Note: In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I share my personal story to help shift the focus this October from fear to love. I also hope to offer all those touched by any type of life curveball—whether it be a scary diagnosis, job loss, death of a loved one, or major lifestyle change—real tools for healing and transformation. At the end of this post, you will learn about one of the tools.
Six-plus years ago when I got diagnosed with breast cancer, I initially vowed to keep my healing journey private.
God had another plan for me: Three weeks after my lumpectomy, I jumped out of bed in the middle of the night with the title of my book, Cancer as a Love Story. I wrote non-stop for three days, barely taking a break to eat or shower.
In essence, I got “a calling” (one I NEVER wanted) to teach the power of love and worthiness in healing as my book’s platform. I knew I was always meant to teach, but I did not want cancer to be my lift-off to expanding that career!
To be in integrity with that platform, I had to integrate those concepts of well-being in a deeply personal way so I could “walk my talk,” as they say.
The journey has been arduous, as is often the case with following a spiritual path to find who we are and how we are best meant to serve. I have relocated twice—once from Boston to the expansive desert of Arizona to do “my ashes work” as my friend Wayne Benenson would say, and now to the vibrancy of city living in Raleigh, North Carolina, to come alive and serve in new ways. (Future blog posts will share the divine ways in which I was redirected to move.)
Cancer as a wake-up call
There was a whole lot of unraveling to let go of who I was before cancer, to embracing the empowered woman I have become since choosing to live from a greater sense of love and worthiness. Some people grew with me; others released me or were released by me. As with all growth, there are missteps, mistakes, misperceptions and miscommunications along the way.
As I’ve shared in my coaching practice for decades: We do not move successfully from the old to the new ways of being without first wobbling through a period of uncertainly and unknowns. Sometimes, it felt chaotic as I began experimenting with connecting to the types of jobs and people aligned with the “new me,” or when I voiced concerns when my needs were not heard or honored. Integrating new behaviors required self-compassion, and plenty of gentleness. Rarely does one change a lifetime of patterns based on early conditioning on the first try. Meaningful work and authentic, reciprocal relationships also took precedence.
That inner journey will be detailed in my next book, Bottoms Up: A Journey of Faith, Love and Conviction.
Yet, what truly releases us to new beginnings, and opens our hearts (and even our pocketbooks to more abundance) is forgiveness. If there was only one message I could give to someone newly diagnosed with cancer today, it would be this: Make a list of everyone who has ever hurt, betrayed, or used you, and begin the forgiveness process (and it is a process usually; rarely a one-day event). And remember, please do not forget to forgive yourselves. Holding anger or resentment in our bodies impacts our health.
Today, I am thrilled about the rave reviews my book has received on Amazon and by a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global, the former director of The Mind Body Program for Cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital, a brain science expert, bestselling authors, doctors, alternative healers, patients and a diversity of readers. The biggest surprise has been how many men have loved the book.
I feel more compelled than ever to share the tools that helped me heal. One of those tools is sound healing. Here is an excerpt from my book:
The science behind sound healing
From the book’s PART TWO SECTION: “Embracing a new mindset for living: Five other healing tools that release emotional stress and build your immune system.”
CHAPTER: Sound Healing-Crystal bowls and gongs…seriously?
One Tuesday night, I had a most blissful evening. I can only liken the contentment to the satisfaction of an orgasm, with my whole body relaxed into a state of surrender and joy.
Traumas, dramas, and anxieties of the past and present—including my cancer scare and financial challenges—all felt released from my body. And I didn’t take one drug or mood-altering substance.
Instead, I immersed in what my energy healer friend, Keith Varnum, called “a gong bath.” This experience entailed an evening gathering of myself and seven other women harmonizing the body, mind, and spirit with Keith using Tibetan singing bowls, custom-made Native American flutes, the gong, and several other sound healing tools.
Years ago, I would have cringed, dismissing this idea as more of that “new age stuff.” Listening to sounds from crystal bowls seemed even more frivolous to me for treating medical conditions, particularly more serious ones like cancer.
Yet, after confronting my own scary cancer diagnosis, I was willing to try anything that intuitively aligned with my body’s innate ability to heal. Participating in repeated sound healing sessions has allowed me to release a lifetime of pent-up emotions. Sometimes I would cry from the release; other times I felt flu-like symptoms the next day with every bone in my body aching from all the tension I had been holding onto for years. The more often I went, the calmer and happier I became.
Sound healing is not just for physical health. I gained a greater sense of clarity, awareness, and personal power, and connected more deeply to my essence.
Medical oncologist Dr. Mitchell L. Gaynor, author of The Healing Power of Sound: Recovering from Life-Threatening Illness Using Sound, Voice and Music, elaborated on the emotional component of using sound:
“If we accept that sound is vibration, and we know that vibration touches every part of our physical being, then we understand that sound is ‘heard’ not all through our ears but through every cell in our body. The sound of our voices, entrained with the sound of the singing bowl, permeates our entire being. Our pulse rate slows and our breath is restored to its natural rhythm. We enter a state of consciousness that allows us to witness our lives from a calmer, more meditative perspective.”
Gaynor was highly trained in mainstream medicine and chose to use the medium of sound as an integral part of his approach to healing and wellness. He has seen patients’ tumors disappear after using the vibrations from crystal bowls to heal.
