All posts by heidi

The Secrets of Meditation

“Meditation isn’t what you think. It has nothing to do with the contents of your thoughts. Meditation is where your brain waves are when you are having those thoughts. A person doesn’t need to have a calm, quiet mind to achieve the healing, regenerative, and perception-expanding benefits of meditation.”
– Tai Chi Grandmaster Vincent J. Lasorso Jr.

Purposeful meditation has killed cancer, healed tumors, cut holes in the clouds, and transmuted the toxic chemicals in water and air, according to Tai Chi Grandmaster Vincent Lasorso of Cincinnati. “It has lowered the crime in Cincinnati and cities around the world. It has prevented wars.”

Meditation Heals

According to the medical staff of the Mayo Clinic, medical research has demonstrated that regular meditation has improved the following conditions:

  • Allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease

“Above it all, meditation provides inner peace while you practice, which continues long after the practice is over,” Lasorso said. A combined study of Yale, Harvard and MIT universities demonstrated that regular meditation actually develops new brain neurons and functioning. This new generation may occur in as little as twelve weeks.

Meditation is a skill anyone can learn

Our common conception of meditation is monks sitting quietly contemplating a calm, still mind. These monks are to meditation as Beckham is to soccer: gifted professionals, Lasorso said. The rest of us just have fun knocking the ball of consciousness around, getting some great exercise.

“You don’t have to become a monk to get fantastic benefits from meditation. But you do have to be better than just randomly knocking the ball around hoping you’ll get good at it. Meditation, like any exercise, takes practice and coaching to know what to do.”

Meditation is a naturally occurring state of mind

Every day you move in and out of the brain-wave states called meditation. In fact, your sleep technically is meditation. What makes meditation different from sleep is lucidity, clearness of mind, and the ever-presence of self, he said.

“Let’s say you’re sitting in a classroom and you begin to daydream about walking in a park. As long as you are aware that you are sitting in the classroom and not in the park, and you are observing the park and your actions, you are meditating. Your body is relaxing, regenerating, and healing. The second you forget where you are, who you are, stop observing, and begin to participate, then you are asleep.”

The secrets of meditation are to relax and pay attention

Your brain is moving you into meditative states several times each day, he said. But while that’s happening, you are usually lost in a daydream or some other distracting stimulation, not paying attention to your body or the world around you. You’re poised for relaxation but forget to do it.

“The difference between being lucid and asleep, in both life and meditation, is not getting absorbed by the distractions. You have to pay attention to yourself and your body or you will lose them both. You have to learn to stay awake, and that is what meditation training is about.”

Meditation is easier than you think

Although the concept of daily meditation may seem daunting and unobtainable to you, the immediate reduction in stress, pain, and improved peace of mind are reason enough to try. And you might even kill off some cancer with some practice.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

Seek out a meditation class or practice in your area. Try a mind/body integration meditation (Mindfulness), Qigong meditation (using breath, sound, and movement), progressive relaxation and visualization practice, or moving meditation through Tai Chi. For more information, contact the White Willow School of Tai Chi, 7433 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236, 513-791-9428, http://www.whitewillowtaichi.com

How to Release Your Scar Tissue after Treatment

By Lauren Cadman, PT, with Heidi Bright

Editor’s note: I went to see Lauren after breaking two fingers in three places this past fall. Physical therapy could not address the excess scar tissue in the affected joints. After eight myofascial release treatments, I now have full use of my fingers again. I am grateful for this healing modality and want to share it with you.

photo kit from John Barnes

Do you have pain left over from a cancer procedure that physical therapy has not helped reduce? Do your scar tissues and the areas around them still hurt? It might be time to consider myofascial release.

“Myo” means muscle and “fascia” means connective tissue.

This safe and effective hands-on technique involves applying gentle, sustained pressure into areas of the body that are restricted, dense, and tight. This process decreases the tightness to alleviate pain, reduces the thickness of scar tissue, and helps restore normal sensation and motion.

Myofascial restrictions can be caused not only by surgeries to remove cancerous tissue, but also by chemotherapy and radiation.

Breast cancer patients, for example, undergo lumpectomies or mastectomies that leave behind scar tissue. Even without surgery, these patients may develop fibrotic tissue as a direct result of chemotherapy or radiation.

Scars also can grow inside the body like vines, reaching into other regions of the body, like the respiratory diaphragm and into the neck and shoulders. Patients may experience pain in the neck, shoulders, and upper back after treatment for breast cancer. Patients who have been treated for cancer in other areas may experience pelvic, back, and leg pain.

This tissue resembles what I like to describe as “a wet sponge drying out to a dry sponge.” The tissue feels thick, tight, and gristly when palpated or touched.

The trauma and inflammatory responses in the body create myofascial restrictions with tensile pressures of about 2,000 pounds per square inch on pain-sensitive structures. That’s a lot of pressure.

These restrictions do not show up in many standard tests (including x-rays, myelograms, CAT scans, or electromyography). Instead, they are detected using palpation, or touch.

Once scar tissue has formed, myofascial release techniques applied below and above the scar region can be helpful in eliminating the pain and softening the scar. It can be extremely helpful in improving tissue mobility, pliability, and hydration.

The time element in MFR treatment is vital. It is essential that the practitioner apply sustained pressure to the tissue for a minimum of 90 seconds. This low-load gentle pressure applied slowly will allow the connective tissue to soften and elongate.

Being free of pain and being able to move more freely can help provide emotional benefits for those treated for cancer.

Cancer treatment should not end with interventions to treat the cancer. Too often patients are left with residual problems, some of which can be addressed with MFR to help them return to more optimal health.

If you or someone you know has been down this road, consider adding myofascial work to the health care plan.

Balance the soft tissue, decompress the joints, alleviate the residual pain, and restore your energy.

 

Lauren Cadman, PT, Premier Wellness and Myofascial Release

https://www.premierwellnesspt.com/index.html

Free Dedicated Helpline Coming Sept. 1 for Leiomyosarcoma Guidance

If you or someone you love has Leiomyosarcoma, you will soon be able to call a new helpline offering free counseling support. The designated phone number will go live Sept. 1, 2018, and is a collaborative effort between the National LeioMyoSarcoma Foundation and the Cancer Support Community. Operating hours will be Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The phone number will be announced by Sept. 1. International rates apply.

Trained CSC professionals and counselors will provide information, counseling, and navigation services in both English and Spanish at no cost to callers.

Medical advice is not provided, and must be directed back to the patient’s oncology care team. Information provided on clinical trials and genomic/genetic testing must always be further discussed with your oncologist/oncology care team.

Cancer Support Helpline services include, but are not limited to:

  • Connecting callers to local or national resources, transportation services and other local programs where patients live, providing direct coordination support to patients
  • Short-term cancer counseling and emotional assistance
  • Treatment decision planning in support of the oncological care team
  • Financial navigation and counseling regarding the costs of cancer and its treatments
  • Specialized information on finances / financial planning guidance
  • Clinical trials navigation/information and search assistance
  • Genetic/genomic information assistance
  • Access to an online distress screening program, CancerSupportSource®
  • General information about the Cancer Support Community

For questions, please contact Annie Achee at annieachee@aol.com.

NLSMF also has created a new website about life changes: https://nlmsflifechange.wordpress.com/

How to Prepare for Death More Quickly Than the Emperor of China

The emperor thereupon ordered Xu Fu to gather a group of several thousand young boys and girls and set out to sea to search for the immortal men.

Records of the Grand Historian, translated by Burton Watson

Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BCE), who became the first emperor of China, longed for immortality. He ordered expeditions to follow up on legends of immortals. He probably swallowed mercury, believing it was the elixir of life.

Yet he also had been preparing for his death since he was thirteen years old. He ordered the creation of a massive terracotta army built for his huge mausoleum. When he did die, at age 49, his preparations probably were in order.

The emperor’s eternal army was rediscovered in 1974, and a small portion is on display at the Cincinnati Art Museum until Aug. 12, 2018.

