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A Guide to Living WELL with a

Chronic Condition


Please feel free to distribute this first chapter of HOPE BEYOND

ILLNESS To you friends and colleagues!

Copyright 2015 Shulamit Lando

All rights reserved. ISBN-10:

151910667X ISBN-13:


Praise for
HOPE BEYOND ILLNESS a guide for living WELL with a
Chronic Condition
This book is a must read for everyone suffering from a chronic illness, for
everyone in the helping professions, and for everyone who wants to live a
better life. Beautifully written, full of wisdom and practical advice, the book
will inspire and guide you.~ Clo Madanes, President, RobbinsMadanes Training
Once I started reading this book I could not put it down.
I felt this was the kind of book I was desperately looking for when I was
diagnosed with a chronic illness in 1999. Shulamit Lando's honesty,
authenticity and bravery make you feel as if you are not alone and here
simple but smart and powerful tips give you a brilliant toolkit to begin
designing the healing journey you feel you need in order to create the life
you want. ~ Shiri Ben-Arzi, Medical Coach, Co-Founder & CEO of
MCI The Medical Coaching Institute
I am fascinated with this book. It reinforces my hope far, far beyond
Illness! It is honest, touching, full of very important information,
enlightening! A must!!! ~ Tamara Melnick, Cancer survivor,
Psychologist, Family and Couple Therapist, Specialist in body mind
therapy and Supervisor. Lecturer and workshop facilitator, for
therapists in Mexico, Chile and Israel.
"Simplicity can only be found in the complexities. Shulamit has
compressed a vast amount experience, learning and possibilities in these
pages. She has given us the inspiration and permission to be one with
ourselves, be silent, and listen to our voice. This piece of writing is a
precious jewel in the sea of life. A Pearl of Wisdom." ~Tina O'Brien
Lightwork and Reiki Practitioner and MS travel companion


To all my patients and clients, alive and gone on forward, that through the
years have shared with me, taught me and inspired me in own journey of
healing. This work would have not been possible without your trust.
Thank you!

Like any other big endeavor, it takes a village this work took the village to
work after hours and take menial jobs that were sometimes not even part of
our agreement. There are not enough words to thank my editor and sweet
friend Wendy Dickstein, her patience and tolerance with my endless
changes and memory challenges, put her though a mining slavery labor that
brought meand all of usa most valuable polished jewel. To Shifrah
Devorah Witt, whose brilliance and lightness of heart helped me choose my
own intuition over the trend of what should be done in our marketing
current times. To Melanie Levit who read me quite at the beginning and her
insights set me on a fresh direction. To my teachers Clo Madanes and Shiri
ben Arzi, from whom I have learned so much, for their generosity in
reading me and stating their invaluable support in writing. Thanks to my
teachers and mentors like Tony Robbins, again Clo Madanes, Stephen
Levine, Bernie Siegel and so many others that I dont personally know but
whose writings and teachings transformed me and are expressed in this
To Zvi Lando, my sweet husband, who was able to stand me and support
me through the endless crisis of insecurity and overwhelm through this very
long process. To Dr. Luchi Weissmann, my mom, who taught me how to
overcome any and every adversity. To Tina OBrien, Sarah Klein and other
journey companions and those who, like me, travel the journey of chronic
illness, for their generosity in sharing your stories and your findings and for
staying right by me through this complex and arduous labor. Thanks to
Ophrah Listokin that in between yoga stretches kept encouraging me to
trust myself beyond my many doubts and title changes. To those who read
me, suggested different approaches and gave me insights; Claire Higgins,
Margarita Sobern, Judy Posner, Bonnie Simon, Tina Olivero, Leah Katan,
Aliza Levine and so many other friends, colleagues and healers that stood
by me through the ups and downs of writing a book in which I had to go
digging inside my kishkes and come out with something pleasant to offer
from such obscure dwelling in the gutters of oneself.


