Omega: Can you talk about following your intuition—one of nine healing factors you identified as shared by patients who have experienced a radical remission? How can anyone—healthy or sick—learn to listen to signals from their body and mind?
Kelly: Intuition was surprising to me because I didn’t think it would come up in every single interview I conducted, but it did.
When I studied the science behind it, it made a little more sense because intuition is actually an innate part of the human body. There’s a system, an intuitive, instinctual system that's built into the human body—it's the back of your brain and the more than 100 million neurons in your gut—and most of us aren’t in touch with it because we’re not in life-threatening situations every day. But a cancer diagnosis is a life-threatening sentence in our society. So as soon as you hear those words, “You have cancer,” your alarm bells go off, and those parts of your body that have basically been lying dormant become alive.
It’s like the part of your body that kicks in when you're walking alone at night. It keeps you very present and it’s meant to heighten your senses and make you aware of any danger and the pathways to safety.
I've talked to people who are in war-torn countries, and unfortunately they’re in that mode all the time. But intuition is not so much about the fight-or-flight response; it’s about activating this other intuitive, instinctual part of the brain.
It’s dormant in all of us, but you don't have to have a cancer diagnosis or your life threatened to access it. You can actually turn it on through things like meditation, mindfulness practices, or anything that really gets you in the present moment. This is where centuries of yoga and meditation books come into play.
We have many different meditative techniques that can help quiet the thinking mind, and it’s important for people to remember it’s one or the other. Researchers have found that you’re either in the frontal cortex, where you're planning, and worrying, and making your to-do lists, or you’re back in the reptilian brain, which is in instinct and in the present moment.
So it makes sense that cancer patients who feel their lives are threatened hear their intuitive voice very, very strongly. If your monkey mind—or your to-do list mind as I like to call it—is on, then you are not going to clearly tap into your intuition. For some people meditation works for getting in touch with their intuition; for some people it's gardening; for other people it’s running or walking in nature. Our entire physiology actually shifts when we turn off the monkey mind, and it shifts for the better. We actually turn on our immune system. Things like digestion improve. Circulation improves. A Chinese medicine practitioner would say that chi flow improves.
One meditation teacher that I know, one of her favorite simple practices is, “Get into a state of meditation, however you can do that, and then from there ask that intuitive part of yourself, 'What information do you have for me today?'” Just asking that simple question and seeing what comes up from that space can be quite powerful.
You might suddenly think of someone, or see someone’s face in your mind’s eye, or you might hear the name of a place, like Chicago or something. You just write it down, and you don't have to understand it and make sense of it yet.
From a cancer perspective, a lot of the people I interviewed said they would walk out of a doctor’s appointment and they’d feel in their gut like something was wrong or something was missing. They would just suddenly hear, “That naturopath; go see that naturopath that your friend told you about.” It was usually something they hadn’t thought about in years, but it just suddenly flashed into their head. That's the intuitive voice talking to you.
Some people hear it as a voice. For other people it’s images. Some people say it’s really based in their gut, which makes sense given we have a second brain with 100 million neurons in our gut. When your gut just clenches in fear, or clenches in a “no way," that is literally the brain in your gut talking to you in an instinctual and intuitive way. So it’s important to listen to those bodily messages.
Omega: What are the other healing factors you identified and can a healthy person follow your suggestions?
Kelly: Anyone can start following the nine factors today. They’ve all been shown to significantly strengthen your immune system. So that's never a bad thing, right? That's why I always say these things can’t hurt. They might help, and they might help a lot. They might help your immune system actually turn the tide against the cancer cells in your body. I’ve interviewed plenty of people who were literally sent home on hospice unable to eat, unable to walk, and they just start doing these things little by little.
Death is something that will happen to all of us at some point. There’s nothing that says you have to try to be a radical remission survivor. You may say, “You know what, I'm really tired of being in this body. I’d like to go to the next realm.” There’s no obligation to take action, but if you do choose to take action to try to lengthen your time in this body, these nine factors used by all the cancer survivors I interviewed can help:
- Radically change your diet
- Take control of your health
- Follow your intuition
- Use herbs and supplements (with a skilled practitioner)
- Release suppressed emotions
- Increase positive emotions
- Embrace social support
- Deepen your spiritual connection
- Have strong reasons for living
© 2016 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies