Anshu Bahanda: This is Anshu Bahanda on Wellness Curated. Thanks for joining me on this podcast. My mission is to empower you with health and wellness so that you can then go and empower others.
Today, we’re going to talk about a very new concept. It’s called ‘You are the medicine’ with Emma Cannon. Now, Emma is a master acupuncturist, a fertility expert and she’s working on this concept of combining science, mind, body, and spirit. Tell us all about the healing work that you do.
Emma Cannon: I mean, it’s so difficult to describe what you do after years and years of doing it because it’s been an evolution. So, just to give you some idea, someone asked me this question the other day. They said, could you tell me about the path you followed? Because I’m interested. And I was, like, really shocked. I was like, path. Which path? I laid every pebble myself. I guess it all started back in the 90s. It’s quite a funny story because I’d been approached to be a Madonna look-alike, of all things. And I went down to the agency and they gave me a sort of rundown of the job, which involved going down to the Trocadero Center— if you’re old enough to know what that is or was, and running off a video of myself singing ‘Like a Virgin.’ I sort of went away thinking, what, no choreographers? Nothing like that. Anyway, needless to say, I turned the job down and I got on a plane and flew to San Francisco. And there I was, really lucky to sit amongst some amazing healers, Ram Dass being one of them. I was in my 20s… mid-20s, so I was exposed to these really deep teachings if I’m only honest. A lot of it at the time went over my head, but it touched my heart. I knew that he was supposed to be a great speaker, but I would never have known in the 90s what he would have become. He was already a very interesting person, a character that has always been in my heart, those teachings. And I came back from San Francisco and I decided not to be a Madonna. It looked like I was going to study some sort of energy medicine. So one of the first things I did was acupuncture and I did aromatherapy and things like that. And it was the 90s, so it was all very new. Of course, it goes back centuries, but it wasn’t that mainstream then. My work is a culmination of many things. I’ve always worked with science and medicine, so I’m very influenced by medicine. I’m fascinated by neuroscience. But the core of my work today is helping people make a strategic plan for their health. I still use the principles of Chinese medicine to this day, I still give acupuncture, but I also trained with Dr. Gabor Maté on compassionate inquiry, so I use that. I’m a very strategic thinker, so I make plans for people, but I also work with energy.
AB: Explain the concept behind your new paradigm medicine.
EC: I think for many years, sitting in with people, listening to their stories, and working with medics who I greatly admire, I came to the conclusion, and many of you will be on the same page, I’m sure— that we are more than just our blood results and our scans. We are souls, we are emotions, we are feelings, and we are many layered creatures. And I believe we have a soul, and I believe we have a sole purpose as well. So if we are only ever addressing ourselves with what’s wrong with you or what’s wrong with us, and looking at scans and looking at blood results, we’ll only ever be treated so far. But I believe that going forward, we need more compassionate medicine. We need a medicine that listens to the patient’s experience and that perhaps the patient’s experience is at the heart of it. So in new paradigm medicine, we take into consideration all those interesting questions… Like not necessarily what’s wrong with you, but what happened to you? Tell me about your mother, tell me about your family dynamic. Tell me about your dynamic now. All of those things which I learned from the fertility journey of women, where sometimes they don’t even ask the fundamental questions about sex or the menstrual cycle, or sometimes they’d even ask if you’re having sex or what is the quality of their sex life or what is the quality of your relationship or what are the stresses in your life. So it’s really about looking at all of those aspects as well. But most of all, it’s about listening and taking your eyes off the screen and not just looking at the scans and the blood. Also taking a good history, an old-fashioned doctor used to have a very good history, and I still work with medics like that. They’re the ones I greatly admire. If you’re sitting in consultation with a fertility doctor and he’s recommending IVF to you and he hasn’t even acknowledged that you’ve had seven miscarriages, there’s a part of your brain that’s going, but something is missing here. He’s talking about IVF. I don’t have any problem getting pregnant. And of course, a patient, client, or whatever you want to call is thinking, this doesn’t make any sense. It’s like the elephant in the room because they’re on one trajectory and that’s like, it’s IVF time now. Doesn’t matter about the history. So I kind of observed all of these things over many years and just realized what’s missing, I guess, and wanted to fill that gap.