There have been so many from whom I have gotten help and
encouragement, I deeply apologize to those who my mind cant remember
to name at this moment; I deeply appreciate you all. And to all of you who
read me now and will read me in the future, I thank you and bless you on
your way to a healed life.



Table of Contents




Introduction: Crossroads


Chapter 1: A Needle in a Haystack


Tips: The Butterfly Hug


Chapter 2: And Get Yourself a Wheelchair


Tips: The Breath; Square Breath Technique


Chapter 3: A Snowflakey Illness


Tips: Reach Out, Relaxation Script


Chapter 4: The Brains Biting Little Monster


Tips: Attention and Attitude


Tips: The Triad, Create a Placebo Life


Chapter 5: Follow the Waking Dream


Tips: Spiritual Exercise


Chapter 6: The Day Before


Tips: TAP


Chapter 7: The Dream


Tips: Write! Start a Dream Journal


Chapter 8: Illness is Compost


Tips for the body



Tips for the Mind


Tips for the Spirit


Chapter 9: The Messenger in the Woods


Tips: Affirmations, The Letter


Chapter 10: When Pigs Fly


Tips: Muscle Testing; The Vision Board


Chapter 11: The Here and Now


Tips: Personalized Music Playlist, Incantations




About the Author




This is a recounting of my own healing process and my return to a
meaningful and rewarding life.
My story begins with receiving an apocalyptic diagnosis of a severe case
of Multiple Sclerosis and continues through the journey as I transformed
the situation of illness to serving others and thereby becoming a vehicle for
others to heal.
I am writing this book because there are so many of us with diseases
that fall anywhere along the spectrum from limiting, to debilitating, to
downright crippling, who might benefit from what I have found on my
own journey from illness to wellness. I am convinced that for me, MS or
not, it was the journey itself that has been transformational, by giving
meaning and direction to my life.
In those terrible early days, when I was in the throes of an acute attack,
almost paralyzed up to my earlobes, slow in every way, very weak, my brain
and body not connecting, I really had no way of knowing if the symptoms
were ever going to go away. Maybe Id never get out of it, maybe Id always
drag my arm or walk with a limp, or maybesince with the illness affecting
my speech I sounded as if Id just drunk a whole bottle of tequilaId
never sound normal again. All these things could have happened. Every
time I had an attack, there was no reassurance that I was going to recover.
As I write, many images and voices come into my mind and want to
stop me in my tracks. Who am I to share my small story? What are they
going to say? But, who are they? They are all those who suffer and have
suffered more than I have and who make a huge transformation in the
world. How do I dare set myself up as someone who can teach others
about illness and transformation? I dont suggest that I can offer a miracle
cure. A miracle is something that is completely individually defined. One
person may consider an event to be a miracle, whereas someone else might
see exactly the same thing as sheer luck or as a total fluke.
Maybe I was just lucky. Maybe my Multiple Sclerosis (MS) was so
benign that there wasnt really anything to worry about in the first place.
True but then, maybe can go both ways. About 50 percent of people
with MS eventually enter a progressive stage. I never did. And for that, I
want to knock on wood.
But maybe, and its a big MAYBE, if I had not done all the things I
didthe mind-shifts and the lifestyle changes that I worked on with so
much dedicationmaybe it would have turned out much worse.
Was I blessed with a milder form of MS? I surely didnt know that then


