Meditation practices have been used for many thousands of years. One method that is used often in breast cancer treatments is called mindfulness meditation. This is a simple way of focusing your mind and thoughts on the present moment. The goal of mindfulness meditation is to be aware of what is happening in the present moment. Most often, people are in a more reactive mode, responding to the environment, being lost in thought, whereas with mindfulness meditation the focus is on the moment. Mindful meditation is about rediscovering the present moment. Often, meditation practices can help manage the many side effects of chemotherapy and radiation and promote a sense of wholeness. When you are in the present and aware of your surroundings, you are more connected with yourself. With daily practice, you can benefit from living in the moment and fully experiencing the here-and-now. The present moment is all you really have. And you are alive to grow, discover, learn, and “be” within it, so that you can find a sense of balance and express the emotions that you are experiencing.
Being present in the moment helps to create a series of special moments, because you are alive and awake in it. What is most important to cultivating this mindfulness is to make the time in your day for fifteen to twenty minutes to meditate. You can get up earlier in the morning and begin incorporating it into your usual morning activities.
There are many forms of meditation; they can be structured or unstructured. But most will help ground you in the practice of living in the moment and enjoying the present, so that you will be free to embrace life more fully and empower your mind to be focused and open to new adventures even while you go through breast cancer treatment.
Meditation involves a nonjudgmental attitude toward your thoughts and helps to keep your thoughts focused. When meditating, your thoughts may wander to events of the day or what needs to be done, but you can teach yourself to gently return to focusing on your breath and your meditation. Meditation helps you allow things to be as they are and you can learn to “be” with whatever comes to your heart and mind. Of all the complementary methods, meditation is the easiest to begin during breast cancer treatment. You can do this at home with very little instruction. Here are some basics to get you started.
It is best if you can sit on a cushion, either on the floor or in a chair, with your back straight. If you are sitting in a chair, let both of your feet touch the floor. The hands may rest in your lap or be placed on your thighs. Imagine yourself sitting in a relaxed place.
Begin to Meditate
You can begin just by being aware of the fact that you are sitting. You can begin at your feet and toes and go up through your legs, pelvis, abdomen, chest, heart, shoulders, arms, hands, neck, and head, being aware of how they are feeling in your body. Start with your toes, feel the weight where they touch the floor, experience an awareness of your body and then go gently up your body with a heightened awareness of how it feels to be present and aware of yourself. Allow yourself to settle into your body and into the moment. Closing your eyes may help you to focus or pick a spot on the floor in front of you where you can rest your eyes.
Focusing on the Breath
Gently bring your awareness to your breathing, the gentle rising and falling of your belly. Notice each detail of the experience of breathing, when it is the strongest for you. Focus on the “rising and falling” of your belly as it lifts as you inhale and falls as you exhale.
Gently Working with the Mind
You will probably be aware of your thoughts interfering with your concentration and, before you realize it, you are no longer focused. Recognizing that stray thoughts will enter your mind is normal, but you need to gently return to your breathing exercise to begin again. This is part of your meditation practice and the more you practice, the easier you will find it to maintain your focus. Remember to be gentle with yourself throughout the meditation process.