by Cheryl Canfield

Vernon Howard once said, "No action is more fascinating than the action of self-transformation. Nothing on earth can compare with its drama or value." In these often difficult and challenging times, reframing our perspective from a focus on the burdens weighing us down to a focus on empowering choices, can begin moving us forward in a positive direction.

Every situation that confronts us leaves us with a choice. We can be a victim (of circumstances, people, attitudes) which drains life energy and leads to illness, depression or apathy; or choose to take positive action, beginning with taking charge of thoughts. If you think you can't do something you can be fairly certain that you're right. If you think you can do something, even though challenging, you may also find that you're right.

Looking back, I can see that the greatest challenges I've encountered have proven to be the impetus that enabled me to discover my strength and connection to an empowering inner guidance. They have also given me the opportunity to clarify and act on my spiritual beliefs, moving them into a place of knowing.

A diagnosis of advanced cancer at the relatively young age of 41 is such an example. I fell into some fear-based (victim) beliefs that this condition symbolized some kind of failure, that healing (success) meant getting physically well, and that there was something wrong or bad about me that had to be found if I was to heal.

Meditation and self-hypnosis helped me to reach an expanded level of awareness. I learned that there are no failures, only lessons; that true death is living without an awareness of our spiritual nature and the beauty all around us; and that life is a school that enables us to move forward in our evolution, one grade at a time, toward an awareness of God or the divine and an awakening of our own higher nature.

Healing, I learned, isn't about living or dying. It isn't even necessarily about physical illness. The body, mind or spirit may be signaling distress. When one of these parts is out of balance it throws off the whole, much as a stool with one shortened leg is out of balance. Healing is about deepening our inner awareness so that we can reconnect to our wholeness and create a foundation that is based on compassion for ourselves and others. It's about facing our deepest fears and delving deep enough to find the unique gifts that were given to us to unfold in this life.

Inner exploration, the kind that reaches deep inside to the authentic self, the soul, leads to an expanded awareness. This state can be reached through processes of self or directed hypnosis and meditation. It can lead to a perception of one's life purpose, an intention that was brought in to learn and heal in certain areas, both personally and collectively. Veils between this denser plane of physical reality and the finer plane of spiritual reality can become more translucent. Catastrophic events have the potential to push us beyond the habits and patterns of our dimmed awareness so that we can begin to pierce some of the veils and get on with what we're here to do-grow into conscious, aware, compassionate, and spiritual beings.

When I was struggling with the challenge of an advanced cancer I had an opportunity to contemplate and write about what I call profound healing. Profound healing is not a cessation of physical symptoms, but an expanded awareness of our spiritual nature. It's a process of restoring integrity to all the areas of our lives and balancing our life energy so that we're not running on a deficit. We can call on this process whenever we're confronted with a challenge, whether the challenge is in the realm of mental, emotional, or physical dis-ease, relationships, finances, or anything else. Any difficulty can serve as a wake-up call that, if we choose to heed it, can lead to extraordinary inner resources and strength that we might otherwise never have found.

Cancer gave me an opportunity to confront my own mortality. There were certain steps that I was able to identify as transformational in the process of healing. There are many paths up the mountain, and we each need to discover our own. We can also guide others to help them find their path from that deep state of inner awareness. In keeping with that truth, the steps below are guidelines that can be modified in any way. They are resources to help stretch the boundaries of our consciousness and pierce the veils that limit our vision, enabling us to transform our awareness and embrace the sacred journey of life for however long that may be.

Focus on the Present
- Take charge
- Acquire an empowered attitude
- Simplify life
- Build a support system

Release the Past
- Explore attitudes and beliefs
- Practice forgiveness
- Transform negative feelings
- Do all you can and release the rest

Live Your Highest Ideal
- Establish personal integrity
- Trust inner wisdom
- Hold yourself in compassion
- Create a healing environment

These steps are for anyone who realizes that life is most fully lived when loose ends are tied up and we can be consciously whole in the present moment. They can be deeply explored in meditation and self or directed hypnosis for empowered direction and transformation.