Qin Shi Huang didn’t make his death preparations easy on his subjects. Are you making yours easier for yourself and your loved ones? It only takes four documents, not a huge clay army. Mine are ready, and I intend to live another fifty years. I hope I have to update them many, many times.

It is best for all concerned if you have an advance health care directive, a power of attorney for health care, a general financial power of attorney, and a final will and testament.

Instructions for how to create these are in Thriver Soup, p. 101-103, written by a top-tier lawyer. You probably can pick up some simplified versions of a couple of these documents at the front desk of a hospital.

Better to be prepared, like an emperor, because you can’t predict when the grim reaper’s chariot is going to run you over.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

As you prepare your living will and health care power of attorney, it might be a good idea to consult with a hospice nurse about the advisability of some procedures.

Source:

Sima Qian, Records of the Grand Historian, translated by Burton Watson (1993). http://www.vision.org/visionmedia/history-shi-huang-emperor-china/5818.aspx

Be Like Royalty: Add Cress

Roast fowl to him that’s sated will seem less
Upon the board than leaves of garden cress.

— Saadi Shirazi, Persian poet

 

Garden cress might not be filling, but it adds a peppery spiciness and lots of nutrients to your meal. It’s been cultivated for thousands of years and enjoyed by royalty.

I got my first-ever taste a few weeks ago through my community-supported agriculture program, Earth-Shares CSA. I had heard of watercress sandwiches, so I rooted around and found a simple solution: toast with butter and cress.

I tried it. What a fun new taste—and even my college-aged son loved it. We have a new summer fave. Especially because garden cress has as much anti-cancer potential as cabbage, kohlrabi, and Chinese broccoli. And apparently it even has more vitamin C than oranges.

If you know someone with cataracts or age-related macular degeneration, maybe gift them some potted cress.

Other goodies in these greens include Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper, and Manganese.

Another benefit is this annual is supposedly easy to grow in the house, so you can get a fresh dose anytime, and enjoy it like royalty.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

Here are some cress recipes to try: https://cressinfo.com/recipes/

Sources:

http://www.fao.org/docrep/t0646e/T0646E0t.htm

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2437/2

https://www.healwithfood.org/health-benefits/garden-cress-nutritional-benefits.php

How Safe are Your Medications from Thieves?

A woman with stage 4 lung cancer was found dead in a wooded area in Kentucky, and investigators believe the motive for the murder—by her cousin with two accomplices—was to obtain her narcotic painkillers.

The suspect knew where she kept them, and she had just received another shipment of 120 pain pills on June 8. She disappeared from her home June 9, and her body was found six days later.

Storing opioids

If you have pain killers, where do you store them? I tried locking things in a footlocker with a padlock. My teenager could crack into it within minutes.

I have talked with others who have had cancer treatment. Do they lock up their painkillers? Usually not. Like me, some don’t realize many painkillers are basically heroin pills and addictive.

Here is a list of opioid medications:

Do you have any of these? If so, are they effectively locked up?

“My child wouldn’t take these.”

That’s what I thought. My child did take them. And became an addict. And if he hadn’t, a friend of his might have found and taken them.

I found a digital lock box is the best solution for controlled substances in my home. It costs more, but I know only I can access the contents.

Other addictive prescription drugs to lock up:
— Tranquilizers and depressants, including barbiturates and benzodiazepines, like Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium.
— Stimulants, including Ritalin and amphetamines such as Adderall.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:
According to 2015 government estimates, more than two million people are addicted to opioids. Protect yourself. Protect your loved ones. Please put your medications in a digital lockbox.

Sources:

https://www.kentucky.com/news/local/crime/article213429614.html

http://local12.com/news/local/new-allegations-about-cancers-patients-robbery-murder-revealed

https://patch.com/kentucky/across-ky/terminal-cancer-patient-murdered-her-painkillers-report

https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/prescription/opioids-and-morphine-derivatives.html

https://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA17-5053-12/SMA17-5053-12.pdf

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/03/22/most-addictive-prescription-drugs-on-market.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/ct-opioid-prescriptions-dropped-20170707-story.html

3 Spiders Descending

The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.

