Bestselling author Anita Moorjani speaks about her new book, her battle with cancer and an experience that transformed her perception of everything
New York Times best-selling author Anita Moorjani knows a thing or two about fear and dying. Following an arduous four year battle with cancer, Moorjani’s organs began to shut down in February 2006 and she slipped into a coma, her death imminent. What happened next has intrigued millions: Moorjani had a near death experience (NDE) which transformed her perception of everything. She returned to consciousness and her body began to heal, confounding her doctors.
In 2011, the late Dr Wayne Dyer discovered Moorjani, catapulting her onto the world stage. Moorjani shares her story and the wisdom that flows effortlessly through her in her events, on her YouTube channel and in her books, Dying to be Me; What If This is Heaven?; Love, a Story About Who You Truly Are.
The News on Sunday (TNS) recently caught up with the bestselling author to talk about Sensitive is the New Strong – her latest book that is full of insights to help change our perception of the world around us, and offers clear guidance to empower empaths who have remained quiet for far too long. The audio edition, narrated by the author, is highly recommended.
The discussion began with the topic of fear and how it shadows us all in some form these days. From FOMO (fear of missing out) to the fear of getting something like cancer or Covid, it seems we’re perpetually stuck in survival mode. Moorjani believes the root cause of this pathological fear is our conditioning to place an inordinate amount of importance on money and power. Right from our school days, we’re taught that we have to get a job that earns money – not a job that we love or that brings us joy.
“Everything is geared towards making money to pay the bills. People’s success, value and worth are measured by how much they earn and how ruthless they are,” Moorjani says. “One of the easiest ways to make money is to make other people feel that they’re not good enough; or that they have something to fear; or that ‘I have something to alleviate that.’ If we allow the world to keep going the way it is and we continue to delude ourselves that the metrics of strength is competitiveness, ruthlessness and power-hungry agendas, then we are at the brink of extinction,” Moorjani warns.
Medical, pharmaceutical and business models around the world are highly focused on being profitable for their shareholders – not on caring for people’s wellbeing. “There is no faction, agency, or group in our cultural paradigm that actually cares about the wellbeing of the people,” she says. “It’s left to us but, unfortunately, we’re culturally conditioned to obey the powers. Nobody tells us that we are connected;that we have our own power; and we’re actually very powerful. We don’t have to take instructions from everybody else.
“One of the things I teach is turning inward for guidance, not outward; experiencing yourself and the world from a place of love rather than fear; showing up authentically, empowered and fully connected to your intuition and your deepest purpose. Our fears come from the outside. Whenever you feel fear, it’s a call to go inward. To get back in touch with your soul’s calling.”
This was a hard-won lesson for Moorjani. Back in 2002, exhausted from prioritising the needs of others over her own – including her best friend’s, who’d been diagnosed with cancer – Moorjani was terrified of getting the disease herself. She researched diets and supplements and threw herself into cancer prevention, but the ongoing stress and intense fear eventually resulted in a lymphoma diagnosis. Devastated, Moorjani redoubled her efforts to achieve wellness. But the more she looked to the outside world for answers, her fear escalated until it became an obsession.
It was only after her NDE that Moorjani realised: “the focus is not supposed to be on avoiding illness, but on living life. It’s about being passionate about life, immersing ourselves in living life fully.
“If we’re ill, we need to know how to actively participate in our healing process. Stress can knock our bodies out of balance. We need to be in a state of rest to heal. Remove the fear and its stress in the body. Choose options that make you feel safe and empowered; work with healthcare providers who make you feel that way too. Focus on your wellness rather than going to battle with your own body fighting the disease. Our state of mind and consciousness are key to the healing process.”
Speaking her truth authentically and being unapologetically who she is has drawn critics and debunkers – especially online. “An empath feels and absorbs the thoughts, energy and emotions of others. We don’t have the same filters as everyone else. So navigating life as an empath can be extremely challenging.” In fact, the pain that Moorjani felt from online criticism inspired her to write Sensitive is the New Strong as a toolbox for empaths.
