The Stillness That Is Always Available

Today, I ran out of Gabapentin, my pain medication. Surprisingly, I have had little pain, and my urination improved drastically. Dr. Tom, one of my energy healers, said any medication forces the liver to work harder, so when I don’t take the pain medication, my liver can recover.

I told Dr. Tom I had to get to an appointment with a cranial osteopath, and he said, “Oh, I can fix your bones with virtual reality. Go onto the internet and find a picture of a perfect spine. Look at that picture and imagine that that is your spine. You will feel your muscles moving to accommodate the new image.” He gave me a quick example.

“First, turn you neck both directions. Now, imagine you are Gumby and see your neck rotating 360 degrees five times.”

After I did the visualization, my neck could rotate noticeably more.

Then I drove to Portola Valley to see Alistair Moresi, a cranial osteopath. The office was tucked into the redwoods and birds flew all around just outside the sliding glass door. Alistair, who is from Australia, had that relaxed friendliness that I have noticed in many Australians.

When I told him my diagnosis, Alistair displayed a lot of compassion. Apparently, he has another patient with metastatic peritoneal cancer. He laid me on the table and gently held, moved, and lifted different parts of my body.

While he was doing this, I felt a deep release both physically and beyond. I started reciting the first line of the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic–Abwoon D’bwashmaya. Both the cranial osteopath and the Aramaic prayer were suggested to me by Dr. Cynthia Li. My breath deepened as I settled into an awake form of sleep.

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When he finished, Alistair said, “I want you to feel what you are feeling right now. You drop into stillness very quickly. The stillness you feel inside is always available to you. In fact, it is the same stillness in this room, and the same stillness that is always present in nature.” Alistair pointed to the redwoods on the patio.

“Try to hold onto that stillness like a barnacle. Things will start to move in slow motion. You will still have things to get done, but you won’t be in a harried state.”

He said that there was a blockage in my liver and lymphatic system right below my rib cage. The blockage went through my diaphragm, which was interesting because my dear friend Pavi had just told me about a mother who healed her son just by helping him use his diaphragm correctly.

I also thought about the tonal healing sounds I was practicing. The liver sound is a hard “T” sound that made my diaphragm and liver jump inside my body. I feel like I am opening up these blockages from multiple angles–weening off medication, energy healing, qigong, tonal healing, and cranial osteopathy.

I don’t know what the results of releasing these blockages will be. I have no idea if it will affect the tumors, but I have to say that the stillness and ease I feel are antithetical to the dis-ease that the conventional doctors diagnosed.

Update

After the appointment, I skateboarded for a few hours then came home and went to bed. That is when the pain came in force. Alistair had said not to be too quick giving up the Gabapentin because pain can release stress hormones that will take me out of the stillness. I was up until 3 am in pain. I finally took three 100 mg capsules of Gabapentin that I had left over from a previous prescription. I then did hip circles and chi ball exercises until I fell asleep. Seems like I’m not ready to ween off pain meds yet.

Alistair had told me to drink a lot of water, which I didn’t. So I might have been dehydrated. After I fell asleep, I slept until 8:30 am when I had to get up to host an Awakin Call with Jolanda Van Den Berg. Jolanda had an experience 5 years ago that allowed her to see a state of no self that abides until this day.  

I asked her about waking up with pain, and she said something like notice the pain arising without attaching any meaning to it. You may even be able to get to the point of realizing that this pain is a gift because it is the reason you are aware of living. You can even see the love in the pain. 

It was a powerful reframe for me. Part of my insomnia stemmed from my shame of having to go back on Gabapentin and thoughts of pain being an indication of a growing tumor or even the need for palliative care. 

I feel a lot lighter now, almost the same stillness I felt with Alistair. Pain comes and goes, but the stillness remains–unless I fall back into a story.

The only thing that won’t lie to you!

I recently had a CT scan. The results were that one of the tumors stayed the same size and had necrotic (dead) cells in the middle. The other tumor grew from 4.1 cm to 5.0 cm. The oncologist sees this as a threat and wants to start chemo as soon as possible. 


