I’m sorry I haven’t posted here as regularly as I’d planned to lately. The thing is, I have 20-odd stitches in my back. Which clearly isn’t ideal… but I love them!
I love them because they’re infinitely cooler than their predecessor – a sneaky old melanoma, my second this year. I’m thanking my lucky stars both were caught before they spread. Take that, mo fo’s!
I only share this with you because it was our mutual friend mindfulness that kept me cruising sans crazy this past month. Here are three ways these skills came in handy for me. Perhaps if you have your own health concerns, you might find they help you too?
1. Mindfulness helped me wrangle my worries.
When my thinking mind leapt towards scary “what if’s” about the procedure, my biopsy results or what the future might bring, I thanked her for trying to plan for every eventuality, reminded her that in this moment all was well & invited her to put her feet up & relax. This worry factory is closed.
2. Mindfulness helped me face my fears.
I can’t say I like the idea of sharp implements digging into my person. And although I couldn’t feel any pain thanks to the anaesthetic, my darling mind took it upon herself to pair innocent tugging sensations with delightful mental images of sharp scalpels doing their thing. Thanks mind, but I’m going to let those images float on by & return to my breath rather than free falling into freak-out.
3. Mindfulness helped me handle the pain.
This was the first time I’d experienced considerable pain since learning these mindfulness skills (if only I’d had them for childbirth!). It was fascinating to hone in & observe the pain for what it really was – a bunch of sensations in my body accompanied by a bunch of words & pictures in my head.
When I let go of the unhelpful thoughts that my mind conjured up – the judgement that this pain was “bad” & the wish that it would disappear – & simply sat with the discomfort, “the bad pain that wouldn’t go away” became mere sensations, which were infinitely more bearable on their own.
Being able to handle pain without throwing unnecessary mental suffering into the mix was pretty rad! I felt empowered and strong.
So here’s this week’s microholiday: Sit with discomfort
Your microhoilday this week may seem a little odd, but your challenge is to sit with an uncomfortable feeling for a minute or two. This feeling doesn’t have to be pain though – no need to injure yourself on purpose!
Your discomfort could be feeling cold & waiting a minute or two before you grab your jacket, or paying attention to your pins & needles after playing on the ground with the kids for a long stretch.
Simply observe the sensations in your body & the associated thoughts as they arise. See how the sensations & thoughts are in fact quite separate. Notice the sensations, & then notice the thoughts – each distinct elements of your experience, in no way fused together.
See if you can sit with the discomfort for a little longer. Bring a sense of playful curiosity to your experience & the thoughts your mind conjures up ;-)
This simple practice will slowly expand your ability to be with uncomfortable thoughts, feelings & sensations. Then the next time you experience a health wobble, you’ll be able to notice if your mind is heaping on unnecessary suffering & say, “No thanks mind, I’ve got this!”