Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

Enlightenment Is Sexy, a memoir by Valerie Gangas, is out today, and it’s not just for women!

July 14, 2015

EIS Book CoverA first book from Valerie Gangas, ENLIGHTENMENT IS SEXY: Every Woman’s Guide To A Magical Life, is out today, and it’s not just for women!

Valerie is a great writer. She’s colorful, direct, and pulls no punches. Her effervescent personality shines through the amazing stories she shares with her readers, awakening them to their own inherent greatness.

The book is divided into short easy-to-read chapters packed with practical insightful wisdom. It’s also an inspirational testimony to the transformational power of TM, and I am enjoying reading every word of it!

Valerie sent us this intro to her story.

Awakening to Me

In 2011, I woke up and realized everything I thought I knew was wrong.

~ Valerie Gangas

For as long as I can remember, I have been running. Waking up in the morning and running to the gym. Running to the hospital to support my mother, who battled cancer for 13 years. Running to my job, managing an extremely busy Chicago restaurant/bar. Running from boyfriend to boyfriend. Running from one social event to another. Running to deal with the pressures modern women face to be perfect, to get the job done right, to be a caretaker, to look good—let’s face it: to be Wonder Woman.

Then one day, I was forced to stop running.

In late 2010, the restaurant I’d managed for 15 years was sold . . . but it turned out to be a weird sort of blessing, in that I got to spend day and night with my beautiful mother who, by Thanksgiving that year only had a couple of months left on the planet.

All of this time, I had been on a steady diet of double espressos, bottles of Cabernet and late nights eating steaks, cooked rare. (Did I mention I don’t eat meat?)

I was losing my mind as I watched her slowly slip away. I’d had a bad case of insomnia for years, my depression was deepening, and the distractions I’d held up like masks were no longer working well . . . make that, at all.

My mom passed away on January 25, 2011. And my world went black.

After she died, I felt like I’d died right along with her. I was out of a job, suicidal and completely unhealthy. My “diet”—mainly fueled by booze and caffeine—had caught up with me. I was the thinnest I’d been since high school, and my nerves were on fire. And it was like Groundhog’s Day—every night was the same scene. Go to bed, wake up at 3 a.m., stare at the ceiling, my thoughts reeling, feeling like complete crap, until I had to get up a couple hours later. Then my “day cycle” would start again. Down some caffeine, make myself workout (I had to fit in my cocktail dresses, duh!) and then never stop throughout the workday, ‘til I collapsed later that night.

Reflecting back, thoughts of suicide regularly arose in my mind. I didn’t feel like I could go on without my mom, who’d been my best friend. Clearly, I was a broken woman. Yes, I had been seeing a therapist and was trying to get my head above water. But nothing seemed to be working. My suicidal thoughts were getting stronger and stronger. I had gone so far as to ask my aunt and uncle to take my dog (I couldn’t bear messing up her little life), and I didn’t get a new car when my lease was up . . . because people who are going to kill themselves don’t need a car. I also wrote out my will.

Yep, I was gearing up to end my life.

One particularly horrible day I was on my knees in the shower, when I just collapsed and screamed out, “God, Mom, anyone, please help me kill myself or please save me!” In that moment, I completely surrendered. I was nothing. I was no one. And I completely gave myself and my fate over to God.

A week later, a friend suggested I learn Transcendental Meditation (TM). My only hope, at the time, was that I would be able to get some sleep. I hadn’t read anything about meditation, hadn’t thought about it or even wondered about it. But I was in such a dark place, one morning I made the call.

Within days, I borrowed that same friend’s car and drove to a Transcendental Meditation center in Chicago. The home which doubled as a TM center had a feeling of calm I couldn’t quite put my finger on—the air seemed lighter, somehow, and the view was all lake. Even upon entering the center’s lobby, I felt a bit calmer. Huh, I thought, these people who work here are super different. They were so chilled and completely filled with love . . . it was immediately clear to me they were there to help me. My next thought was, I’m here, so I might as well learn how to do this.