When I checked with my three healers they all asked the same question, “How are you feeling?” Dr. Tom said, “Your body is the only thing that will not lie to you?” I am feeling great: more energy every day, sleeping better, good appetite, good digestion, lower pain, and amazing social support. I have been doing qigong every day, as well as sound healing qigong. I even did a half-day retreat with Master Mingtong who says, “It is all about moving the energy, releasing the blockages that cause disease.”

Cynthia Li has dialed in my supplements, diet, and exercise using her intuition and medical background. When I asked her about chemo, she intuited into all the drugs the oncologist prescribed then said, “I get a definitive no, for now.” So I’m going to continue on the healing path I’m currently on for now and not switch to a chemo-centered path. 


Last night, a dear friend brought up a quotation by Bruno Barnhart, we humans prefer manageable complexity over unmanageable simplicity.” I am choosing unmanageable simplicity for now. I don’t know what will happen, but I am reveling in the presence of simplicity. 


On a side note, I have been skateboarding with my sons at a local skatepark every day. Dr. Tom said, “The more childish you are, the more powerful you are.” Grateful for the daily practice of play with my sons. My oncologist was amazed that I even got out everyday to walk the dogs. When I told her I skateboarded for 3 hours the day before, she was in shock.

One thing I realized is that my oncologist hasn’t “seen” me in over 3 months. All of my appointments are by phone, not Facetime nor Zoom, but audio call. She hasn’t taken any vital signs, weighed me, or physically examined me since the shelter in place. The blood work I did before the CT scan shows all my levels returning to normal. My red and white blood cell counts are a tad low, but Cynthia says that my body is still recovering from inflammation, so it will take time for those counts to come up.

My three healers have a dramatically different attitude than my oncologist. The oncologist is afraid that the cancer will grow and kill me. She really cares, but her care is based in fear: “We are both the same age, Mr. Hattori. I want you to live as long as possible.”

My three healers, on the other hand, have little doubt that I will come back to wholeness. “You are getting suspiciously better, Kozo,” said John Lavack, one of my energy healers. “You can live 20-30 more years. It is up to you; how you control your attitude and emotions,” said Dr. Tom. He also asked me, “the CT scan says the tumor has grown, but is it harder or softer?”

After the CT scans, Cynthia said, “Indeed, things can seemingly get worse (with increased energy flow) before they get better.” Followed by, “I’m so grateful for your quality of life and where you are spiritually. Those are extraordinarily important.”

She also texted me, “And thank you for being in this world. We need you around in the earthly plane. So negotiate your greatest purpose with your guardians beyond the veil.” Having these three extremely open-hearted and positive mentors in my life gives me purpose and hope to live a long, productive, joy-full life. What more could I ask for?

My Three Healers

When the patient is ready, a healer will appear.

Although I have an oncologist, surgeon, and radiologist on my medical team, most of the healing seems to be going on outside of conventional medicine. The oncologist wants to put me on what is called “palliative chemo,” which is not intended to cure the cancer; instead, the chemo just makes your life less painful as you die.

So I turned to other forms of healing. A friend from meditation referred me to Dr. Tom, an energy healer. Dr. Tom, a former engineer, has a straight forward manner and approach to healing. “You can live 20-30 more years, Kozo. It is all up to you–how you control your emotions.” Always smiling, Dr. Tom advocates the power of positivity. Stress causes inflammation which causes dis-ease including cancer. Positive thoughts release dopamine and other hormones which reduce inflammation. Negative thoughts and emotions release cortisol which leads to stress>inflammation. It is so simple…until I tried to control my thoughts and emotions.

Amazingly, since working with Dr. Tom, I have become acutely aware of when cortisol is released in my body. This allows me to “check myself, before I wreck myself.” I thought I caused the heightened awareness, until Dr. Tom said, “I am increasing your ability to sense stress with the energy I am sending.”

Dr. Tom calls me on Facetime, asks a few questions, then hangs up and “works on me.” One week, I experienced debilitating pain at the surgical site. After I told Dr. Tom, I hung up and laid down. Within a few minutes, I was asleep. When I woke up, he called back, “How are you doing now?” he asked. “I have no pain,” I replied in amazement.

