Tag Archive 'Phoebe Snetsinger'

Oct 10 2010

The Healing Power of Ikigai – Issue #61

My conscious cancer coach has asked me some very profound questions like: what is keeping you here, what is your passion, what engages you and gives your life purpose? In other words, what is my ikigai?

Ikigai (sounds like icky guy) is a Japanese word that basically means ‘why I wake up in the morning’. It’s what brings meaning and joy to our lives. The reason those questions are so important is because the answers could make a difference between healing or not healing, life or death. Studies have found that people who have discovered their ikigai live longer, happier, healthier lives. Our ikigai could be our children, work, plants or pets — anything that we care for and care about. It’s healing power comes from taking our focus off our problems and instead focusing us on what we love. This turns off destructive stress hormones and activates healing energy.

A good friend recently sent me this sweet letter:

“My cat Merlin, my little furry man, had a cancer tumor taken off last year…the vet didn’t seem optimistic. He lost lots of weight and I was giving up on him. He still had an appetite so I fed him as often as he wanted, tuna, salmon, shrimp…but he still didn’t gain a pound. In the last few months instead of fretting, I just started to enjoy him, take his fleas off twice a day and tell him how beautiful and wonderful he is…he gets on the sink 3 or 4 times a day waiting to be told how wonderful he is and I groom him a little. Its 8 months later and his coat and weight are getting back to normal.”

My friend stopped worrying and just focused on loving and nurturing his cat and it was healing for both of them.

Here are some additional examples of the miraculous healing effects of focusing on what we love:

When Phoebe Snetsinger was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she decided to follow her bliss and travel the world sighting birds. Her cancer went into remission and she lived twenty more years, and set the world’s record for sighting the most bird species ever.

Ten years ago my brother Norm was diagnosed with an inoperable brain aneurysm. He eventually stopped thinking about the time bomb in his head and focused on fulfilling his dream of sailing his boat to the Caribbean Islands and beyond. He was recently told by doctors that the aneurysm had calcified and was no longer a problem.

My acupuncturist told me about a woman he was treating with stage 4 cancer whose doctors could do no more for her and told her to check into hospice. When he asked her if there was something she loved to do, she remembered her love of painting that she’d given up years ago due to a busy life. She took up painting again and her cancer disappeared.

They all focused on what they loved doing and their illness subsided. Our ikigai can heal what ails us, and what ails us can awaken us to our ikigai.

I believe there are possible exit points or step up points in our lives, times when we decide to renew or not renew our contract with life, times we ask ourselves, “Am I having fun? Do I still want to be here? Is there something I’d love to do and am I willing to do it?”

When I was a depressed, suicidal teenager I was faced with these questions. My depression led me to reading metaphysical books like “The Power of Positive Thinking”, “Your Thoughts Can Change Your Life” and “Psycho-Cybernetics”. I became very excited and deeply resonated with what these books were saying – I knew my thoughts and feelings created my reality and I wanted to take on the challenge of transforming my life. This gave me a reason to live – it became my ikigai and fueled amazing transformation and healing over the years.

When I was approaching my 50th birthday I was feeling bored with life and uninspired. I became aware that it was a possible exit point…or step up point. Someone I knew had just died of an illness at age 50 — it seemed that she had given up and was choosing to check out. I thought that maybe my stagnation could lead to something like that happening. I checked in with myself and realized I wasn’t ready to leave this life. I wanted to stick around and face one of my biggest life challenges — creating a conscious, loving relationship. That was my new ikigai. I passionately immersed myself in that pursuit, AND an anything but icky guy showed up…the wondrous Tom!

Now, some ten years later, I am faced with another possible exit point/step up point — within the past two years my appendix ruptured and then cancer came a callin’.  I am seriously addressing the questions my cancer coach posed to me: Do I still want to be here? Is there something I feel passionate about doing? Are there exciting challenges that are engaging me?

The answer is yes. My relationship with my husband Tom continues to be a great joy and something I dearly love. Cancer has refocused me on additional passions and reasons for living, like writing and deeply connecting with my spirit. It has renewed my enthusiasm for metaphysics, exploring how our thoughts and feelings affect our reality, our bodies, and our lives. As I’m working on healing myself I’m highly engaged in reading stimulating books such as Spontaneous Healing of Belief (Gregg Braden) and The Intention Experiment (Lynne McTaggert). Science has now caught up with metaphysics and it’s a very exciting time to be alive.

