Australian veteran actor, Bill Hunter passed away today. An iconic Australian thespian, Mr Hunter was known as a drinker and smoker who loved a good time and according to director Simon Wincer, was a legend as someone who lived life “pretty hard”.
Today, media reports proclaimed that the actor had long battled cancer and this is the point that I would like to make in today’s letter to you. Word choice is so important. The words we choose in either self talk or spoken, set the course of our direction. In that second of choice, our conscious and preconscious sails are set to take us in the direction of meaning, of the words chosen. It matters not, that we meant something else, because our preconscious does not justify right or wrong, good or bad – it simply directs our physical being along the road chosen, which can be affected by any number of possibilities. We may, for example, be suddenly frightened, by a clap of thunder, on a dark and windy night, while walking along a shadowy path. The next time we walk along that same path (or even a similar one) and circumstances are mirrored to the night we were frightened, even if there is no thunder or lightening, our preconscious remembers and readies us for fight or flight. Adrenalin courses through our veins, pulse rate increases and we feel the difference – even for a split second, prior to getting ourselves “under control” – our body is readied for the possibility of danger.
Our personality development is as diverse as grains of sand on the beach. Every human being on the planet has individual experiences even if the generalities of those experiences are similar as (say) siblings. If you are standing on a street corner and hear a motor car horn blaring, your experience will be different to your brother or sister next to you for any number of reasons. For example, your hearing might be better and so you experience the horn as being loud, his (or her) attention may be on other things than the traffic and it takes a second or so for the sound to register in his (or her) brain. Any number of things can alter the same experience for all of us. Our personality develops according to our culture, our society, our race and even our mental balance, so each of us experiences life in a slightly unique, and very personal, way. Bill Hunter experienced his life, as the song goes, in his way.
Now, I must make it quite clear here, that I did not have the pleasure of knowing Mr. Hunter, so I am going to have to generalize, and I thrust that he would approve. I was saddened to hear, last week, that Bill had been admitted to a Melbourne hospice with terminal cancer. I am saddened whenever I hear that description. Quite often, at cancer support groups, I will ask for participants to tell their story, should they feel inclined. There are a number of reasons for this, bonding, relevance, allowing a sense of importance and for me, as facilitator, the way in which the story is told, tells me a lot about where the patient is, in their journey. Whenever I hear “I have terminal cancer” or “….and it’s terminal.” I know that my work is cut out for me if I am going to make a difference for this person. I would like to point out here, that the aim of the groups in which I am a part, are never designed to heal, or cure, or to provide an “answer” – they are however, designed to allow the client or patient to have the ability to experience a sense of empowerment.
In my view, empowerment is a pre-cursor to so many things. When we regain our power of thought, we develop the ability to have clear thought, to rationalize, and to make clear, goal set decisions. When we are empowered, we are in charge of our own destiny and that simple fact provides us with self-esteem and confidence and a growing sense of courage that allows us to face what ever comes, in our life. I have had the good fortune to meet with many different types of people, since beginning my facilitation of cancer support groups. Participants have included horse trainers, farmers and miners, real-estate professionals and lawyers. There have been medical specialists and nurses, doctors,and world class authors and speakers and there have been the ordinary mums and dads and simple hard working folk who were frightened by the whole experience and anxious about their future – and everyone of them, no matter what their social status, had experienced their power being stripped away by the diagnosis of their illness. In no time at all, the doctors were making the decisions, or at best, providing their patients with a couple of options, surgery might be performed and chemo therapy or radiation as a follow up – all these medical interventions, while good and necessary for most people, gradually stripped away the patient’s power, as that particular medical path was embarked upon. Our group sessions are designed to relocate that lost power and one of those ways is through gaining an understanding of the importance of word choice and the impact that such choice has, upon the preconscious (some might call it the sub-conscious) mind.
“I have terminal cancer” tells me just that. “I have a cancer, and I believe that we have it under control.” Tells me a different story. Can you see the difference here? Last week I heard that Bill Hunter had been admitted to a Melbourne hospice with terminal cancer and I wondered to myself, if he had, had that expectation, all along. Now as I said, I do not know Bill’s history or his story, I am using his case, because it is prominent in our society right now and serves as a good example for the point that I am attempting to make.
One of the things we teach, is meditation. Why would we do that? What is meditation any way? What effect can such a practice have on the body? What effect, can meditation have on the mind? And, most importantly, what effect can meditation have on cancer? Great questions! Meditation is something that I will address in coming articles, but suffice it to say that it is a way to still the mind. To stop the chatter that we all experience, particularly those affected by a serious illness. “Will I really get better?” “Should I make plans for holidays next year, when I may not be here anyway?” “How long is this healing thing going to take?” We all get impatient. Meditation teaches us to relax and to find an inner peace. Many people who have experienced cancer, come from a background that has had turmoil and now, we need to find a peaceful way of healing. Nothing constructive will ever be found in turmoil.
So we have a number of important features of our healing here, the first is we need to become empowered – through what ever means that we can and I would suggest that the best way to do that is to join a group. There is power in a group dynamic that simply cannot be found alone. The second is word choice and being aware of our thought processes that in turn choose the words that we use which loop back and direct our conscious and preconscious behavior. We need to find peace, because it through a peaceful mind that we can direct out thoughts without the involvement of a mind that is constantly required to be involved in ego protection. What else is an argument if it is not to protect our ego against the protagonist? “No, no, you’re wrong! You should do it this way….” Who cares when we don’t protect our ego? Who cares what way it is done? If we are speaking to one of our loved ones, then, they will soon find out that it is the “wrong” way. Leave the ego out of it and the world is a much calmer place. So, peace is another mindful place that we wish to find.
So, how do we see our cancer? This is a question that I have raised previously and it is important for our psychological well being. For our peace of mind. It is one of the reasons that I have previously written on the origins of cancer. How do we see this illness that is inside our body? Some people see their cancer as some thing inside of them. These people would usually request that the cancer be surgically removed, as if the tumour is the total representation of their illness. Others might see the cancer as something that is a change to their body much the same as a virus might be. Something that can be challenged and then subdued. Some people se their cancer as a nutritional imbalance – there are as many views on the subject as there are people. We are each in charge, totally, of our won truth, after all.
However, some people see their cancer as something evil that must be defeated and cast aside – these people will always be in turmoil. How can they not? There can be no peace for the person who sees them selves as part good, part evil. They are always in battle and can never find rest. Can you see how this state of mind is exhausting? Even writing about this state is exhausting! We never want to “battle cancer” because we are then simply battling ourselves. It’s not a battle, or a fight, it’s something totally different to those mind states. It’s simply a healing journey that has to be done, an equilibrium that has to be rebuilt Fights and battles indicate that there have to be winners and losers. What mind state is deployed, if we see this illness as a battle, and we get sick again and are hospitalized? Are we then the loser? Or would we rather look at our situation from a position of empowerment?
I was saddened today, when told that Bill Hunter had “lost his battle with cancer.” And I wondered what his final mind set might have been?
I am John Allan. Good luck, and may your God be with you.

Author's Bio: 

John A Allan is a counsellor and practitioner of NLP & EFT. He has taught meditation techniques for a number of years now and is trained in clinical hypnosis. John has more than fifteen years experience in assisting people with cancer and their carers, he is an author and public speaker and is the founder of www.cancercauseandeffect.com & provides online books through www.thebooksupplycompany.com.au