AB: From what I can understand, you’re combining science, medicine, and the mind and the body and the spirit. You’re kind of trying to get it under one umbrella. While I completely believe in what you’re saying that you need to treat everything, you can’t just treat the effect. You have to treat the whole cause, which is the person and the soul and the consciousness as well.
EC: Yeah, and I know what the question is anyway, so it can be overwhelming for people, and of course it can. And I think that’s what has happened with the wellness industry. And I don’t berate the wellness industry, but I think there’s a shadow side to that, that there is a ‘if I do all of these things, if I do this and that, then I will get what I want’. And it isn’t really about that at all. And I had so many people sit in front of me and say, well, I’ve done the diet, I’ve done acupuncture, I’ve done reiki, and it hasn’t worked. Really, it’s about the appropriateness of what medicine we use; it definitely isn’t about throwing all of the medicine at one go. And often we have to use different medicines at different times to see what’s working. And to be honest, this is a highly refined skill. It isn’t something that necessarily everyone is able to do on their own. For example, if I had to do a survey on houses, I would have no idea where to start. Absolutely no idea. So this is a really refined skill, something that I’m still evolving into as well. But I think the invitation is if we want medicine to support who we are as human beings now, this is the direction that I feel that medicine should go in. How do we set about that in practical terms? I think it really is going to be very different depending on who you’re talking to. If you need acute medicine, of course you need medicine. A bit of turmeric in your tea is not going to solve that problem. And so it is going to be very different for each person. And that’s what I do. I will take the case and I’ll look into where I feel we need to direct it. But there is a certain point at which it isn’t also about relying on the practitioner. My job is to get people to a point where they are the medicine— which we’ll come to in a minute— and that they realize you have so much power inside of you.
Often we get more clarity when we deal with odd trauma. So when we look at things like our perfectionism and we bring healing to that, it often can really change our life. Because actually, the way we experience other people and the way we experience what happens to us in life totally shifts. My aim is not to make people rely on me. My aim is to help people access the medicine inside themselves. And it will be a different journey for everyone.
AB: Fabulous. Will you explain what happens when a client comes to you? What is the process you go through with them?
EC: Well, first of all, I’m seeing most initial consultations on Zoom because I shielded myself for a year and a half, and I never, ever thought it possible to work with people via Zoom. For me, as an acupuncturist, I was like, no, that is not possible. I’ve had the opposite experience. I’ve had the experience of connecting much more deeply with people. There’s something about being face to face and having to hold that energy. I mean, I used to see 24 people a day some days for acupuncture.
Now I’m like, no way. The work I’m doing is so much deeper. It’s not the same at all. So now when I see people, I will usually see them for the initial consultation on Zoom, and then we will make a plan for that. Some people want to see me because they want a fertility plan. So they want a kind of strategy and a kind of integrated way forward. Some people, when they come and see me, they think they need IVF, and I think that they don’t. And some people think that they don’t need IVF, and they do. It will be about ascertaining that. So the first thing I do is set an intention— which is very, very important. What is your intention for this session? And then when we’ve clarified that, we kind of move forward with the plan. So I always take a very, very good case history. That’s important. And I listen, and I listen not only with my ears, but I listen with my heart. And I listen to what they’re not saying to me, because often it’s what they’re not saying is where the conflicts are. And sometimes I ask annoying questions like, is there any reason why you don’t want a baby? And sometimes you get a lot more like— ‘because I’m worried about what it will do to the relationship. After all, I’m worried about what it will do to my body.’ So those sorts of things are quite interesting as well. Tell me about your mother. It’s so interesting to me that in the medical profession, the mother gets completely left out of this story. And whether someone’s trying for a baby or not, I think that asking about the mother or the father is very interesting. I tend to get an instinct, whether it is a mother or father thing. My approach is a mixture of intuition and clinical experience. I will take a really good case history and then I might ask them about something recent that has triggered them; if it’s somebody of their own. I wouldn’t do that with a couple. It wouldn’t be appropriate to do that deep work with two people sitting there. So if it’s somebody on their own, and I can see that there’s something that’s happened recently, it will be that something which led them to make the phone call, to make the appointment in the first place. I had a string of people who said they were pregnant… Or it could be anything; it’s not only fertility patients [that] I see. But let’s just use that as an example. I had a string of people who have just found out they’re pregnant, and I’ll say, okay, tell me which one gives you the biggest emotional response. And then what we do is a process that I learned through Gabor, which is feeling into the sensation in the body, retracing that. What is the sensation? To encourage them to stay with the feeling, to begin with. Because very often we bypass the feeling in the body. We go straight into the mind, and we immediately make it mean something, or we’ll react from an old wound or something. So we feel into the body, what do we feel? What is emotion? And when did you feel that before? And then we go back to a memory. Often this is really about retracing the neural pathway. So this is where the kind of Joe Dispenza— the more neuroscience [bit], comes in. So the feeling in the body has opened this neural pathway, and we’re retracing it to its origins. And so then what I do is I get them to explain what happened. Anyone who’s read anything or followed Gabor knows that his description of trauma isn’t necessarily about what happens in the body, it’s about what fails to happen around a shock or a trauma. So actually, if you have a shock and it’s relatively well dealt with, you can get over it, but you can have a relatively minor trauma, and it can stay in the body for years and years and years because it wasn’t dealt with properly. And in this process, what we do is we put new data in. And I won’t go on too much because it will take up too much time, but I often do that process in a session so that they can get a sense of the changes of the feeling in their body. It’s incredibly simple but powerful work. It can feel like nothing is happening, but everything is happening. It can be a game changer.
AB: So a bit like NLP?
EC: Yes, I think it is. And you know what a lot of these things are so similar. There are so many overlaps. And what I do is I draw on my 27 years as a fertility specialist, and they’ll bring that in.
AB: Yeah I totally agree with you. So you said you set an intent when someone comes to you, then you listen to their story, then you do the work, and then you might do work that focuses on the body and the mind.
EC: And then what I do is I often make a plan if it’s an initial consultation, because people want to go away with a tangible plan. So I’ll say, listen, I think you need to see the gynecologist first. We need to check out what that pain is about. Once we get a diagnosis from that, come back and we’ll do a half an hour review and we’ll decide what to do from here. I haven’t rushed into IVF yet. We can look at that depending on age. I’m not one of these people that withhold treatment from people. But I might say, listen, why don’t we try two months of acupuncture first? I think that your cycle needs to be a little more regulated. Or we could look at diet. It depends.
AB: Absolutely. So then you make a recommendation, medical or non-medical, whatever you feel needs to be the next steps.
EC: Sometimes they never come back to me because they don’t need to, and sometimes they do come back to me. So I’m like, keep everything flowing. Get them to where they need to go.
AB: I’ve seen a lot of testimonials about the fertility work that you do and how fulfilling must that be for you. So, tell me a little bit about the acupuncture work that you do.
EC: I still do a little bit of acupuncture. I have two associates that work with me. One in W1 and one in Sloane Square, so I do little bits of it still. But I did a lot, like for 26 years I did 70 sessions a week or something like that. I could put needles in people with my eyes shut. And then I got a double vision. So then it became more challenging for me. But actually, it isn’t a problem because, in China, they often train blind people to give acupuncture…
EC: … Because their senses are more heightened. And I’ve found that since I’ve had the double vision, it’s like my intuition has gone crazy. And really, acupuncture is about moving and manipulating energy. And do we still need to stick needles in people to do that? Maybe in the new paradigm less so; maybe we can do it more with our intention and our mind. But something is fascinating about acupuncture, which I still think is why I still use it. It is like a controlled injury to the body. So you’re putting a needle into the body and you’re eliciting a response from the body. Some changes happen and they’re measurable changes. They’re changes that happen in the brain. Some changes happen in the blood flow. We can measure them. No question that it happened. And that for me, is fascinating because I think we sort of become a little bit deadened and a bit numb. So I think that there are certain instances where acupuncture really can make a big difference.
AB: Emma, the thing that I know a lot of people want to hear about and that I’m very excited to talk to you about, because you can help so many people with that— and that’s your journey with cancer. You’re going through cancer yourself, so talk to us a little bit about that.
EC: Yes. I was first diagnosed in 2005 with breast cancer. I had a lump there for a long time and I’d had it looked up by everyone. I’d sort of held ice-cold sticks and had thermal imaging done, and they told me I had zero risk. I’d been to see the best kinesiologist in London, apparently, and he told me I had a dairy intolerance. I’d been to see the master, and they told me that I was too young and I just had lumpy breasts. So everyone told me that I didn’t have breast cancer. Now everyone tells me that I have, and I’m just telling them I haven’t. We’ve turned the tables a bit. So I did the treatment, like I did the chemotherapy and the radiotherapy, and I had the lumpectomy. And then they send you on your way. That was back in 2005, and I was cancer-free until 2017, and it came on after an incredibly stressful period. My accountant was sent to jail. He was a very high-profile accountant. Anyway, unbeknownst to us, there were a lot of mistakes in the account, and it was an incredibly stressful period because even though I thought I was quite a rebellious person, it terrified me to think that I’d done something wrong. It was like a trauma, like an old trauma, and it turned me into a workaholic. And if I had to be honest, I think it was the stress that brought the cancer back. Who knows? But it felt like it to me. And then I’ve been dealing with cancer ever since because once you get a secondary diagnosis, they never let you go. They never let you go. I mean, I’ve had a lot of amazing teachers in my life. Cancer is the best teacher. I am vulnerable. Of course, I’m vulnerable. I’m still a human being, but I only consider what they do to be a small part of my overall care. So it’s not that I haven’t handed over my whole life to these people, and I know that they’re doing their best within the remit of what they believe. I was told maybe two years ago that I had some cancer in my lungs. When I saw my consultant, maybe after a year and a half of not seeing her, maybe a year, I said, “no one’s mentioned my lungs for ages.” And I’d been doing some work around this area on my lungs, and this patch had come through, and it was like a dark purple patch, and it had come from the inside out. It wasn’t the other way. It was the inside out. And it was like a bruise, and it was purple, and it changed color over time. Anyway, so I said, oh, what’s happened to the cancer in the lungs? And she said you don’t have any cancer in your lungs. It’s clear.
EC: And I said, oh, that’s amazing. Isn’t that amazing? She said, well, not really. It couldn’t have been there in the first place. Otherwise, it would still be there now. So I said to her, wow, that’s a fascinating belief. Then I said, So you believe that it couldn’t have gone, it just couldn’t have been there in the first place? Is that what you’re saying? [She said], “Yeah, that’s what I’m saying.” And my response, because it causes a lot less stress in my body, is to be fascinated by that. That doesn’t have to be my reality. And I said to her, will you look at this patch on my back? Because it’s been there, and it’s been changing color, and it’s right over the lobe of the lungs. And it was quite faded by this point. And she said to me, oh, you burnt yourself again.
AB: Oh, my God.
EC: Yeah. I didn’t argue with her. I was just like, okay, that’s fascinating that you would believe that. And that way I’m self regulating my body all the time because I’m just in a place of fascination with them rather than irritation, annoyance. I don’t have to believe everything they say. I can still respect them.
AB: There was another story when you were told that your cancer had metastasized, isn’t it that.
EC: Oh, yeah, that was recently. Sorry about all the medical jargon. I had… I have, I don’t know, some bones in my brain. That’s what gave me the double vision right back at the end of 2019. And it came on after chemotherapy started. So my belief has always been that maybe the cancer had been there for a long time, but the double vision wasn’t associated with it. It was associated with the neurotoxicity of the chemo, which threw my optic nerve out, which has been confirmed. When I took a new chemo at the beginning of this year, the same thing happened. My eyes went out again, and their response was, ‘oh, it’s the progression of the disease.’ And I was like, no, look at the history again. History tells us everything. The last time this happened was when I started chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a neurotoxin, so is it not, at least possible, that it’s affecting the nerve in my eye rather than it might be anything to do with the bones in my head? No, it’s progression. So then they go about scanning me. They give me an MRI and call me up and he says, it’s definitely a progression. He said, “but I still don’t understand your symptoms. I don’t understand the double vision and I don’t understand that the sinus is not draining.” And I’m like ‘the chemo’ hello! And then I think, don’t waste your breath. So he said, “I want you to come in and have another scan.” So I go in and have another scan and then I have to go in three days late for a meeting, which I wait 3 hours for. But luckily I’m in this neutral space. I think most people would be going out of their mind. Quite rightly. That’s a life-changing diagnosis that I’ve learned. Receive everything in the same way and deal with it when you know what you’re dealing with rather than something that hasn’t happened yet. Please listen to this, everybody. So many people do this. They worry about the things that have not happened yet. They exhaust themselves worrying about things that haven’t happened that may not ever happen. If you can do yourself a favor, don’t do that. So I hadn’t worried about it. I wasn’t worried about it. Even though he categorically told me that it has progressed, I was like, yes, but he doesn’t understand my symptoms and I do. So I walked into the meeting with him… I promise you, this is no word of a life, with my friend. And he says, “sorry, I’m just finishing my coffee roll. I just had my lunch.” And I turned to my friend and I said, “it must be good news because no one in their right mind gives you life-changing news with a coffee roll in their mouth.” And the only reason I could be like that is because I was in such a neutral state with it. And not because I don’t take it seriously. Of course, I take it seriously. It’s my life. But I know that they can be wrong and I know that they are often wrong. And I know that their explanation isn’t my whole world. It’s only part of what I do…
AB: What you do, absolutely.
EC: Yeah and he actually said to me, there has been no change at all since May 2020.
AB: So, Emma, tell me, with all these experiences and with your journey, the second time with cancer, what is the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned that you can share with us?
EC: Really good one. Don’t worry about stuff that hasn’t happened yet. Life is too short. And also to attach a higher meaning. I really try to attach the highest meaning to things. For me, I was like, okay, what do I want this to mean? So I called it my coronation. I wrote down a list of everything that I wanted it to mean: community, free travel around the world, new intelligence in my brain, in my body. I attached the highest possible meaning that I could. Higher levels of intuition or all of whatever I could, because I think we don’t use our mind nearly enough. And if we do, we tend to use it to the lowest vibration. So we’ll attach the lowest vibration to things, fear, all of that kind of thing. And so when I had to have the radiotherapy to my head, I called it. I said they were downloading new codes for humanity on my brain. And I actually said to the woman that operates the machinery, she said to me after she’d explained what would happen, “are there any questions?” And I said yes, is this your First High Priestess mission? And really be careful about the meaning that you attach to things, because I think often we attach the lowest vibrational meaning. And if you can attach the higher vibrational meaning to things, then I think that you can literally change the neural pathways in your brain.
AB: So that’s very wonderful advice. You’ve said, attach a higher meaning and don’t worry about things that haven’t happened yet. Any other last bits of advice?
EC: Yeah, I think when we get stuck in our own stuff to really ask that question, who needs me now? Because when we can step outside of the small me and into the we, that’s how we’re going to change this planet. We’re not going to change this planet by sitting at home worrying about our own stuff. On paper, I’m apparently a very sick person. I don’t feel like a sick person. I don’t look like a sick person.
AB: You don’t look like a sick person at all. Emma, thank you so much. You’ve given us so much to go away with.
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