Gardening is an ikigai for many people and in a sense it is for me as well…I am now passionately focused on gardening my energy field, gardening a higher vibration, gardening the healing energy of love. Like my friend who stopped worrying and simply showered love on his cat, I am loving myself, I am lovingly talking to my body and my ailing parts like they’re my children, telling them how wonderful and beautiful they are. I am loving delicious food and delicious connections with the people in my life. I look forward to waking up in the morning, fully tasting and enjoying life. These are all exciting, worthwhile reasons to be here.

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?” “What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?” “I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

I believe our Ikigai is a key element in whether we stay or go, whether we kick the bucket or keep filling the bucket. I want to stay — I want to keep filling the bucket!

What’s your ikigai? What are you excited about and motivates you to jump out of bed in the morning? It could be something as simple as breakfast (like Pooh) or something as profound as loving and nurturing yourself as if you were the most precious thing in the world. I wish you buckets full of ikigai!

In love,

Jan Jacobsen

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Jun 10 2009

All Life is an Experiment – #16

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions – all life is an experiment.” That quote keeps coming to my mind lately as I am faced with changes in my life. I take a deep breath whenever I think of it: “All life is an experiment.” – “Therefore,” I tell myself, “relax, accept change, be willing to take risks and make mistakes for the sake of living your fullest life.”

When I was a young girl in grade school a teacher once wrote on my report card, “Janet will one day learn that it’s a waste of time to worry so much about making a mistake.” It was about the same time that I was taking sailing lessons at the Mystic seaport. The other kids would be sailing all around me on the Mystic River, tilting, capsizing, having great sailing adventures and playing with the wind, while I just sat there, stalled, afraid, playing it safe, unable and unwilling to catch the wind.

The winds of change have been huffing and puffing around me this past year; a ruptured appendix, cancer, and a wind-whipped voracious fire in our mountains have reminded me of the impermanence of this earth life. I feel my soul urging me to fully live my life while I am alive – to let go of the safety, security, and stagnancy of the known and to follow my dream and concentrate on writing. My mind says cynically, “Yeah, right, follow your dream to the poor house!” My mind is like an anchor, resisting the wind, trying to keep me moored in the familiar. But the winds of change are blowing my mind, rocking my boat, and exciting my soul, who is joyously singing “Anchors aweigh!”

Someone recently sent me the story of Phoebe Snetsinger, a 50-year-old woman who was diagnosed with cancer and given a year to live. She decided to forgo treatment and use some inheritance money that she’d received to travel around the world as a birder. She ended up living 18 more years (she died in a van accident) during which time she became legendary in the birder world for having seen and recorded more birds than anyone else in the world. She threw caution to the wind and followed her bliss and it led her to a rich, rewarding life.

Sometimes when our world is blown apart, we are freed from the safety and inertia of the familiar, and are challenged to make changes, take risks, and follow our hearts desire. However, we don’t need our world to be upended in order to do that. For the last two years my husband Tom has been committed to concentrating his time and resources on developing and marketing his ingenious right brain math system (he’s Mister Numbers on youtube with over 60,000 views). He’s excited and tail-wagging happy every day to be living his dream and making a difference in people’s lives. He inspires me to do the same, as does this excerpt from “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer:

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living

I want to know what you ache for

and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

 

It doesn’t interest me how old you are

I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool

for love

for your dreams

for the adventure of being alive.

 

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…

I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow

if you have been opened by life’s betrayals

or have become shriveled and closed

from fear of further pain.

 

I want to know if you can sit with pain

mine or your own

without moving to hide it

or fade it

or fix it.

 

I want to know if you can be with joy

mine or your own

if you can dance with wildness

and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your

fingers and toes

without cautioning us to

be careful

be realistic

to remember the limitations of being human.

My soul is urging me to take a leap of faith – to open my heart like a parachute and jump into the unknown, trusting the direction the wind is blowing me. I know that many of you have taken great leaps of faith, risking it all for your aliveness. You have inspired me!

Maybe some of you are feeling the urge now to take a leap of faith and follow your heart’s desire? “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions – All life is an experiment.” Have a wonderful adventure!

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

 

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