Since you are reading this introduction, I’m making the assumption that so far you have not been daunted by the title of my book. I’m aware that Fearless is a loaded word. Is it possible to be fearless? If it is even possible, is it advisable? Am I talking about isolated moments of courage, or a pervasive way of life?
And then, there is that subtitle. If you found yourself asking, “What the heck are mudras?” you’re not alone. One of the first things people ask if you mention that you are writing a book is, “What’s the title?” The second thing almost everyone asks me is, “What are mudras?” So I was well aware that I was taking a risk using the word mudras in my title.
In fact, I spent months as I worked on the book, trying to come up with a different title: catchier, universally appealing, yes, sexier. As I swam my daily laps in the local pool, I’d try to free my mind to come up with alternatives—“Meeting Buddha on My Way to the Oncologist,” stroke, breath, stroke, breath—OK, not sexier. I’m not really wired that way—quick with clever, flirtatious sound bites. A psychotherapist, I am seduced by the complexity of life: loving to make connections, diving deeper into overlapping layers, weaving interrelationships.
When I was 19 years old, I lay on the hot sand of the beach by the lake near my hometown with the first love of my life, our limbs a tangle of brown skin, suntan lotion and sweat. He smelled good, like hormonal boy, his skin tasted like salt. Ever since I was 16 we had spent our summers waterskiing, floating on our backs at night in the warm summer water of the lake, looking up at a sky alight with Midwestern stars, and fantasizing about our future together. In the winter while he was away at college I faithfully wore his old letter jacket and wrote love letters to him every night.
Lazily untangling my arms and legs, I propped myself up on one elbow. As of this year, I was at college too. “My favorite English teacher at school was telling us that there were these poets who thought we could shape our reality with our imagination! I keep thinking about that—wondering if that’s possible.”
He got up and absently skipped a rock across the sparking surface of the water. “Oh, Sue, you think too much.” He said it playfully, even with some affection, but in that moment some essential connection between us began to loosen and fray around the edges. He liked skimming along the calm, glassy surface; I already knew I wanted to explore the depths.
So it’s no surprise that I never did find that catchy, sexy title for this book. I kept wanting to include Mudras, Mantras and Chemo, hoping you would read this subtitle and, even if you didn’t know exactly what mudras were, you might swim below the surface, imagining ancient healing lineages from the Far East, maybe from China and Tibet, esoteric, mystical secrets, and synchronistic meetings with an enlightened healer. I hoped you might wonder what this could possibly have to do with chemotherapy.
So, that’s a lot to expect from three words, although it’s all in the book. But there is so much more to tell you: about how I grew up in a doctor’s family in a small Midwestern town where I was influenced by both my family Christian lineage and the mystical power I was exposed to through experiences with the Lakota Native Americans in South Dakota; about my past and experiences in the ‘60s and ‘70s that taught me reality is not always what we think it is; about how a suicide, a death, and a life threatening illness taught me to accept that we can’t always control everything that happens; and about how, after being a spiritual seeker all of my life, I finally met an enlightened woman master who had recently come alone to the west and who changed my life by teaching me about the healing power of the Blue Pearl.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, I slid through a worm hole into a parallel universe where I explored a land of sickness and a land of healing, challenging me to reconnect with and unite all parts of myself: experimental, traditional, Eastern and Western, male and female, mystical, spiritual, emotional, psychological and scientific. Cancer and I went on a journey to find my true self.
Maybe you were drawn to my book because you or a loved one has cancer. Maybe you are a spiritual seeker. Maybe you are both. Maybe you lived through the transformational Sixties, or maybe you would just like to hear the stories of those of us who did. Maybe you love memoirs and are fascinated by the unique lives of others. Maybe you are a healer who works with the sick. And maybe, you just want the answer to the question, “What the heck are mudras?”
So here’s a brief introduction. Mudras are basically hand signals (with the fingers in specific positions) that carry an energetic message. They have the potential to carry a positive or negative force. Actually we use our modern, human versions of them everyday. We give thumbs up, flash the peace sign or give someone “the finger.” But there are other, sacred mudras that have been passed down as part of ancient spiritual traditions for generations. Until recently many of these were esoteric and secret, only revealed to a chosen few. It is these sacred mudras that have the power to facilitate a connection with our true inner nature—divine, perfect, infinite—the healing Source.
This is the story of my search to find my way home to this Source.
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A note to readers:
I originally wrote this book as a memoir, wanting to share my healing journey, and hoping my story might help others confronted with loss. Early readers suggested that some of you might like me to share a few of the actual practices that helped me so you could practice, too. So, you will find that after some of the chapters I have offered a set of exercises for those of you who might like them. If you prefer to just read my story, feel free to skip over the exercises. If you are attracted to them, feel free to only do those that appeal to you. Selecting any set or part of a set and practicing with dedication will yield results.