Tough times: Mindfulness and illness
When you are going through tough times such as illness, including cancer, how can you support yourself and remain steady? It’s a little like a playground with all the ups and downs of the rides. Implementing mindfulness skills is one way to manage the bumpiness.
Mindfulness wakes you up to become aware that your mind has a tendency to get caught up in storytelling. Usually the sort of stories full of doom and gloom.
Our minds rush ahead to think of worse case scenarios, catastrophes, anxiety and out comes your inner critic to add to the distress too. So being mindful of this can halt some of this inner turmoil.
Focus on what you are experiencing here and now, in this moment.
For example, you may be sitting in hospital, waiting for your appointment. Become aware of your body’s sensations, your breath and your emotions. As you do this allow yourself to soften and lean in to the experience.
Direct your focus away from the mind’s storytelling towards the sensations happening in the rest of your body. Take some deep breaths and bring your attention to the sensations happening as you do this.
With practice, mindfulness meditation can really empower you. Once you learn to reign in the worry, you can feel more balanced and emotionally stable. The swings and roundabouts throughout your day don’t disappear, but with mindfulness you are building strong reserves of emotional stability.
Calm steady breaths
When you are worrying about your illness the brain floods your body with stress hormones. Focus on your breath and maintain a calm steady flow. Your heartbeat will also become steady rather than increasing through fear.
The best bit about this is that you always have your breath to hand. You can be ready to implement calm at any second and in any situation you are experiencing. You are in charge of this playground ride!
If you are specifically coping with cancer, a helpful website is www.cancernetwork.com which highlights the scientific studies associated with mindfulness training and its benefits. They state that ‘one study on breast cancer survivors demonstrated less stress, hopelessness and anxious preoccupation’ because of implementing mindfulness techniques.
It is gaining popularity within hospitals, so if you are going through tough times, ask about mindfulness. Get the kind of support that will allow you to support yourself now and in the future.
Another useful book resource: Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery by Linda E. Carlson and Michael Speca
Yvette Jane – Mindfulness & Meditation Guide
Place of Serenity, Hampshire
Updated blog post first published in October 2014