and the nightmare lasted for 15 years. Perhaps, had I not done everything I
did, I might have become so depressed that my immune system would have
shifted my so-called benign situation into a disastrous one. Dis-ease, as
the word implies, is a lack of ease in body, emotions, and mind. If the mind
and the emotions can heal, then the body can also be cured from ailment.
Dr. Jeff Kane, one of my main mentors through the beginning of this
process, makes a novel distinction between diseasethat which is physical,
objective and measurableand illness: the subjective experience, that which is
unmeasurable and mainly the one we are left alone with, keeping us awake
at night. The experience of illness is the one we face when diagnosed with
chronic illness and what we really need the courage to learn to live with.
I have found that often, when people who are not believers or spiritual
or even the slightest bit religious experience disease, they start counting
their blessings, noticing events and seeing them as signs. They begin to
perceive the good things that happen, things that they may have taken for
granted in the past, as special events. That kind of changed consciousness is
itself miraculous to me.
Later, after I was able to recover and to create a new life for myself,
some of the neurologists I had consulted for my sickness, started to send
their desperate patients to me to see how I could help. Sure enough, when a
person suffers from a chronic or a life-threatening illness, the whole family
suffers. So part of the help I have been able to offer clients is to support
their families and caregivers.
This is a memoir, where I recount what I went through and how I felt
with and through it all until there was no more. After every chapter, I give
tips for you to help yourself. All the tips I share are effective and proven
approaches for dealing with overwhelming feelings which allow calm and
healing to come into your life. These tips imply making an effort, but they
do work. Of course, according to the effort is the reward.
Its absurd to think you can or would do all of the things suggested in
this book at the same time. Use your intuition to feel your way through it.
Sense what feels right for you and what doesnt. And specifically, whats the
next baby step in your development toward building an attitude of
gratitude, courage, strengthening your skills as you go along towards your
But I suggest you do start with learning to relax and meditate because
those are the central pieces from where to expand from, outwards.
So if you or a loved one are suffering from any kind of dis-ease,
practicing the tools I share both in my book and in my practice of
TheraCoachinga blend of Medical Coaching, Life Coaching and
Psychotherapywill enable you to turn your life around. Go for it with all
your might, and you will see results. Your life will be transformed.



You are now at a crossroads. This is your opportunity to make the most important
decision you will ever make. Forget your past. Who are you now? Who have you decided
you really are now? Dont think about who you have been. Who are you now? Who have
you decided to become? Make this decision consciously. Make it carefully. Make it
powerfully. ~Anthony Robbins
One develops great courage from traveling the journey of illness. At the
beginning it is like a strange, formless, indefinite entity that is born at the
moment of the diagnosis, an undesired creature indeed. But it was born and
now it is right here with you, as you watch it stubbornly develop, nurtured
by every step you take toward your capacity to accept things as they are,
your ability to deal with your reality better and, ultimately, to your healing.
Every step of the way, from the simplest fear of tests and treatments to the
overwhelming dread of facing and dealing with the endless what ifs,
makes the creature develop into a specific shape until you can recognize it
as what it really is: a power that was not there before. One needs huge
amounts of courage to face the fears that illness brings to our startled
mindsfear of loss, of disability, of suffering, of uncertainty, of what will
be and what will never be again, of depending on others, and of so much
more, and ultimately, of course, the fear of our own mortality.
Courage is grace under pressure, Hemingway told us. When we feel we are
about to drown in a life-threatening storm, the human spirit is capable of
extraordinary achievements. The human spirit is undefeatable, no matter
the adversity. No matter what challenge is presented to it, sooner or later it
will take up that challenge with a burst of hope and find a way out, a way
through, a reminder of the courage in you and of the undeniable way that
you have already been able to overcome many hurdles in your past.
The human spirit is invincible; it is that part of you that endlessly seeks
healing and doesnt give up, that always needs to find a way out and to keep
going until you heal. And you will know that you have arrived at your
healing when you experience serenity in the presence of your disease.
I had the choice to continue being who I had been till that moment,
with the same skills to face a life of illness, or I could choose to flow with
what I was supposed to become. I chose the second path, and indeed I
became a new self.
I was always an artist at heart; a bit of a dancer, singer, song-writer and
actress. One day I found my spiritual path and the next day Multiple
Sclerosis (MS), an incurable illness, found me and brought me to a halt. MS
became my lifes greatest lesson: How was I going to find this thing to be


