Tips for self-nurturing during and beyond breast cancer
By Donna Gianniotis
During a diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer the body is in a fragile state having to deal with the initial shock of the diagnosis as well as the physical affects of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and hormone therapy. Any one or several of the listed treatments is a lot for any woman to go through and self-nurturing during this time and beyond treatment plays an important role in assisting the body to recover and heal.
The following tips are a great starting point to developing a relationship with self-nurturing.
Connect with your body through feeling
To truly know what is going to feel supportive for ourselves it is necessary to develop a relationship with our body and how it feels moment to moment. When we stop to check in and feel our body on a regular basis we can start to listen to what it is telling us. For example, when checking in with our body, we may notice that we feel tired and rather than push the body we could then choose be to stop and rest rather than push through.
Become aware of HOW we are doing things
What quality do we do them in? For example, is there a sense of rushing from one place to the next with little awareness of how we even got there ? Or do we drive somewhere and upon arrival not to remember the car trip at all? In other words are we living on autopilot? When we live on autopilot, it brings a level of anxiousness in our body as the mind is elsewhere to what it is that we are doing in that moment.
Develop conscious presence
If the answer to the above point is yes, then it’s time to develop a relationship where our mind is with our body in what we do. This is called conscious presence and it is choosing to put our attention with our body in what it is that we do and in a quality of connection and gentleness. For example, when we walk, rather than being lost in thought and thinking of where you are going, put your attention with your feet and feel the ground as you walk, have an awareness of feeling yours arms and legs. It is shifting your attention from thinking into feeling and being with your body in all that you do. A great way to develop conscious presence is through the Gentle Breath Meditation.
Choose the quality of gentleness in how you move
Try a simple exercise such as standing up and sitting down. Feel what this is like in your body. Then stand up and sit down again but this time with awareness and gently. Now clock how this feels for you. You may discover that when you choose to move your body gently, it feels different, it feels lovely. Now imagine what it would be like to choose to do everything gently. Try it, you may find that your relationship with your body changes to a more connected way. To learn more about conscious presence listen to these audio’s.
Make self-loving choices
When we choose to be gentle in our bodies it becomes easier to make self-loving choices because we now have a reference point in our body that feels lovely. So for instance, if we have been practicing bringing gentleness in all that we do and we then begin to rush, it immediately stands out. In that moment we have a choice to recognise this and to either keep rushing or to choose a different quality of movement – that being gentle. Of course choosing gentleness is the more self-loving choice as it develops a harmonious relationship with our body.
Donna Gianniotis was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 at the age of 33. She now offers Cancer Support Sessions at North Sydney or via Skype which work alongside conventional medicine treatments for breast cancer. For further reading My Reflections – 5 years on from Breast Cancer, My Unfolding Path to Understanding the Root Cause of Breast Cancer, 5 Tips for supporting you through chemotherapy and Yoga for Breast Cancer.