Yoga Borgo

May 26, 2017

Cancer: Teacher and Turning Point - Re-Learning, Re-Visiting Humility, Patience and So Much More

I bow…and I fight

Well, it took me a long time to come to this realization.  Cancer is a teacher. 

I came to the conclusion a good while ago that cancer is a turning point and can actually present new opportunities in my journey of life…especially since I read a book by that title, “Cancer As a Turning Point.”  That made it pretty obvious.  But I missed the part about Cancer being an actual teacher to me. 

I was recently teaching a course about Yoga Lifestyle and its benefits and how it can serve us as we move through the different cycles in our life through time and space.  I was relating some stories about dealing with my cancer and how there really aren’t any guarantees in life even when we do all that we know to support a healthy life.  One of the participants then asked a question and made the statement,  “Have you ever thought of cancer as a teacher?…your cancer is a teacher.”     Nothing like stating the obvious. 

I certainly recognize that this whole cancer journey has changed my life and brought so many life lessons and challenges to me.  But I had not really thought of cancer itself as a teacher.  Wow, that is a revelation.  It only took 18 months to sort that one.  Sometimes I can be a little slow on the uptake.  Nonetheless, to me, cancer as teacher gives it a whole different perspective.  The teacher appears when we have something to learn.  And believe me, I am highly motivated to learn everything possible from this teacher.  Let the lesson be received so this teacher can then move on as I, the student, have learned this lesson well. 

I know that I still deal with the challenge of patience.  It is something within me but also seems to be a societal issue.  We want what we want now…instant gratification.  I am realizing that healing has its own time and its own space.  I may want it now but it is going to take the time it is going to take.  If I am prescribed a particular protocol it won’t make a difference if I double the dose of the protocol.  It won’t speed the time.  It will still take what it takes and it can actually be toxic to push too much.

 When I was first diagnosed with my cancer, I was very good at going into denial.  Cancer can do that.  My cancer became a tumor, tumor became a growth, and that seemed a pretty easy and non-threatening thing to deal with.  But in reality, the growth had become a tumor and the tumor was cancer.  My doctor was able to bring me to that realization despite my resistance.  His continuous mantra was “you don’t understand, this is serious!”  It took a few weeks and then I was able to accept it as serious.  So then I am dealing with how fast can we get rid of this.  Perhaps in 6 months, he said, perhaps longer.  So I figured, o.k, in 6 months we’ll be done.  I wasn’t listening to the perhaps part.  So now, 18 months in, we have far exceeded the 6-month hope,  and are dealing with the reality.  It’s just going to take what it’s going to take.  And that my friends, is about learning patience.  It is a daily challenge and a daily practice…a good meditation.     

Here is some good Soul Wisdom from early Motown from the Supremes:

“You can't hurry love,

No, you just have to wait,

You gotta trust, give it time,

No matter how long it takes.”

And healing is like that…it’s all about the love and you just can’t hurry it.  It could be done in a flash or it could be the longer journey.  Trust and give it time.  Just don’t give up, “No matter how long it takes”. 

In the ancient traditions, it says that when the student is ready, the teacher appears.  So apparently, I was ready for something.  At the same time, I have to say, I don’t like this teacher very much but I certainly respect him / her.  In Kundalini Yoga, we often talk about 2 primary teacher personalities.  The Saturn Teacher who teaches the hard lessons of life especially about patience and self-discipline and is typically very tough and confronting.  And the Jupiter Teacher who is expansive and rewarding in the process.  For the Saturn, the lesson is the reward…what else do you want?  And with Jupiter, there is often a reward for learning the lesson…a premium.  I prefer the Jupiter but for the tough lessons, Saturn can cut through a lot in a short amount of time. 

O.k., so I am stuck with this Saturn Teacher for the time being.  I don’t like it but I am ready to continue to learn.  So what’s the lesson?  And that is the conundrum.  I don’t think there is a single, simple lesson to be learned here.  It is like the Tibetan Koan (riddle)….there is no answer.  Just be the student, and learn as the lesson is continually changing and evolving.  That is life. 

A more modern reference for you Trekkies reading this (I am sure there are a few) would be from the Star Trek movie “The Wrath of Khan”.  There is the Kobayashi Maru test.  It is a test, a riddle that is impossible to solve.  Captain Kirk, when confronted with the test and realizing there is no answer as it is a “no win” situation, decides to change the conditions of the test so there is an answer.  As he says to explain himself,  “I don’t believe in the no-win scenario.”  Aha…creativity in the Infinite Universe creates Infinite possibilities.  Let the possibilities present themselves on all levels…conscious and unconscious.  In that, there is no impossible as impossible becomes, I + M +possible = I am possible.  Let the possible happen. 

So I continue looking for the lesson…that’s just my stubborn self.  I continue to “re-write” the story and my current conclusion on that is, there is no particular lesson…just allow it to be and remember just to do everything in my power to get better, project positively and let it be.  It keeps coming back to, what’s going to happen is going to happen and I have no control over that.  That is the lesson I keep returning to and what the cancer keeps bringing to me.   And perhaps there is no single lesson to be learned in this…just the continued enrichment of my life and soul through the continued lessons that come to me.  That would take us full circle back to the Tibetan Koan concept…there is no answer or in this case, there is no particular lesson but the aggregate lesson of life.  Getting kind of philosophical here.  Let’s get back to earth. 

I am learning in this, the lesson of endurance.  Just keep moving forward through all of it.  Here is a poem that I wrote long ago and a lesson that  it seems, I am still learning.   It is called “Endurance”. 

            Steadiness is a trait

we often admire.

            Through steadiness,

                       the tortoise beat the hare when it came down to the wire.

            The steady, constancy of the long distance runner,

                       ever enduring, I watch in wonder. 

            To this day, we remember that first marathoner,

                       we celebrate his endurance, we revere that great runner.

            What is it in enduring,

                       that we find so endearing? 

            That constancy, that steadiness,

                       that can be so boring –

            It’s that constancy,

                           consistency,

                           delivers the goods.

            Through endurance,

                       we get what we know we could. 

            That steady endurance

                       is a major key,

            Through that endurance,

                       I gain all

                       and become free! 

                      

Here is a thought that comes to me often.  If I can accept that getting cancer is random…and I have already come to that conclusion…(I mean if after 47 years of a disciplined Yoga Lifestyle and it still arrives, what’s up with that?)  then I can accept that it’s resolution can be random also.  Why not?  That is the unanswerable part of the riddle.  There is no single path that is guaranteed to resolve the cancer.  Just do what your belief system allows.   And in that moment, there are infinite possibilities and there is no limit. 

So as the teacher confronts the student, in this case my cancer, I as the student confront my teacher.  I believe I have that right and power.  And I say to you dear teacher, o.k., teach your lesson well.  I am ready.  I am learning and I look forward to your departure. 

My current status is that I have 2 more chemo treatments in this round of 8 treatments.  I’ll finish in the beginning of June and then have a CT Scan later in the month to get the results.  I’ll let you know how the “lesson” has been learned.  Project positively!! 

Love, Light and Peace to you all,

Sada Sat Singh