked him why he didn’t do anything other than sit and sell a handful of mangoes. He replied without thinking about it: How could he not, when mangoes rained down on his head…
And then it hit me: nothing has ever rained down on our heads – other than rain – literally – and that can only be transformed into food or wealth with a lot of hard and focused work. Our culture – and I refer here to the northern countries in general – have had to struggle more. Struggle to hunt and gather food, struggle to cultivate the fields and have enough stock to survive the winter. Today we are striving to develop our ideas and know-how, so our country does not go bankrupt, now that we have to outsource all of our manual labour to countries that can do it cheaper. We can’t rest on our laurels, as the phrase so aptly goes. We must be in constant motion and in constant alertness for when the cold or crisis hits us.
That alertness does not only put a strain our society, but also very much our health and well-being in general.
My blog is about how we can cultivate more health and well-being in a culture that never sleeps. In a culture that continually insists we work harder and do better. A society that advocates working hard and doing well before finding delight – but always leaves us with the big questions: “When have we done enough to deserve delight?” and “How long can we delight ourselves before we again must work hard?”
My main source of inspiration is the several thousand year old health tradition from India, Ayurveda. The focus of the blog will be to make this tradition relevant for us people of the north – in the time, culture and climate, we live in. “The science of life”, which is what Ayurveda translates as, has some quite valid suggestions for how descendants of the vikings can regain balance.
This is the time, my blog transitions into English. I also transition from the more easily understandable parts of the ayurvedic philosophy into the harder to grasp – but infinitely more powerful tools of self-healing and -understanding.
If someone asks me, what is most important to me, I would have to say; discovering, uncovering and acknowledging, what life or the universe is all about. I absolutely love my physical existence, but the deepest, most passionate part of me is so driven towards this mystery. Who am I? Why am I here? If I truly am the creator of my reality, as so many suggest, what does that mean and how do I access this power?
The underlying truth of the yoga- and ayurvedic philosophy tells us, we are consciousness having a physical experience. I view life as a journey through the doshas, which are like junction points between physicality and consciousness. Vata connections me to my dreams and creative ideas – reminds me that there is more to life, than what meets the eye. Pitta is the driving force pulling me towards my goals – most especially the goal of all goals; self-discovery. Kapha is my friend, who again and again show me, how the physical universe, I experience, is an embodiment of my consciousness. In other words the seemingly physical world, I experience as “outside myself”, is a reflection of my soul. And since my soul is all about movement and growth, the world is subject to change at any minute.
Existence as we know it consists of parallel realities. Or as some put it; all things exist simultaneously. To grasp this you have to use a fundamentally different way of thinking – or more precisely you have to expand from linear thinking to a more holistic approach.
Normally we think in linear time. We think there was a past, is a now and will be a future. That life is all about moving from A to B – from birth to death. The deepest aspect of who we are – call it consciousness, soul or spirit – exists everywhere at once. The deeper reality is, all times and all experiences exist simultaneously.
You can begin to understand this by acknowledging, that everything you can imagine, dream of and fear already exist in a parallel reality. It is already fully accessible. When someone has a “wake-up call” or peak experience in their life, they so to speak move from one parallel reality into another. Life suddenly changes so much, they can hardly recognize themselves, because they jumped from one reality to another – already existing – reality. I had many experiences like that, the most life transforming being on 9/11 2001 – at the exact time the Twin Towers fell to the ground. From living a life, where I suffered intense pain and depression, I had been introduced to yoga once, and suddenly I was able to completely let go. Let go of the false beliefs, that had me loathe life and myself and turn my whole life around literally from one moment to the next.
Transformation refers to going from one state of consciousness to another without being able to go back.
However moving from one parallel reality to another does actually happen every single moment for each of us. Some jumps are very noticeable like mine on 9/11, other are less obvious and progression happens at a seeming slower pace. To me this is what life is all about; Journeying through the layers and refining our consciousness to greater and greater degrees of expansion – which we recognize as happiness, lightness of being and fully becoming the creator of our own reality.
Birthing the creator
When you expand, it can, in my experience, feel a little intense. It’s like growing out of your clothes – and even your skin. It can lead to restlessness, being unable to sleep, dizziness and general discomfort. I think women, who have given birth, most easily can relate to this feeling. Expanding into greater alignment with your soul and your higher purpose, I too view as birth. We keep being born into a new reality – that of a higher refinement, if we are conscious. We keep shedding our old beliefs, experiences and self-images. When we are first born, we are naked and this is how, it also feels, to stand by and flow with your soul’s direction. More and more you can become, who you truly are.
I have been born into a spearhead of holistic health and healing of modern times. A communicator of intense joy and ecstasy. That parallel reality existed all the time and I have numerous times seen myself communicating these truths. I am now allowing that into my physical experience.
I am ready.
And I have the support of someone, seemingly outside myself but not really, who has always inspired me on my path.