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Friday, 29 June 2012

Meditation and visualisation

I was waffling on about this a few days ago and promised that I would write more about it.  Now, I know that you all hang on my every word, because after all I made it clear in the Blog title that you are all entitled to my opinion, but a promise is a promise so prepared to zone out!

First I have to say that I don't meditate as much as I should, at least not for long periods of time.  I tend to use Micro-Mindfulness instead.  But if you want to try meditation I would recommend the Chopra Centre summer meditation challenge which begins on 16 July as a good introduction.
Also it is free so you can dip your toe in the water without spending money.  One draw back to such meditations is that you can't choose the voice of the person who is leading the meditation.  This really is important because if you are distracted by a voice that you personally find annoying it will stop you getting the full benefit; but as I said this is free and will send a new meditation to you each day for 21 Days.

If you do want to try some guided meditations I would recommend that you take the opportunity to listen to them first; the same if you want to use just music to meditate to.  Try before you buy.  I have mainly used MP3 downloads, some of which have been free, and others which I have purchased from Amazon.  I am sure the iTunes and other such facilities have the same capability, but what I like about Amazon is that you can listen to a sample of the track or voice before you buy.  Also many of the meditations and piece of music that I have purchased have been less than £1.  Also if you have a favourite piece of classical music you can try different versions until you find the one which is phrased just as you like it.  It wasn't until I used this facility that I really appreciated how difference interpretations of the same piece of music can be.  I love Vaughan-Williams 'The Lark Ascending' and listened to all those available before making my choice.

This is where visualisation can be so powerful.  I have just put on the VW Lark and it can instantly take me to The Ridgeway at Uffington by the White Horse and walking out to Waylands Smithy on a lovely warm day with a cooling breeze, and where I could hear some Larks singing.  It takes me to a place which is warm and safe, happy and contented.  This piece of music is about 15 minutes long, which is about the time it takes for my treatment to be delivered every four weeks.  During that time I can absorb the music, the peace of the visualisation that I carry with me at all times whilst I also visualise the treatment going to the places in my body where it is really needed.  This makes the treatment a positive thing which is working for my wellbeing, which I believe is one of the reasons that I have never had any bad side effects from my treatments.  This could just be wishful thinking but I have always felt that if you resist a procedure or treatment it will make it harder for your body to accept it, and make it feel worse than it is.

I have also found that meditation and visualisation can really help with dealing with pain as well.  Again, to me pain increases the more you resist it.  By relaxing and allowing yourself to go the the area with the pain you can then focus on it and with each breathe release a bit more of the pain until you can even it out a bit and co-exist with it.

Of course these techniques are not only useful to deal with cancer and the associated problems on a physical level.  They are of emotional, personal and spiritual value as well.  When I find myself getting wound up about something Micro-Mindfulness, as I call it, can be really useful.  Mindfulness is a meditation technique that trains you to connect with the breathe coming in and going out of your body.  No breathing techniques are needed, just the ability to focus on the cooler air coming into the body, and the warmer air leaving it.  To focus on the rise and fall of the lower belly as you breathe in and out.  This focus can allow me to stop what I am doing and appreciate that right here, and right now I am alive, safe, secure and that there is nothing to fear right now.  This can stop a problem getting out of hand when you begin to realise that the present is made up of just such moments, and that it is this moment in which I exist.  The anxiety about the past or the future is somewhat futile because it is not what is happening now.  Sometimes it almost feels as though I can suspend time and remain for a while in this safe bubble.

I make no claims to be an expert in any of this, and as I have said I don't do it enough or as often as I should but it has become an important and integral part of my strategy for living with being Stage IV.  I have come to accept that what I do to help myself is every bit as important, if not more so, than what the medical profession can do for me.  It gives me the time and space in which to appreciate actually being alive.

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