Premala’s story through her illness, with some help from Navanita
The collapse of a very intense relationship put me through a long emotional crisis. I was the frozen observer, having to move through layers and layers of stored beliefs, as if wading through the sands, crossing a great desert. Grotesque images and assertions raged and fought within me. By the time I was feeling emotionally more stable, I was diagnosed with cancer.
The doctor was visibly moved when she told me I had ovarian cancer, yet her eyes radiated warmth that made me feel very quiet inside – as if some fog had suddenly dissipated and a quiet mountain lake appeared in my view. I think my mind had a blackout.
There was only one thing clear – now my total presence was required. My body was very ill and it was obvious that I could no longer ignore it. Instinctively – perhaps for the first time in my life – I embraced myself with all my ‘problems’. Today, remembering that moment, I am grateful for this immediate response of my body-mind system’s protective mechanism.
I know that destructive thoughts can grow destructive tumors, yet cancer remains a mystery. Happy and healthy living people suffer just as much as unhappy, unhealthy living people. Enlightened ones die from it as do criminals. Fortunately I’ve never felt guilt about having cancer; rather, I understood that I can and have to respect my body in all its manifestations. After all, the cancer cells grew as a part of me – as part of my self-preservation system – even though this new development was questionable and harmful. I often conceived cancer cells as being the punks among the cell society, radical and anarchist; total change was indicated. I took up the idea and accepted the need for change and all of a sudden I became aware of the power of my body’s creative force and simultaneously of its fragility and vulnerability. Clearly, life is such a paradox, being so powerful and fragile at the same time.
According to doctors and prevailing statistics I was in great danger; fortunately this didn’t result in panic and I even felt quite indifferent to what they said. However, more and more often the question arose if that which I had just seen, heard, experienced, would be the last time I had seen, heard and experienced. My eyes, ears and heart were open; fleeting, rather common sights and sounds suddenly became important and astounding. This is when I realized what I had read about often – and also had heard from Osho – that no moment can ever be repeated, and that everything is unique and significant.
I live in awe. From this perspective, all that I can see, hear, and experience appears as an incredible, inexplicable part of eternity.
Time has a new dimension; also, because paradoxically there is now much more of it. I no longer go to work and admit enjoying that to the max. Time is a luxury to have. I lost my secure job at the Cologne Sannyas Medical Center and the apparent safety in being healthy and invulnerable; yet now I have time to see, to feel, to recognize how flexible and relative everything is. For example, how time stands still when I meditate and my chattering mind takes a break. Time becomes too short when I become hectic, yet always long enough to pause.
And I had to pause quite often. With a body weakened by surgery and chemotherapy, I had to learn to stop again and again, to remain still so I could rest.
By doing that I learned a lot about my body. gEspecially about the function of my nervous system that constantly balances every moment, every experience, every thought, and every form of energy. My whole system was very weak but my perception was clear. The nervous system is a direct connection to my subconscious; it shows me my energy sources and energy holes.
As a body worker, yoga teacher, and above all through years of dancing and being with my teacher Navanita Harris I have deep faith in the instinctive wisdom of my body. The love for nature and movement has accompanied me during my entire life. Even in the most dire and desperate moments I never doubted that by existing in this body I occupy the best and safest place on earth. It seems to be a simple truth, but in a conscious way it is the connection to my natural and most important resources.
Everything I learned through Navanita – or as she says, ‘remembered’ – encouraged me to actually communicate with my body. It became natural to consult with the body about every step the doctors suggested. The body would respond immediately with a clear no or yes. It is hard to describe how I get answers from my own guts but many people will know what I mean. One can feel an answer; words are not necessary.
During that time I learned to make decisions asking and trusting only myself. Today I think that it doesn’t matter what I decide for as long it is clear and unconditional.
Particularly in weak and sick moments I distinctively experienced my life source and observed it: it kept flowing on and on and renewed my body slowly and steadily. I understand that in all of us there’s an incredible healing potential that keeps us alive moment to moment, so we may grow and prosper. It is immensely touching to be able to consciously experience this infinite grace working in every one of my body’s cells. It feels like a memory of that which has always been there and will always be there. Like the love, the awareness, the connection to god – which are all different words for the ONE.
I cannot claim to be healed. In the way I perceive my body, it is busy with healing every moment, to make me whole again. Every instant is a moment of recovery and renewal. I am grateful to have received so much help from very experienced, thorough and friendly doctors, my family, my friends and teachers, and that I am able to move on deeply rooted in life like never before.
I’ve never really expected help – initially I thought I’d manage on my own. But from one day to the next a network of people, help and confidence appeared, about which I had no idea previously; I was held securely in this net and felt that I was connected with all and everything and present in every moment.
My mother and sister appeared in a new light – as two strong and fearless women; we came incredibly close and that by itself was very healing for me. I feel that it was my family and friends, with whom I was always closely connected, who lived through all the fear, despair and panic instead of me. They always managed to show me optimism and encouragement, which was very important to me. They believed in me when I was wavering.
It’s okay so far. I have been checking out my body for more than three years, repeating these words. Life keeps on moving yet my legs are planted firmly on the earth. I am tranquil and deeper than ever, happy to be in this crazy body. One day it is longing for silence, the next day for an explosion.
When I took sannyas, I was given this quote by Osho, which includes the sentence, “…you are a paradise, but you have forgotten yourself.” I remember now that I live in paradise, and have always lived there. And this is exactly what I try to convey to my fellow travelers and pupils.
Namaste; may you and anybody else in a difficult situation also be able to say: “It’s okay so far!”
Premala was a medical assistant for thirty years and took sannyas on the island of Lesvos during a workshop with Navanita about 8 years ago. To this day, she has been working as a yoga, dance, and pilates teacher, loving everything about movement. Nowadays she lives in Cologne, Germany and is often the translator for Navanita during her workshops.