Looking at cancer from a yogic perspective, one word comes to mind: ahimsa, which means non-violence.
According to the sage Patanjali, non-violence is the first Yama or right action, the first guiding principle from which to live and choose.
And so we must ask ourselves: If we fight our way to health, can we truly be healed? Is it possible that taking a violent approach—trying to beat cancer, conquer cancer, fight cancer, labeling ourselves as cancer survivors—is actually part of the problem?
There is a saying in yoga, “When the student is ready, the teacher is there.” Everything in life is an opportunity to heal or shine, even cancer itself.
At school you have a teacher. You learn the level of education that they are there to offer and then you graduate into other lessons, other teachers. We don’t go around trying to make war on our teachers. We understand that to graduate we need to listen, to learn, to transcend what that teacher is offering us so that we can move through, move on.
When we turn away from a teacher, tell them that they dont have anything to offer us, then we dont graduate, we get stuck and have to repeat the lessons. The more we fight, the harder the lessons come. The more we try and disassociate from the lessons, the more they keep showing up. Does this not sound like our collective societal relationship to cancer?
Many years ago the word disease was explained to me as dis-ease. A lack of flow. Prana that is not flowing at its optimal frequency for that part of the body, organ or chakra. Yogic asana is the very thing that gets that prana moving, that raises the frequency of the organs to their optimal. To mentally relate to the affected organ as it having something wrong with it, something that needs to be fixed, ripped out, is adding more “low frequency” to the area. Making it hard for that organ to shift out of the affected frequency and into health or optimal frequency.
Yogically we call this “identifying with the samsakara,” mental belief or pattern.
But asana is not the only way to shift this reality, its the start. We need to then fine tune, meditate on and examine the emotions that correlate to that chakra and then the belief and karma our minds are functioning from that is feeding this manifestation. When we identify with the story that this low frequency, this dis-ease is telling us then our mind cannot shift out of that perspective and change the frequency that is feeding the organ.
Its like a plant, everyone loves to look at the flower, the physical manifestation. They see that as the whole reason for growing the plant. But the physical, the flower, is the last to manifest in the whole plant experience. Our emotions are the stem, what takes the flower towards the sun, but its the mind, or the roots that give life to the whole experience. You can have the roots without the flower. But you can’t have the flower without the roots. If you want to change the health of the flower, of the plant, you must check the roots, the mind. Examine its environment, too much or too little water, the nutrients in the soil, or karmas. When you fertilize the soil, give it the right amount of water, then the roots will be healthy and the rest of the plant will follow. This is true also for our physical experience of disease. We must seek health and healing from the karmic and mental koshas or sheths of experience.
What if we were to listen to that organ, affected area or cancer. Ask it why its here, now, what is out of balance, mentally and emotionally that it has had to physically manifest in this way to get our attention? What is the karma that is asking to be neutralized, transcended so that our soul can evolve?
We can use the experience of cancer as a teacher to show us a way to transmute our imbalances,transform and evolve through the experience, through the dis-ease rather than fighting, bullying,beating the experience into submission.
Its time that our society learns to thrive through cancer rather than survive it.
We, the collective consciousness, yes you, me, we need to stop buying into, stop supporting the very mentality that creates more of a discord, more dis-ease, more violence within our human experience. By embracing cancer as a teacher, a healer, will we be able to graduate from this collective conscious lesson and step forward into our fullest expression of health, love and light.
Editor: Hayley Samuelson.
Shivini Howe is the founder of Pura Luna Lifestyles, the Living Yoga Society and a native of New Zealand, Shivani came into her career after she found herself needing to take a new approach to life. In 2001, she was diagnosed with advanced endometriosis, and began looking for alternative ways to relieve her body of this supposedly incurable disease. It was then she discovered the ancient philosophy of Yoga. The age-old art brought harmony to her life and body, and unraveled the stresses of her illness from its source.
She moved from New Zealand to North America in 2002 where she obtained formal certification as a Yoga Teacher in Toronto (500 hour registered course with the Yoga Alliance) and is now herself registared as an registered E-RYT 500 herself. Each year Shivani takes a pilgrimage back to India to further her training and perform seva (service) at the feett of her Guru’s Paramahansa Satyananda Saraswati and Sw. Satsangananda Saraswati in Rikhia Ashram, India, where she has been initiated into the Satyananda Lineage as a Karma Sannyasi.
She is looking forward to teaching workshops on Mantra and Lifestyle at the Whistler Yoga Confrence in May. (www.whistleryogaconfrence.com) She is passionate about life, Yoga – on and off the matt, writing, hiking, and playing with her 2 year old. Her greatest teacher. To find out more about Shivani click here (www.puraluna.com)