Becoming Mindful For Breast Cancer Recovery

Becoming Mindful For Breast Cancer Recovery

By: Diana Ross, E-RYT 500 Co-Founder of Breast Cancer Yoga.

What Does Mindful Mean? Why is it so Important? How Does it Help Breast Cancer Recovery?

Being mindful means “being conscious or aware of something directly.” Once mindful, you can foster positive change. Developing of a mindful practice, like yoga or breathing is the key to recovery. Mindfulness, whereby combining the breath consciously with yoga movements causes this awareness of the mind right into the present moment. Right where it needs to be in order to move forward and heal.

Why is it so important to be mindful? Because it stops the negative chatter of a restless and wandering mind. Stress and anxiety are some of the byproducts of this unmindfulness. We may become careless and lack clarity in making good decisions, especially health decisions when we are unmindful, or lack a degree of consciousness. It is right now, here where you become “present” to whatever is, or isn’t. Learning how to stay in a mindful state allows you to get past that which may cause undo stress or harm. This can be attained through the proper training of the breath, focus of the mind and movement of the body. When the breath, mind and body come together, consciously, the ability to create relaxation and a new found state of clarity is then realized. Here you can tackle recovery head on and with deep purpose.

How Does the Breath Make us Mindful?

“When the mind wonders; the breath is sure to follow” Swamini Kaliji

It is stated in yogic practices that when the mind jumps all over it is called “the monkey mind.” This unfocused mind can create stress and anxiety, all of which has a negative impact on the mind and body causing a profound effect on the autonomic nervous system which then increases stress hormones and overall emotional responses.

The reason being mindful is so valuable is that the mind is deeply incorporated with the breath. A mindful practice is cultivated through learning how to use the breath positively, or in partnership with the mind. It is an intentional act of unity, whereby unconscious thoughts and feelings of the mind are then brought to a single point of attention. This is achieved one way by focusing fully on the breath. Through rhythmically breathing (inhale and exhale of the same duration) we tap into our deepest inner resources for healing, and for relaxation. By flowing through a series of breaths, the body experiences an inner calm which then awakens the prana (life energy) and moves the mind towards a higher level of understanding. It is through the control of the breath, that the mind will reflect a higher knowledge and a positive state of confidence and self-esteem. It is emotionally challenging to learn you have cancer. A natural response is “Can I do this? “ Let this be the yoga practice of self-understanding.

The deeper the commitment to a Mindful Yoga and Breathing practice, the deeper the relaxation response will manifest, healing the trauma of worry, anxiety and fear associated with the diagnosis of breast cancer. It is challenging to start a yoga practice when this fear, stress, anxiety and depression surface. It is precisely when we need support, not only from our doctors, families and friends, but most importantly from other women who have breast cancer or even another type of cancer. These personal connections help us to feel “part of” a community who understands our emotions and experiences. Unconditional love creates miracles! Creating a strong support system and a safe place to be (oneself) are paramount to alleviating the stress that derives from breast cancer. A clear mind, a full breath and a body in motion are paramount for recovery. YOU are responsible for your healing process and progress so breathe deeply and move freely.

Breast Cancer Yoga has two therapeutic breathing exercise CD’s for good health.

Diana RossAbout Diana Ross: E-RYT 500 restorative yoga teacher, survivor that cares and founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at info@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

THREE – MINUTE CHECK IN

Doctor Dilley AdviceDr. Robin Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer and a licensed psychologist in the State of Arizona.

Our bodies do not lie. They always tell the truth. However, in our Western Culture we often use our bodies as if they are machines, neglected machines at that. We find ourselves waking up in the morning and expecting that when our feet hit the floor that our legs will work, our balance with stabilize us, and our bodies will move throughout the day making them do what it is that we think we need. We seldom give our bodies another thought. You are on this website or this blog because you have an interest in the body-mind connection. You have found that it is important to incorporate your body into your healing process. Some of us resonant with Yoga, others of us do not. No problem. Here is a simple exercise that I created for you to check in with your body and this exercise will help you get to your YES, in the previous blog. Our bodies deserve our focus and attention and it can be as simple as stopping our endless activity and taking three minutes to check in. The three minute check is a simple mindful body scan to acknowledge what your body wants and does not want.

How to do a Body Scan Meditation

Learning to scan your body for information is a way of practicing mindfulness. Here are some easy steps.

  1. Turn your attention to your body. You don’t need any fancy way of sitting, a meditative place to go, or any special equipment. Take a breath and turn your attention toward your body.
  2. Notice what position it is in. How are you currently sitting? What aches? What is uncomfortable? Take a moment to practice slow breathing. Breathe all the way in and exhale as if you are blowing out a candle. Crunch your body up tightly and gently let it go. Breathe, crunch, and breathe again.
  3. Bring your goal, wish, or your want to the foreground of your mind’s eye. Allow yourself to sit with it for a few moments. Even allow yourself to say your goal gently out loud, or to yourself. Allow yourself to imagine that goal being accomplished. See the finished accomplishment. Notice what you feel. How does your body respond to that finished accomplishment?
  4. What is happening to your tension, neck, back, shoulders, stomach? Just notice it. Breathe again, deeply in and gently blow out the candle.
  5. Notice any negativity, resistance, restraint, and observe. Breathe into it and exhale slowly.
  6. Notice again your body. Is there a YES? If not, what is there? Sadness, fear, anger. Accept it, smile at it. “Ah yes, there you are. You have been trying to get my attention and I have been running and avoiding you. What do you need me to know?” If you have your YES, make it bigger in size and then smaller in size.
  7. Just observe what happens to your body when you stop long enough to listen.
  8. As you listen, allow yourself to experience. Stay close to yourself. Use your breath to regulate your emotion. Move toward the emotion, not away from it. Give yourself a bit of time to just be here now.
  9. Bring your awareness back to your body. Notice what it is feeling and where. Use your breath to gently raise and lower your abdomen. Let yourself smile and say thank-you.
  10. Gently allow yourself to come back to the here and now.

Do this exercise as often as you can. By experimenting with this exercise often through-out the day you learn information about yourself that you do not normally take time to pay attention to. This important information will guide you to better and more positive choices for yourself and even for those around you. If you body cringes every time it is around a certain person, what is it that your body wants you to know? If your body feels upbeat and energetic around other people, notice. You get to choose who, how often and under what circumstances people are in your daily life. Your body can become your best radar as to who is good for you or whom you need to place a protective ring around yourself when you have to be around them. Your imaginary ring of protection will help you not to absorb their energy or allow you to be brought down by their negativity. The imaginary ring protects. More about protection, safety, and emotional health in the next blog.

Dr. Robin Dilley

Dr. 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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