The Cancer & Life Journey – Learnings, Lessons & Other Inspirations (From the Late Karen Bunn)

The Cancer & Life Journey – Learnings, Lessons & Other Inspirations (From the Late Karen Bunn)

Tuesday, 24 April 2012 15:10

 Background (from Mark)

For pretty well all of our married life, my wife (Karen) and I experienced the cancer journey. Karen was diagnosed with breast & bone cancer throughout much of her body just a few months after we were married. Amidst all the usual challenges and difficulties we all appreciate with such journeys, for the most part it was also an amazing time full of the most wonderful things in life. A great marriage and a generally very blessed life.

Throughout some of this time, Karen recorded various ‘personal’ lessons, learnings, sources of laughter and other bits and pieces that she thought she might one day put into a blog or similar in case something might provide some encouragement or help for others going through a cancer, or other challenging health or life journey. While she never got to do that herself, I’ve taken some of what I thought might be interesting pieces from her journal and notebooks that I felt she might not mind being shared. (Most likely, just as in when she was in her physical incarnation I’m sure I won’t have got it quite right … but we mere mortals do our best!)

Having read them myself, I personally believe a lot of the messages are equally applicable to all of us, whether (delete perfectly) healthy or otherwise. Anyway, if any of it is of interest, great, if not, that’s great too.


1. Many people were surprised when Karen was initially diagnosed with cancer. She had always lived a fairly health conscious life. Even before I met her she followed many of the Ayurvedic health principles I promote. She ate well, sipped warm water, meditated and went to bed early. However, there was one area of her life where she was experiencing significant (and I mean ‘significant’) stress. I don’t wish to go into the details here, but for well over 5 years, almost inadvertently, she experienced considerable emotional stress. Looking back, we both felt that this was the most likely factor in her illness. We also both believed that her diagnosis was the best thing that happened to her, as it allowed her to finally extricate herself from the stressful situation.

The reason I mention this, is that you will notice a common theme throughout much of Karen’s writing – that of the importance of her enjoying everything she did, not feeling pressured to do things, and basically doing everything she could to experience joy rather than stress. Her main motivation post diagnosis was to try to encourage people to come to the same realisation that she had to learn the hard way.

2. Please overlook any grammatical or expression mistakes. For the majority I have kept things as it was ‘handwritten’ or speed-typed as journal notes. Such notes were not written to win any prizes in English Literature (that’s my specialty … Not!)

3. Where you see (things in brackets), this is usually me adding a comment to hopefully clarify something or add an additional angle. (I believe she is now in a place of unbounded joy, so will not be offended by any of my attempts at humour. She may still cringe however!)

I hope you enjoy.


Favourite Quotes (specifically copied in her journal)


“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” – Mother Teresa

Pleasure, Problems, Success

“No one is responsible for giving any difficulty or any pleasure to anyone. Problems or successes, they all are the results of our own actions” – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on The Larry King Show – 5/12/02

Beyonce & Passion

My biggest advice is to love what you do and if you love what you do everyone loves watching you. I want to make sure I am making somebody feel something, it’s all about the magic. Sometimes the best singers don’t have the best pitch, they’re just magical, they inspire you and you believe. That’s really all your job is. – Beyonce on X Factor 2011

Good Sleep

Good Sleep is 90% of good health – Dr Triguna (great Ayurvedic doctor)

Not Thinking Too Much & Having Fun

Thinking back to times I have won easily, I have not been concerned with my competitor, where the best waves were or what I have to do to win. I’ve gone out into the line-up confident in my ability to find waves and surf well, knowing that I am the best surfer in the water and can turn anything into a good score. Energy, enthusiasm, confidence. This time I sabotaged myself. Again. There seems to be a consistent pattern: One, thinking too much. Two, concentrating on all external factors. Three, not having fun. So let’s stop thinking and just start surfing and having fun. – Layne Beachley (from her Book).

Great Minds

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people. – Eleanor Roosevelt (posted on Facebook by Tara King)

No Worries

If you can’t do anything about it, don’t worry about it. – Jeanne Calment (who lived to 122 yrs)

Not Being Too Strict re; Health Path

Whatever your chosen path to health, it is important to not get too strict with yourself… excessive strictness usually leads to contraction and with contraction, comes anxiety. Anxiety, especially around food… is not healthy – because it radically affects digestion. So whenever you sense you’re getting a little too strict with yourself, take a few deep breaths and relax. Acknowledge this ‘seed’ of strictness, thank it for its desire to care for you, then let it go. – From Mudita Institute Facebook – www.muditainstitute.com

Staying Close to Nature

The old Lakota was wise. He knew that man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too. – Luther Standing Bear

Purpose of Life

The meaning of life is to find your gift.