“If you’re being bullied, especially online, it’s a really different playing field right now. When I was growing up, I just had to win the approval of the people in my immediate surroundings. Today people have to win the approval of everybody online and we’re not socialised to do that. We’re not built for it, so it’s a minefield out there.”
Moorjani suggests limiting your time online – especially if you’re extremely sensitive. “Most importantly, when you have a troll or somebody who debunks you, know that it’s not about you. It’s about them and where they are right now.”
Moorjani goes on to share a thought-provoking story about the days before Dr Wayne Dyer discovered her when she was inexperienced in dealing with trolls. On an online forum, a man kept debunking her. The writer would answer all his questions, but he would debunk her answers and come up with still more questions. This exhausting back-and-forth went on for quite some time. When Moorjani started writing her first book, she knew that she had to include things to help sceptics believe her story. “I found myself using every response that I’d given to the debunker in the book. It made it more powerful, convincing and believable. So what he did was actually a gift.”
But the story doesn’t end there. After Dying to be Me came out, Moorjani got an email from the same man who said he was going to write a review on Amazon. “My heart sank. But his review turned out to be the best review ever. He actually went on to explain why he liked the book. That made me realise that with sceptics and debunkers, some of them really do want to understand. That was a big lesson for me.”
In her mid-twenties, Moorjani dreamed of travelling the world and discovering her purpose in life. But her father had other plans, insisting on her getting married. As the wedding drew close, Moorjani’s dread grew. “The idea of being forced into an arranged marriage stems from gender disparity,” Moorjani says. “But why should one gender have more power or say in what the other gender does? We have to start by breaking these constructs down. Both men and women have to be taught to think differently from childhood on.”
Days before the wedding, Moorjani finally confided her true feelings to her mother. She understood and supported her daughter throughout the intense fallout when Moorjani refused to go through with the marriage. “Our cultural gender biases are false filters – not truths. Breaking free is easier when we come from a place of power. That place of power comes from being who we truly are. When we rebel against the biases that come with these filters without self-love and empowerment, breaking free can be extremely painful.”
Fortunately, Sensitive is the New Strong has plenty of guidance on this topic.
A big fan of journalling, Moorjani adds drawings and colour and pastes to images that speak to her. “Journalling can be very therapeutic – especially if you don’t have people you can really confide in. Sometimes you’ll find that you’re just channelling when you journal.”
Moorjani finally met her husband Danny who has been by her side throughout her journey – including giving up his job to take care of her during her cancer ordeal. “I cannot imagine being married to a better person than Danny.” Moorjani is a joyful person: it radiates from her, in her voice, her smile, her demeanour.
To try to be – and remain – in a happy state every day, she recommends “committing to turning off all electronic devices for at least 24 hours per week; or at least carving out blocks of time to make room for silence. Commit to plugging into yourself, making space for guidance to come into you instead of filling your space with energies that are not even yours. Embrace your inner voice and heed what it’s saying. Accept that your inner world is real.
“Our natural state is one of freedom and liberation from the torment of loneliness, guilt and other burdens that we take on during our lifetime. The more we can release these emotions that shackle us to our dramas, the more we can feel the connection to our inner mystic and to the vast cosmos that is our natural home.
“I don’t watch the news. I only watch minimal news so that I know how to navigate the world – especially during changing Covid protocols.
“Bottom line: you really need to do what makes you happy in the moment. Ask yourself: ‘what do I need to do?’ but without evaluating and justifying with: ‘if I have time,’ or ‘does this person need me more?’ etc. It’s a process. Do things every day that feed your soul – like eating chocolate and going shoe shopping.”
At the end of Sensitive is the New Strong, Anita Moorjani asks: “What lies in store for you if you follow your heart and allow yourself to be all that you can be fearlessly?”
Who’s with us on this great adventure…?
The interviewer is a former Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph columnist. She is a regular contributor to The Aleph Review and can be reached at www.paularobinson.com