As anyone reading this who has been diagnosed with life altering medical issues knows, sometimes excess time is not your friend. That can be time leading up to an operation, or waiting for test results, physical therapy, a scary or invasive test, etc. etc. The worry and “what-ifs” that consistently follow you can certainly take a toll.
While I have in previous posts attempted to outline that time before surgery can and should be used to get your mind and body prepared, I’ve found that I need to continually practice and work on keeping stress and worry at bay. It wasn’t until three or four months ago that I really reconnected with the practice and benefits of mindfulness. For those of you unfamiliar with the practice, there are far more qualified people who have written extensively on the origin, routines, methods and NUMEROUS benefits. A simple Google search will bring you countless articles outlining why you should start today.
The mind is a powerful organ and tool and can be trained and exercised like any other. So in my personal experience, I found it most helpful to simply start by trying to meditate every morning for a week. There are plenty of great apps out there like “Headspace” and “Calm” that give you free trials and get you jump started that I would highly recommend as a jumping off point.
After you’ve just gotten used to being alone with your own thoughts, you will certainly notice negative thoughts and worry are a little easier to identify. It is through constant practice and training that we can try to be more focused on the “here and now” and not either stuck in things in the past we cannot change, or in the future with an uncertain outcome. While I still have plenty of worries that plague me in my recovery; most recently an “inconclusive MRI Scan” that requires follow-up, and a few other health issues, I’ve found great relief and comfort in mindfulness. When I find worry creep into my thoughts, my mindfullness training has certainly helped me to notice these negtive thoughts quicker and enabled me to refocus on the now. Full disclaimer, this does not eliminate negative thoughts and worry, but does help us to handle them in a much more efficient manner.
So while I’ll never be a trained meditation guru or Zen Monk, I’ve found continued value in learning and continuing to practice and tweak mindfulness. I really encourage anyone going through their own hardships, or really anyone who needs a little calm to get started. Start small with a few minutes a day with an app, website or book and do what works for you. I hope others will learn to calm their mind a little more and lessen stress and worry they may be experiencing.
Here are a few websites, articles, and apps I’ve found to be helpful;