The purpose of life is to give it away.

– Pablo Picasso (Facebook post by Wayne W. Dyer)

Death, Dying & Grief

When someone dies, it is because at that point their karma has become insurmountable in the present body. It is not possible to understand why it had to come when it did and there is certainly no point in assuming responsibility and guilt. The course of action is unfathomable. However, especially for someone on the path of speedy evolution, the transition is purely evolutionary. They go the celestial realms, or are reborn almost immediately.

When life leaves the body, it is the breath leaving, like transcending. For one who has been accustomed to this experience for many years, the transition is easy, painless and blissful, not catastrophic. Dropping the body is like letting a bird out of its cage.

Grief is natural. At first when grief is deep and sharp, these emotions of the family and friends allow the soul to feel that they were loved very deeply. It is also natural that the grieving should taper off, allowing the soul to feel that their passing was not a drag on the life of their beloved ones, and that they are free to move on to their destiny. It is important to feel positivity and support for the departed soul wherever they may be, because our attitude affects their evolution.

All the above from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (one of Karen’s favourite spiritual teachers)

Journal / Diary Entries

18/1/08 – First Day of Chemo

Slept through last night and woke up at 5.30. Had a headache but not feeling anxious. Did affirmations for divine nurses and doctors and a smooth day.

Arrived at Chemo appointment at 10am. Nurse Wendy took us in and gave me some tablets for nausea and vomiting firstly. I told Wendy that I get anxious about having the needles but then when I have it I usually don’t feel it. She told me not to worry because they use baby needles. This made me feel much better. When we walked in there was a lady sitting next to me having treatment who proceeded to talk about her first time and how it took three goes to get the needle in etc. I did not appreciate this sort of talk so I switched off. All went smoothly for me with the needle, no problems. Thank you.

My beautiful husband (ah schucks! I was obviously having a good day!) was with me the whole time talking to me with uplifting words and helping to put my mind on others things. I drank lots of ginger water, in fact I finished my thermos. Michelle, the girl I had surgery with, showed up for her chemo. I was not expecting to see her. I said hello to her but didn’t want to get into any heavy conversation about our illness or treatment. I could hear her talking to the ladies next to me about everything in depth. I don’t believe it is mentally healthy for me to get into in-depth conversations about my or any other persons illness, unless it is with a doctor, nurse, psychologist, my husband or someone who has had a positive outcome from their experience. You tend to get all sorts of input from people – a lot of it is not welcome and not relevant.

14/2/09 – Why the Pain?

Karen and her lesser half!

When I asked myself this morning why the pain? My answer was that I have been spending the last few days ‘worrying’ about what I am going to do in the future. How do I make money, as I have always done that. Wondering about what if I get another pain in my leg, so I make plans for future appointments according to this scenario. I have decided this morning that I can’t live my life like this – in fear of the pain, in fear that cancer might flare up. I need to be in the present and daily get in touch with what it is like to do this.

I have been making decisions based on ‘what ifs’. Basically I am not living my life based on worrying about a future event that probably will never happen. So my course of action for making future plans/appointments is the following;

1. Check my diary to see if anything else is booked.
2. To do no more than three outside activities each week (i.e. things that involve being done away from home). If I’m going away, then don’t book anything else in.
3. Ask myself, “Do I want to do this activity?”
4. If the answer is no, thank the person for thinking of me and tell them that I really appreciate the invitation but I cannot make it on this occasion, but please do remember me for next time.
5. Be very grateful for the opportunities to do such activities and to have a full calendar.
6. If by any chance you book an appointment and you can’t for some reason make it, don’t feel obliged to attend or (feel) bad/guilty to have to cancel it. There is nothing you have to go to. Also, don’t feel like you may never get asked again.

15/2/09 – Nature Speaking, Just Knowing What To Do & Gratitude

Lighthouse at Woollongong – Painting by Kaz  circa 2010Nature is telling me not to do this (being up and about working, travelling or just being excessively active/busy), but to be more calm, quiet and inward.

