Monday, June 6, 2016

The Healing Circle Book Chapter Blog Chapter 25: Reframing for the Cancer Hero

Read Chapter Twenty-Five:  Reframing for the Cancer Hero
Watch the Video:  Embracing the Paradox of Peace, Joy and Suffering (And other life lessons offered by an Oncologist)
What can we learn from remarkable cancer survivors about how to live our lives? With the understanding that life is limited and precious, these ordinary yet extra-ordinary people can show us how to ride the tension of acceptance and pro-activity – teaching us to let go while taking practical steps to facilitate healing at levels of body, mind and spirit. 
Oncologist Dr. Rob Rutledge shares the wisdom and inspiration he has garnered in 25 years of clinical practice and in leading dozens of cancer retreats. Through sharing recent scientific findings, experiential exercises, and stories from his life and the cancer world, Dr. Rutledge shows us how to integrate proven healing skills, embrace our challenges, and reclaim our already existing wholeness. 


  
RobRutledgeBlog by Dr. Rob Rutledge

Should you fight against cancer?
The Canadian Cancer Society urges us to ‘fight back against cancer’.  The slogan for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is ‘fighting blood cancers’. A Montreal-based young adult cancer group calls themselves the Cancer Fight Club. All three of these organizations are making a huge difference in countless lives across our country.  But is the underlying message that we should be in a war against cancer? 
If you are energized by these military analogies or the idea of fighting for your life, I applaud your warrior spirit. Though I’m going to offer a different way of approaching a cancer diagnosis, I don’t want to infer that one approach is better than another.  What I’ve found over the past 25 years being an Oncologist is that each person needs to find an approach that is right for them. So for you fighters please continue to draw on that life force to channel your energies into empowering yourself (mind and body), helping others affected by cancer, and supporting hospitals and researchers in whatever way feels best for you. 
Secondly, just because I’m offering a more peaceful approach doesn’t mean that I’m suggesting that cancer is a good thing.  I witness the tremendous human suffering caused by cancer every day.  I am deeply saddened when one of my little pediatric patients dies of the disease. They had all this potential to live a long and meaningful life – and suddenly it’s gone.  Worse for me is the young moms with cancer who languish about not being there for their kids. (Truly no one can replace a mother’s love.) 
However, I believe we can mourn these deep losses without feeling that a battle has been lost. We can strive to maximize the chance of recovery for every person diagnosed with cancer by providing the best possible care, and, collectively, by promoting research and its swift implementation- and not feel we’re fighting a war. 
The reality is that we’re all going to get sick in our lives and, eventually, we’re all going to die. And we won’t know how or when that’s going to happen. Getting a cancer diagnosis is very distressing for most people because it shatters their expectations of what the future holds.  Having to work with so many unknowns at once creates anxiety and stress, and most people really struggle emotionally during the first few weeks of being diagnosed. It’s healthy to mourn the loss of the life before cancer, and to feel the full spectrum of human emotions that arise. 
However, feeling badly about what has happened and worrying about your loved ones is different from thinking ‘This shouldn’t have happened’. Wishing that the cancer never appeared in your life creates an unnecessary level of suffering which adds to an already difficult situation.  There are lots of variations on the theme that ‘life should not be this way’.  Examples include ‘Young mothers shouldn’t get cancer’, ‘I didn’t do anything to deserve this cancer’, and ‘If only I hadn’t (smoked, drank, ate so much …) I wouldn’t have gotten cancer’.  Questioning why something happened is only valuable if you can apply the wisdom garnered to your life going forward.  But fighting against reality is a waste of energy. 
The second reason I’m not personally in favour of fighting against cancer is the idea that if the cancer recurs or if the person dies then it means somehow they will have ‘lost’. They failed. Or they didn’t fight hard enough. Even saying ‘they fought a valiant fight’ seems too narrow a perspective. Why would we view the length of time we live as a measure of success? Isn’t asking how we spent those days more meaningful? 
Accepting that getting a life-threatening illness is a natural part of being human is like accepting that our bodies have limits. When facing our own mortality do we focus on the time we might lose or do we cherish the time that we do have right here and now. Likewise, we can place great value on taking care of our bodies (exercise, diet, sleep, meditation practice) so we can better manifest our spirit in the physical realm. But at some point in our lives our bodies will get weaker even if we follow the self-empowerment program perfectly.  When this happens we can either lament our shortcomings (‘I can’t do what I used to’) or we can choose to focus on what we can do. 
The key to embracing and transcending this empowerment approach is to truly accept reality for what it is. We can expect that great difficulties like getting a cancer diagnosis are going to happen to each of us and our loved ones at some point in our lives. Perhaps we need not be surprised when it happens. And we may be able to figure out ways to bring more love into the world in the midst of the cancer journey. We can still take the practical steps to heal our bodies and minds, we can still pursue our goals, and we can still savour the beauty of being alive. By choosing not to ‘fight’ we can embrace peace and come home from the war.


