32 years after the original diagnosis, (and the traumatic aftermath of both, the actual diagnosis and the symptoms of the devastating illness) I have no symptoms whatsoever and I am totally functional. Since then I wanted to learn how to help others with challenging situations.
I became passionate about helping people in distress, those who felt lost and “paralyzed” in their lives. I help them learn how to overcome any challenge through understanding our essence and purpose, our drives, needs and emotions; and essentially, not giving up! Together we learn to trust that doing the best you can is always good enough.
By using the different tools that I have learned in my own journey towards recovery and growth, I am able to inspire, assist, guide and cheer people to achieve whatever they want in their lives.
Read testimonials here.
Now, Shulamit Lando has written a new book: Hope Beyond Illness: A Guide To Living Well With A Chronic Condition:
HOPE BEYOND ILLNESS -- A Guide to Living WELL with a Chronic Condition, is a gripping memoir. Shulamit Lando recounts her experience with Multiple Sclerosis, MS, a serious, debilitating, and allegedly incurable disease. She describes how she refused to let conventional medicine dictate its depressing message to her and how she used her body and her mind as a healing laboratory to combat the illness. After every chapter, valuable tips give you the most effective tools from different therapeutic approaches.Before you read the first chapter of her book, embedded below, here is the interview I was fortunate to have with Shulamit Lando via email. Here are my questions and her responses:
Through her guidance and experience you learn many ways to deal with overwhelming feelings and be able to allow calm and healing into your life.
This guide will:
- Empower you with hope
- Find the steps that are best suited to your recovery
- Give you the support you need to make your journey to wellness
- Present "Pearls of Wisdom" to help you heal
- Give you tools to affect mind, body and spirit
- Help you achieve a creative, functional, meaningful life, despite chronic illness.
You write that you learned about "the mind-body connection" because of MS. What were your interests and goals before your bout with MS?
I was a theatre actress, I was in a play actually, in a national theatre company in Mexico City, when the first symptoms started and was not able to continue.
You write that at heart you are an artist. What kind of artistic qualities do you have that have helped your development as a therapist?
I love this question. Before this whole journey with the MS started I was an actress, a dancer, a singer/song writer. Somehow the integration of what these activities require—the discipline, the coordination, the memorization, it is all about the brain's plasticity. Today I am much more than a "therapist" as such; I became a very creative integrative healer, coach, medical coach and therapist. I used to write songs and now, after so many years, I became an author too. So my songwriting is part of what now also helped me become an author. I call myself a TheraCoach. All those artistic qualities have been essential in the whole development of who I became.
You note that humor is a great healer -- in what way, and why do you think that is?
Humor is a great healer indeed. As the saying goes: “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” Even in the Old Testament we're told: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”
Physiologically speaking we know that laughter reduces pain, because when we laugh our bodies produce endorphins which is a pain-killing hormone. It also strengthens immune function because of the production of T-cells, interferon and immune proteins that are secreted in the body when we have a good belly laugh. Laughing decreases stress because it significantly lowers the cortisol (stress hormone) after which the body is able to relax easier.
But mainly, I say it because humor impacts our attitude so much! This in turn affects our intellectual and emotional functioning. Isn’t it true that when we laugh we are able to put our life’s problems and suffering into a healthy perspective? It somehow makes you feel that your problems are smaller and therefore, more manageable.
Also, when we laugh we are better able to overcome fear. This to me is a huge one! Besides laughing triggers our creativity.
There is a lot of research that supports laughter therapy, that is one of the reasons why hospitals accept clowns to visit and play around with patients, and why Medical Clowning has become such an accepted and growing health profession.
You use a variety of different strategies with the people you help -- what do you do to keep proficient and knowledgeable in all of them?
I study all the time. I learn, I constantly am taking some courses. Thanks to the Internet I have kept up with the most advanced research and therapeutic modalities and healing options. As I mentioned before, part of my strict discipline as an artist in the past became more of a way of being, a pastime of always being interested in something new. If it isn’t because I have symptoms then someone else does. Besides I am all about growth and I am always hungry for more and new things that inspire and stimulate my mind's health process.
What have you found most helpful for yourself in coping with MS?
This is a huge question! I wrote a whole book just to be able to answer it! But if I have to shrink it all, I would say that since the process is inside out, since it implies an integration of body/mind/emotions/spirit, then doing whatever works for you to keep all these elements nurtured and aligned would be the answer. I can tell you that I meditate daily and that is a given, a must. I try to have a healthy diet as much as I can, I exercise some (slow pleasurable exercise) a few times a week. It is more a matter of quality rather than quantity. There is really no one answer and certainly not one that fits all especially with such an individual and capricious illness as MS. That is precisely what I do in my professional work, I help the person discover what would work for him or her in each area and help them create a program or a formula to apply in a way that they can find and keep a balance between it all.
You write, "My highest joy is to help people get out of their own way!" In what way do people get in their own way?
Oh, sadly, in so many ways! We judge ourselves, we dismiss ourselves, we put ourselves down… all those things have a huge effect in our minds, emotions and body all the way down to the cellular level. Every time I say "this is horrible" or "I will never get out of this" the mind hears it as a hypnotic suggestion, an order really, and acts accordingly—keeping things just as they are. We have to become aware and change our self-talk in order to change our life around.
An important and huge way we get in our way is when we double guess ourselves. Through regularly doing this, our intuition's voice is quieted down. So if my intuition is telling me how to deal today with this particular situation and I double guess it and doubt it all the time, there is no access to our own inner doctor and we become 100% dependent on someone else's opinion or theory. And sadly, the others don’t know much about our own particular way to heal.
Do you have a particular program that you use for all, or is each case different?
Just like the uniqueness of the illness, each of us is unique in their healing. But we all have the ability to contact that "inner doctor" (to call it somehow). What I do with people, is that by basing myself on my own life's experience and my own inner journey and backed up and supported by the many techniques that I have studied, along with the client, we make a tailored-made suit. I am able to perceive in each moment and each session what is what your inner wisdom is asking from me and with what tool your body wants it. That's what I apply with each one.
Is there an average number of therapy sessions that people require?
There is no "average" in illness, just as no "average" in people either. We are all individual in our needs and in this case too. But I must say, what I do is not an endless battery of sessions like the old school psychotherapies. What I offer is effective, and how long and how many sessions depends not only on me or on the tools we use but also —and probably even mainly— on the commitment and drive of the person's will to turn their life around. I put my whole mind, soul and intention on it and it took me some time but I went from living my whole life around my symptoms to literally forgetting I have anything going on in my brain.
Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share?
I would love for people to read the book. I know it will be hugely beneficial to anyone that is dealing with any physical discomfort and is open to new perspectives. I would also love people to read it because it is my memoire, my legacy. I know I came to this life in order for me to go through this experience with illness, to let it transform me, and tell the tale for others to use and get inspired. I deeply believe that it is that transformation what really healed me. What I learned about life, about spirit, about who we really are in this life… all that is what I knew I had to share with people. In this book I spilled my guts out. It is very original since most of the story happened when I was living in Mexico and I had access to very unique an even strange therapies and I went for it all… it is also entertaining so hopefully it's a good read. But most of all, I share so much for people to try, to experiment on their own, so much to learn online for themselves, easy concrete steps, so many easy creative tips in that guide that I hope it gets to every pair of eyes and heart that may benefit from it. That is my highest wish.
The first chapter of Lando's book is now available for free.
Take a look at it for yourself and see what you think.
Thank you, Ariella Brown, of Write Way Productions, for her help in assembling the questions for the interview.
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