I am no stranger to cancer; 11 years ago, I faced down breast cancer. But when the Big C comes to visit your child (in my case my eldest son, a young adult), it’s another story. Fear. Denial. Helplessness. There is nothing worse for a mother than knowing that her child is in harm’s way.
Happy spoiler alert: It all turned out fine, or at least as fine as possible given the diagnosis. The cancer was removed, and the healing has been nothing short of miraculous. My son is back to work, back to real life. But as a mother, how did I get through?
As soon as I learned of his predicament I contacted my Kundalini yoga peeps, my friends, family, and fellow yoga practitioners. I asked for blessings, prayers, and healing vibrations. The more the merrier. I spoke with the Divine. And with the angels. And with anyone else (celestial being or not) who might help. One of my dear teachers sent me a beautiful, affirmative prayer: I wrote the words down and repeated them every night.
We found the perfect surgeon, the perfect hospital, and I went with my son to every appointment. After the surgery, the nurse doted upon him as if he were her own son. Love and attention were just what he needed.
But first, I searched my mantra toolbox. Each day I spent more than an hour chanting. I chanted So Purkh, which I had begun months before “just because.” During those months prior, for reasons unknown (Divine guidance, I now believe) I had encouraged my grown son to find a doctor (he didn’t have one). Later, symptoms arose and this very same physician was called upon to recommend a surgeon.
I asked myself, how could this happen when I’ve been chanting So Purkh for my three sons for months? Yet, the promise of So Purkh came true: my son did grow from the experience, becoming the best version of himself, becoming almost saintly in his courage and steadfast handling of the disease.
Each day, for 11 minutes, I chanted Kal Akal, to ward away the very shadow of death.
Each day, I chanted Mera Baid, which placed the medicine of the Naam upon my lips. I felt the mantra healing my son, and healing me. I needed these words as much as he did. My destiny was tied to his: would I be freed or would I be led to inestimable sadness? I had to believe we would both survive this.
Each day, I chanted Guru Ram Das for healing and protective energy, believing in miracles, my hands at my heart center, tears flowing. The week of surgery, I also chanted Chattra Chakkra Vartee for victory and fearlessness.
After the surgery, though my mantras were already taking far more than an hour, I finished the 40 days of So Purkh and added Ra Ma Da Sa. I chose a version by Gurudass Kaur Khalsa from Lovingly and used a meditation with a moving mudra I had “serendipitously” learned the week before the operation at Kundalini Yoga East, a studio in New York I had never before visited (Divine intervention, again). As I chanted I felt the love of my teacher, Gurudass, embracing me (she had been the lead trainer in the Level 1 program I completed a few years back). I felt her voice with the strength, power, and trust she exudes wherever she goes, whenever she sings, whenever she teaches. I felt as if, yes, the Divine would take care of my family.
My husband and kids knew I was chanting, and though they don’t believe in the power of mantra, they respected my space. They knew I had to do this for my son, and for myself. And they figured, it couldn’t hurt.
After the surgery was successful and we went for a post op check up, the surgeon was amazed at how swiftly my son was healing. “He is young,” he said, as if that explained it all. I didn’t add that Ra Ma Da Sa just might have helped–but I privately thought it!
A few days later, I discovered that the next Global Sadhana was “Removing Fear of the Future.” Once you’ve had cancer (I know from experience) that fear of recurrence is always with you. You must fight hard to keep your focus on the present moment, banishing all “what ifs” and living in your own power and positivity. And once again, here was a mantra to carry me: Dhan Dhan Ram Das Guru, led by Jai-Jagdeesh.
In the past few months, which have been the most stressful, fearful time of my life, mantra was my rock. My friends uplifted me, my family stood close, but strength must come from within, and mantra can guide us to our center.
One day when my family had retired to a cabin by a lake where my son was healing, I gazed out at the water and saw thousands of tiny white specks of sparkling sunlight. I had just done my chanting, in a hammock under a tall pine tree. I chanted on my back, feeling too weak and depleted to sit up straight. In that week I had given all my strength away, and my chanting was like an infusion of energy I needed to receive lying down. I had spent every other moment tending to my son, but in my hour or more of chanting I needed to take care of myself. That week, I chanted on my back, staring at the pine trees above or with eyes closed, ending every session with prayer and gratitude. I was afraid—for him, for me, and of the future.
But in those sparkling points of light on water was evidence of the Divine, and I felt in my heart that no matter what happened, it would be light—not darkness—that would guide me. Does mantra cure cancer? I would never be so bold as to make that claim. And yet, I’ll forever believe that mantra led my son and me to a deep reservoir of strength and trust, clearing the path for a profound healing–not only of body, but also of spirit and mind.
On November 8, we will begin a new global sadhana with Ajeet Kaur, using the mantra Ra Ma Da Sa to promote Global Healing. We hope you will join us!