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A Guided Meditation on Self-Love for Cancer Patients and Care Partners

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Published on May 8, 2019

At times, it can be hard to stop negative thoughts or emotions from arising on the journey with cancer but learning to practice self-love can help people recognize and diminish them. How can cancer patients and care partners express self-love? Join certified yoga therapist Raquel Jex Forsgren on the path to building emotional resilience and developing compassion through self-awareness for a short, guided meditation.

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Transcript | A Guided Meditation on Self-Love for Cancer Patients and Care Partners

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Rachel Jex Forsgren:
Hi, everyone. My name is Raquel Forsgren.  I'm a yoga therapist and a resilience coach, and on behalf of Patient Power today's series will be about figuring out how we give ourselves self-love and compassion through awareness, and this is all within the context of our path to building resilience.  

So when we think about giving ourselves self-love and compassion, how many of us can say we honestly do it and we do it in the same way that we give it to our family or our friends?  And self-love, when I think about it, is listening to myself, not beating myself up, saying positive things and all of those kinds of things.  And when we think about what it means to not be compassionate toward ourselves or not giving ourselves self-love, especially if we're on a cancer journey, or we're the person standing next to our loved one that's on that journey, sometimes it may look like we are upset or frustrated with our physical bodies for failing us.  

It could even look like judgment.  The oncologist tells us that we should eat a certain way or do certain programs to boost our immune system, and we're too tired to do it, and then we beat ourselves up for that.  It just takes on a whole different set of meanings for different people depending upon what you're going through.  

What we want to do today is give you some practical tools that over time when you practice these will change that inner dialogue.  And the three concepts that I really wanted to focus on is, the first is becoming aware of your thoughts.  So noticing in that moment when you're thinking about something, whether you're beating yourself up, wherever your thought happen to be, just notice to stop and ask yourself, what am I thinking?  Where do I feel it in my physical body?  And why am I saying that to myself?  Would I say that to my best friend who is going through this or my mother or my daughter?  So ask yourself that question first.  

The second concept is leveraging this self-awareness so that you can begin to see that you can actually control your thought.  If you can control your thoughts, a lot of times you can control your emotions to a certain extent.  So that's the second thing we'll touch on today.  

And then the third is through that self-awareness and that curiosity, as Brené Brown always likes to talk about, getting curious with what we're thinking and feeling, through that self-awareness you can change the language over time.  And that will make a huge difference for you on how you feel, maybe even how your physical body feels, your level of energy. And I promise after you try this a few times it will work.  

So are you ready? You all know the drill if you've practiced with me at all.  We're going to be sitting grounded, closing our eyes.  So whatever chair you're sitting in, your bed, your couch if you're lying there, you could do all of this, but I just want you to close your eyes. And immediately bring the awareness into your feet.  Bring all the awareness to your breath, and I just want you to notice how you're breathing right now.  Short and shallow, long and smooth, sticky, clunky.  

Now I want you to notice what you're thinking about right now with your mind.  What are you thinking about?  Now let's begin to integrate just a little bit of body scanning. So come back to the bottoms of your feet, wiggle your toes, feel your heels, bring the awareness up through your ankles, maybe into your calves and shins, your knees, thighs.  And wherever your hands are, feeling your fingers, relaxing your shoulders, relaxing your jaw, relaxing your face.  

Now begin to shift the focus to the inner part of your where your heart is.  Really visualize your beating heart, that amazing organ right in the middle of your chest that works and pumps and beats and feels 24/7.  Visualize it.  Now visualize the overall mood or emotion that you might be feeling.  What's been weighing on you?  Identify that emotion.  

Notice in your physical body if you can tie a sensation, meaning a physical feeling like a flutter, an ache, somewhere in the body.  Could be in your belly, your chest, your throat.  Just noticing where it's at and try not to analyze it, just noticing it.  Come back to that emotion that you identified.  Are you judging it in any way?  Are you judging yourself for feeling it in any way?  

Now visualize that emotion almost taking a shape, a color.  Maybe it's an object or a human or an animal.  Just visualize that emotion taking shape.  And as you take your next inhale, as you exhale, breathe into that space in your physical body where you feel the emotion.  Take another inhale.  Send your breath into that emotion again and almost lean into the emotion, allow it to be seen and heard and witnessed.  It's your emotion, your feelings.  It's there for a reason.  Witness it. 

Even, for some of you, this may begin to feel a little bit uncomfortable.  It might be even changing physical sensations in your body, a lump in your throat or feeling like you might need to cry.  That is part of witnessing our emotions. Really, really feel it.  Now take an inhale again, exhale back into that emotion. 

Changing the practice a little bit here, inhale as deeply as you can.  Expand your ribs, your belly, and as you exhale say the words silently or out loud to yourself, I see you.  Inhale again.  Exhale saying the words, I feel you.  Inhale again, and as you exhale, I love you.  Do that one more time.  Inhale. As you exhale, I love you.  Notice how that feels in your physical body. Again, it could be an uncomfortable emotion for some of you, an uncomfortable phrase to say to yourself, I love you, I feel you, I see you.  

Reground back into your feet.  Check back in with your breathing.  Has it changed?  Is it any different than when you first started?  Take a nice expanded inhale and a nice exhale, just sitting quietly just for a moment with your eyes continuing to be closed, allowing yourself to just feel this emotion and knowing that as we learn to witness, welcome these emotions, they flow, and they move, and they change every day sometimes every hour.  

That's part of the beauty of learning to understand and control our thoughts and emotions a little bit more is knowing that they don't always stay exactly the same, even the most difficult emotions pass and move.  If we allow them to be seen and heard and understand them, then we can most move on to the next emotion, and it's all part of our journey. 

So go ahead and softly blink open your eyes.  I know for some of you because I do this practice a lot with patients that I have, nurses that I work with, we do these practices quite a bit, and I know that it's normal for a lot to come up sometimes when we're practicing these different, very inner?guided practices, and that's okay.  That's normal.  It's part of the process.  Just allow yourself to feel what you have coming up on the inside.  That's how we heal.  That's how we move and build the innate resilience that I know is inside every single one of you.  That's how we do this.  

So leaving here today, make a commitment to yourself.  Make a commitment that this is how you give yourself self-love and compassion is by allowing yourself to feel what you feel, your own emotions, your own feelings, your own thoughts.  But also know that you can regain control over them just by tuning into your breath, being curious, so that they don't take control of you.   

So keep trying that, make that a ritual, and I promise within about a week I'd be curious to know how your process and your progress has been.  Keep trying it.  Don't give up.  Catch yourself.  I know that you'll be able to change your inner dialogue.  For me it's a daily work and practice.  I have to work on myself just as much being a caregiver and even going through just regular life.  So don't give up.  Be patient. Be compassionate.  It's all about self-love.  

If you have any more questions, always feel free to reach out to me or Patient Power. And if you like this meditation and this practice, make sure that you go to our wellness portal on patientpower.com for more.  And we'll see you again next month for continuing our series on building resiliency. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.