This month, Parvati Magazine spoke with Marsha Therese Danzig, a yoga teacher and intuitive healer who recently published a memoir entitled “Fierce Joy” about her journey through bone cancer, amputation and kidney failure, to reclaiming joy.
Parvati Magazine: How has your experience with cancer informed your current approach to wellness?
Marsha Therese Danzig: I was diagnosed with bone cancer when I was five years old. I remember very clearly deciding that the hospital was a dangerous place, full of grown-ups who tried to tell me what to do, how to feel and to be. Somehow I knew that their fears would cause me harm. I ran away often, generally fighting with every ounce of my little being to get those adults off of me because they were about to “hurt me”. The fierceness had begun. I would choose what I let in to my being.
I was always a deeply spiritual child. I saw God everywhere. When I was given last rites, introduced to me as a very special first communion, I knew I was eating Jesus, so I would be fine. In other words, I knew that the divine was infusing me and filling my cells with love and healing. Now, as all the research is emerging on the profound connection between beliefs and healing, I realize I was one very wise little girl. Not listening to the fears and opinions of others has been one of my personal strengths.
I believe the body is the walking breath of God/Love, so everything that is not breathing fully in one’s being needs waking up and re-aligning. I also believe that not all illness is misalignment with the divine. This has given me infinite space in the heart for the clients with whom I work as a healer, medical intuitive and spiritual life coach. Everything is sacred. Everything.
PMAG: What does fierceness mean to you in the healing journey?
MTD: Fierceness to me is an immovable commitment to my soul and its worth, no matter what. Fierceness, for me, is definitely warrior energy. It is standing as a solid tree in the midst of the swirling waves of uncertainty, knowing that the roots are deep and the branches are wide. JOY is who we all are. Fierceness is its protector.
PMAG: What inspired you to write “Fierce Joy”?
MTD: Fierce Joy came about for two reasons. First, I kept getting very clear messages during meditation to write and tell my story, which would heal many people from any sense of separation from God/Divine. Secondly, I decided to honor what it has taken for me to be here. It is important to honor our suffering as part of the sacred story, rather than to skip over it as so many in this modern culture do.
PMAG: For those who are struggling to find a sense of fierceness, perhaps due to past trauma, how do you help them reconnect with it?
MTD: It starts with deeply honoring the suffering and trauma. Next, it is important to truly FEEL the assault of trauma on the system so the system can process it. This step is so important to the integration of a person toward their own authentic fierce joy. I offer a healing program called From Trauma to Trust, which helps my clients honor the “AUM “ in their traumas, feel them, integrate them and bring them along for the rest of their lives as the jewels in the crown. I believe that the greatest benefits of honoring our traumas is seeing the gifts and then using the gifts to create even more beauty in life. A person who has worked their trauma and trusts life again is living in their fullest freedom and JOY. I have experienced that freedom so many times I have lost count. I want that freedom for my clients as well.
PMAG: What has been the most inspiring thing you have witnessed in your healing work?
MTD: I feel that I am in a timeless holy place when I witness a client finally lose their grip on their defenses. Their inner beauty shines through and years of holding on tight can be dissolved. They finally get to exhale completely. I am so used to that happening that I can almost count on it in my classes and private sessions. This happens because the soul of a client knows he/she is being seen and held in their highest essence. There is recognition, mourning and consequent hope. Sat Nam.
Marsha Therese Danzig is a pioneer in the fields of yoga and wellness. Marsha lost her leg in 1976 to Ewing’s sarcoma, and went on to become the first below knee amputee in the US to become a yoga teacher. She is the founder of Color Me Yoga for Children, Yoga for Amputees, and Pediatric Yoga. She is the author of Fierce Joy, a memoir about choosing joy in the face of suffering, as well as numerous other children’s books and yoga products. She is a storyteller, healer and spiritual teacher whose mission is to help people remember their freedom and heal their sense of separation.