It has taken a second bout of cancer to remind me that connecting to what’s inside me can create a sense of joy that is always therapeutic, and that losing this connection can be fatal.

I do realize that other factors such as diet, exercise, lifestyle and heredity can be beneficial for health, but I do feel that inner joy is the starter motor that determines the efficacy of the other factors.

Cancer Research U.K. tells us that more than half of us will hear the words “you have cancer” at some time in our lives. The organization currently puts the risk of the occurrence of cancer at one in two, whereas previously it was one in three.

Is it reasonable to assume that increased longevity is entirely responsible for this increase? Is it merely coincidence that the rise in the incidence of this disease has occurred concurrently with our increasing disconnection from ourselves—from our own inner peace and contentment—due to our fast-paced, stressful and often lonely existence?

From personal experience, I would say that we cannot leave our inner selves completely out of the picture.

Some others who would support this point of view are, for example, Dr. Eben Alexander (Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife) and Anita Moorjani (Dying To Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing), both of whom suffered from near-fatal diseases and even had near-death experiences, only to make miraculous recoveries.

Anita Moorjani has given one of the most well-known recent accounts of spontaneous healing, involving her negative emotions causing a near-fatal form of cancer, her journey to the ‘other side’ and her return to this life renewed and in a state of accelerated healing, which she attributes to her connection with inner joy.

Whether or not we believe in the details of these narrators’ journeys, the fact of their survival, and their complete recovery from near-fatal disease, gives credence to their views. They stress the importance of living joyfully, doing what we love and connecting consciously to our inner selves in order to aid recovery.

Disconnected from my inner world

My own account is different in that, having recovered from a serious form of cancer—and after a major operation in 2015, having experienced a ‘clear’ period of nearly four years—the cancer has now reoccurred in exactly the same place as it was before. I am again waiting for admission to hospital to remove it. I ask myself, “Why?”

Author Michael Beckwith tells us that behind every problem, there is a question waiting to be asked. So in trying to come to terms with the bad news regarding the reappearance of malignant cells in my body, I asked myself the question, “What is the root cause of my disease?”

What came to me was that I had been disconnected from my inner world, and therefore had been joyless.

As a single parent of a teenage son, I had been focused almost exclusively on economic survival, my son’s schooling and social problems, the breakup of the relationship with my long-term partner, renovating our apartment and so on. My attention was given almost exclusively to the outside world. Inside, I was depressed and felt terrible most of the time, and even worse, I was frightened of looking at these feelings, again ignoring my inner state.

I had lost the balance between my inner and outer worlds, which led to high levels of stress, worry, isolation and loneliness.  

More than 20 years ago, in Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine, Dr. Deepak Chopra outlined the connection between our psychological state and cellular health. Describing how our emotions can reactivate what he terms ‘cell memory,’ and how feelings of panic, isolation and disconnection were often experienced before the reoccurrence of disease or addiction in his patients, he also noted that in cases of spontaneous healing, the patient was often in a state of heightened consciousness leading up to their recovery.

Similarly, A Course in Miracles states that all disease comes from separation. How true those words ring to me now. I used to think this meant separation from God. Now I know it means separation from the Self.

Constantly looking for a distraction from myself meant that I never actually felt at home when I was alone and without a screen in front of me. I never really felt who I am—I never stayed still long enough to find out, contributing to my depressed emotions and the resulting disease.

Something wonderful inside us

The reoccurrence of cancer has pushed me to try to bridge this separation. Now I sit quietly with myself, mindful of my inner space.

Sometimes just sitting in front of the fire and watching my breath will cause my symptoms to abate. I feel happier. I sleep better.

I have slowed down my pace. I feel more serene. I experience a kind of euphoria in everyday things like walking along the seashore or doing the shopping. Writing this article has been good for me because it has focused me on my inner world.

I have noticed that there is a connection between this type of spiritual practice and my physical state. Sometimes just sitting in front of the fire and watching my breath will cause my symptoms to abate. I feel happier. I sleep better. I now realize that there is something wonderful within us that can help heal any disease—even cancer.

Why should these things feel different now? I think because I’m experiencing them from the inside out—I first notice how they feel inside, before looking out.

After my operation, will my changed emotional state stop the reappearance of cancer in my body? I think so, but I can’t be sure.

Can I think of a better way to live now? Definitely not!

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