More Than Surviving: Living with Serious Illness | General Wellness | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

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More Than Surviving: Living with Serious Illness

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Last Updated: 08/13/2013 3:50 pm
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Ogg sees her illness as a “diving board into wellness,” and as a therapist helps others who are seriously ill. “I assist people in understanding what lessons have been placed before them that they may not be seeing,” she says, “so they can use those lessons to come to the light. Understanding yourself, how you got there, what areas of discomfort or dis-ease you have been walking around with—in shifting those, you are not as hospitable to disease. Everything is interconnected, so that physiology can be altered by a more comfortable emotional state. Working with the mind-body-spirit connection, you have the whole picture, and everything is possible.” She acknowledges that sometimes the path leads to leaving the body—that is, death. “The path is really the soul’s path, and it must be respected,” she says. “It’s one’s contract with the creator. I help people see how disease comes into the picture and how one can be brought to healing, whether in life or in death.”

A Bookful of Help
Puja Thomson is a cancer survivor and health professional whose award-winning book, After Shock: From Cancer Diagnosis to Healing (Roots & Wings, 2006), helps others navigate the many hurdles of a cancer diagnosis and treatment. The support of friends who understood her wishes and needs was invaluable in getting through it. “I knew that friends supported me, and were praying for me, and they knew I wanted to consider complementary approaches. That maximized my emotional and spiritual health, not just my body’s health. I would sometimes come out of doctors’ offices with more fear than going in,” Thomson recalls, “especially if I questioned them, and when they quoted cancer statistics. That can feel very scary. Friends were helpful in getting information for me when I was too overwhelmed to do the research myself. They could continue to ask questions and clear things up, so that fear wasn’t brewing.”

Thomson’s book is filled with suggestions and encouragement for staying centered, such as through meditation, breathing exercises, guided imagery, music, poetry, and much more. She highly recommends guided imagery tapes and CDs, which she listened to regularly, such as the “Health Journeys” series by Belleruth Naparstek (www.healthjourneys.com). They have spoken affirmations and guided journeys that are specific to different illnesses and treatments. “The affirmations give the body a powerful message to be well, to let go of judgment and blame,” says Thomson, who listened to them before and after surgery. At home, she would sometimes allow herself to drift into a nap in the afternoons in the relaxing “zone” induced by the healing imagery. Thomson also suggests meditation cards as a simple but powerful tool. There are several varieties—such as angel cards, heart cards, goddess cards, and many varieties of tarot—that have words, phrases, or readings that can become a healing focus for the day, instead of getting stuck in negative thinking, which can depress not only one’s mood but also one’s healing abilities.

During her illness, and still, Thomson seeks connection to nature and living things and urges others to go outside or bring nature indoors. “Nature is the grounder and the healer,” she says. “I go for walks and get outdoors. I have hyacinth blooming indoors, even now, in winter. Flowers, colors, scents, things that give you pleasure—allow yourself things like that.”

Because Thomson is a practitioner in the healing arts, she knows that healers who get sick tackle an additional question: “How can I be a practitioner if I can’t be well myself?” Though she doesn’t blame herself for causing the cancer, she nonetheless used it to become more vigilant about improving her daily life. “I had to ask myself, ‘What am I not doing?’ I had to become more conscious of things I had let slip, like letting my sweet tooth get out of hand, or being less faithful with exercising.”

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