a gift from God, the Universe, the cosmic soup, or from some higher
sphere? What was my newly found spirituality and awareness supposed to
teach me now?
From one day to the next I was numb from my toes to my earlobes and
almost paralyzed. I was no longer able to dance, speak fluently, sing, or play
an instrument. My doctor told me:
Go home and get your business in order and order yourself a
But in truth, my life was just beginning, blessed by this alleged end of
my life as I had known it. Finding out what this curve ball had to teach me
now became my lifes main task.
I started by observing the meanings that I was giving to my illness: was
it a tragedy? Was it really the end of my life? Was it a test? And how were
those meanings affecting me? All this took a tremendous amount of my
time and energy. I was at a crossroads and there were decisions to be made.
I remember the day, more than 30 years ago, when I decided at the
deepest level what my attitude, in face of this thing, was going to be and
who I wanted to become, no matter what the circumstances might bring. I
learned how important it was to accept reality just as it is, to find the
balance between surrendering to what is, the inevitable that life brings to
you, and learning the lessons from that. And, above all, I learned about not
giving up.
I also discovered the powerful inner guidance and wisdom that comes to
us as a gift in the form of our nighttime dreams. I was able to make crucial
decisions for my healing based on actual dreams. Indeed, some of my
deepest insights and awakenings in life have come through the Dream State.
Gradually, over time, I came to realize that taken together all these
aspects: having a positive attitude, accepting what is and listening to the
wisdom within ourselves, constitutes a big chunk of what is meant by a
spiritual life.
Eager to find what could help me, I began to study the body-mind
connection. In the years that followed, I trained in many different
therapeutic and healing approaches. I learned, and eventually began to
teach, about the body-mind connection, and I established support groups
for people with different chronic and life-threatening illnesses.
Among the many lessons that the MS taught me was the power of
humor. I discovered that laughtera well-known factor in healingwas
indeed the greatest healer. As a Yiddish Proverb says, What soap is to the
body, laughter is to the soul.
In a similar vein, I developed my personal philosophy, taking into
account the expression, shit happens. I learned about its accuracy and
depth. Shit happens because it does! But not all shit is bad. Have you
ever passed a fertilized field right before spring? Of course, it stinks,


because shit is compost. But it also makes things blossom and grow.
I am still in awe of what the stinky fertilizer of illness made possible for
me. I was transformed. I changed from a wannabe actress and singer to a
co-worker of the Higher Power. I discovered that everything that has
already happened and is now happening to me is for a reason. I know now
that life is working for me and through me.
Thanks to all my suffering and fear, I became a vehicle for something
bigger than myselfI call it the Spirit of Life or Divine Spirit and
sometimes only Spiritthat makes it possible for me to help others. Even
though at the beginning I was overwhelmed by the drama of it all,
eventually I was able to see the experience in a wider perspective and learn
how to use it for physical, emotional and spiritual growth for myself and
This is how 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 ultimate essence and
purpose, our drives, needs and emotions; and essentially, understanding
how crucial it is not to give up. We must do everything we can, give it 100%
of our effort, and then surrender the outcome to the Spirit of Life. I came
to realize that we are given challenges in order to teach us to trust that
doing the best you can is always good enough.
I am not going to offer you an ordered program or plan of numbered
steps and strategies to heal yourself. But I would like to offer you an array
of possibilities, many of which I used for my own recovery, some which I
learned later and which have proved useful to many people I have been
honored to work with and assist.
After each chapter where I will share pieces of my own journey, I will
share some tips to help you start shifting physically, emotionally, mentally
and spiritually. That is the road I took and the one I invite you to take with
this book.
By using the tools Ive learned in my own journey towards recovery and
growth, Ive been able to inspire, assist, guide and cheer others to achieve
transformation in their lives.
Things shift when we can understand why we do certain things that
dont work for us, and why we dont do those things that can fulfill our real
needs and make us happy. Learning this truth enables us to feel calm,
content and more capable of dealing with whatever we have to face.
I hope that this book will inspire you with pearls of wisdom, seeds for
contemplation and practical tools to help you walk your lifes journey with
beauty and courage.
May the Blessings Be!*
(*This is an ancient blessing that assures us that everything that happens
is a gift and is ultimately for our good on the deepest level.)



