I’m not a naturally patient person. That means it isn’t easy being a patient. I’m not the type who often lies around on sofas, looking out of the window. I like to get things done, and resting when I am tired never used to feel like “doing” anything.
This also means that my natural response is to feel frustration and sometimes fear that my physical healing is taking so long. My natural tendency is to wonder what I need to do to be well. Thankfully a key part of mindfulness is accepting things just as they are. This doesn’t mean not acting to change things, it means not wasting time and energy wishing that things were different. So when my feelings of frustration arise, I have learned to give myself a metaphorical hug, and remind myself that it is only two years since I received the 28 sessions of radiotherapy and 2 rounds of chemotherapy that saved my life. That was a lot of treatment, followed by two weeks as an inpatient in a specialist burns unit to help my skin recover. If I had a friend who had gone through that, surely I would expect them to still be feeling rubbish every now and then?
Accepting that resting was actually an active choice and counted as “doing” something constructive to help my healing has been an important lesson for me, which I am determined to carry forwards into my life now that I am feeling better. Mindfulness is sometimes referred to as “resting in the present moment” and it has been helpful to translate this literally in order to break my habit of keeping going regardless of what my body (and sometimes mind) was trying to tell me. So now when I think “what shall I do next?” I often tell myself “Nothing. Sit down. Rest.”
It takes a huge amount of energy to blossom like this gorgeous flower. I’m aware that sometimes I need to accept that I’m in a stage like these buds and draw myself in, especially on days like today when the residual pain from my cancer treatment comes to the fore and I realise I need to rest and look after myself. The more quickly I respond to myself with compassion, the sooner my pain recedes.
Like the cycles of a flower, it seems that sometimes I need time to rest in order to blossom again another day, and that’s not failure or weakness, it’s a wise investment and part of the natural cycle of illness, healing and health.
Katie Sheen, Founder of Soul Nutrition
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