You can change your life with greater ease than you think if you are mindful of these simple lessons.
My inner being must have known that chaos would be good for my soul. It must have known that a magical country full of vibrant colors and sacred cows had much to teach me. And it must have known that almost dying would be the beginning of something wonderful. In fact, I now know that it did.
By the time I realized I would need something drastic to save my life, every muscle, nerve, and cell in my body had deteriorated to a frightening place. I had brain lesions, cardiac issues, full-blown arthritis, and pain in every inch of my being. I was only 28-years-old and had lost all but my will to live I couldn’t imagine at the time how this would all turn out; odds stacked against me with no hope in sight. But then, as if the slow-motion mechanism of my life suddenly shattered, everything changed.
After years of treacherous medical treatment for chronic Lyme disease and other manifestations of a failed immune system, I was unsuccessful at re-infusing life into my tired, pain-entrenched body. That when I heard about an experimental stem cell treatment in India. My specialist at home told me it might kill me. I packed my bags and went anyway.
I knew I needed India. I felt this in my bones. I surely didn’t understand all the reasons why; but a decade later, it’s all perfectly clear. India would not the beginning of my healing and would not be the end of it. India would be where I’d gather more of the pieces that I needed for my ultimate healing.
When I emerged from that 21-hour plane ride and into the ramshackle airport in Delhi, India, I was catapulted into a new world where everything I ever needed to know was right there waiting for me. And those lessons were arguably, just as important as medical treatment.
Change Your Life Lesson 1 – You will be okay
During my almost nine weeks in India, I was pushed to the brink of my insanity. Nothing was familiar and I was sick and scared in a country with a culture that I didn’t understand. But this is what I learned: It will often feel like you won’t be okay, and that feeling will linger for days and hours and years maybe. But when you least expect it, it will start to pass. And it will likely happen when you finally learn to be okay during the times you doubt it ever will. Close your eyes and imagine the all your suffering as the wind. Wind always, always moves. And this time in your life—full of all it is this very second, will move too. And when life doesn’t move, we do by adapting and learning to move through it.
Change Your Life Lesson 2 – Changing your focus will change your life
Whatever we focus our energy toward will grow, whether it be the challenges in our lives or the successes. While at times it may be difficult to dig out of the trenches, we must find a way to focus on the light for that is the pull that will draw us nearer. It is often said that talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Shifting your energy takes the practice of baby steps and the commitment to one day arrive at the place where it feels better to talk about our joys. I recommend only trying to find the next “least negative” thought than the one you are currently thinking. Don’t try to jump from miserable to happy thoughts. Just try to get to the next best place.
In my book, This Is How I Save My Life, I write:
“Somewhere between the time I arrived in Delhi and the time I left, I went from an existence committed to “killing” disease to an existence committed to “healing” me. I had to acknowledge the parts of me that were saved when I stopped fueling “the war on Lyme”—for I was throwing the energy of a fight into my very own body.”
Change Your Life Lesson 3 – You have more power than you think
You will realize that the only person victimizing you when you have the “victim mentality,” is yourself. You will come to see that even though you might feel powerless, there is always something you can do to move yourself forward. You have to choose that something wisely though. It is not regurgitating your challenges to everyone who will listen and writing angry letters to all those who don’t understand you. It won’t be easy, but it is your job and until you are accountable for that job, you will always be waiting for someone else to fix you. As I learned, happiness comes when you decide, despite all that has gone wrong, it is up to you to heal, grow, love and live anyway.
Change Your Life Lesson 4 – It is what it is
There are two ways to look at the world: the way we think it should work, and the way it actually does. The struggle in life often comes when we fight the latter. Part of the secret of embracing the flow of life is the acceptance of the way things actually are.
Life will play out differently than you want it to and the more you expect that the better off you’ll be. Being in control is an illusion that drains your energy, puts you on edge and makes you miss all the good stuff.
When we find a place of letting things and people be how they are, without the internal drive to change them, we come to a place of peace. Your family may not love you in the way you want them to, but it also may be the only way they know how. Your life may not transform at the pace you demand, but it might be for a reason you don’t yet understand. In addition, some things in life just simply don’t seem fair and that can be ok too. There is liberation in accepting the way things are, all while refusing to let it define how you feel. This is the elusive pot at the end of the rainbow: the gold of setting yourself free.
Change Your Life Lesson 5 – You already know the way
Perhaps the most important lesson of all is that you are the perfect compass for your own journey. After years of listening to the medical experts about my body, I finally did what I hadn’t so many times before: I began to listen to myself.
I never came up with any “good” justification of why I should board a plane for a flight I wasn’t guaranteed to survive, to get an experimental treatment that might also kill me. But, I did it anyway. And, I did it anyway on a simple hunch that I should.
In the end, going to India and getting the stem cells was not my singular cure, but rather the impetus to do the real healing work that was necessary—for my soul.
I have discovered that sometimes the hunches that make the least sense are often the most important messages. I’ve found that ego and intuition do not pair well, so we have to release our fears of being wrong if we want that inner guidance to speak up with enough volume and confidence to grab our attention.
As it turned out, I would eventually heal permanently and completely. I’d also end up finding my future wife during my subsequent travels to India; a land I came to love after that first trip.
Yes, I knew that I needed India from the start. For the most part, I had no idea why; but I still knew that I did. Really though, that is the glorious thing about life. It gets you right to where you need to be, even if it’s a twisty, scary, ride that sometimes seems to be going nowhere.
Amy B. Scher is the author of This Is How I Save My Life: From California to India, a True Story of Finding Everything When You Are Willing to Try Anything. As an expert in mind-body-spirit healing, she is often lovingly referred to as an “accidental guru.”
Amy has been featured in major publications including CNN, The Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, and the San Francisco Book Review. Her books have been endorsed by Elizabeth Gilbert, #1 NY Times Bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love; Bernie Siegel, MD, NY Times Bestselling author of Love, Medicine, and Miracles; and Sanjiv Chopra, MD, MACP, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and author of Brotherhoodwith Deepak Chopra. She teaches nationwide and has presented to groups such as the Department of Psychiatry at Stanford University, yoga retreats, healing conferences, and more.
Amy lives in NYC with her beautiful wife and two bad cats. Most importantly, she lives by her self-created motto: When life kicks your ass, kick-back.
Amy can be found online at www.amybscher.com