Proverbs 30:28, Christian Bible

Small spiders where I live have taken hold of their webbing and descended, appearing right in front of my face.

It’s never happened before, that I recall. Yet it’s happened three times within eleven days, starting on June 5, the three-year anniversary of my son’s passing. It occurred once while I walked under a tree in my yard. Once while I sat in front of my computer on my deck. And once while I sat indoors at my regular desk.

I felt there had to be some significance to this, especially because the first little spider was white. Many years ago a Jungian psychoanalyst gave a presentation about a white spider that appeared in one of her dreams. Once awake, she went to the local bookstore and saw a book called The White Spider. She got an intuitive vibe that this was important for her. The book was about climbers’ first attempts to ascend the north face of the Swiss mountain Eiger. Success entailed crossing a steep, funnel-like, spider-shaped ice field called The White Spider.

Hmmm. I have had my nose to the computer screen for weeks now, working on Grieving an Addict’s section about the opioid epidemic. I was attempting to funnel hundreds of pages of information and 20 interviews into about 25 pages. It included the story about a woman who had severely painful surgeries for cancer treatment, and was on opioids for eight years—not as an addict, but simply to manage the consequences of her surgeries. And she lost her son to opioid addiction. Sometimes I have been overcome with grief, and have shared my sobbing with my sturdy backyard oak tree. It accepts my tears as they pour out, yet continues to stand tall and strong, like a ladder from heaven. Afterward I stare at the calm green foliage, breathe deeply, and try to restabilize my emotions. The terrible agony so many people have endured is beyond comprehension.

Then I go back to my computer. Slowly, paragraph by painful paragraph, the first draft of this section is nearing completion. When the middle spider descended, it attempted to weave a web on the side of my laptop as I typed. Like the spider, I have taken hold of the strands of stories and integrated them into the fabric of understanding.

Weaving is the work of arachnids. And writers. I find it especially interesting that all three spiders used their webbing to descend right in front of my face. According to one website, the ancient Chinese people thought that when a spider dropped down, it was like gifts were dropping down from heaven. I hope they are gifts for writing this book.

Ironically, my deceased son was terrified of spiders. Perhaps he was letting me know, too, that he has been healed of this phobia on the Other Side. That all of us can heal on the Other Side, when we enter into kings’ palaces in paradise. Maybe there can be a good ending to this story for all of us, after all.

Sources:

https://goodlucksymbols.com/spider-symbolism/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_White_Spider

Fathers Can’t Always Fix It

My father didn’t tell me how to live. He lived and let me watch him do it.

–Clarence Budington Kelland

Fathers in our culture are given the role of Mr. Fixit, like the repair fox in Richard Scarry’s children’s books. They are expected to be the family adviser, problem-solver, protector and provider. They are expected to keep their children safe. If their children get sick, they are expected to help fix it.

These expectations are enormous and completely unrealistic. Some things simply can’t be fixed. Even Mr. Fixit repeatedly fails in his role of repairing.

When we lose a child, we agonize. “What did I do wrong? Why couldn’t I have fixed it?”

This spring, the cardinal nest next to my porch provided an example for me of some things that simply can’t be fixed–even by devoted fathers.

Sometimes, I caught glimpses of the father cardinal standing next to the nestlings, probably feeding them.

I later learned male cardinals typically protect their territory and provide food for the little family. They even feed the mothers, calling them away from their nests for dinner.

This father clearly was doing his job, because his ugly nestlings grew rapidly.

About ten days after hatching, one of the fledglings perched on the edge of the nest. It had no tail feathers, and simply sat there awhile. Frankly, Fledgling 1 reminded me of a human teenager daring to take off on its own with no parental control.

Mother and Father chirped madly nearby.

As I continued with my day, Fledgling 1 disappeared. My son and I looked around for it a few times, but never saw it again. What became of the bird? Did one of the feral neighborhood cats catch it? It’s quite possible—only 15 to 37 percent of cardinal nests produce fledglings, and Fledgling 1 was quite vulnerable. The dangers were real and close. The parents had no say in what their offspring chose to do or not do.

