Mindfulness can help you realize that you’re more than just your body. You’re more than your fleeting thoughts and emotions. You’re more than your illness.
Through the practice of mindfulness in times of illness and stress(and the natural self-inquiry that arises via meditation), you can discover a different dimension of yourself, a dimension in which illness is no longer such a big issue.
How Mindfulness Helps
- It offers you a way to support yourself and build some inner resilience so you aren’t overwhelmed by looming health decisions.
- It grounds you by providing a way to connect with something other than your physical body.
- It can help you spot unhelpful and untrue thoughts (like, “I brought this on myself”), thereby defusing their potency.
- It can keep you living in the reality of the present moment, instead of worrying about the future.
- It encourages personal growth, strengthening the sufferer with greater emotional resilience.
Ways to Help the Healing Process
- Focus on your breathing. If you find this too difficult, try counting your breaths or saying “in” and “out” to yourself as you breathe in and out. As you breathe, you might become aware of a physical tightness in the body that restricts the breathing process. Allow and accept this, and breathe into the tension. The Fusion Model identifies some easy breathing techniques to control anxiety.
- Focus on your body. Being mindful of your body is a particularly important stage if you’re unwell. Bring as much kindness as you can to your experience. If you aren’t too overwhelmed by pain, allow and accept it as far as you can. Stay with the feeling and do nothing else. Bring curiosity to your experience. The more nurturing and gentle you can be with your body, the better.
- Focus on thoughts and emotions. In meditation, you can welcome your thoughts and emotions instead of resisting them. You may want to use your breath to anchor yourself in the present moment every now and then. Notice the nature of your thoughts. Are they catastrophic? Are they always about the illness? Do they consistently focus on fears about the future? Notice where your emotions manifest themselves in your body, and use your breath to soothe them. Trust in your own capacity to heal, to make whole.
- Focus on just being. Become aware of your own sense of identity. Let go of your awareness of your body, mind, emotions, health and illness, desires and fears. Come back to the sense of being. Rest in this state. If you find yourself getting lost in thought, remember that thoughts simply dance on top of your awareness. Expect thoughts to arrive rather than resisting or fighting them.