Sunday, October 12, 2008

Meditation and Guitar Hero Part 2

If you didn't read part one, you might want to start here.

Then, in March 2006 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was in for six months of treatments. A lumpectomy, followed a month later by surgery to insert a port. Then four months of chemotherapy and two months of radiation. I was both afraid and conflicted. Although I knew these treatments were needed to staff off the chance of the cancer metastasizing, I was also aware of the devastating effects the treatments would have on my healthy body. I needed some proactive tools of my own. I needed to DO SOMETHING. Help the doctors out while they shot poison into my body.

I read everything everybody gave me and stuff I found on my own. I read an article on Melissa Etheridge and another on Sheryl Crow; on how they had both dealt with their breast cancer treatments. Both of them said that mediation practices got them through cancer treatments. One of my closest and dearest friends sent me a book on healing and meditation. It was all about using meditative practices for helping the mind in healing the body. Huh. I could put my busy mind to work for a good cause. Except that it meant meditating.

MUST FIND HAPPY PLACE. MUST FIND WAY TO STAY IN HAPPY PLACE.

So, I read the book and it was very helpful and inspirational. I sat cross-legged everyday and “meditated.” I used the mantras, which also were in English, but very practical and geared towards healing from a devastating or terminal illness. Some of the mantras were too long and I figured it did not help my meditation attempts to stop and read from the book every time I took a breath. I settled on one that I could manage.

Deep Breath. White light in. Visualize the light of heaven streaming towards you and entering with your breath. Focus on this light moving through your body. Let it reach each and every cell. Picture it surrounding any cancer cells.

Exhale. Black smoke out. Visualize the diseased cells being carried by your exhaled breath, through your bloodstream and out through your lungs, being expelled from your body.

I was able to stay in this mode for fifteen minutes, sometimes twenty. I still never got to what I imagined was “transcendence,” but I did manage to keep out other thoughts.

Then I got well. OK. I realize I need to make it to the 5 year mark to truly say that, but once you are fully back in the swing of things at work, once you can physically do everything you did pre-chemo etc, and once your hair is grown back… It’s difficult to remember you are officially still in recovery. I let things slip a little. I stopped meditating. I went back to having a cup of coffee and reading news and whatever on the internet in the early morning instead of meditating. Each day I’d say TOMORROW. I MUST STRETCH AND BE SILENT BEFORE I START MY DAY.

This is about where I was at the beginning of last summer. After a very busy year at work and my new personal project (yep, if you are here you are reading it), my mind was busier than ever. Now, while I tried to meditate, blog ideas clogged my brain, developed in my brain, transformed and morphed and got better or funnier or more poignant until, before I realized what I was doing, I not only did not attempt to shut my mind the fuck up, the next thing I knew I was at the computer. And I’m not even talking about other mindful pursuits. Lesson plans. Research. Assessment. There are a lot of ideas that can float one’s cognitive boat.

What?!? Still no guitar Hero! Shame on me. Tommorrow will be the final chapter.

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16 comments:

only a movie said...

Hmmm. Blogging is also in the way of any silent time I have intended for myself each day...
Not sure what to do with that. Not having time doesn't make sense.
I like this series of posts. Looking forward to guitar hero.

starrlife said...

Nifty concept, installments. I agree with only a movie- I kind of throw my brain at the blog, probably I should work on reworking some of my posts :). I'm so glad to read about your life- whew tho! I know several survivors of breast cancer- tough journey but so often worth it! Love the click!

Eudea-Mamia said...

Great story - I really do enjoy the installments. I'll be back for more.

Em

Jay Jay said...

Great story so far Pseudo. I'll be back tomorrow to read the rest. The Guitar Hero part has me really intrigued.

Jayjay

Kathy said...

ahhhhhh Guitar Hero. My son loves it. I can't do it. But I'm enjoying reading about your journey, and can't wait to the GH part. :)

Having gone through cancer with my mother 10 years ago, it's nice to read or know someone that's made it, and reading your halloween post was eye-opening for me. I wish my mother had talked more about what she was going through.

Thank you.

thistle said...

you're giving me goosebumps...i'm so in awe of anyone who goes thru that kind of treatment and healing process...altho i have a high pain threshold, i'm a terrible patient...the worst actually..don't like being sick.period.

for me, blogging is turning out to be something 'you throw your brain at' (great way to put it erin!)...and a cathartic process...giving us time to chat and think and ruminate...essential to mental and physical health (altho meditation might still be better for us LOL...)

looking forward to part 3...

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I have to admit that spending my personal time blogging/interent reading must be mostly good because it has my interest and is creating a new space for me. But I've been getting more migraine lately,which is usually a signal that I'm out of balance. Plu next week is my six month blood check with the oncologist, so I get a littleparanoid if I've let my healthy routines slip.

Kristan said...

Actually "white light in, black smoke out" reminds me a lot of my old meditation. I did might at night before sleep, though. And I basically visualized all my negative thoughts of the day flowing out of me into a black sphere in between my palms, which I held out in front of me. Then when I thought I'd gotten them all out, I took a deep breath and smashed my palms against each other, "exploding" the black ball of negative energy. Kind of melodramatic, I know, but I was 16. :P

Anyway, I'm really hoping you'll tell us tomorrow (or whenever) that Guitar Hero is your new form of meditation, because that would be awesome. Either that or your son played Guitar Hero when you were trying to restart your meditation, so you bashed him over the head with the fake guitar. OOOMMMMM.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Kristan - you are really something. A) I love the exploding black ball. B) GH comes in tommorrow and yuor guesses are better than the truth.

McEwens said...

My sister in law is now past the ten year mark! When she was diagnosed they told her she just had a 30 percent chance of making it through the treatments! They were wrong! HERES TO THE 5 year mark for you!

Laura said...

Oh, meditation as when you get rid of bad thoughts and invite in good thoughts, and not when you levitate to a higher level of understanding. So does it have to be done alone? Is being with friends a form of meditation? And when people sent, I am sure, thoughts of healing out to you, was that meditating too? I guess some call it praying, some meditating, and some being a compassionate person of the world. Positive thoughts out to all, and to you and your blood count.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Yeah. I'm not so sure of the details between praying and meditation. I kind of go with the meditating is listening to God and praying is talking to God. But since I use words for meditating, thre is a fine line there ; )

Thank-you for the positive thoughts.

Insane Mama said...

Wow, you are such a survivor. Do you believe the meditation helped?

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Hi Insane Mama - Yes. I do. It kept me positive and centered.

Twenty Four At Heart said...

I'm so sorry you had to go thru the pain, stress and fear of breast cancer. Your meditating and positive thinking no doubt helped a lot with your recovery. I wish I could meditate, I always flunk when I try.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

I guess there are some advantages to being 3 days behind in your reading. I can go right now to part 3. :-)