Dr. Rob Rutledge is a Radiation Oncologist in Halifax, Nova Scotia, specializing in breast, prostate and pediatric cancers. He is also an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University.
In 1999, Rob co-created the ‘Skills for Healing’ Cancer Weekend Retreats. These weekend support groups teach a powerful and integrated approach to the cancer diagnosis and ways to heal at levels of body, mind and spirit. To date, more than 1,600 people have attended the retreats in over 20 cities across Canada and abroad. 
Rob also leads the Healing and Cancer Foundation, a Registered Charity, that freely offers educational videos, documentaries, and webcasting seminars – and he is co-author of a book called The Healing Circle, which captures the teachings and inspirational stories from the weekend retreats.
In 2010, Rob received Cancer Care Nova Scotia’s Award for Excellence in Patient Care and, in 2006 Doctors Nova Scotia presented him with the Health Promotion Award in recognition of his contribution to physician health and health promotion in cancer patients.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Chapter 24 – Geoff: Trading in his Hockey Stick for a Walking Stick

The Healing Circle Book Chapter Blog Chapter 24 – Geoff: Trading in his Hockey Stick for a Walking Stick

HealingCircleBook Join us by reading one chapter per week of our book The Healing Circle which includes inspiring true stories and teaching from the ‘Skills for Healing’ Cancer Weekend Retreats. Each week we will post the next chapter of our book, links to related video, and a blog about the chapter. Learn about recent scientific advances in the body-mind-spirit connection, updates of the people featured in our book, and our reflections on each chapter. Read the whole book for free by accessing the previous blog posts. Please send us your comments and questions! Deep peace and healing, Rob Rutledge, MD and Timothy Walker, PhD.


Watch the Video:  Healing and Cancer – Stories of Empowerment
Dr. Rob Rutledge, MD, Oncologist and Associate Professor, tells the stories of ordinary yet remarkable people affected by cancer, and how they were able to empower themselves at levels of body, mind and spirit on the cancer journey.





RobRutledgeBlog by Dr. Rob Rutledge

Embracing and Transcending the Empowerment Paradigm

What do people who have been given a cancer diagnosis want?  With 25 years experience on the cancer wards and in support groups I’ve learned they want three things.
  1. To maximize their chance of recovery and longevity
  2. They want to feel better by learning how to deal with those most difficult emotions like fear, and the stress of seeing their loved ones suffer. They want to come back home to themselves, to settle down the emotional roller coaster, to reclaim a sense of peace and calm in the midst of the turbulence.
  3. They want to be able to function better, to maximize their mental and physical capacity.

To help people fulfill these goals we teach an integrated approach:  getting the best care from the medical system, and combining it with ways to empower oneself at levels of body, mind, and spirit.  This approach requires a pro-active attitude and discipline. For instance, exercising daily is probably the single most effective way of improving your health and happiness (though practicing a relaxation technique like meditation is a close second). When you use your willpower to follow the proven healthy habits science teaches, you can make a tremendous difference in how you feel, the quality of your life, and for some people, the chance of recovery from cancer.
I believe strongly in this empowerment paradigm. When we take care of our bodies we give ourselves the best chance of manifesting our love and spirit into the world.  Geoff, featured in the attached chapter, tests this capacity to the extreme. The image of him wasted away on his hospital bed, barely able to lift his arms, doing the modified sit-ups, is heroic in scope. This pure force of will culminates three weeks later in a five-step journey from bed to sofa which now marks the anniversary of the Young Adult Cancer Canada annual walk. Geoff continues to work with the long-term side effects of his double bone marrow transplant, and admits to needing nine hours of sleep every night to be able to function optimally in his ground-breaking organization.
This story of triumph through hard work and empowerment is inspirational. I hold this level of grit and pro-activity with great respect.  But self-empowerment can only take us so far. Ultimately we will bump up against our limits. Brain fog, fatigue and even the realization that our lifespan is limited brings us back to the truth of our limits. If we focus solely on our limitations and frustrations we may miss the miracle of what we have in this very moment, and the miracle of this life.
Geoff’s story is of heroic proportion but not just because of his Herculean effort but because he undergoes a transformation which eclipses his previous phase. “I no longer viewed cancer as the enemy.” Like so many of the other remarkable cancer survivors I’ve met over the years, Geoff was willing to let the winds of destiny direct his life. So while doing everything possible to take care of himself, he simply let go into the mystery.
It may seem paradoxical to both be able to embrace the paradigm of empowerment and transcend it. But we can honour both science and spirit, we can nurture ourselves as individuals and release into the universal, and we can embrace the paradox of holding peace, joy and suffering.  We can work hard and struggle emotionally, and at the same time, watch our lives with a great sense of love and contentment.  And when we do we can reclaim our already existing wholeness.


