It is October, Breast Cancer Awareness month, and sports teams are covered in pink (to which we add our thanks and gratitude)and there are many fund raising and consciousness raising “walks for the cure.” Through these walks we not only raise funds and consciousness, but we honor all those who have gone before, those who continue to battle every day, and those who are just beginning their fight.
We all know the importance of Breast Cancer Awareness month regarding continued and increased funding for research and increasing the awareness for mammography and self-breast exam. But, what we also need to remember, myself included, is “Self” awareness, not just in terms of breast exams, but in de-stressing our lives. Stress is a part of life that we cannot avoid. But we can control how we deal with the stress that our bodies and minds are “carrying.” The problem is most of us don’t take the time out of our busy days to de-stress, sometimes not even noticing that our bodies are carrying and holding onto the stress of the day. As said by Ram Dass, “The first step toward not being unconsciously influence by something is to become conscious of it.” We have to teach ourselves to be conscious and AWARE of how stress is affecting our bodies and our minds. Check your shoulders, your jaw, and your neck for tightness. Acid indigestion can be related to stress. Many people who don’t realize that they are stressed, act it out at night in their sleep by grinding their teeth. A distracted mind can be caused by stress. Stress is very subjective and personal, therefore, de-stressing has to be subjective and personal. What works for one person, might actually increase stress in another person. So, explore what is best for you, for your “Self.” Exercising (if physically able), relaxing music, aromatherapy, massage, yoga, meditation/visualization, Reiki, acupuncture, even a healthy diet can help us to de-stress. Many of these methods can be done in the privacy of our own homes without a large cost factor. Essential oils are wonderful for placing on your wrists and/or other pulse points while you are listening to relaxing music or placing a few drops on your pillow as you lie down to rest or meditate. I love Lavender oil for de-stressing. You can purchase a candle with a blend of lavender, orange, and tangerine (made with a vegetable palm wax) which is good for relaxing and healing. Many stress reducing CD’s can be listened to in advance at many stores (Target, for example). By purchasing one essential oil and/or candle and a relaxing CD, providing your “self” with a quiet area, you can breathe slowly and deeply and begin to de-stress.
We all have busy days, but it is essential that we take some time out for our-“selves,” even if we can only manage 15 minutes during the course of the day. Many evenings I place lavender oil on my wrists and my pillow, lie down in bed for the night and do a Metta meditation: this is a loving-kindness meditation directed toward ourselves and others and is explained more fully in my Meditation post. The days that I can add exercise and/or yoga are even better, but not always possible. I am trying to be consciously Aware this Breast Cancer Awareness month to eat a healthier diet. Less chemicals, more cancer fighting foods rich in anti-oxidants. I noticed a delicious cleansing drink on face book: two lemons, 1/2 cucumber, 10-12 mint leaves, 3 quarts of water. Brew overnight to create a natural detox, helping to flush impurities from your system. The accompanying picture looked like it was served cold. It looked very refreshing.
I would also like to recommend a blog site: Breastcancercoping/Breast authority by Diana Ross with many contributors in different fields of interest: yoga, complementary therapies, nutrition/diet and gardening. I ordered a DVD “Gentle Restorative Yoga” for breast cancer recovery and lymphedema management from the blog site. Since my reconstructive therapy in 2006 (see Reconstructive post), I have had a difficult time with certain yoga twists. The muscle that was moved from my back to my breast spasms and causes instant pain. So far, I have not had this problem practicing the gentle restorative yoga. Of course, always remember to clear any activity with your doctor before any type of exercise or yoga, especially if you are still in the active treatment phase.
Breast Cancer Awareness month: let’s all try to be more Aware of taking care of “self.” We all seem to do a great job of putting others’ needs ahead of our own. But, we must find a balance and place our-“selves” on the Important List also!