The dahlias have arrived.

Greetings to you for the 4th of July. After a wild fireworks display on the 3rd, there is always a tiny yet wonder-filled mini parade at Alderbrook Resort on the 4th complete with everyone and their dogs decorated with red, white and blue.

This blog will focus more on Commonweal’s cancer programs and HH connections with other cancer centers including our collaborations with The Langley Center for Healing who are the Global leaders for Healing Circles. It feels especially timely to shine a light on these partners in this sacred work, as we move into this holiday which brings together so many in common purpose.

As shared in blog 5 HH has been one of the five most active cancer programs in the country inspired by Commonweal. This year we are celebrating 25 years of service of transforming the lives of those affected by cancer. HH offers individuals affected by cancer time to reflect and explore the physical, emotional and spiritual challenges of their diagnosis. Through group sessions, activities such as experiencing a genuine community with others facing cancer, gentle movement, meditation, poetry, and art are offered.  Our compassionate faculty are experts at providing self-care tools and practical resources to facilitate healing and wellbeing. Caregivers and companions are welcome. Thanks to generous donors, lodging, meals & curriculum are provided at no cost to participants.

We are deeply grateful for the continuing inspiration and support we get from Commonweal and the many centers they have inspired around the world.  In the opening circle of our CR’s I use a reflective quote from Rachel Remen, MD medical director of Commonweal: “The purpose of life is to grow in wisdom and to learn to love better.”  Also, I share a small research study that was done with people carrying a heavy backpack climbing a steep hill. What the study found was those that walked with a companion didn’t feel the backpack was as heavy nor the hill as steep. We share our hope that when participants leave the 3-day retreat they will not fell their pack is as heavy nor the hill as steep because they will have their new companions including all of HH faculty and staff to be with them on their journey.  Like Commonweal, we find the programs often have beneficial effects on reducing anxiety, fear, loneliness, and helplessness that can accompany cancer.

Commonweal has inspired other centers in the USA, Canada and around the world with this valuable work. We treasure being colleagues with these centers including Langley HC, Callanish, Houston CR, Smith Center in Washington DC & centers in Canada Jerusalem, and India.

Reflection: “Although the wind blows terribly here, the moonlight also leaks between the roof planks of this ruined house” –  Izumi Skikibu (947-1034)

Another very valuable resource created by Commonweal is the Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies (BCCT) online program:   Sixty-four percent of Americans with cancer use complementary and integrative therapies.  Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies (BCCT) summarizes the uses, safety, and research evidence for close to 100 therapies. BCCT offers evidence-informed resources to help you make wise choices. BCCT doesn’t recommend therapies or try to sell anything and the program strongly recommend consulting your healthcare team. Knowledge is power, and empowerment is the goal. BCCT explores the best complementary and integrative approaches to cancer and presents that information on an easy-to-navigate website and blog: Natural products and herbs, Mind-body practices, Diet, Exercise and movement, Prayer and spiritual healing. Energy practices. BCCT also investigate other approaches including off-label/repurposed drugs approved for other conditions; therapies from mainstream sources that are neglected, forgotten or not in fashion; promising therapies not in conventional use in the United States and Canada; and innovative diagnostic methods.

Langley Healing Circle

Another treasured center is the Langley healing Center. Thirteen years ago, Diana Lindsay was diagnosed with cancer and told she had less than a year to live. So while she accepted the diagnosis, she rejected the prognosis. Not only is she still vibrantly alive, but her experience provided the creative energy to form Healing Circles Langley, a program of Commonweal, to help others cope with cancer or other chronic conditions.

When the building where she and Kelly had their marketing business became available in January 2014, they decided to repurpose it as a center for healing. At that same time, they were invited to speak about their experiences at the Winter Gathering held at the Whidbey Institute, where they met Michael Lerner, the president of Commonweal, a pioneer in cancer help. This led to a series of conversations and the beginnings of what would become Healing Circles Langley.

They focused on the central question, “What do you see that is necessary to provide a safe and nurturing setting for a healing center?” Healing Circles Langley opened on January 8, 2015. Today,  the center averages 600 visits a month, has held over 20 Community Conversation events and hosts 17 ongoing circles. Diana and Kelly are delighted with the response: “We now offer Healing Circles for anyone impacted by cancer, chronic illness, caregiving, and loss. We also offer Discovery Circles for anyone who wants to listen to their inner guidance through art, poetry, and writing. Our Learning Circles enable the whole community to explore what it means to live, age, and die well.”

Additionally, an affiliated team has been formed and is active at HH called the Nurse Leadership for Healing Circles team (NLHC) with these intentions: Vision: To advance the unique contribution of nursing to the global movement of healing circles. Mission: To create opportunities for nurses and nurse coaches to integrate healing circles into their practices. Purpose: to enhance competence, confidence, and compassion needed for the promotion of healing circles.

Values: The NLHC is committed to following these value statements for use as a filter to ground all decision making.

Drawing on the power of partnership and community; Building a culture of authenticity, acceptance, respect, equanimity, empathy, and trust;  Promoting the use of storytelling for personal healing and group learning;  Embracing courage, innovation, creativity and risk-taking;  Demonstrating a spirit of abundance and generosity;  Acting with Integrity;  Supporting the development of personal strength through the expression of vulnerability; and Cultivating environments of safety, sanctuary, and refuge.

In a future blog, I will detail some of the exciting work being done thru out the USA by this nurses group.

Notes of Gratitude to donors who make these retreats possible:

*Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. This is a life-changing experience. I am walking out with feelings that I am not alone and lost. They are people like you who care

*Thank you for allowing me to find out ways to ground myself again and start again.

* A truly heartfelt thank you for the generosity shown to people going through this difficult chapter in life. It’s truly a time of healing. What a privilege to be here among new friends.

Thank you again for reading these blogs, and for your caring and interest in Harmony Hill. With gratitude– Gretchen