Last week I was feeling extremely stressed and in a fatalistic mood. I didn’t even feel like this when I had cancer. My emotions have been running the gamut of mad, sad, empathetic, scared, and grateful for those incredible souls on the frontlines who are working 24/7 to assist and save as many patients as possible.
So, I wrote a dark, end of the world, melancholy opus to fit my hopeless state of mind. After reading it to my husband and accepting my feelings; I shook myself and said “you can’t publish this. It’s okay to live in your emotions for a short while but, you must pick yourself up and put events into perspective. Creating the reality you want to see.
We’re all sad, frightened and hyper-sensitive of the ground shifting moment by moment on this roller-coaster ride that is Covid-19. “After all this…” is a reminder to refocus our minds and embrace the implications that are woven into Humanity.
I Am You and You Are Me. We Are Our Brothers and Sisters Keeper!
Being diagnosed with both Colon and Breast Cancer at the same time heightened my self-awareness big time! It slapped me in the face and said, “girl, you better appreciate each precious moment you’re given because this fight is fluid as is life.”
I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone but facing your mortality can be seen as a blessing. It affords you a second chance to treasure your life, family, and friends, like never before.
Since then, I’ve made it a priority to cherish the time spent. Heck, I even named this blog, Livinginthemoment2015, marking my year of living with cancer and its impact.
However, you don’t have to wait for some tragedy or moment of truth to start living a mindful and conscious life. Take advantage of this post and the current series – “Mindfulness and Meditation”byDr. Richard J. Davidsonand use itas an opportunity to learn to appreciate the silence in meditation and the awareness it brings.
Make it a practice to live in the here and now, not the past or the future. Realize that NOW is the only reality there is.
“Certain meditation exercises have been proven to lower stress, anxiety, and depression. They have also been shown to change the self-awareness, attention, and resilience dimensions of emotional style.” Dr. Richard J. Davidson
The goals of Dr. Davidson’s meditation techniques are:
° To foster a routine of daily practice for cultivating well-being.
° Establish a simple meditation process taking a few minutes a day.
° Recognition that one size does not fit all.
° Making meditation work for you.
This lesson focuses on the technique of “Mindfulness Breathing Meditation”
“If we can pay attention to our breathing, we can pay attention to almost anything.”
Sit comfortably, spine straight and strong but not rigid, body relaxed. Release any tension in your jaw, shoulders, neck or anywhere that you may have the habit of holding stress.
Breathing through your nose, take a gentle but deep inhale. And as you release the exhale, allow your eyes to drift closed, or if you prefer, just lower and soften your gaze. Begin to turn your attention inward, taking a moment to notice your inner landscape, the state of your mind.
Are there emotions present? Are you sleepy or energized? Mind buzzing or calm? Without forming an opinion or passing judgment, just notice this.
Now, with a deep inhale, imagine that you are gathering in any mental residue from your day. Any problem or unfinished business that is tugging at your attention. And with a complete exhale, release it, and see it all drop away.
Notice your breath as you set your intention to be present for this meditation.
Letting the breath come to you, without attempting to change or control it. Just notice as it falls into a natural rhythm.
Breathe in, breathe out. When thoughts arise, which they will just notice them, and let them pass away.
Gently return your attention to breathing. Calming, centering, constant. There is only this moment, this breath; connecting mind and body.
When you’re ready, take a deep, intentional inhale, and with your exhale, release your attention to the breath, and open your eyes.
“As you move through your day, it may be helpful to remember that breath is always with you and can be used, in the moment, as a method to calm and focus your mind.”
I use this Breathing Meditation to take myself out of my surroundings and re-focus on feeling centered and present. Taking a body scan is also an effective way to gauge your emotions. Do I feel anxious, tension, pain? Being aware of your emotions helps with empathy and compassion. Often times we lash out at others when feeling anxiety or anger. Recognizing this internal state can allow us to halt the impulse and take a breath.
Why are we feeling this way? A lot of times our anger has nothing to do with the moment or the person on the receiving end. I know I’ve been guilty of holding onto anger until finally exploding over something that has nothing to do with the current situation.
