“What fascinates me is the distinction between being incredibly caught up in doing, and just being.
On 23 April 2012 I posted on Facebook ‘Has anyone seen my oomph?’
I didn’t think much of it. I just had no energy. But that’s normal, right?
At the time, I was working a crazy full time job that had me often practically working overnight. I thought that, because I seemed to be managing, I didn’t need to sleep, I filled my diary with commitments, I was a barrister and it all piled up on me. I was surrounded by very driven and ambitious people and I pushed myself to keep up with them. I felt inadequate. It’s a big thing, needing to be approved of, so I just felt like I needed to work harder to take my place beside them.
By the end of 2012 I was sitting in my chambers bawling my eyes out for days. I didn’t actually trust my own judgement. My theme for the year had been to back myself because I’d really stopped doing that. Any decisions needed to be run by a “committee”. It was just horrendous. There was so much fear, of not being good enough, that I’d make mistakes, that people would think I was an idiot.
At that time I had what you’d call a mental breakdown. My mind completely lacked resilience. My body was the same.
I had a friend – a very senior member of the bar – and she loved my work. She used to say ‘I wish you could see what I can see.’ She came from a family who were all involved in personal development. She could see the innate goodness and perfection that was in me – in all of us. My fear was really masking it. She could see it, but I couldn’t so I simply drove myself more and more into the ground.
Eventually I went looking for what she could see and began the sacred journey within. I connected with my essential self that is perfect, loving and lovable, and innately good. My mental state shifted completely. This process had such a profound effect on me and it was the beginning of something quite magnificent. I wondered how I could get out of being a lawyer because that fight to prove who I was, was over. And I just wanted to be. To stop doing. To just be.
That ‘doing-ness’ had been all about the need for external approval. In fact when people asked me how I was, I really didn’t know and all I could say was I was really busy. There were days where I was not producing natural energy. The day I asked the ‘oomph’ question, I was conscious I was exhausted. I’d had various non-specific diagnoses in the four years leading up to this, fibromyalgia, Myalgic Encephalitis (known as ME) and Chronic Fatigue. But the doctors really didn’t know. I was in bed for a few weeks feeling really tired and it turns out in that period I had Glandular Fever. But I just didn’t know at the time.
I thought I needed to just keep going and drink more coffee.
It was a month after beginning the journey to ‘being’, on 3 January 2013, that I was diagnosed with a huge cancerous mass in my belly that must have been there for at least 12 months. There was a part of me that just knew that the healing had already begun.
If only I’d known what I know now – that my body was riddled with inflammation from stress and a pretty poor diet. In 2011 I’d given up sugar, after having eaten way too much of it for many years. Someone told me I needed more protein to replace the sugar. For the first time I started having dairy. And I fell for that thing where people talk about having lots of fat. I’ve always loved cheese, I had lots of full cream milk. I was eating more meat and dairy than in my whole life. I’ve always erred towards being vegetarian and it makes me sick to think of what I did. In fact, I didn’t eat a lot of vegetables.
Is it any wonder I got cancer?
I had the awareness that something was wrong, but not the knowledge.
I went to a doctor and did some blood tests. The only thing that stood out was a serious Vitamin D deficiency which is now a known marker that your body has cancer, or is susceptible to it.
Because of the mind-body connection it’s difficult to say which came first. My mental state was a reflection of my physical state, they were in tandem and they were both falling apart. Stress acts as a fertilizer for cancer and recent research confirmed this.
Essentially I made time for my body and mind to rest. It’s amazing what the body can do if left to its own devices.
I’d asked has anyone seen my oomph to the people out there, but I found the answer within. The diagnosis gave me an opportunity to let go of the old life. It was gradual and I started to live a life that was congruent with who I really am, my essential self.
As I was about to start treatment a friend of mine arrived at my doorstep with a book called ‘You Can Conquer Cancer’ and it really resonated with me. It was by Ian Gawler who began a Foundation here in Melbourne decades ago. I came to the centre in the Yarra Valley to do lots of retreats and I later trained here as a meditation teacher. This place has given me a lot of hope, nourishment, phenomenal support and a sense of community.
Being here today celebrates the consolidation of what I’ve learned over the last three years in literally how to ‘just be’.”
Jane Treleaven is a health coach for people with cancer who want to be active in their own recovery plans. She also teaches meditation with a therapeutic focus so that participants can develop the skills to let go of ‘do-ing’ and connect with their own essential self and just ‘be’.
More on Jane can be found here: www.essentiallybeing.com.au