I had another feeling of like deja vu today and it was with my new painting. It has a lighthouse in it and on drawing it up the sides of the lighthouse are like a concave shape and the other day I was wondering how it could draw it up. I can’t remember whether I had a dream or a thought to use an instrument of wire covered with rubber (something I had seen before but did not know what it was for). It was like a realisation of what I can use to help me. Anyway during class today Elena was showing Dianne how to draw an arched bridge and she grabbed exactly the instrument I had imagined in my mind and showed her how to use it. I couldn’t believe it, another case of knowing what to do, but not knowing how I know it.

I also started the third session of six week chemo treatment on Thursday. I have some minor side effects but all in all things are going pretty well.

Each day of my life is a joy and I am totally grateful that each morning I can wake up to creative ideas and not illness and pain.

16/2/09 – Why the Pain? Being ‘Present’ & not Over Doing It

MB (that’s me – Mark) came up and spoke to me and I want to write down my thoughts to him about why I’m always getting the pain and I explained it thus;

When I am quiet and in routine. I.e. not taking on the too much or too much activity, it is easier for me to be present and watch, observe my thoughts, emotions, actions in order to heal. When I become too active, too much going on, I can’t keep up with the present, my mind takes over and it is hard to stay in the present to adjust my thinking and emotions accordingly and also I lose the ability to enjoy myself. Because I am only taking baby steps into the present and being aware, conscious, I need to adjust to this state of being. I need to be inward, spiritual but also to have light outward activity. I need to just listen to myself when I do or do not want to do anything.

19/2/09 – Compassion for Self, Ego, putting Others First

I wanted to write this entry tonight because during my program [her daily meditation program] I had a strong wave of empathy and compassion for my own self. I saw my unbalanced cells genuinely for the first time as my friends, looking after me with love and trying to protect and help me from my own self. The gross ego self that wants to always put the needs of others first and in front of my own wellbeing. It was sad with some tears [the melting of the ice*] but then came an absolute peace, within an inner happiness that I still feel now. I actually felt a sense of love for myself and compassion beyond any words.

* ‘melting of the ice’ is an expression Maharishi mentioned in terms of tears. I.e. crying/tears are good as it helps release or dissolve the stress/pain.

25/3/09 – Living in the Now & Gratitude

Most important is to live in the now and show gratitude for all the good things. Gratitude, thanks and forgiveness.

19/4/09 – Forgiveness

Repeated multiple times down the page;

I forgive and I set myself free. I release the past.

I forgive and I set myself free. I release the past.

I forgive and I set myself free. I release the past.

20/4/09 – Pain, Important Things, Material Attachments

I have a sore leg today for the first time in about two months. I have been too busy throughout last week and have gotten out of routine.

Nature is asking us as humans on all levels to focus on those things that are most important/that which gives our life more meaning.

Don’t accumulate but generate, go through your possessions and declutter, give them to someone in need.

It is a pull away from dependency on material things and asking us to focus more on our own self, our own values.

It is an opportunity for enlightenment on a worldwide scale.

* The above seems to be a quote (from someone else I think) she had written but she doesn’t give the source … plageuriser! LOL! (apologies to the source]

23/6/09 – Gratitude for Family/Friends

I feel grateful and truly blessed by my wonderfully interesting life.

I am also grateful for my many friendships. Diane, Michelle, Tara, all the girls Teresa, Toni, Rachel and Karen. I’m grateful for my wonderful husband (obviously one of my good days … glad she didn’t write the day before!), mum and dad, Colin & Jace.

25/6/09 – Not Rushing – Not Caring What Others Think – Inner Peace

I was hoping to finish my painting today but I have not. I realized that these things can’t be rushed and that I need to finish in my good time. I am very happy with the painting especially as it is my first. While I was painting the grass yesterday, I added a light color, and thought it still did not suit, still lacked depth, so I decided to add a burnt Sienna mix. As I was adding this, to the grass, I had this beautiful feeling come over me, the best words to describe it, was like a feeling of exhilaration, but not overwhelming, a very subtle peaceful feeling. By adding this color it made the grass come to life, it was amazing. It was very fulfilling and it then did not matter to me what anyone else thought of my painting because I was fulfilled and at peace with it my painting glistened. I had created something of beauty to be in the world. This feeling has carried over this morning and is around me in my life. I told Mark about it this morning and he mentioned how it reminded him of when he once heard Maharishi talking about the growth to the state of refined Cosmic Consciousness or God-consciousness, and how it included the experience of what Maharishi called ‘celestial perception’. Mark read an excerpt about it from a Vedic Journal which I will read again tonight before I go to bed.