I loved this song when it first came out and I love it even more today! The lyrics still inspire and the rhythm excites and pumps me up. “I get knocked down, but I get up again” are definitely great words to live by and it’s a perfect rallying cry for a fierce, kick butt attitude! The song so inspired me that I put together this little slideshow. Hope you enjoy.
Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy, shaping our lives and image of ourselves based on outside input and descriptions others have deemed to be true. From birth, we take on the totality of remarks and declarations outright or subtly put in our heads. Whether it’s from parents uttering – “oh, you’re so pretty” maybe trying to build up our self-esteem or to teachers concluding “you don’t really have a head for numbers” in an effort to shield us from what they perceive as a possible failure.
These early definitions paint a picture we add to as we approach life and try to sort out how we fit in and what we’re capable of accomplishing. We are socialized by our peers, teachers, and loves. What we hear we sometimes assimilate to and believe.
I used to call myself a late bloomer, but a therapist corrected me saying “No, you come into things in your own time.” That perspective totally changed the way I thought of myself and opened my eyes to the fact that I was basing my definition of self on what others deemed as “appropriate” timing or behavior. I had been primarily judging myself by letting society dictate, on some level, my worthiness.
Maybe, if we stop letting others define who we are, we might just find the person we were meant to be.
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” – Maya Angelou
This quote by the late, inspirational Maya Angelou touches me because I subscribe to this attitude of rising from whatever challenges come before us.
My fight with cancer proved an opportunity to find out who I am and what I can rise above.
During my journey the more I shared my thoughts and feelings the more my heart was warmed and my spirit lifted by messages of encouragement and support. As I went through treatment I often expressed to friends and family that God loves me so much he gave me an opportunity to evolve; go to the next level on my life journey.
Being a cancer survivor I feel more empowered and determined to come out on the other side of whatever obstacles come my way with hands in the air celebrating victory!
I wrote this post 3 years ago to the day as a declaration of faith and gratitude as I embarked on this empowering and spiritual rebirth Cancer journey. Today, I stand as testimony that Love and Positive Energy can overcome all challenges in our lives but first, we must believe.
I’d like to thank everyone for their words of encouragement and appreciation of my previous post, “It’s a Beautiful Day!” I start chemotherapy for my Colon Cancer tomorrow and it feels great going into it with positive thoughts and energy.
I claim there will be no side-effects from the treatment. I know some might think that’s being a little optimistic but how many people do you know with two unrelated cancers at the same time? Huh? I’m that special. Not at all typical and neither will be my experience. 😊
Sometimes I have to remind myself, DonnaMarie you are capable, willing, and engaged but, don’t take on more than you can achieve effectively.
The truth is we all benefit when we care about our neighbors and see ourselves as part of a community. If you can help – do it – lend a hand, you never know when you may be the one in need. We can solve problems together by becoming aware of and addressing the issues that affect our lives. I believe we ultimately exist to leave the world a better place than we found it.
It makes me chuckle whenever friends remark, “You’re everywhere!” I am very involved in politics and advocacy in my community and feel it’s important to do everything I can to affect positive change and a better quality of life for everyone. However, my charge is to remind myself when feeling stressed out by current events and commitments that I can do anything but, not everything.
As a cancer survivor, I’m very passionate about life and its fragility. I’ve been blessed so it’s important for me to pay it forward. I strive to be aware and knowledgeable about what’s going on personally, not just reading about it or listening to what pundits have to say. As I tell my sister all the time, what you see and read doesn’t do justice to the hard work and engaged reality of those of us on the ground; interacting and being strategic about confronting real-world issues.
So, today as I sit here reflecting, I’m reminding myself to breathe in, breathe out and learn how to live with the nature of balance.
I love being an Advocate with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network! I’m blessed to be a survivor of Colon and Breast Cancer and honored to be a voice for the voiceless.
On September 25, 2018, more than 25,000 Lights of Hope – each decorated with the name of a friend or loved one impacted by cancer will circle the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Please join me and be part of this special event.
You can help support cancer research and funding by purchasing a $10 Luminary Bag on my Lights of Hope personal page: