As a meditation and mindfulness teacher (and forever student), I am thrilled when I see new articles, books, and stories from people experiencing the many benefits of meditation. There is no question that it will invite more joy, peace, happiness and compassion into our lives.
However, I'm realizing that for all the greater happiness, joy and love I feel has been amplified in my life because of my meditation practice, it is in the murkier moments that I am most grateful for it. Those moments when fear can easily be consuming, peace seems unattainable, and uncertainty is the only certainty that exists.
While meditation will not necessarily remove the stress and uncertainty from our lives, it provides the tools to embody these challenging circumstances in a much more focused, calm, meaningful and compassionate manner.
I recently had one of these moments, and was able to observe my practice at work. It went a little something like this..
Today I have a follow up appointment with my oncologist. After two years, I've embraced that these four month check-ins are just part of my new normal. I'm usually very calm and grounded heading into these appointments, but for this one, not the case. I have been feeling an ache in my right breast for the last couple of days and it struck a terror inside and a nagging feeling deep in my gut. I'm familiar with this feeling - fear, angst, dread.
So I do what I've now trained myself to do. I pause, tap into my meditation + mindfulness toolkit and begin to just notice -- desperate for that space of peace, clarity and focus that has become my home base over the years -- in large part because of my meditation practice.
I used to just ignore these feelings, but as my journey to wholeheartedly embody the present moment reminds me, I am being invited to sit and be with whatever is coming up.
I'm focusing on the sensations in my body. The tightness in my chest, the tears welling up in my eyes, the warm salty tears now streaming down my face, the shallow breathing and the deep invitation for my body to take deeper breaths. Slower, deeper breaths.
I'm embracing that this feeling has validated some unfortunate circumstances from my past. And I'm aware that this feeling invites a slew of future uncertainties. But instead, I am right here. Right now. I welcome these thoughts as just stories that I am attaching myself too.
The dread of feeling stuck
The grief of loss
The expectation of responsibility
The questioning of faith
The wonderment of not knowing what's next
The curiosity -- is it back?
As soon as these thoughts arise, with my focus on breath, they start to simply float by in a sea of detachment and release.
My tools continue to be revealed and the greatest teaching moments make their presence known.
Focusing on my breath for grounding.
Surrendering to something bigger, greater and divine.
Settling into grace as my trusted guide.
Listening to my heartbeat - as the ultimate reminder I am here, now.
As my breath becomes more natural and my heart a little lighter, I can feel a deep nurturing presence revealing a space for the truest part of myself to come through. I am home.
Writer's Note: All went well at the doctor. These phantom pains are normal for new survivors and will continue to monitor, but for now, nothing to be concerned with.