Dr. Rob Rutledge is a Radiation Oncologist in Halifax, Nova Scotia, specializing in breast, prostate and pediatric cancers. He is also an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University.
In 1999, Rob co-created the ‘Skills for Healing’ Cancer Weekend Retreats. These weekend support groups teach a powerful and integrated approach to the cancer diagnosis and ways to heal at levels of body, mind and spirit. To date, more than 1,600 people have attended the retreats in over 20 cities across Canada and abroad. 
Rob also leads the Healing and Cancer Foundation, a Registered Charity, that freely offers educational videos, documentaries, and webcasting seminars – and he is co-author of a book called The Healing Circle, which captures the teachings and inspirational stories from the weekend retreats.
In 2010, Rob received Cancer Care Nova Scotia’s Award for Excellence in Patient Care and, in 2006 Doctors Nova Scotia presented him with the Health Promotion Award in recognition of his contribution to physician health and health promotion in cancer patients.

Chapter 23 – Reframing “I Can’t Do It”

The Healing Circle Book Chapter Blog Chapter 23 – Reframing “I Can’t Do It”

HealingCircleBook Join us by reading one chapter per week of our book The Healing Circle which includes inspiring true stories and teaching from the ‘Skills for Healing’ Cancer Weekend Retreats. Each week we will post the next chapter of our book, links to related video, and a blog about the chapter. Learn about recent scientific advances in the body-mind-spirit connection, updates of the people featured in our book, and our reflections on each chapter. Read the whole book for free by accessing the previous blog posts. Please send us your comments and questions! Deep peace and healing, Rob Rutledge, MD and Timothy Walker, PhD.



Read Chapter 23: Reframing I Can’t Do It
Watch the Video:  Thought Reframing Talk
This talk shows how our thoughts affect how we feel. By using a reframing technique based on Dr. David Byrne’s classic book, Feeling Good, we can work with our most distressing thoughts.


TimothyWalker.jpgBlog by Dr. Timothy Walker

Reframing & Taming that voice in your head

When we practice mindfulness, we begin to see how thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and mental structures create an inner world that affects how we feel about ourselves, others and the world around us. Most often our decisions and actions also proceed from this inner world. Having a cancer diagnosis generally cracks open this inner world as some of our inner structures no longer seem to fit with our outer experience of coping with the medical reality of cancer. This can be scary and it is helpful to be aware of ways to cope with fear and readjust our inner world. In this way cracking open becomes an opportunity to learn about reframing.

I’ve just come from co-teaching a graduate education course in contemplative education: education informed by mindfulness and other forms of contemplative practice. My friend and co-teacher told a wonderful story about training a group of elder indigenous women who had been identified as the language keepers of their particular northern communities. As a literacy educator she had a full lesson plan that she wanted to cover the first day to help the elders learn how to teach their languages to the younger generation. As she followed her familiar pattern of laying out all of the main points on a flip chart the elders gently asked her to stop and sit with them in the circle. They needed to be together in community, to tell their stories, and to establish a sense of trust and connection with one another before embarking on the linear intellectual journey she had planned. She was a bit shocked and nervous feeling the sense of pressure, so familiar to many of us, “I have so much to cover in so little time.” But, as it turned out, she was the one that learned a powerful lesson from them about a more holistic way of learning and about the power of allowing time to simply be. As it turns out they were also able to learn the basics of her lesson as well.

Situations sometimes occur in life that help us begin to question our assumptions about what is driving us, what is most important in life and how we want to live. As a cancer diagnosis can interrupt the familiar patterns of life, many people find that mindfulness practice, cultivating a non-judgemental curiosity and attentiveness to their own thoughts, reveals many of the “should statements”, and other imperative drivers that have been controlling their lives since they were small children. Likewise they can begin to uncover some of the feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacy and self recrimination that come from feeling that they can not live up to the ongoing demands of this relentless voice in their head. A moment of revelation comes when they find that the struggle to live according to that driving voice in the head is all a manufactured struggle and ultimately not based in reality. Gradually they learn to motivate themselves with clear thinking based in the here and now, with positive encouragement, inspiration and kindness.

The simple act of reframing your thoughts seems like a very small act and many people may think why bother?  This is one of the ways that we tend to disempower ourselves by thinking how could that small effort ever make a difference in my life?

“Remember the great Greek thinker Archimedes who said “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.“ Practicing mindfulness consistently and learning to reframe distorted cognitions (confused, irrational and harmful thought patterns) is just such a lever and fulcrum. When you think about it, absolutely everything you experience in life is sifted, mediated, constructed and interpreted through your mind. The software you use to do that is your beliefs, attitudes, thoughts and habitual neurological patterns. Doing the work to change these inner structures, this “mental software”, has the most profound effect on the way you experience, interact and affect your outer world. Therefore your mind is the fulcrum and practice is the lever by which you can move your world.


Timothy Walker Ph.D. is a mindfulness teacher and psychotherapist  living in Halifax Nova Scotia with 35 years experience integrating mindfulness into counselling, education and healthcare. He is co-author of the The Healing Circle: integrating science, wisdom and compassion in reclaiming wholeness on the cancer journey and co-founded with Dr Rob Rutledge the Healing and Cancer Foundation. He designed and has taught with Dr. Rutledge the Skills for Healing Weekend Retreats for people living with cancer and their family members 49 times since 1999 in 26 cities across North America. He has taught at Dalhousie University, Acadia University, and Mount St. Vincent University as well as hundreds of workshops, seminars and retreats Internationally. A student of Tibetan Buddhism since 1979, he received both an MA and Ph.D. in the psychology of meditation. In his private practice, The Healing Circle, Timothy sees individuals, couples and families and is open to distant consultations.

Chapter Blog Chapter 22 – Reframing Distressing Thoughts

The Healing Circle Book Chapter Blog Chapter 22 – Reframing Distressing Thoughts

 Join us by reading one chapter per week of our book The Healing Circle which includes inspiring true stories and teaching from the ‘Skills for Healing’ Cancer Weekend Retreats. Each week we will post the next chapter of our book, links to related video, and a blog about the chapter. Learn about recent scientific advances in the body-mind-spirit connection, updates of the people featured in our book, and our reflections on each chapter. Read the whole book for free by accessing the previous blog posts. Please send us your comments and questions! Deep peace and healing, Rob Rutledge, MD and Timothy Walker, PhD.


 Read Chapter Twenty-Two:  Reframing Distressing Thoughts
How Understanding your brain can empower your life for professional caregivers
Recent brain science shows we can change the structure and functioning of our brains in a positive way through simple daily habits like practicing relaxation and ‘taking in the good’. Dr. Rob Rutledge, oncologist and support group leader, will extend these teachings to healthcare professionals and focus on ways to
a. Calm yourself in stressful situations
b. Reframe distressing thoughts and emotions
c. Live your life in an more calm, caring and connected way. 



RobRutledgeBlog by Dr. Rob Rutledge
As an alternative to the tale featured in our book, sometimes Tim or I tell the following Zen Parable:
What is the difference between Heaven and Hell?

There was once a powerful samurai warrior in Japan who was nearing the end of his career. He had been a leader of men, selflessly dedicating his service to the emperor and his country. But he began to worry about the afterlife, and whether he would go to heaven because he had killed so many men as a samurai.
He decided to ask the famous Zen master Hakuin to answer his questions about heaven and hell. After many days of gruesome travel over mountains and rough terrain he finally barged into the zen monastery to find Master Hakuin in quiet contemplation. The monk was such a simple-looking man the warrior became doubtful this small fellow could help him.
But he quickly reasoned that after all this travel it would be pointless to go back without asking his question. Cowering over the peaceful monk he gruffly asked, “Is there a heaven and a hell, and if so, how can I get to heaven?”
Master Hakuin looked up into the warriors eyes, and after a long moment asked, “Who are you?” to which the warrior replied, “I am the Chief Samurai Warrior of Japan. I work directly with the Emperor.”
Hakuin laughed and mockingly replied, “You?  A warrior? Ha! You are nothing but talk.  You couldn’t even save yourself, never mind our emperor. Besides, you’re too stupid to understand these matters.”  He continued raising his voice, “Don’t waste my time! Get out of here, you imposter!”
The warrior’s eyes widened, his face contorted into a deep red scowl, and his body began to shake.  In a flash he withdrew his sword and brought it up over the little monk’s head.
The instant before he would have lost his head Master Hakuin calmly said “This is Hell.”
The samurai froze. His eyes softened as he stared deeply into space.  Understanding the Master had just risked his life to teach an old samurai a lesson, tears welled up in his eyes, and his body softened. He slowly placed the sword back in its sheath, and knelt down on the floor. He bowed his head deeply at the monk’s feet.
Master Hakuin patted the samurai’s powerful shoulder and said, “This is Heaven.”
It is said that the great samurai warrior threw away his sword and armour, and took up the path of the spiritual warrior.
The teaching in this Zen story is about recognizing how our state of mind leads to our interpretation of the world. We can use a type of meta-consciousness to recognize when we’re feeling angry, depressed, agitated, joyful or any other mood state. If we have the wisdom we can use this awareness to take into consideration our emotional state before we decide how we’re going to respond to a situation. For instance, if we’re feeling tired and emotionally fragile we may decide not to argue with our partner over an issue that isn’t very important.  Or alternatively, we might decide to do some journaling about something for which we’re grateful when we’re feeling happy.
The next eight chapters in our book takes this meta-awareness to a whole new level. We’re going to ask you to become much more conscious of your thinking. Pretend there’s a special mind-reading software that writes down your every thought throughout the day. Instead of reading the printout at the end of the day, you’re going to read those thoughts as you think them.  You’re thinking – and you’re watching yourself think. It’s what we call mindfulness of thinking.
The skill you will learn in this section of the book is called reframing.  You won’t be able to learn this skill until you can accept that your thoughts about the world can be wrong – thoughts do not represent 100% of reality. Your thoughts are simply interpretations. (From the book chapter and the parable above: What is this village like? Who is this Zen master?)  Your thoughts are often based on a whole system of core beliefs. The core beliefs are often based on interpretations of how you see the world based on your upbringing, other life experiences and even your genetic predispositions.
It’s encouraging to know each person’s set of core beliefs is malleable. Yes, you still want to use your thoughts to help yourself and others, but while you read the next chapter I’m just asking you stay open to possibility that you can see the world in a whole new way – and reframing can be incredible healing. Many of our weekend retreat participants have told us that reframing was the most powerful skill they learned the whole weekend. I wish you the best in applying the teachings to your life.


Dr. Rob Rutledge is a Radiation Oncologist in Halifax, Nova Scotia, specializing in breast, prostate and pediatric cancers. He is also an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University.
In 1999, Rob co-created the ‘Skills for Healing’ Cancer Weekend Retreats. These weekend support groups teach a powerful and integrated approach to the cancer diagnosis and ways to heal at levels of body, mind and spirit. To date, more than 1,600 people have attended the retreats in over 20 cities across Canada and abroad. 
Rob also leads the Healing and Cancer Foundation, a Registered Charity, that freely offers educational videos, documentaries, and webcasting seminars – and he is co-author of a book called The Healing Circle, which captures the teachings and inspirational stories from the weekend retreats.
In 2010, Rob received Cancer Care Nova Scotia’s Award for Excellence in Patient Care and, in 2006 Doctors Nova Scotia presented him with the Health Promotion Award in recognition of his contribution to physician health and health promotion in cancer patients.

The Healing Circle Book Chapter Blog Chapter 21 – Pam: Just Being Me

The Healing Circle Book Chapter Blog Chapter 21 – Pam: Just Being Me


 HealingCircleBook Join us by reading one chapter per week of our book The Healing Circle which includes inspiring true stories and teaching from the ‘Skills for Healing’ Cancer Weekend Retreats. Each week we will post the next chapter of our book, links to related video, and a blog about the chapter. Learn about recent scientific advances in the body-mind-spirit connection, updates of the people featured in our book, and our reflections on each chapter. Read the whole book for free by accessing the previous blog posts. Please send us your comments and questions! Deep peace and healing, Rob Rutledge, MD and Timothy Walker, PhD.

 Read Chapter 21:  Pam – Just Being Me
Watch the Video:  This 18-minute exercise program is based on ancient Chinese medicine in which Qi (cosmic) is generated and balanced within the body.



TimothyWalker.jpgBlog by Dr. Timothy Walker

“I love and approve of myself” Mindfulness and Affirmations

I remember sitting in the small group with Pam during one of our Skills for Healing Weekend retreats many years ago. She was a masterful storyteller and held the group’s attention like weaving a spell, each word spoken in her commanding yet gentle voice. Like many other people she had spent much of her life trying to compensate for feeling inadequate and even unloved as a child.  She gave to others with all her being and all her heart, as a social worker, as a mother, and as a daughter while her mother was dying, and again for other aging and dying relatives.

Her story is one that highlights the extraordinary power of mind in shaping our lives and our journeys of illness and healing.   After she had been diagnosed with an advanced stage lung cancer and after she had realized the preciousness of her very finite life she came across an affirmation suggested by Louise Hay for people with cancer: “I lovingly forgive and release all of my past. I choose to fill my life with joy. I love and approve of myself.” This affirmation seems tailor-made to help Pam transform the way she thought and felt about herself. But it also brings up an important question for all of us.

What is the relationship between practicing mindfulness and practicing such affirmations as the one that Pam found to be so helpful?  Generally we think that mindfulness needs to be practised for its own sake, without a goal, especially toward “self improvement”. This is so because only a radical abandonment of thinking about the future (and the emotional rollercoaster that goes with it) can bring you fully into the “now”, which is the only place you find your innate wisdom.  Letting go of trying to be the person that others wanted her to be, as well as any future image of herself, and arriving fully in the present to truly be herself, was Pam’s powerful healing.

Nevertheless there is a way to practice this kind of affirmation in the present as a mindful exercise. While saying “I lovingly release and forgive all of my past” one can pay attention to the degree to which you are willing to do that right now. At first you may think you can never let go of the past but gradually, saying this affirmation and leaning into the meaning of it, something begins to shift. You can pay attention to this shift as it happens from moment to moment. You can pay attention to the resistance to letting go as well as the wanting to let go. You can begin to attend to all of the psychological complexities and old familiar feeling patterns that keep you stuck in the past.

Paying attention to emotional patterns is also the way that meditation works: you see in yourself all the ways in which you create your own suffering. And by seeing this, somewhere within there is a deep impulse to heal and be whole, and that innate wisdom of wholeness begins to unwind the confusion. Nature wants us to heal. Our job is to bring our true nature, our pure awareness, and our confusion into contact with each other.

Working with the second part of the affirmation “I choose to fill my life with joy. I love and approve of myself” has other challenges. Practising affirmations is not about merely mouthing the words and hoping some kind of magic will happen. It is, rather, a process of transformation, of acknowledging honestly to oneself that currently your life might not be completely filled with joy, and that, in fact, you might not love and approve of yourself.  What is great about that is that it gives you a clear sense of where you are and where you want to be. The contrast in itself raises your awareness, and if you’re lucky, your curiosity.

“Maybe I could be more joyful, and maybe if I practice appreciating the present moment, I can train myself in appreciation, and then in gratitude and then in joy.” The affirmation becomes like a shovel to begin to dig deep into your own dirt and to begin to see what it is made of. That dirt you are digging is made of your thoughts, your habitual feelings and your core beliefs. The great thing is you can change your thoughts, feelings and beliefs in the present moment with mindfulness. So the affirmation is not magic, it initiates a process where you can do lots of mindfulness work in getting to know yourself.  Ultimately your knowing knows that there is a way to be, a way to live, that is more loving to yourself and more joyful.


Timothy Walker Ph.D. is a mindfulness teacher and psychotherapist  living in Halifax Nova Scotia with 35 years experience integrating mindfulness into counselling, education and healthcare. He is co-author of the The Healing Circle: integrating science, wisdom and compassion in reclaiming wholeness on the cancer journey and co-founded with Dr Rob Rutledge the Healing and Cancer Foundation. He designed and has taught with Dr. Rutledge the Skills for Healing Weekend Retreats for people living with cancer and their family members 49 times since 1999 in 26 cities across North America. He has taught at Dalhousie University, Acadia University, and Mount St. Vincent University as well as hundreds of workshops, seminars and retreats Internationally. A student of Tibetan Buddhism since 1979, he received both an MA and Ph.D. in the psychology of meditation. In his private practice, The Healing Circle, Timothy sees individuals, couples and families and is open to distant consultations.