Pearl of Wisdom: Doing the best you can is always good



They turned me inside out. I filled a bunch of tubes with blood for blood
tests, did all kinds of X-rays, the works! They literally tied me to a table and
a very long needle went into my spine. They wanted to inject a contrast
fluid while they photographed it flowing up and down my spine to find the
tumor at the base of the brain. If it flowed freely, it meant there was no
tumor. When the liquid entered my body I freaked, I yelled: hot burning
liquid was being spilled down the inside of my legs. Relaxthe
doctor/god said brushing my fear off its nothing, it will pass. There
was no compassion for a panicked girl. Then they had the table move up to
a standing position, down toward my head, so that I was facing the floor.
They moved me around like a dollbeing careful that the substance didnt
go into the brain because that would cause bad migraines. The frustrated
doctor didnt find what he was expecting. Nothing!
Because they found no tumor, either in the brain or anywhere else and
nothing alien along the spinal cord, they had to start a new search to find a
reason for this crisis. So another appointment was made at the same
hospital for the next week. Now they wanted to determine what part of the
brain was not functioning. They explained the test to me. They were going
to insert a needle into every muscle with the hope of determining which
part of the brain wasnt functioning right. Like acupuncture! I thought,
Easy, I knew acupuncture, I had experienced it many times, and I had a lot
of pleasant memories attached to the treatment at a doctor friends lovely
office in the lushness of Tepoztln. I can easily and even pleasantly deal
with that, I thought with some relief!
My friend S took me and waited for me outside with my mom. The
doctor who was going to perform the test (a very nice guy, I found) actually
said to me that he very much disliked working with patients and having to
cause them pain. He preferred research, he said. He explained that he had
to insert a needle into every muscle, that the needle was connected to a
computer that would measure the electrical connection between the
particular muscle and the brain and draw a map of the brains function. I
understood that part. Then the test started Torture! It was not the hair
thin needle of acupuncture, it was a needle the width of a toothpick, pushed
deeply into the core of each muscle. He would then ask me to move the


part of the body he was testing, move it this way and that way, squeeze,
tense, relax it and then he would continue with the next muscle. It was a
nightmare! He started with my right arm. When he got to the hand I was in
tears, in panic! He caressed my cheek apologizing. Do you know how many
muscles our hand has? 34 muscles which move the fingers and thumb: 17 in
the palm of the hand, and 18 in the forearm. That meant 34 needles in my
little hand.
My mother often used to measure her pianist hand against mine and say,
Such little hands you have! Little, yes, yet it includes all those chances to
be poked! Only testing my right arm and hand took two hours. He released
me after that, probably out of sheer pity. He had not found any dysfunction
so far. I only remember leaving his office barely making it emotionally and
completely collapsing into my friends arms, sobbing for a long time. Even
now, as I am writing and my body remembers, tears come to my eyes again.
Needless to say, I have hated needles ever since, although I still would have
to go through so many more treatments that included needles. I did not
come back to finish the test, it was like Nazi torture that I was not willing to
endure. Five years had to go by before another neurologist finally came up
with the diagnosis.
Rio Abierto: very early symptoms
As usual, it had been a good class. I loved this movement class at the
institute, where a lovely woman led us through free-flowing movement a
couple of days a week. The class usually made me feel exactly that, free and
flowing. I loved going to Rio Abierto, Open River. It made my heart and
body sing. I was healthy and whole then.
A friend picked me up and as soon as I got into the car, she asked me a
simple question: where should we go for lunch? My mind was clear, and I
knew exactly what I wanted to say. But I just couldnt articulate anything.
What came out of my mouth was gibberish. She asked again and I tried
harder to give an answer, but my brain would just not comply. She must
have seen the panic in my eyes, because, without even parking, she got out
of the car, leaving it almost in the middle of the busy avenue, and led me
back into the studio. The teacher, Alicia, took me into one of the cubicles
and started doing her magic, her craft: smoke and fire, aromas of deep
incense and needles. She did acupuncture at the ends of my fingers and
between my toes and then lit a fat cigar-looking stick of a smelly substance
made of herbs. Moxa, she called it. She brought the glowing smoky stick to
the edge of my fingernails. The heat of this aromatic stick brought me back
to sanity and I was able to talk sense again.
That was a very scary moment. It was one of the scares that my body
gave me, long before it became a whole syndrome. It was just a strange
thing that happened one day, totally disconnected from anything else, in the


middle of my perfectly normal lifeor so I thought!

