My Ultimate Goal Is Meditation

Hearing the words “you have cancer” is devastating on all levels. I am a perfectionist, a hard worker, and I strive for excellence. These personality characteristics and the highly stressful jobs I held for forty-two years were not without cost, chiefly to my health. In 1990, I had surgery to remove a lung due to a rare, untreatable form of cancer.

This was not only a physical blow, but it shook me emotionally and psychologically as well. I had complications which nearly cost me my life! But even though I finally recovered, I knew that if the cancer returned, there would be no treatment, so I set my sights on finding ways to heal myself.

I have pursued many avenues of healing throughout my life. As a mental health therapist, I was trained in biofeedback and autogenics therapy, both of which were useful to help me to relax and deal with stress. Following my cancer surgery, I underwent a healing ceremony in the Arizona mountains from a Zuni medicine man and another healing ceremony in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, from a Lakota medicine man. Indescribable – and not for the faint of heart!

I also sought the help of a shaman, a Mexican woman healer, as well as receiving healing from Hanna Kroeger, a well-known herbalist and powerful healer. These experiences helped me come to terms with the emotional and psychological trauma caused by the cancer, and helped me find a healthy, positive path forward. 

I wanted to take healing into my own hands, so I became a Reiki Master and Healing Touch practitioner, and now it’s been over 30 years. These have been my mainstays for health. I had never tried yoga, but out of the blue one day the thought kept popping into my head that I should ‘try yoga’.

And that very evening on one of my frequent drives with my sister and my dog, we passed a yoga studio – it seemed like it was meant to be! I started going to yoga classes, and then completed yoga teacher training in October 2017. Now I particularly enjoy teaching chair yoga and yoga for seniors. I’ve been very active as a teacher and typically teach 5-6 classes a week, including the local Cancer Center. I am also one of the co-founders of the North Dakota Yoga Conference. 

I found that my ultimate goal is meditation. Even though I read about all sort of techniques, studied various texts, viewed online methods, practiced, and even taught meditation, I found it hard to actually achieve. Maybe I was trying too hard? Or expecting too much? But it did not come easy for me. Then I experienced a couple of yoga nidra classes and liked them very much, finding it a great vehicle to reach a meditative state.

I began to research for a good course to take. I once heard a bit of wisdom that said something like, “when you are ready, a teacher will appear.” In this case, the teacher happened to be Jennifer Reis. I subscribed to her online newsletter and from everything I read about her, I felt that she was the teacher who would help me understand meditation at its various levels.

I finally got the opportunity when Jennifer offered her Divine Sleep® Yoga Nidra Teacher Training Online in April 2020. Jennifer is a master teacher, super knowledgeable, genuine, patient, she cares that her students are ‘getting it’. She has a soothing voice, just perfect for guiding meditation, and a winning smile!

I have been practicing Divine Sleep® Yoga Nidra on my own and attending Jennifer’s live online classes, as well as guiding a few friends through the practice. It’s hard to explain, but I feel that I am finally able to let go of the need to make it a perfect practice, and just be, making meditation less of a struggle, and more enjoyable.

The benefits are huge! I feel calmer, and I’m not so quick to react to things. I feel I’m much more positive, even in this worrisome COVID time. My sleep is improved and I have fewer bad dreams. The things that would ordinarily drive me crazy before really don’t bother me as much.

I sometimes wish I had learned yoga much earlier in my life, but then I more than likely would not have had time for the other things I have done. I would not have wanted to give any of them up. No, I would not change a thing.