Choice, Freedom & Control

Karen on her horse BostonI always have choice, there is nothing that I have to do. I replaced the word should with the word ‘could’.

This is a word that gives me choice and this gives me freedom. [Louise Hay’s affirmation for the day] It [the experience of the painting] was for me a very subtle but beautiful experience. When I look back over my life I now believe there were times when I lived in this world and for long periods of time. Some examples I can think of was when I was living out on the farm, in my long home stays or when I was horse riding and had Boston (Karen’s horse) or when I stayed out at Tara and Scott’s place in Glenoire and Pitt Town. I enjoy my life. It is beautiful. As long as I don’t get ahead of myself and try to do too much before I’m ready.

3/7/09 – Pain, Painkillers, Rest, Worry

I spent the day yesterday in quietness because I woke up with a fuzzy head and a headache which progressed into nausea. I get this every so often. Most of the time if I have a bath, keep warm and meditate/have a rest it gets better. If I don’t do this I may vomit but then will feel better. Anyway, if I give myself time to rest without taking any painkiller, it lets me tune into what I did or what happened to cause it and what I can do next time to prevent it occurring again.

After recounting some things in my life that sometimes scare me and create some fear of the future I remember what Pop says, “why worry, it probably will never happen and if it happens, it happens”.

10/7/09 – Giving / Giving ‘Too’ Much

I’ve had some moments of clarity about the topic of ‘x’ [person from above paragraph] last night. I was talking to Mark and he was checking in with me about it. We were talking for a while and then he said to me that it is not about ‘X’ [the person] or anyone else, it is only ever about us. I then said, “and I no longer have the desire to have a friendship that requires me to be in the role of the only giver”. Maharishi says, “that it is great the person who helps others, but even greater the person who helps others but stays unaffected themselves”. You see, I’m not in the place of being unaffected yet. In the past I wanted to help others but was coming from a place of weakness, not a place of strength to help. I was doing it out of other ego-reasons, related to what I had been taught and learnt from others. This is no longer healthy for me. This gave me a good feeling of clarity.

13/7/09 – Pain Management CD

i) I am to say the least, extremely sensitive at the moment and up until today having some extreme pain on and off for the last two weeks. Lots of tears and one bout of hysterical crying because of bad pain in my leg which occurred 2 nights ago. But I am determined to deal with this as naturally as possible, otherwise I would have been at the doctors two days ago. I’m glad I didn’t go, because I am nearly back to normal today and through what some might say was some form of miracle. What did I do? Yesterday morning after my extremely bad night I decided to go out for a short stroll as soon as I stepped out of our apartment [we were on holidays not at home] I came across a new age bookstore called ‘Soul life’. I found some very interesting things inside but one thing in particular has helped to dissolve the pain more effectively than taking a panadol or dispirin. I found a CD made by Dr. Ian Gawler the called ‘effective pain management’. I got back to the apartment and played it straight away. I found myself going into my meditation at the same time. It was short, may be about 15 minutes but when it finished, the pain had completely disappeared and has not returned. I am so grateful to have found the CD and technique. It has given back a lot to me about the healing power of my own self, my body and not some external means.

ii) Friday night 9:26 PM. I am in bed. Mark is sitting here on the couch flicking the TV channel between cricket [The Ashes] and an AFL game. He looks like he’s enjoying himself!*

* I liked this one so I thought I would include it – who wouldn’t be enjoying themselves when the cricket & football is on at the SAME time!

iii) I am re-establishing my relationship with the spirit. The main key is to find joy, happiness and bliss etc. Follow your bliss. If you don’t know what that is, it won’t be found outside yourself.

Pay attention to my emotions first and then thoughts come second [excerpt from ‘Ask and it is given’ – Jerry and Esther Hicks]

7/6/10 – Loving Self, Slowing Down & Inner Intuition

It is about becoming centered and at peace within myself and slowing down enough to allow myself, my intuition, to heal my body – no one else can do this for me. The doctor is not my healer. Vaidya (Ayurvedic doctor) is not my healer. My husband is not my healer. They don’t have the final say.