John Lavack is another energy healer I am working with. A student of the Bengston method of energy healing, John has an 80% success rate with cancer patients. Although John practices the cycling technique of Bengston, he also has his own methodology of healing. As soon as he started working with me, he noticed a dark cloud of sadness, resignation, and grief in my peritoneal area.

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I had always considered myself an optimistic, happy, positive person. But John uncovered some grief and sadness that I wasn’t even aware of. As I allowed myself to grieve, sometimes for things I didn’t even understand, this cloud in my guts began to disperse. I realize now that I was living out the phrase “tears of a clown.” Although I offered the world a smiling, positive facade, deep down I had sorrow in my heart (and guts). “You’re getting suspiciously happier, Kozo,” remarked John during my last session.

Last but not least is Dr. Cynthia Li. A few months ago, I was tapped to host an Awakin Call with a doctor named Cynthia Li, who is trained in functional medicine, acupuncture, qigong, and intuitive medicine. The day before the call, I caught a docuseries about Radical Remissions. One of the featured patients was Cynthia Li! Cynthia had been through a near death experience with an autoimmune illness, which she documents in her book Brave New Medicine.

I felt deeply connected with Cynthia on the Awakin Call, but when some audience members asked how they could become her patient, she said that she wasn’t taking any patients at this time.

A few weeks later, I had COVID-19-like symptoms. My boss, Michael Lerner, who is a close personal friend of Cynthia, called her and asked her to take me on as a patient. A few minutes later, Cynthia texted me and said that she would call me later that afternoon.

Just before the scheduled call time, Cynthia texted and said she needed 25 more minutes to meditate and scan my body. When we finally met, she said that her intuition told her that the illness I was experiencing wasn’t viral, but bacterial. She prescribed antibiotics.

“I haven’t taken antibiotics in 25 years,” I protested.

“Let me check with my intuition again,” replied Cynthia closing her eyes and moving her lips.

“My intuition says that this will really help you, but you don’t have to take them if you don’t want to,” she said.

I ended up taking the antibiotics and I was on my feet feeling great in less than a day. Not only that but my neuropathy was better.

In her book, Cynthia talks about contracting Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) her second year of residency. After 3 months, she recovered. But “the reality was, after acute mono resolves, EBV hibernates in white blood cells…when the immune system becomes suppressed or dysfunctional (like from chronic stress, shift work, nutritional deficiencies, or gut inflammation), viruses like EBV can rise up and throw a ‘reactivation’ party” (192).

Earlier this year in March, I went to the emergency room for a horrible flu. After testing negative for Influenza, the doctors assumed I had COVID-19, but that test came back negative. I was bedridden for a whole week.

“That first bout was likely bacterial too,” Cynthia surmised.

The bacterial infection was taxing my body, which inhibited it from fighting the cancer, kind of like a cascade effect. Cynthia’s intuition helped heal not only the respiratory illness, but perhaps some deeper issues that were affecting my overall health.

She also intuited that I was low in minerals like selenium and zinc, which I had been taking the first time I had cancer, but stopped after I had my tumor surgically removed.

“Usually, I prescribe magnesium with selenium and zinc, but with you I’m not getting a hit for magnesium,” queried Cynthia.

Later, when I told her that my right kidney was only 2% functional, she said, “That is why I didn’t get a hit for magnesium, because magnesium can cause kidney problems.”

This amazing process of using her intuition, then checking it with her medical knowledge guides Cynthia to some of the most novel and effective treatments.

Cynthia also got me doing one and a half hours of qigong a day. When I protested that this was too much, Cynthia replied, “In the qigong hospitals, patients do this for 4-6 hours a day.” I have been doing the practices for about a week now, and my neuropathy pain is lower and my energy is substantially higher.

I am so grateful for these healers for all they are doing to improve not only my health, but also my life and relationships.

More Cancer–More Learning

img_1034So the cancer is back. Two small tumors in the same area as the last time, but since I had surgery, the organs are no longer there. This means that the tumors are in my peritoneal lining which makes surgically removing them very difficult. Technically, I have metastatic colorectal cancer which is incurable…according to conventional medicine.

But as you all know, I’m anything but conventional. Like a gift from God, a few months before I was diagnosed, I was hired by a non-profit called Commonweal to work on their Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies website. My boss is Michael Lerner has been working with cancer patients for over 30 years. He is the author of Choices in Healing, a book I read the first time I had cancer. Every week I have a Zoom call with Michael, an oncology nurse, a medical researcher, and a grant maker whose father died of cancer. This is for work, mind you. 

So when I told my colleagues I had a recurrence of cancer, they knew exactly how to react–with compassion, wisdom, and generous listening. For example, when I learned that the median life span for peritoneal cancer is 6-12 months, I sent Laura, the oncology nurse, an email asking her if these were the odds I was facing. She sent me a simple email:

I suggest you read this article by Stephen J. Gould called “The Median isnt the Message”   and see if you don’t see some similarities between you and Gould that might guide you toward the right-hand side of the bell curve—-the side where 50% of people outlive the prognosis compared to  those who sit right in the middle or to the left of the bell curve.

This shifted my mood, my perspective, and my capacity for hope. I have already passed the 6 month mark, so I guess things weren’t as dire as they sounded at diagnosis.

This new bout with cancer has deepened my understanding of healing, life, and grace. I have already been gifted so much by so many. I thought I had used up all my free passes the first time I had cancer, but it seems that my friends, my family, and the Universe just keep giving with no expectation of returns.

I hope these blog entries can be of service to anyone else who is facing a life-threatening illness. I also would like to use this space to offer gratitude to all who are walking this path on the edge of darkness with me. I love you all. Thank you for your care, support, wisdom, and love.

 

 

Slave of Love

For the past few weeks I have been a full-time caregiver for a 74 year old man from my meditation group who has treatable blood cancer.

The other day, Fox, my 8 year old son, shadowed me while I took my client to the cancer center and back to his house. After watching me work, Fox said, “So you are a slave.”

IMG_2894I explained to Fox that I am a caregiver. I help others that need assistance. But I can see how he could perceive me as a slave since I cook, clean, attend to, and follow my client around making sure he has everything he needs.

At first, I was saddened that my son had such a low opinion of what I do (Read: Who I am). But then I thought about Hawaiian elder, Hale Makua’s description of the roles we play in life.

The 1st level is kauwā—the slave, the level of the servant. These souls have come to be of service. The 2nd level is kaha kiʻi—the artist. The 3rd level is the warrior—ke koa. The 4th is meaʻimi naʻauao—the scholar. The explorer, sage, teacher is the next level. The 6th level is the priest, the prophet, the healer—the kahuna nui. The 7th level is ali´i—the chief, king, queen, the one who has achieved mastery of all the previous levels.

The first 2 levels, the servant and the artist, are about aloha—love, compassion. But number 3, the warrior, is about the energy of —competition. On the level of scholar, we step back into aloha. But at the level of the sage, we go back into the energy of . The 6th level is a return to aloha, for “in order to be effective as the priest or as the healer, we can only come from aloha, from love, from compassion, and we have to choose it.”

In this lifetime, I seem to have taken on all of these roles. In high school, I was a servant at Marie Calendars and Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor. I’ve been a filmmaker/writer throughout my life. I tried to be a warrior as a martial artist and surfer. I was a scholar in grad school. I then became a teacher. And lately, I’ve been a healer.

I don’t claim to have mastered any of these roles, but I do feel like I’ve come full circle. In the eyes of modern society, I appear to be a failure—a 52 year old caregiver making just enough to stay afloat. But in Hawaiian epistemology, I am returning to Aloha and service. Nothing is more important than Aloha.

I am grateful for the return to service. I hope one day my sons understand the choices I’ve made. My life isn’t how I’d ever envisioned it, but it makes a lot of sense.

 

“Earth School”

Spent the last few nights with Gary Zukav and Linda Francis. So grateful for their dedication to the path.

Books_The_Seat_ofthe_SoulAlthough Gary has been on Oprah 37 times, he is one of the most humble, vulnerable, and authentic men I have ever met.

A few pieces of wisdom really resonated with me.

First, Gary said that at one point in his life he was afraid of being afraid. He said the clinical term for this is “macho.” I realized how much of my life I overcompensated for being afraid—afraid of being alone, afraid of my emotions, afraid of not being good enough.

Next, Gary and Linda said there are only two intentions—one that comes from love and one that comes from fear. Other intentions they referred to as “out-tensions.” When deciding on any course of action, they ask themselves if they are coming from love or fear.

This reminded me of a conversation we had with a Hawaiian elder named Manulani Aluli Meyer. She said, “When love is at the center, ego isn’t.”

Manu continues, “We are dedicated to the purpose of what love means in this lifetime. And it must start within your own practices and your own commitments and your own deeds. That is why I love Shakespeare’s quotation when he said, ‘By my actions teach my mind’. I love that because it is not by our talk or by our words, it is by our actions. So that is a very cultural statement. Basically, stop talking, start doing. And when you are doing in the vibrancy of what aloha is, then there is a healing on the planet.”

As a grandson of a Hawaiian man, I have the kuleana (responsibility) to dedicate my life to “what love means in this life time.” My purpose is to be aloha. To be pono (righteous).

I often ask my sons, “Are you being pono (righteous) or pilikia (troublesome)?” This is similar to Gary and Linda’s practice of questioning whether they are coming from love or fear.

Lastly, both Gary and Linda refer to this life as “earth school.” We are souls here to learn. I love that view of life.

During one circle, I felt obliged to share a talk I had with my cousin. I was telling him how I was a compassionate boy when I was young. I remember crying while watching Laura Ingals on Little House on the Prairie.

Then my step-father entered my life and started whipping me with a leather belt when I was 5 years old. Talking to my cousin, I was furious that I didn’t have a choice in this monumental event in my life.

After 12 years of abuse, I turned into a cruel and angry adolescent who lacked compassion. This lack of compassion torpedoed my life. I lost lovers, friends, and jobs. After I hit rock bottom, I dedicated myself to becoming a compassionate man and raising compassionate boys.

But it was/is a process. On the phone with my cousin, I simultaneously grieved the innocence of that 4 year old compassionate boy and raged at the injustice that he was forced to suffer.

Then I was struck with a vision. I saw my soul floating above the earth plane before I was born. My soul could see my whole life laid out before it. And then…it CHOSE to incarnate into this life.

I chose physical abuse. I chose cancer. I chose unemployment. I chose all these things because I knew that they would bring me to the awakening I am experiencing right now.

I thanked Gary and Linda for the term “earth school,” because I now realize that I chose my own curriculum. Of all the classes available, I chose Physical Abuse 101, Introduction to Cancer, Financial Hardship 2B, Mediation 100, Advanced Surfing, Intro to Kapu Aloha, and the Noble Friends Seminar.

After this realization, I no longer blame others for what is happening in my life. I don’t blame my step-father for using corporal punishment. I don’t blame my mom for choosing to marry my step-father. I don’t blame my biological father for choosing to go back for a second tour of duty in Vietnam from which he never returned. I don’t even blame myself for all the trespasses I have committed.

When there is no one left to blame, we can only love. Love everyone. Love everything. I hope this new path helps me do “in the vibrancy of what aloha is” and heals the planet.

Who are some of your influential spiritual teachers? What realizations have shaped your life?

 

 

Book Release Party Free Download

Kozo Book cover 4c

I’ve just published my first book, The Healing Grace of Cancer. I am so grateful for all of you who have walked this healing journey with me. Please accept this humble offering: for the next five days, starting on Christmas, you can download a free copy of the book  here.

You are my writing tribe, so feel free to offer critiques or constructive criticism.

Wishing all of you a peace-filled and joyful holiday season.

With Aloha, Kozo

 

Peace is Every Child

peacefox7-year-old Fox wanted a history book for his daily reading, so I let him loose in my bookshelves. First, he grabbed my Bible.

“Is this a history book?” he asked.

“Yeah, it’s a kind of history book,” I replied.

“Can I have it?” he asked thumbing the vinyl cover.

“Of course,” I said.

Then he grabbed A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., but it had too many big words for him.

“Here is a history about a Vietnamese monk,” I said handing him Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Reading the editor’s introduction, Fox stopped after reading this poem:

Peace is every step.

The Shining red sun is my heart.

Each flower smiles with me.

How green, how fresh all that grows.

How cool the wind blows.

Peace is every step.

It turns the endless path to joy.

“Daddy, can I write this poem out?” asked Fox with wide open eyes.

“Sure,” I said thrilled because his penmanship needed work.

Fox carefully wrote out each line. He smiled when he wrote “each flower smiles with me.” I was stoked that he was learning to spell smile, peace, and heart. At the end he wrote “Love, Fox.”

“Can you make copies?” he said as he handed me the hand written poem.

I gave him two copies. On one he wrote, “Merry Christmas. Thank you. To Mrs. Kraemer and Mrs. Grant” [his second grade teachers].

I almost cried. What a wonderful gesture. I am so grateful that he resonated with Thich Nhat Hanh, even though he had trouble reading the name. When I told a friend the story, he asked, “Who is the teacher and who is the student?”

What poem would you have a child copy?

Poor Students or Poor System

IMG_3052Both my sons got their first semester report cards last week. They are only in the 5th and 2nd grade, so I don’t pay too much attention to these evaluations.

Unfortunately, both boys are below grade level. Fox, the younger son, had more minus signs than average or plus signs. Jett, the older one, had more 2s than 3s or 4s. A 2 means “developing,” while a 3 means “proficient.”

I take responsibility for these low marks. I want my sons to have fun while they are kids. We don’t stress too much over homework. We spend more time outdoors than in the library.

In the comments, both my sons’ teachers used the word “struggling.” I’m still not too concerned because I was a teacher, and I know when the time comes, I can easily bring them up to par.

Another word that both teachers used was “kind.” “Jett is very kind to his fellow classmates.” “Fox is a kind, considerate, and curious student, well liked by everyone.”

At first I was upset that my sons were so far behind in school, but upon further reflection, I was grateful that they are both kind boys.

I’ve always said that I would rather my sons be kind and compassionate than smart, academic, athletic, or “successful.” I was a very smart kid. I graduated magna cum laude and did well in graduate school. I landed a cushy job as and was making more money than I could shake a stick at. But I was not kind. And my lack of compassion poisoned all of my accomplishments.

In the span of three years, I was unemployed, on the verge of divorce, and diagnosed with cancer. I had to learn the hard way that “compassion protects you more than guns, bombs, or money.” (Thich Nhat Hahn)

I have no idea how my sons will perform in school at the higher levels, but I do know that armed with kindness and compassion it won’t really matter where they land in the world. They will be OK.

What would you like to score high in on the report card of life?

Cultivating Compassion One Breath at a Time

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Watching men in high positions fall like autumn leaves has inspired me to start a daily compassion practice. I have no doubt that if these men had more compassion and empathy, they would not assault women. I don’t want my sons to become highly “successful” only to fall from grace from a lack of compassion.

Dacher Keltner at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center discovered that there isn’t a universal look of compassion, but there is a universal sound of compassion. People around the world make the same sound when they sympathize with the suffering of others—“Aaawwwwhhhhh.:

Moreover, modern research reveals that making this sound stimulates the vagus nerve which lowers inflammation in the body and leads to more pro-social behavior. The vagus nerve runs from most of the major organs in the body to the brain stem. It also runs through the vocal chords and the inner ear.

Making the “aaawwwhhh” sound stimulates the larynx and the inner ear and, thus, the vagus nerve. In addition, Stephen Porges found that when our exhale is longer than our inhale, we also stimulate the vagus nerve and feel more connected with other.

So I am setting a goal of saying “aaawwwwhhh” as many times a day as possible. When I am stuck in traffic, I say “aaawwwhhh.” When my sons start to whine about how they only get to play 2 hours of video games, I reply, “aaaawwwhhh.” Every time I hear a news story about men committing heartless acts, I say, “aaawwwhhhh” for them, for myself, for men in general, and for the victims.

When my aunties in Hawaii would see someone do something harmful, they would make the universal sound of compassion and say, “poor ting.” They felt sorry for individuals who were so disconnected with aloha (love) that they felt the need to cause conflict with others. In essence, my aunties were saying, “Awwwhhhh, poor thing has no aloha.”

Every time I make the universal sound of compassion, I feel warm vibrations resonate through my body. I feel grateful to connect with others through suffering. Everyone becomes my family regardless of what they look like or what they have done.

So grateful for this simple practice.

What daily practices do you do to connect with others?