Jumping at Shadows

I now realise there are times my mind tries to get the better of me. Despite a deeper sense of knowing I am completely healed. And on occasion I can still jump at those shadows. You know, the mysterious aches and pains that before the cancer would have been nothing. But, as they say, once bitten, twice shy. And those aches, or lumps or bumps that previously would have been disregarded now run the risk of becoming so much bigger in the mind. And scarier too. Blown out of all proportion. It can be so easy to do, can’t it.

My first experience of the shadows came with a strange ache in my leg. And my mind went into overdrive. Bone metastases? I freaked a little. I didn’t realise that life ahead would now be fraught with these imaginings. But a consult with my oncologist soon put me at ease. And then, in the weeks after my reconstruction, the strange tinglings. A bit like the feelings I had with the tumour. And they really scared me. I reacted as is easy to do. Lashing out at those I love. But fortunately with the support of wise friends I was able to remember to practise being mindful about it all. After all, there could be many reasons for the tinglings, couldn’t there. And a phone call to my doctors put me at ease again. Just the nerves coming back to life. The wonder of my body healing.

And only last week, I noticed a small bump on the roof of my mouth. Wasn’t there the day before. And my tongue wouldn’t leave it alone. Fiddling with it constantly, wondering. I know a woman who had a tumour on her tongue. And despite the fact that ten years down the track she’s in perfect health, the stories still started. I began to create my own scary flight of fancy. No holding back with thoughts of a brain tumour, growing down through the roof of my mouth. But this time I noticed that I’m getting much better at managing this side of things. The stories my mind can create. The tricks it can play. Because I was able to step back from it. And notice the story. Notice that wonderful imagination of mine going into overdrive. And I actually found myself laughing at it all. In my memory I recalled perhaps burning my mouth on some hot food a day or two before. I wasn’t sure. But with the aid of a torch my husband helped confirm. And sure enough, a few days later the bump was gone.

If there is any tool I use the most now it’s mindfulness. And of all the different types of meditation, it’s my favourite. A beautiful way to just be present with how I am feeling in the moment. No judgement. Just noticing my feelings. Noticing my thoughts. Noticing the games my mind can play. Noticing the story for what it is. That it is just a story. Just my imagination playing with me. In the act of noticing, the fears and difficult feelings just seem to melt away. And by taking those few moments of stillness, I give myself the opportunity to regain that beautiful sense of wellbeing…

Mindfulness is the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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