Yesterday an email was waiting for us… Kindred Spirit Magazine posted Nette’s story about finding peace on their website home page. Kindred Spirit is one of the largest spiritual and well-being magazine’s in the UK (sister mag to Mind, Body, Spirit). You can google Kindred Spirit Magazine’s website or you can read the story below. The Kindred Spirit’s editor also wants to publish a news article about Stars of Aroha in their Jan/Feb edition – this is a great opportunity to spread our peace around the world – thank you Kindred Spirit Magazine (especially Joanne who hopes our app will go “viral”).
Pathway to Peace – A Breast Cancer Story that Led to the Creation of a Meditation App.
There had been lots of signs before I saw the rainbow. It suddenly appeared above my car on my way to work one spring morning, “Okay Mum, I know what you’re trying to tell me” I heard myself say.
When my mum was a child she was nick-named ‘Rainbow’ because she had such a big smile, she made people happy. On the day of her funeral an enormous rainbow completely filled the sky – it was ethereal, spectacular. As people arrived at the church the first thing they commented on was this unusually large, brightly coloured rainbow hovering over the hill, commanding the sky. Back then, its presence was comforting to me… but today, the rainbow’s appearance made me feel ambivalent. In truth, I felt anxious.
I had been putting off having a mammogram for months. There had been many, many warnings. To start with I just had a feeling, a knowing deep inside me; there was no pain, no symptoms. It seemed that every morning when I was on my way to work I turned my car radio on and the breast screening advert would be on. The same thing happened on my way home. The kind voice would encouragingly urge women to have their breast screen check. And then there was the time the doctor’s nurse rang to remind me that I was “overdue” to have my mammogram. I replied “Thank you; I must get on to that” while thinking to myself ‘what good follow-up service.’ But then I immediately pushed it to the back of my mind.
After the rainbow incident I continued to ignore the signs. I said to myself “Why aren’t I getting myself checked? What’s stopping me? What am I afraid of?
And then it happened.
It was the day before Christmas and my partner asked me if I would like to mediate and pray, as a couple. That year had been busy for both of us; we both worked full time and we had family and friends that needed our love and support. “We need to have more balance in our lives” my partner suggested.
“Yes” I said quietly before adding, “because I think I have breast cancer”.
“How long have you known?” my partner prompted. “A few months” (okay, I told a porky – it had been at least 10 months). Then came the next question, “Will you have a mammogram?” “Yes” I said. It was good to be able to talk about it. Speaking those two words “breast cancer” made everything suddenly seem so real (or maybe it was just in my head?)
So, there it was. IT was out… it was time to move forward. I had this knowing that I was more than my body and I knew that I had to heal my mind. Finding peace was the most powerful thing I knew I could do to help me get through this (if I did have breast cancer). That’s when the searching started – how do I heal my mind? What would help me to control my wandering fearful mind?
Why didn’t I get my breast check done sooner? I’m a registered nurse with experience in community hospice nursing. I’ve also had the opportunity of conducting interviews with several hundred women who lived with breast cancer as part of a New Zealand breast cancer study. I’d read a lot of medical records about breast cancer and I knew quite a lot about the various treatment options available. My fear prevented me from seeking help; this is despite the fact that I knew that breast cancer is very treatable.
By the time January arrived my partner and I had begun our daily prayer practice and it naturally led us to engage with short guided meditations. We got up a little earlier than normal in the mornings and began with a short reading and guided meditation. Focusing on meditation brought me an immediate and deep sense of peace. I was grateful for this as I waited for my mammogram appointment.
After Christmas I had my mammogram and returned to work. Within a week I received a phone call from the breast screening services “Please come back in… please bring a support person with you. You need to have another check, but there’s nothing to worry about – it’s just routine.”
I had stage three breast cancer. My mastectomy was scheduled early March. The gold-standard period to wait for a mastectomy is six weeks. I knew my mind would play havoc if I couldn’t control my fear.
…..When I look back now I realise how fortunate I was that I had already begun searching for peace through the practice of meditation. Of course, I had a motivating factor. My partner used to pray daily but it wasn’t something that I had ever done regularly and my engagement with meditation nearly 20 years ago had been short lived.
It wasn’t long before I realised that I was practicing peacefulness all throughout the day, at work, at home, with others, on my own… I was constantly training myself to “choose peace”. The more I understood that the light is within all of us and all I had to do was to look at my dark shadows and take them to the light, the more peaceful I became.
While waiting for my operation I asked the spiritual realm to connect me with people and things that could strengthen and support my faith to grow. I trusted and I waited. Within a few days I met Jaedra, a wonderful spiritual teacher who guided me through my operation and recovery. My partner and I began to meet like-minded people and it didn’t take long to develop a strong spiritual community. I searched for books and meditation self-help tools on-line and in book shops.
A couple of weeks before my mastectomy my partner and I arrived home after scouring second hand book shops. We were chilled out on big soft arm chairs reading our newest spiritual treasures. I remember the sun streaming in the room and that’s when I first realised how peaceful and happy I felt. I shared my feelings with my partner, “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been” I said. My partner was pleasantly surprised as they thought it would be normal for me to feel unpeaceful before my operation.
In truth, I felt uplifted and awakened.
Over time the fear lessened and my sense of peacefulness grew stronger and stronger. If there were moments I started to feel fearful or my mind was wandering I would say to myself “I choose peace.” This was so powerful. I also wrote affirmations on small cards and had these with me at work. As soon as my mind started to wander off track I would consult an affirmation and get immediately back on track – it worked.
My operation went very well. When anyone asks me to share my experiences I tell them “I knew I wasn’t my body; I knew that I had to heal my mind to strengthen myself – I didn’t know where it was going to take me. But now I know the truth of who I am and why I’m here”. I explain that eternal peace and happiness is inside all of us. I know that I am my spirit and my spirit is God. We are on this earth for such a short time. Our most challenging experiences can help us to remember who we really are.
Eighteen months ago my life completely changed for the better. Practicing meditation coupled with the encouragement from my family, friends and spiritual community continues to help me keep my mind focused on the truth, the oneness of spirit shared in common with my brothers and sisters, and the importance of sharing this love and peace with everyone.
Postscript: Following Nette’s experience her partner wrote the Stars of Aroha book and together they have developed the Stars of Aroha peace inspired meditation tools (www.starsofaroha.co.nz). The App MeditatioNZ by Stars of Aroha® can be downloaded from Google Play & the iTunes Store. ‘Aroha’ is an indigenous Māori term to express love, compassion and empathy. Email, firstname.lastname@example.org