The panic I felt, thinking I was losing my mind or having a stroke, was
sheer anguish. If only Id had then the survival tools I have now
Fear and panic from what is happening must be the greatest thing we have
to deal with and overcome in life in general, and especially when faced with
For moments of deep fear let me share this extremely effective and
useful tool for building resilience.
The Butterfly Hug
This technique is an amazing tool to help you let go of heavy emotions or
prevent being overwhelmed by stress, grief, shock or trauma. It is part of
the EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) process and
it has been successfully utilized by practitioners especially to help children
sooth their disturbing emotions in the aftermath of trauma by war and
natural disaster.
How it is done:
Cross your arms over your chest and tap on each shoulder (or arm)
alternating in a rhythmic way. This is called bi-lateral stimulation. By
rhythmically alternating the tapping on both sides of the body you help the
brain process the disturbing memories (and the overwhelming emotions
that those memories evoke) so that the information can be stored in a
better, more functional and calmer way.
a) Cross your arms across your chest as if you were giving yourself a hug.
Each one of your hands lands on the opposite shoulder or arm.
b) Notice your upsetting emotion, whatever it may be (sadness, fear, anger)
and score it from 0-neutral to 10-extreme distress, in order to be able to
track it and watch it shift.
c) Start tapping alternately on each side (each shoulder or arm) for about 20
seconds while focusing on the negative feelings, the image, or the negative
thoughts that come up and you want to release. After about 20 seconds or
taps, stop and take a deep breath.
Ask yourself again, on a scale from 0 to 10, where are you now? You
will find that the level of intensity may go up at first, and then it will
gradually start to go down. Keep doing this until you feel the level of
intensity drop to a significantly lower level. Depending on the emotions you
are dealing with and the reason you are experiencing them, you may even
notice that the emotion completely disappears.



This is a very simple way to process and soothe difficult emotions. You
could use it as a family or group activity/process, sharing it with children or
family members who are going through some traumatic or painful event.
You will gather double benefits by both:
1. soothing the difficult emotions as a family or group
2. and just sharing this bonding activity.
There is a slightly different way to do the butterfly hug. Facing the
palms of your hands toward you, slide one hand across the other until they
are hooked at the thumbs. When you move your fingers it is like the
flapping of a butterflys wings. Now place the butterfly at the center and over
your chest. By alternating the flapping of the butterfly wings you will be
tapping on the acupuncture points located right under your collar bone.
Those points are directly related to grief, anxiety, depression and trauma.
Notice how different you feel at the end of a few sets of this alternating
tapping (20-30 repetitions per set). Repeat it as often as you feel the need.
Remember to breathe with a long and smooth rhythm.

Pearl of Wisdom: Every decision I make is a choice

between a grievance and a miracle. I relinquish all regrets, grievances and
resentments, and choose the miracle. ~ Deepak Chopra

If you liked this book so far, please purchase the electronic version
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Shulamit Lando is an accomplished Body Mind Psychotherapist,

Bereavement Councilor, Trauma specialist and a Medical Coach. She has
been counseling those with chronic and terminal illness for more than 30
years. She has led many support groups for people living with chronic and
life threatening illnesses like Cancer, MS and HIV-AIDS in Mexico and in
Israel. Besides her private practice she currently volunteers at The Yuri
Shtern Holistic Center for Cancer Patients in Jerusalem. She is also the
author of an autobiographical novel in Spanish, amor arroba desierto. Born
and raised in Mexico, Shulamit now lives in Jerusalem, Israel, with her
husband Zvi and their cat Tisha.
You can contact her at: