“Find your joy! Listen to your emotions and do what makes you happy.”
— Anita Moorjani
Author “Dying to be Me: My journey from Cancer to Near Death to True Healing
In the March issue of Living.Well Magazine I wrote briefly about an amazing book I’d recently read titled, “Dying To Be Me: My Journey from Cancer to Near Death to True Healing” by Anita Moorjani. In the book Anita shares her story of having miraculously healed from stage 4 terminal cancer through a consciousness-expanding near-death experience that awakened her to the truth of who she really is – and who we all are.
Her profound message of the power of self-love is one that I hope each of us will take to heart. I had the great privilege of interviewing Anita on April 24, 2012, and it is with honor and delight that I share with you the wisdom and insights she revealed. This is the first of three articles summarizing the highlights of our wonderful conversation.
Let me tell you a little about Anita Moorjani. She is kind. She is generous. She is warm and supportive. She is funny. She is incredibly wise. She is gracious. She is respectful. She is someone with whom I would love to have talked for hours. (And very nearly did, thanks to a technology breakdown during our across-the-globe call and her generosity in making up the time we lost…and then giving me even more.) If Oprah still had her talk show, you can bet Anita would be a sought-after guest.
And that’s because her message is so profound and inspiring. It is also elegantly simple, and our busy, complexity-loving minds might be tempted to dismiss it as simplistic. Yet it is a message that, as we let it sink into our hearts and minds and the very marrow of our bones, can literally transform our lives
Here it is: We are magnificent beings whose very essence is love. Our forgetting of that truth gives rise to all that we would consider unwanted in our lives and in our world; our remembering of it restores us to wholeness and joy.
This is where Anita and I started our conversation. She spoke with great clarity and passion about the realization she gained, during her near death experience (NDE), that she was loved unconditionally – and that she deserved this love just because she existed. She understood with complete clarity that we are not here to work or perform or prove ourselves worthy, and all of our efforts to do so are futile: there is no need to prove what is already given. In her words, “Because you have been put on this planet, you are deserving of good things coming to you.”
This may be a message you have heard before. (I hope so.) It is certainly one that I have heard and embraced and shared with my students and clients. And yet hearing it from Anita opened me to feel it more deeply, to know its truth with greater certainty. From my perspective, her very presence – and her generous, loving commitment to share her realizations with the world - affirm this potent message in a way that helps us embody it more fully.
The implications of this understanding are deep and far-reaching. When we couple the knowing of ourselves as magnificent beings of love who are deserving of good things, with the understanding that everything is connected with everything else through consciousness, our understanding of how to create deeply fulfilling lives shifts. Rather than having to work and struggle to “make things happen,” we have only to become deeply centered in who we are and allow all that is truly ours to come to us.
But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. Let’s get back to Anita’s experience. During her NDE, she recognized that her cancer was not some karmic punishment for past wrongdoing, nor was it her “fault” for having made unhealthy choices. She saw clearly that her cancer was the manifestation of her own magnificence that had been repressed. In effect, her magnificence had been turned inward, which was an unnatural state; it was meant to radiate outward. And she knew with equal clarity that, in returning to life in this physical dimension, her magnificence expressed would heal her body.
As she explains so simply and eloquently in her book and interviews, it was fear that had repressed her magnificence - fear that she wasn’t good enough (and, later, fear specifically of getting cancer). Like so many of us, she grew up feeling inadequate in many ways and thinking she needed to change in order to be liked or accepted. Her story is one of both racial and gender biases, yet the conditions giving rise to any of us feeling inadequate are many. Anita said during our conversation, and I would agree with her, it’s likely that most of us feel inadequate or “not enough” in some way – and nothing could be further from the truth.
And this gets to the breathtakingly simple heart of her message: it is in realizing, or remembering, who we really are that we open ourselves to vibrant health and joyful living. And how might we do that in the absence of something as dramatic as a near death experience? This is the really good news: we open ourselves to remembering our magnificence by cultivating genuine self-love.
Self-love is a subject near and dear to my heart, central as it is to my work with clients and to my own growth and evolution. I was eager to hear from Anita how she suggests we go about cultivating self-love. Not surprisingly, her answers were simple and clear.
She explained that, fundamentally, loving yourself is being yourself – your authentic self. Yet, as surprising as this may seem, many of us don’t really know our authentic selves. We’ve spent way too much time and energy hiding or diminishing ourselves in order to be liked and accepted. We have to find ways to shift from a fear-based perspective of trying to please others or in some way prove ourselves, to one that is centered in loving and expressing ourselves.
And again, we can keep things simple. The first step in making that shift is to become aware of why we do what we do, and in particular to pay attention to how we feel. When we feel drained or depleted, that’s often a signal we’re doing something that doesn’t come naturally to us; we’re performing, in a sense, to get approval or to achieve success and thereby prove ourselves worthy.
She suggests being totally honest with ourselves and asking questions such as, “Am I leading my life for myself, because it brings me joy, or because I’m trying to meet others’ expectations of me?” And with the smaller choices we make day to day at the request of others, we can ask, “Am I doing this because I love them…or because I’m afraid they will criticize or disapprove of me if I don’t?”
Let me pause here to emphasize that, although it may appear on the surface that focusing on self-love is selfish, it is not. As Anita explains, when we truly love ourselves, we automatically love the people around us. We are relaxed and centered in our magnificence and find it natural to express that love outwards. It is when we have failed to honor and love ourselves that we feel deprived and needy, and that can lead to acting in a selfish way – out of fear that we won’t get enough. Fear gives rise to selfishness. Love gives rise to generosity.
And since our very essence is love, it is through self-love that we connect with our authentic, magnificent selves. In being our authentic selves we live the joy-filled lives we came here to live. In fact, this is where things get really juicy and fun. As Anita said during our conversation, “The more authentic you are, the more you attract what is really yours.” We talked about the pure creative power of being, of allowing and attracting into our experience that which we desire.
And that will be the focus of my next article. (I wanted to tempt you so that you’re sure to read it!) The subject of attracting what we desire is one that deserves special attention, especially in light of all the information out there on the Law of Attraction that may have both inspired and confused us. Anita brings great wisdom and compassion to our understanding of how it all “works.”
For now I’d like to leave you with the heartfelt message that Anita shared at the end of our conversation. She said, “Find your joy! Listen to your emotions and do what makes you happy.” We may be tempted to dismiss that as impractical, but honoring this truth is what restored Anita to full health and vibrancy, and put her life on a whole new trajectory. What could be more practical than being healthy, happy and successful?
And we can begin that new trajectory in our own lives by committing to loving ourselves, right now. Let’s be willing to be amazed at how magnificent we really are.
An audio recording of Suzanne’s full interview with Anita is available at www.anitamoorjani.com, www.livingwellmagazine.net and www.mysolidground.com.