BALANCE: A Gift of Mindfulness

Mindfulness, Balance & Waterfalls For Breast Cancer HealingMindfulness, Balance and Waterfalls

Come along with me as we visit the waterfalls of my memory. I have many memories of waterfalls and imagine you do as well. When I think about waterfalls, I think about the big falls like the wondrous Niagara to tiny falls in the middle of gardens, like the one at my favorite coffee shop or even the electric trickle of the one in my office. Each waterfall brings to me a sense of contentment and a peculiar sensation of being whole. When I stood and watched the falls of Niagara for the first time I experienced it radiating throughout my chest… calling forth the vibration of life within me. Just last month, in the illusion of a hot desert, Phoenix experienced the freezing of waterfalls in the front yards of many homes. For me, that was a magical experience, as magical as Christmas lights during the Holiday Season. I can never get enough of them.

A certain trip to a waterfall taught me about inner balance. Balance, personal core balance, has been an issue for me probably all of my life, even though I don’t remember being a klutzy kid, I am a klutzy adult. I walk into things that I did not notice or look one way and miss a step the other way. What does all of this nonsensical chatter have to do with the waterfall that is begging for a space within my mindfulness on waterfalls?

It was in March of 2001. My partner Pam and I took a trip to the tropics of St. Lucia. St. Lucia is a small island in the Eastern Caribbean, where the people are lovely, friendly, and have welcoming smiles. We mostly hung out at our all-inclusive but wanted to do some “adventure sightseeing”. After careful research, we took an all day jeep tour. The day included a banana plantation, sugar cane mill, an unpaved road where we bought some local coconut, and wrapped up the day with a trip to one of their many waterfalls. We arrived around three in the afternoon and the coolness of the tropical trees, emerald green vegetation, and beautiful flora accompanied us to a narrow path that led down to the rocky beach below. To our right, a magnificent waterfall bellowed out of the mountain above us. The path down to the beach below the waterfall was not treacherous, if I fell; I was not going to tumble down the side of a mountain and into the river. However, I did notice I was tense negotiating the wet rock along the way. At the bottom, our island guide told us the best view of the waterfall was across the shallow river. I was not particularly in the mood to get wet and assessed that the rock was slick, being that it was covered in green and brown moss. I began a very tentative plod across the water. I was carefully placing my feet, watchfully examining each step. I watched our guide. He was barefoot. He was perfectly balanced in his brown molten skin, shiny now with spray from the falls. He never looked down at his feet. He walked with a balance so perfect, as if he was walking on a grassy lawn in a beautiful park. Soon, he noticed my tentativeness. He watched me for a moment and I of course became even more tentative. He came back beside me. He gently took my hand and said, “Look ahead. You are going over there. Let your focus be on where you are going and let your body relax on to the rocks. Your feet, even in your tevas, will find their way on the rocks. Let them do what feet do, while you drive the bus to the other side. Your feet are your wheels. They will adjust to the rocks as you focus to that opening over there.” We started together, he let go, and coached me to keep focusing and allow my feet to work for me. I began to feel as if I was weightless. My body became upright. My posture perfect as I allowed my body to relax into my feet. I have practiced that exercise so many times since then. It is as if I gathered poise and strength from the sound of the waterfall that quieted my fears and heightened the compassion of a young island man that was one with the earth.

Finding our way in the treacherous path of cancer treatments and recovery means allowing ourselves to focus on the looking ahead and taking one meaningful step at a time.

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Dr. Robin DilleyDr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer is a licensed psychologist in the State of Arizona. Her eclectic practice allows her to cross diagnostic barriers and meet clients in their need assisting them to respond to life in healthy and empowering ways rather than react to life’s circumstances.

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