The next day Fledgling 2 perched on the edge of the nest for a while. Later in the day I saw it hop from branch to branch around the shrub.

As I approached, both father and mother took turns flying at the bush and creating a ruckus, flapping madly and chirping with piercing volume. Both did their absolute best to lure me away from their remaining baby. Neither succeeded.

The next day, cardinal chirping slit the air from high in a nearby pine. And then it ceased. Fledgling 2 most likely made it into adulthood.

The parents provided a home, nourishment, and every attempt at a safe environment. Yet perhaps one of the two didn’t make it into adulthood. It is not the parents’ fault. We must accept that we are not in charge, ultimately. We do not control the choices of our children, nor any diseases they might endure. We can provide and influence and plead, but in the end, some things can’t be fixed. All we can do is our best.

May you find peace in the example you set for your loved ones.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:
Hear a cardinal chirp on this page https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/norcar/introduction and watch a father cardinal feed his young here: https://americanexpedition.us/learn-about-wildlife/northern-cardinal-facts-information/

Source:
https://www.wild-bird-watching.com/Cardinal.html

Going ’Round the Mulberry

Here we go ’round the mulberry bush, The mulberry bush, The mulberry bush. Here we go ’round the mulberry bush so early in the morning.

English nursery rhyme

I grew up hearing this song and assumed mulberries grew on bushes, like raspberries and blueberries.

Nope. They grow on trees. My sister and I discovered this two summers ago on Long Island, where we saw a man picking what looked like long raspberries off a tree. A tree? What was he eating?

Mulberries.

Oh, we crammed our mouths with their luscious juiciness until we couldn’t reach any more. So sweet, so ripe, and no exterior seeds.

This past week my friend Laura and I took a walk and she identified a mulberry tree. I didn’t know they grew in the Cincinnati area. We filled a bag with what we could reach.

When we met again, she arrived holding a bag filled with fresh, ripe mulberries she had picked. What a treat! And then we found more. I’m in mulberry heaven.

Fortunately, mulberries have great nutritional value. According to https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/mulberries.html, they can improve digestion, reduce cholesterol, aid in weight loss, increase circulation, build bone tissues, boost the immune system, prevent certain cancers, slow down the aging process, decrease blood pressure, protect eyes, and improve metabolism.

That’s a pretty nice list of benefits. Makes me want to go ‘round a mulberry tree and pick more. Just need a ladder to catch those ones up high…

Thriver Soup Ingredient:
To find mulberries, check your local farmers’ markets or look for dried varieties in stores.
https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/mulberries.html includes nutrition facts.
Research on “Composition of anthocyanins in mulberry and their antioxidant activity
Look up effects of mulberry extracts before considering using them.

Jacqui Roell, 2018 Unsung Hero

Heidi Bright, 2017 Unsung Hero, with Jacqui Roell, 2018 Unsung Hero.

Jacqui Roell, RN, BSN, who believes Thriver Soup saved her life, earned a 2018 Unsung Hero Award from Cancer Family Care.

A registered nurse for more than 25 years, Jacqui became the patient during 2017 with a breast cancer diagnosis. During her chemotherapy and radiation treatments, she used many alternative therapies, which she said allowed her to recover quickly.

She calls herself a living testament to how complementary therapies can benefit cancer patients before, during, and after medical treatments. “They can actually decrease, and in some cases remove, the need for many medications by allowing your body to heal itself and maintain its healthy balance naturally.”

Jacqui is an aromatherapist, a reflexologist, and a Reiki practitioner. She is adding healing touch, crystal therapy, and herbal supplementation to her business. She also is active in several cancer care and advocacy groups, including Pink Ribbon Girls and Cancer Family Care.

Jacqui was nominated for the award by her mother, Marilyn Seilkop, a fellow cancer survivor. Marilyn wrote, “She is a passionate advocate for patients and their families. In addition to interviews on local TV stations, Jackie is a frequent speaker at cancer care events she is a mentor for cancer patients and a hero to all who meet her.”

Jacqui’s Holistic Soul Wellness website is https://holisticsoulwellness.com/

What is your favorite complementary form of treatment?