“Releasing the past internal blocks is key, for cancer is a wake-up call to our purpose and life calling,” he suggested. “It’s as if the negative messages received and the traumas experienced since childhood have caused them to become tone-deaf to the true unencumbered voice of their own souls. Odd as it may seem, many of us unconsciously prefer to ignore the summons of our innermost essence. We refuse to emotionally acknowledge our illness and find it difficult to accept healing.”
The solution, he maintained, is to stretch out of our comfort zones of the familiar to discover our true, unencumbered selves. For me, I have been focused on moving beyond “surviving” to thriving for five intentional years. Gaynor’s wisdom supports that track.
Even now, after experiencing many miraculous shifts in my state of wellness from attending a variety of sound healing circles using both gongs and crystal bowls, I am met with disbelief and questions of my credibility as a healing agent.
“Don’t include that sound healing in your book or you won’t be taken seriously,” one marketing friend advised. Another colleague distanced from me after I shared that I attend crystal bowl healings regularly. Yet, scientifically the evidence keeps building that sound therapies are at the cutting edge of healing modalities.
In Dr. Gaynor’s book, he shares a story of using sound healing for a cancer patient who was dealing with anger and powerlessness over work. He suggested she listen to the vibrations of the crystal bowl, and visualize the source and shape of her fears. She had seen fear as a ball stuck in her throat. “I advised her to play with her own crystal bowl at home daily and she was cancer-free two years later,” Dr. Gaynor claimed.
In addition to attending sound healing circles regularly, I also experienced blissful states of relaxation through having tuning forks placed directly on specific points on my meridians through a technique known as “Acutonics®” offered by Sunanda Harrell-Stokes, a gifted acupuncturist in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“Sound takes acupuncture to another level,” she explained. “When you add sound frequencies directly to the meridians, it is very nurturing and takes only a few minutes to stimulate those points versus 15 to 20 minutes with acupuncture needles.”
Harrell-Stokes also customizes the treatments selecting from 50 tuning forks, and using them in combinations to create harmonic intervals based on each client’s needs.
Another one of her clients shared: “When Sunanda puts the forks on my body I feel the vibration deep in my bones and I can feel it travel. I feel like I dropped a big burden that I was carrying and I feel much lighter, less worried, and happier.”
Most of her acupuncture clients now request the sound healing therapies, using the tuning forks, versus needles, as part of their treatments.
Harrell-Stokes explained the healing power of sound this way:
“We have all at one time or another experienced a physical trauma from stubbing our toe to some devastating unforeseen accident and everything in between. The one, immediate and automatic response that comes from our corporeal body as a natural and innate response to any type of trauma that impacts the body, mind, or emotions is sound! Whether that sound is a scream of terror or uncontrollable laughter, the expression of sound is the natural response of our humanity.”
Sound is a vibration that is actually a measurable frequency. In 1900, German theoretical physicist Max Planck revolutionized the field of physics by discovering that energy does not flow evenly but is instead released in discrete packets, which he called “quanta.”
The nature and behavior of matter and energy at the atomic and subatomic level is referred to as quantum physics and quantum mechanics. With this new perspective on the behavior of energy and matter, research in physics demonstrated that all matter vibrates and has a resonant frequency.
In his book, The Seven Secrets of Sound Healing, Jonathan Goldman says, “We are all unique vibratory beings,” and he goes as far to say, “Sound can change the world.”
The awareness of infinite possibilities revealed through the continued study of quantum physics and its application to healing through the use of sound, has revealed many discoveries regarding the infinite range of frequencies available to us in nature and particularly through the human voice.
The experiments by Masaru Emoto (youtube.com/tAvzsjcBtx8) show the effects of music and words on water and have demonstrated the interaction of sound on cells.
“There’s a consensus of agreement that human beings are made up of 70 percent-plus water,” Harrell-Stokes said. “Therefore, it makes sense that we would be dramatically affected as well by the sound effects on water. This explains some of those deep down reactions one has to environmental sounds (hum of the refrigerator, buzz of the computer or a light bulb) including the words one listens to.”
For more information on using sound with acupuncture in Arizona, contact Harrell-Stokes at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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To personally experience the benefits of sound healing in Raleigh, along with a powerful meditation based on neuroscience for elevating the body to greater health, come join us, a heart-centered group of Collaborative Visionaries, SUNDAYS, at:
302 Jefferson St., Suite 160
TIME: 3:00 to 5:30 p.m.,
Email email@example.com to register, or learn more.
Collaborating with Vicki Hauth (pictured to the right of me in the photo), owner of Raleigh-Massage, and a gifted sound healer, has been a true joy.
Gail Kauranen Jones is an intuitive coach, gifted wordsmith and inspiring teacher who has been leading others through transformation for more than twenty years. She is the author of two books, Cancer as a Love Story: Developing the Mindset for Living, and To Hell and Back…Healing Your Way through Transition. Both books were met with rave reviews on Amazon and elsewhere.
She recently appeared as a guest “worthiness coach” on CBS TV’s award-winning talk show The Doctors and on Sirius FM Radio. Her articles and “tips” on worthiness have also appeared several times in Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper.
She has taught many leading-edge workshops at top spas and wellness centers. She now leads Zoom group coaching programs and is a guest speaker at many related events.
Gail lives a passionate and simple life writing, hiking, connecting in meaningful ways, aligning in joyful collaboration and thriving in nature.