I’ve been with my lovely guy for around 3 and a half years. The reason I mention this is because 3 and a half years ago, I had a small but growing breast lump in my left breast.  It had been there a number of years and seemed to swell and then subside with my cycle but one thing was for sure, it was never not there.  In fact, I remember it clearly, because in the first flush of love with my man I was conscious of it, and even more so since he is a doctor.

He ‘examined’ me – a rather pleasant experience I confess – and said initially what most doctors have said ‘I’m sure it’s hormonal and nothing to worry about’.  Now, it’s not my style to take a ‘diagnosis’ or ‘prognosis’ too seriously.  I’ve experienced first hand, many instances of healing as a result of a profound shift of consciousness, a process of forgiveness, or just plain healthy living and being true to myself.  However, being conscious of the big ‘C’ I was aware that I probably needed to do something about it.

I ignored my growing breast lump

But I didn’t.  I left it and left it and it grew and it ached. Occasionally it would shoot pains into my chest and I ignored it.  Move on one year and my lovely medical man was starting to panic.  When I raised my arms and faced the mirror, you could see a small bulge sticking out to the side of my left breast. Palpating it revealed a lump almost the size of a golf ball.  I became inwardly fearful and silent. We argued – well, it was more debated. He said I must get it looked at: have a breast scan or a biopsy.  I’d done enough research over the years to have suspended any trust in the medical profession’s ability to treat anything other than symptoms and was adamantly reluctant to conform. I managed to delay doing anything, denying that it was any big deal and yet nevertheless, feeling for it every day.

I remember it was September 2  years ago in 2011 that I suddenly got real and realised I had to do something.  We had eventually had a defining argument where he asked what I would do if I had cancer and it had progressed to the lungs – his speciality – which he claims is nearly always terminal.  I said, I would decline any treatment for at least a month while I worked on it my way.  As I heard myself say those words I realised I had to do it or allow myself to be subject to the medical route which for me was undesirable in extremis. Please also bear in mind as you read this that I didn’t know what I had growing in my breast.

I sat with the fear

I braced myself and sat down to chant – a practice that I have conducted most mornings for over half of my life.  I sat with the fear.  I could feel the resistance to having to ask myself THE most difficult questions and then, worse, sitting and listening to the answers.  And the first question that came up of course is ‘What if I die?  Your life flashes in front of you and you think of all the regrets, losses and sadnesses that you’ve allowed in your life.  You think of having to leave your child and her having to find her own way in the world without you.  And you wonder if the work you’ve yet to do or the knowledge you’ve yet to share will be lost with you.

My next thought was that doctors say that breast cancer is very treatable but it still involves surgery and chemotherapy which I wanted to avoid at any cost.  I examined why that was. What arrogance was there in me that I would not let them touch me?  Another reflection followed.  I peeled back the layers on that thought and looked at what made me, in particular, so resistant to modern medical intervention and was I being foolish to think that.

The faith to heal

I combed back through my lifetime of suffering and healing, both spiritual and physical wounds.  I reflected on my schizophrenia and how I recovered from that and what awarenesses were brought into focus because of that experience. One significant realisation was the need to express my frustrations, fears and anxieties more fully so that I didn’t create a spiritual pressure cooker that threatened to be uncontainable in the form of schizophrenia.  I reflected on a transformative time at 29 when I went through a process of profound forgiveness and healed myself of psoriasis.   I reflected on my daughter’s birth experience where I nearly lost my life and the tenacity I had to survive. Despite the fact I had next to no blood left in my veins at one stage of the crisis, I had no intention of not being there for her. And I reflected on another phase aged 39 when I eventually found an unshakeable core which enabled me to drop so much of my past and forgive myself allowing me to come into the here and now and live forwards not backwards. At this stage I healed myself of a very uncomfortable period of IBS.

My conclusion was, I was not being foolish nor arrogant.  I knew I had the power to heal.  I knew I would need some humility if my past experiences were anything to go by.  However, the question was still how. By what inner and outer process was I going to create health in my body?  So I continued researching online and reading about diet. I have always believed that along with correct thinking and authentic feeling, we can do a lot to support our bodies by putting the right foods into it for optimum health.  I had, over the years, done so much research into cancer and diet and alternative treatments that I knew exactly where to start.  I knew raw fruit and vegetables and juicing was as good a place to start as any but I was under no illusions that food alone was going to correct me.  Until I had flushed out my need to develop breast lumps I was going to keep creating that reality regardless of what I ate.  However, I studied the power of food anew.  I looked at the Gerson diet, German New Medicine, Hoxley, Renee Caisse, along with some modern writers and thinkers.

I changed my diet

I drank green tea, ate chickpeas, raw cauliflower and broccoli, got rid of meat and dairy, ate more raw fruit and vegetables and supplemented with powerful antioxidants. It wasn’t difficult to do. I’ve always been a health through food freak knowing that we would all be one helluva lot healthier spiritually and physically as a nation if we just became mindful of what we put into our mouths.  And this is where some of my corruscating cynicism comes around big pharma and the food industry.  I often feel like we have been hypnotised by modern culture to believe in something that is inherently dangerous and counter intuitive.  I see my work as being about waking up from mass hypnosis so that we can live our own real and authentically meaningful lives.

But my authentic life at that stage was still very much in need of re-evaluation.  I was still living my fear of dying.  As I chanted each day, I prayed to just to be present, have insight and understand what it was I needed to know about me.  During this process I realised that my breast lump, being on my left hand side, was on my ‘feminine’ side. Eastern philosophies consider our right hand side to be masculine and our left feminine.  Why was my feminine side being affected?  And then, when I came to think about it, all my injuries and pains happened on my left hand side.  I’d had over the years a bad back on my left, ovarian infection on my left, groin strain, broken arm, and a whole host of stuff going on on my left hand side with very little happening on my right. I wondered if my femininity was suffering and I reflected deeply on how and why that might be a truth.

Outer versus inner strength

I saw myself over most of my life being very strong, and in particular, being exceptionally strong for my daughter.  Running my own business while raising my daughter both loving being a mum and resenting the loss of autonomy and yet knowing I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Inner conflict and frustration and desire to succeed all being mixed into trying to be all things to all people.  Then I reflected on having also struggled with her father over many years through court which lead me into the realisation I had at age 39.  This awakening itself had made me incredibly resourceful and less reliant on a poor me story but somehow the strength had stayed but the forgiveness had become stale.  I hadn’t fully realised that the process of forgiveness needs really to be a constant in our lives so that we are clearing out old wounds and hurts that cause nobody but ourselves harm.

I looked at my work and where I was gaining inspiration or pleasure from and I realised that it had become a burden.  I was struggling inside to achieve my goals and in so doing was creating an awful lot of masculine, directive energy about me.  And this directive energy was spilling over into my personal life. I was running my life like it was a bootcamp.  People would often say to me, ‘gosh Jenny, you’re so busy. How do you find the time to do everything you do?’.  People would, and still do to some extent, say to me they were sorry to bother me because they knew I was very busy.  I remember thinking, what do you mean? Me? Busy? I’m just getting on with my life. I’m not exceptionally busy. Why do people defer to me like that?  It irritated me and actually made me feel guilty I wasn’t doing more to justify their impression of me!

Masculine versus Feminine energy

So now, I was realising that I had a lot of masculine energy around me and that the feminine in me was indeed suffering.  She wasn’t being nurtured or heard or loved in the way that she needed.  She wasn’t allowing herself or others to honour her and she was really suffering. I cried for her because I realised that I had allowed her to be unseen, unheard, and unnoticed.  She had slipped under the masculine radar, believing that being effective in the world was a masculine pursuit that required masculine values fearing that the feminine would never be taken seriously.  And if that were the case, all her work would amount to nothing.  Her drive to be taken seriously was overshadowing her need to be her true feminine self.  These were deeply subconscious fears that my reflection was starting to flush out and it was painful.  I had myself, dismissed and denied the beauty of the feminine energy that, by dint of the fact I am a woman, I was probably naturally endowed with and was instead favouring my masculine side.

Meanwhile, to  the outside world, all others were witnessing was me being out there, seen, heard and noticed.  I’d done a good job at least, of making a lot of noise.  However, inside, I knew I wasn’t allowing this to reflect my deeper self. I wasn’t creating enough energetic opening to allow an exchange to flow between me and the world.  I was holding on to it all, being strong, being all things to all people because the alternative, I perceived, just wasn’t an option.

So I asked myself what would my life be like if I embraced the feminine and worked with her instead of against her? I asked myself what would happen if I ran my business more harmoniously and with less focus on success and more on fulfilment?  And I wondered how I could rebalance my life and bring my home life into a more spiritually central position so that I was also honouring my daughter and partner more.  In allowing these thoughts in, I started exercising my mind to consider alternatives to the underlying discomfort of running my life too aggressively.  I realised that I needed to balance myself and live more in the here and now, be more spontaneous, unpredictable, more open and receptive.  So I had to lose something to allow this to develop.

What did I need to lose? What was it that was holding me captive in these masculine values? It was fear. I was afraid. I was afraid that if I let it all go it would fall apart.  I was afraid that if that happened I would cease to thrive; cease to thrive, cease to live. Cease to live?  That means I would die.  You see, I realise now that our fears: all our fears, lead inexorably to an existential question. And that is, if I’m not doing everything I’ve always done – which I’ve deemed as absolutely necessary for my survival – then I will die.  Once I saw this deep fear of dying, I asked myself one final question.

“What if I weren’t afraid of dying?”

The moment I asked myself that question it was as if the sun came out.  If I weren’t afraid of dying I would do anything I liked. I would be more creative, I would be happier, I would attach less to things I thought I needed because I wouldn’t fear their loss. I would in effect liberate myself from having to suffer. So then I considered, what if I weren’t afraid of this lump in my breast? As I thought that thought I realised it could have no power over me. I could actively choose to not be afraid of it and to embrace my whole life as it happened.  I’d turned the corner. My life came into sharp focus and a bit like a scene in a movie, there was a zoom in shot of focussed insight that coursed through my very core.

I chanted with whole hearted appreciation for the insight I’d gained from having the tenacity to stay with the most difficult questions and hear the answers.  I chanted with hope and renewed connection to the vibration of the sound and its reverberation through my body. I knew that the lump would dissolve and go.

By christmas it was pea sized and reducing every week. And now as I sit at my desk writing this article and groping my left breast intermittently, I can honestly say my breast is completely lump free – the first time in many, many years.

I do not know what the lump was. I never received a diagnosis. But I am eternally grateful to it for having shown me how I can improve my life and my experience on this earth. And I hope in sharing it with you that you can find your own answers to your greatest challenges by having the courage to stay with the questions, hear the answers and then to take action.

Want to work with me? Can I help you confront your performance anxieties and fears in your personal or professional life? Email me and let’s set up a skype chat.

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