I sat down with my teacher and after a short, but beautiful ceremony, I was given my “mantra”—a sound she said my awareness would naturally follow, as it subsided into the depths of silence in my mind. When we both closed our eyes, I easily and effortlessly said the mantra to myself less than five times . . . and just like that, I was gone. I dove into a part of my body and mind I never knew existed—boundless, limitless and totally awesome. Yes-sir, something major had just happened . . . but soon I was discovering I’d only glimpsed the tip of the iceberg.

Driving home down Lake Shore Drive, I immediately began noticing how the world seemed so much different to me than it had on my way to the center. The colors all around me were more vivid, the sounds of the birds felt like sweet music to my ears, I seemed to be connected to all of the trees I saw . . . and above all, I felt happy. But, my mind called out to me, Is this really happening?! Do I really feel happy? How? Why? What the hell?

Fortunately, the essence of that experience stuck and stayed, and I came to find it was in fact “real”—that in twenty minutes, my whole life had changed. I woke up and realized everything I thought I knew was wrong. My life was no longer defined by outer circumstances. I was having a direct experience of what I have come to know as my true Self.

I cannot explain what followed . . . you know, the why of it. Within weeks of learning to meditate, I was standing in front of Oprah Winfrey, explaining how her newfound TM practice was going to make her limitless and boundless. Now, one would think standing in front of one of the most powerful women in the world would cause some serious butterflies in the stomach. But this wasn’t my experience. In that moment, when I stood at the front of the room and described my journey to her, I could only “see” her. The fame and the power didn’t exist. I was only concerned with helping the beautiful human in front of me the only way I knew how . . . with honesty, passion and a dash of humor.

I walked out of Harpo Studios that Friday morning and knew I was about to head down a very different life path. My soul and heart were breaking open and I was watching the right words leave my lips before my mind could even think them. I felt the power of the whole universe in my little body. That day, I decided to give everything I had to try to bring peace and goodness to the world. To do my part.

It has actually taken me the past few years to really understand this new way of living: that is, from the inside out. I felt compelled to write in my journal every night. I mean, the realizations I was having were just too profound not to write them down. I turned what I wrote about into a manuscript . . . and today I am proud to say I have just published my first book, Enlightenment Is Sexy: Every Woman’s Guide To A Magical Life. I’ve also started a brand I love and have continued to speak about consciousness, happiness, freedom, and above all, Transcendental Meditation.

Learning to meditate saved my life . . . but it also gave me more than I could have ever dreamt of: awakening to the real me.

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George Foster of Foster Covers, with help from wife Mary, designed the colorful cover! Order the book today at http://amzn.com/0996350209. Nice comments on Amazon.

Related: Read an interview with Valerie Gangas at TM Home, and this poem I wrote for her: Scheherazade Incarnate. TM Home also posted this today: Valerie Gangas reveals her top 5 reasons to learn Transcendental Meditation. And Val posted and sent this out. Transcendental Meditation for Women also posted Awakening to Me.

Valerie Gangas Shows Why Enlightenment Is Sexy on Writers’ Voices.

Spirit Matters Talk Interview with Valerie

Big Waves Strong Boat: Mary Waldon interviews Valerie Gangas, author of the best-selling book: Enlightenment Is Sexy™: Every Woman’s Guide to a Magical Life.

Cancer stories: Greg James restored balance with Maharishi Ayurveda and TM to enjoy his life again

October 28, 2012

FAIRFIELD — October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and The Ottumwa Courier asked cancer survivors and/or family members to share their stories. A few people wrote to tell of their experiences and their stories have been running often throughout this month. The editor thanks all the people who participated. Many said they wanted others to know about the experience and to always have hope. Here’s a story from a friend of mine, Greg James, in Fairfield. I never would have guessed he had been through so much, he seems so healthy to me.

Cancer stories: Restore balance and enjoy life

October 25, 2012

“No one has ever survived this kind of cancer,” the Harvard oncologist told me back in September 1988. “It is a rare and very fast-growing form of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Sloane Kettering in New York City has only seen 50 cases in the last 10 years, and no white male 37-year heterosexual has ever survived.  You are Stage 4 with complications (massive pleural effusions).”

“What are his chances of surviving?” asked my family, and the doctor would only cross his fingers.

It was very ironic that I got this cancer, as I was on a media team that was making Deepak Chopra and Maharishi Ayurveda household words. I had been in perfect vibrant health, an active hiker, then (and now).

My father was a hospital administrator and consultant. I grew up with mixed signals: the doctors were brilliant and great people, but their system limited them to drugs and they couldn’t think out of the box; they are brilliant technicians but lack training in vital areas of nutrition and bedside manner. So, I was, from the outset what Bernie Siegel (author of “Love, Medicine, and Miracles”) called a “difficult patient.” Dr. Siegel noted that the patients who take an active interest in their treatment, asking frequent questions and sometimes going against medical advice, were the ones that survive.

It was quickly found that I had a tumor the size of a fist in my throat choking me. That explained a lot! The CHOP protocol worked quickly, dissolving that tumor, and I got through tumor necrosis (the breaking up of the tumor and the spread of that material throughout the body). I was re-admitted to Mass General Hospital in Boston again for a total lack of white blood cells and put on a rescue remedy. Then, two months after my first treatment, I was in Intensive Care Unit for 12 days fighting for my life against pneumonia.

After that, consulting with various doctors outside of the cancer complex at Mass General, I decided to quit the chemo, brain radiation and spinal taps in favor of rebuilding my body with special herbs from India and a rejuvenation protocol (now offered at The Raj in Fairfield). I was totally devastated by the chemo and lack of sleep caused by the Prednizone, and couldn’t hold down food from nausea. My body was trying to throw off the “emergency medicine” and get back to some balance. The Ayurvedic treatments were designed not to cure disease but to promote good health, but they gave me what I needed most: vitality, strength and some hint of happiness.

Meanwhile, the oncologists were upset that I had taken a break from chemo, etc., and told me they had gotten approval for a bone marrow transplant from Dana Farber Institute, a procedure that would “bring me to the brink of death, and then we will re-inject your bone marrow” and I was prescribed three years of continuing chemo, etc. after the transplant. My oncologist quoted a published study and told me that three out of 23 patients had survived this type of bone marrow transplant, which angered me. “You want me to bet my life on one chance in eight? Who is on drugs here, doctor? (I didn’t continue, and saved the insurance company $300,000)”

Ten months after I started, I was back to walking without leg braces (after losing strength from the chemo), and loving life again. I was grateful to have the best of “emergency medicine” and the best of alternative medicine. For a few years after, everyone and their brother was calling me to ask me to talk to their wife or cousin or whomever about their cancer treatment. My answer included these points: realize that the surface condition of cancer is a symptom of an underlying imbalance in the mind-body connection and that this must be restored, and it could be. If your condition is terrible, by all means take allopathic medicines, but don’t be afraid to break from it to get much-needed vitality back through expert-prescribed herbs and rejuvenation therapies. Take “rasayanas,” herbal supplements that promote longevity. First of all, go to an established Maharishi Ayurveda clinic and take the rejuvenation therapy; it will promote your recovery very quickly. And practice verified techniques for improving health, namely Transcendental Meditation. Be honest about your feelings: of course you are scared, that is natural; if you aren’t scared, then somebody isn’t being honest.

People ask me, “So your cancer is in remission?” and I answer, “My health was in remission briefly, but that has been restored.” I change the emphasis because too many people fear the problem without re-defining it: cancer is an opportunity, a forced opportunity, to go deep inside, bring out the strength you need and restore balance to enjoy life.

Greg James

Fairfield

Reprinted with permission from the author


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