It is about allowing my heart to open and to have love, appreciation and compassion for my own self, mind body and my own soul.

The answer cannot be found outside myself, but is always there inside myself and the love I have for myself and radiates into my outer world.

The key is to follow my bliss, my happiness, that feeling of glistening that comes from my heart, my stomach and permeates my whole body it is where I am, fully present and fully living in and loving my body, my own self and how important that self is. The beauty that is me. It is my willingness to bring that light in every minute, feel my body fully, it’s emotions, it’s pain as messages from nature for my body to catch up where my spirit or soul consciousness has evolved to. To keep my mind in a positive place, a space of allowing love and my heart to open and with each passing moment, this to become my forever reality. I am not afraid, for this is only a second by second experience.

* I added the background to this part as I thought it was so beautiful it deserved one.

25/09/09 – Message of Pain, Present Moment & Joy

The pain makes me immobile and self absorbed. Both of these qualities I find hard to deal with at first, now I look at them in a different way in that the immobility is nature’s way of getting my body to take complete rest which is a necessity at this time as I am still not sleeping sometimes through the night. I take extra meditation through the day. Spirit is asking/reminding me to spend more time in its presents (Lol – nice spelling Kaz!), by myself in its permanent light, so my thinking and very being is forever in a place of peace. The self absorption by now translates into a time of learning and knowledge about myself and my environment in my new world and the different level of consciousness I need to exist. My days are better when I live in the present, create joy for myself and create through art and every day things.

12/5/2010 – Creativity, Passion & Doing What One Loves

I am learning how to live in the world of creativity on a daily, minute by minute basis. I feel much excitement about this, it is important for me to feel passion and excitement on a daily basis and do what I love. Half the fun is working out what that is.

7/6/10 – Activity & Silence

Karen’s second painting ever … and my favourite. An example of her new found creativity and passion. She had never painted until after being diagnosed and decided to do things she really loved. (Hmmm, could there be a lesson in there for us somewhere???)Karen’s second painting ever … and my favourite. An example of her new found creativity and passion. She had never painted until after being diagnosed and decided to do things she really loved. (Hmmm, could there be a lesson in there for us somewhere???)

I’m now 46 years old. (Happy Birthday – yeah!)

Bhagavad-Gita Ch 4 v18

In action sees inaction. This means that while the mind is engaged with the senses and through them in the process of action, it is anchored to the silence of the inner being. This anchorage provides the experience of silence in the midst of all activities.

Danger of Doing Too Much

This verse from the Gita is an explanation of what I had been telling him (me I think) about my experience lately. If I don’t find a quiet, calm place inside me before launching into activity, I lose myself in the outside activity and then have the tendency to become out of balance, my mind races, becomes negative and anxiety and worry creep up. I race around mindlessly and then end up doing too much. I’m learning not to let this happen because this leads me further into despair. I get constipated and my illness flares up and I experience pain.

12/7/11 – Directing Mind to Good Thoughts

My mind is really busy again this morning. I realised this morning that my mind requires redirecting to become familiar again with good creative thoughts. Before and during my illness it has been busy with victim and disease thinking. Now that I am no longer in pain, I need to engage it with more positive type creative thoughts.

15/7/11 – Horses, Grudges, Friends

Kaz, Carrot-loving Boston and Brother Col (that’s Karen’s brother not Bostons! Hehehe – sorry Col!)I got out to see Boston and Playboy (her horse & his best buddy) on Tuesday. It was such a beautiful sunny day. Both horses were in the same paddock near the house. Probably put in there on a diet so they would not eat grass all day. It was just great to see them. Boston didn’t come straight up to me. In fact, he turned his back and walked down to the closed gate. He was telling me he wanted to go out into the big paddock. I walked down to them and gave them some carrots, and he was still as friendly and loving as ever.

I spent a few days going over all my friendships in my head and what things I may have done wrong with them. I realised that they have known me for a lot of years and have seen me at my best and my worst. I should not be so hard on myself, but I have not been the best person I can be as far as friends are concerned. (This was her opinion, but I personally thought she was great to her friends & that considering what she was going through they all understood she couldn’t engage too much!)

I do know that life is too short to hold grudges and any ill feelings towards people will not be coming from me. It only hurts me in the end. I have been extremely lucky in my life and have never really experienced any sort of major hostility towards me by any friends. I still have managed to hold onto many friendships over the years and keep in contact with them. I am moving onto a new stage of my life now and I know things are changing in this area and the lessons I have learned will put me in good stead for the future.

6/8/11 – Uplifting Friends & Giving Up the Need to Please

I had lunch with ‘x’ (a positive, uplifting friend) last week and seeing her again was quite inspirational. She is an extremely positive person and I was very happy to be in her company. I got to see how she communicated with ‘x’ (not so positive acquaintance) and her ability to change things to a positive frame. I liked how she said that we all do things in our past that we would love to change but we need to move on from it. Each time I spend with ‘not so positive acquaintance’, I can now see more clearly the things that I let draw energy away from me.

It is helping me to see and make sure that this doesn’t happen again for the future in all my relationships and friendships. I feel like I have been in a cocoon and I am now coming out of it to a whole new world and way of being and relating to things around me. Mark says it is like a snake that is shedding its old skin. Elena said at art the other day she calls it ‘giving up the need to please’ which is so relevant to the younger me.

I also started the third session of six-week chemo treatment on Thursday. I have some minor side effects but all in all things are going pretty well.

Each day of my life is a joy and I am totally grateful that each morning I can wake up to creative ideas and not illness and pain.

I just read a reference to Paramhansa Yogananda which rang a bell with me. He talked about how you don’t have to go overseas or go away to make things happen, that things will come to you and they will even come to your own village and backyard. I love this. It seems to be my message at the moment.

8/1/12 – Emotional Causes Holding Emotions In

* The following were recorded while at an Ayurvedic Panchakrama clinic in Delhi, India. (Panchakrama or PK is the traditional Ayurvedic purification & rejuvenation treatments.)

Dr Jagbandhu asked me if I am introvert and do I have a tendency to keep any bad emotions in rather than expressing them. I told him that I do this. He said to learn to speak my emotions nicely. I remember the saying to speak the sweet truth. I also remember Dr Raju upon first taking my pulse by distance saying that my illness was emotionally based.

11/1/12 – Going to India & Karma

I told Dr Raju about how some people I knew were not completely supportive about me coming to India at first but how they have now changed their minds. I also mentioned my first visit and how I thought the fireworks were bombs. He said that some people won’t come to India as it is not their time, and explained that people come when they want to burn off their karma. He said that burning off karma is the loss of fear, fear of anything, fear of coming to India. All the Puja’s (ceremonies) and chanting Pandits in India is why it is such a peaceful place to come to. When karma is burnt out it means that you still attract karma (good and bad) but you will be less affected by it. It won’t tend to leave such an impression or mark on your physiology/nervous systems. A person who has burnt up their karma feels good most of the time, unaffected by things.

14/1/12 – Dreams & Freddy Mercury

i) I have noticed during my Panchkarma and particularly during the basti’s (enema’s) that I have been having lots of dreams. What is different to usual is that I am remembering my dreams. The other night I had a dream about a Jan Kelly. The next day in the dining room, two new ladies arrived from Perth. When I asked them their names, one was Jan and the other was Kelly (Callie). That was very funny.

ii) I bought several books with me to read, one of them is Freddy Mercury Biography. I have found during reading this that I am having dreams about it and I am afraid that Freddie (and Queen generally for that matter) was not particularly the sort of person/people I would have liked to associate with. I have decided to stop reading it as I find his way of life a little disturbing to say the least, particularly his sex life. I decide to leave the book in the library here and not take it home with me. (Good one Kaz – defile everyone else’s minds! Lol!) I must say though that it has given me some insight of what it was like to be a rockstar. No Thanks! (Hilarious – Kaz loooooved Freddy before reading the book!)

6/3/2013 – Dharma (Purpose in Life)

I am writing about dharma as per my understanding. (Dharma is the Vedic concept of activity that most supports one’s evolution / one’s purpose or natural duty in life – Mark.) Sometimes I awake in the morning and my mind is racing with the thought of needing to do something else with my life so that it has some sort of meaning and purpose. These thoughts can overwhelm or overtake me if I let them and then I become anxious and feel unfulfilled. The way I am learning to overcome these feelings and thoughts is by simply saying to myself that “there is nothing I have to do today”….”No, not a thing”. I don’t even have to get changed out of my pajamas if I don’t feel to. Once I realize this, the huge task of finding my dharma becomes small and insignificant. At this time I realize that my dharma is something that works itself out over time. All I need to do take care of myself, if that means I feel happy doing nothing, just lying there or watching tv, or meditating or listening to music that the task of finding my dharma is left up to nature. In fact, I realize that it is up to nature to bring your dharma to you. My duty is just to feel good, be happy and sometimes that can simply be by doing nothing.

6/3/2013 – Getting Back to the Moment

At the start of my radiotherapy I would often have people asking me what am I doing today. I felt a lot of pressure from this question. My true answer was “there isn’t anything I want to do today”. I had difficulty getting around, or working out what I was going to have for lunch let alone making it.

6/3/2013 – Flow State

Entry about clues to know you’re in flow (from Louise Presley-Turner)

You are drawn to doing these activities when you have any spare time.

You feel great once you’ve done them.

They make you really content and happy.

You lose all sense of time.

They are things you wish you had more time to do given the opportunity.

Make it your intention to find your flow and follow your joy, and watch the miracles unfold.

22/3/13 – Fear (Handling It)

Excerpt from one of Karen’s favourite books – ‘A Woman’s Best Medicine’, where a woman asks the question, “I find that even in my everyday life, I walk around with a great deal of fear. What does Ayurveda say to do about fear?”

Fear comes in two essential “flavours,”. One rational and the other irrational. Rational fear can be based entirely on intuition, and it’s worth listening to. If you are in a potentially dangerous situation or environment, you can be supported and protected well by the heightened alertness brought about by even a subtle fear reaction. But irrational fear or free floating anxiety can be life-damaging because it keeps the adrenaline pumping with no benefit to you. An imbalance in Vata dosha is usually the cause and can be addressed through the vata-balancing programs. (If you’re unfamiliar with the Ayurvedic doshas I’ve discussed them here – Mark.)

22/3/13 – Friendship & Rejection

Karen’s own personal sayings.

Friendship – Stop talking and listen, no I mean really listen.

Rejection does not exist, it is only that you did not get the response/outcome you expected from the situation or others. Nature has this experience as part of the bigger plan for your life.

3/4/2013 – Cosmic Consciuosness

Recording a quote from Maharishi.

“Cosmic consciousness is a state where one has put oneself in the service of the divine, because, as we have seen in “Cosmic Law”, the thought, speech, and action of one who has reached this state is only guided by the divine will. He or she is an individual, but they are a living instrument of God, a tool in the hands of the divine. What comes out of them is naturally of service to the cosmic life.”

10/4/2013 – Pre-Chemotherapy Ritual

Here is a list of things I did for myself before chemotherapy:

1. Extra meditation or visualisation before treatment.
2. Drink plenty of water.
3. I kept my body warm by having a bath just prior to going to the hospital. This helped to keep my veins soft and raised.
4. If it was a particularly cold day, I would take a heat pack with me to keep warm.
5. I took Amrit Kalash (Amrit Kalash is an Ayurvedic herbal food supplement shown to minimize the harmful side-effects of chemo. Approved by the cancer clinic.)
6. Affirmation I say prior to any appointments/treatments: “Everyone I come in contact with today is divinely guided and gives me excellent loving care”.
7. I would sometimes listen to relaxing music on my iPod or meditate while the nurse was giving me needles. (or watch me doing something stupid … often unintentionally, that would completely take her mind off what was happening!) I found this great because I never felt any pain from the needles or felt them going in.
8. After each treatment, I would treat myself to something I loved – either a snack, watch a show I loved, or be with my pets or someone whose company I enjoyed.

By doing the above in the number of years I was having treatment I only had one instance where the nurse had trouble giving me the needle for treatment. On many occasions I saw the other patients struggling with needles from nurses who would sometimes take several attempts to put needles in. This was very stressful for both the patient and the nurse. Through my own determination I did not want to get a portacath and did not need one, even though this was sometimes recommended by nurses.

26/4/2013 – Forgiveness, Suffering, Joy

Kaz with Ziggy & Felix – the non-judgemental Care dogs!Notes recorded from Stephanie Dowrick’s Book – Forgiveness & Other Acts of Love

Forgiveness doesn’t lead to forced reunions. There may be some people whom we are better never to see, to hear from, or even to think about for more than a few moments at any time. Letting people go from our thoughts, releasing them from any wish that we could harms them or that they will be harmed, brings us cleansing, sometimes exhilarating, freedom.

The Chinese text, I Ching teaches, ‘You cannot overcome the enemy until you’ve healed in yourself that which you find despicable in them.’

It is easy to complain that the dance is not to our liking, that the feast has turned sour, that the radiance has dimmed. We can rage against that, and beat against our fate with our tiny hands. We can shout that life is unfair; that we deserve better; that sufferings long stick should tap some other shoulder.

Or we can look around us.

Looking around us, we can see how others also suffer – and many need our help. We can see that the seasons of suffering are often and quite incredibly followed by seasons of insight, increased wisdom and even joy. We can see that sometimes the suffering is of our own making – and it is we who must most urgently and humbly make amends. We can see that help comes when we ask for it – but sometimes wearing strange disguises.

5/5/2013 – Surrender & Miracles

Excerpts from the book ‘Zero Limits’ by Joe Vitale & Ihaleakala Hew Len she liked.

…there are at least three stages to life, beginning with you as victim, then moving on to you as creator of your life, and ending – if you’re lucky – with you becoming servant to the Divine. In this last stage, astonishing miracles happen – almost without you trying.

… You’re awakening. At some point you begin to realise that when you surrender to a greater power, miracles tend to happen. You begin to let go, and trust. You begin to practice, moment by moment, awareness of your connection with the Divine. You learn to recognise inspiration when it comes to you, and you act on it. You realise you have choice but not control of your life. You realise the greatest thing you can do is agree to each moment. In this stage miracles happen, and they constantly astonish you as they do. You live, in general, in a constant state of amazement, wonder, and gratitude.

12/11/2013 – Indifference (to neutralise negative things)

* One of Karen’s big challenges in her journey was how to deal with difficult or ‘negative’ situations. She really liked some text from Maharishi’s Science of Being and Art of Living.

“INDIFFERENCE is the weapon to be used against any negative situation in life.

This is the art of behaviour. If someone has done us an injustice, we do not harbour it or think about it. Perhaps it was a mistake. If we permit it to affect our future actions toward them, we are not giving them the opportunity to improve in their relations with us, and we also suffer. Even if they do harbour ill-feelings toward us, we will benefit them and ourselves if we still behave toward them with love and tolerance.” This was what led to the following entry.

A good life example of using “INDIFFERENCE” that I remember was when I was in the hospital just after breaking my arm and there was an older gentleman, ‘John’, who lay in the bed opposite me. He was also next to a lady who had drug problems and was constantly asking (shouting at) the nurses for pain relief. He would sit in his chair and calmly read his book and if she spoke to him he would keep his eyes reading and absorbed in his book. Being friendly with indifference, he would politely answer her and then get back to what he was doing. This had an amazing effect on her reaction and energy. He was able to remain friendly and disinterested, and she was not further aggravated.

Dealing with Change – by Karen Channell *

* This was probably written before we were married/met

Many thoughts on what to do. A different inspiration everyday. This is not the time to act. Wait till your thoughts have settled down and you have the same action thought consistently over a period of time.

• During times of great change e.g. changing career, residence, relationship, you must give yourself time to rest and recharge your battery. If you don’t do this you may make a hasty decision or become ill.

• Sometimes confusion can encroach on other areas of your life when you are feeling unsatisfied in one area. Sometimes you are not exactly sure what change to make but just know you need one. This is also not the best time to act.

• Ensure you have other support networks full, to fall back on when you require it. E.g. family, friends, sporting activities, hobbies, relationship, career, etc, create a balance which helps when you are going to a change.


Karen always liked a laugh so I thought a lighter moment might be good to finish.

Sometimes due to some of the medication Kaz took, she would get constipated. One day, despite numerous natural remedies, she had not gone to the loo for a few days. We began watching a DVD that started showing and discussing Lord Ganesh – Ganesh or Ganapati is like a Vedic deity known as the ‘remover of obstacles’! The commentator said how Ganesh helps to ‘clear the passages’, which of course made me look to her and we laughed and laughed. The funniest thing was however, that literally a minute later, she was yelling at me to help her get to the bathroom as quickly as possible. Ganesh had worked a miracle.

Mark Bunn

Mark Bunn – is a leading natural health researcher specialising in Ayurvedic medicine, author of the three-time best-selling ‘Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health‘ and one of Australasia's most popular health and performance speakers.  Mark is also CEO of David Lynch Foundation Australia.