When we become mindful, we allow our inner spirit to be at peace with where we are at the moment. We can then take the time to see beyond the obvious and note the many things we can be grateful for that surround, support, and nurture us through hardships—be it family, friends, strangers, your warm bed, or the sun rising outside. It's easy to be mindful during happy times (What bride is not completely present during her wedding day?). But it can be challenging to find the stillness to appreciate our lives in the midst of hard times. Veering our minds from negativity, worry, and anxiety takes practice. The good news is that with enough focus, we are all capable.
I recently had to undergo focal radiation for recurrence of a pesky brain tumor that won’t take no for an answer. "Bring it," I thought. But when I was placed on a cold metal table, with a hard wicker face mask drawn tight over my face and tacked to the table underneath me, and then asked to lie still for 30 minutes lest other parts of my brain get zapped, my penchant for mindfulness was up for the judges of the universe to decide.
I asked for meditative music to be played while I lay alone in the cold radiation room. The music was merely a distraction from the gunshot-like noises and the squeaking of the arm of the machine as it made it way to the various plotted points of my head and forehead to deliver the appropriate biologic dose of radiation.
With the music playing, and my head attached to the table, and the fear that was instilled in me to lie perfectly still, I focused first on my breath. I took deep breaths in and deep breaths out. And I would count "one, two, three, four, in" and "one, two, three, four, out." When I felt my respiratory rate begin to calm and fall into a rhythmic mode, I checked in with my body. Underneath the warm hospital blanket provided, I connected with different parts of my body starting with my toes. With each connection, I felt release of muscle tension and a feeling of relaxation orchestrated with the rhythm of my breathing.
With my breathing in check and a relaxing of my muscles, I kept my eyes closed and peered through my third eye. At first there were swirling shapes of blackness and whiteness. I followed them around my field of perception until they coalesced into a shade of darkness. I allowed myself to go deep into this darkness.