How to achieve stillness and find peace in face of adversity

4th June 2015: Bali, Indonesia

I am wanting to write a brief entry to remind me at later times of the complete stillness held within my current thought process. I contribute the obtainment of the present state of mind to the idea of compartmentalising certain thoughts in my life to particular periods in the day. Obviously, the main chain of thoughts causing potential damaging chatter to intrude my consciousness derives from the fear gripping me. The process of compartmentalising thoughts allows me to feel the fear whilst blocking it from taking over my life. Consequently, I then can remain focused on the hope and belief in being-well, and it appears the strategy of directing attention to health and life is more effective than directing all my thinking towards Cancer. My situation may fluctuate, and I need to accept this, however, hopefully this short entry can trigger some of the memories and emotions associated with this period whilst acting as a reminder of how peaceful life can be.

Hello Asia!

29th May 2015: Bali, Indonesia

The first day has come to a close, and to say I am pleased with the decision to proceed with the trip is an understatement. I am so content, happy and relaxed it actually astounds me to consider I have a Cancerous tumour residing within my body. I am writing this now in the surrounds of a peaceful backdrop, with sounds of the ocean playing joyfully with the black sand as it flows with the pace of the tide. Interestingly, I went out dancing last night, stayed up late, and although it goes against everything I said yesterday, I had such a fun time with a good friend from London that only feelings of happiness are experienced.

At one period in the day, I found myself surfing with no other people in the water. I felt completely isolated from the world, and as usual my mind started ticking over. Interestingly, it wasn’t a destructive chatter. Rather, positive feelings seemed to be flowing throughout my mind, and I see this resulting from the decision made to compartmentalise certain periods in my day to only think about my future. I see it as more beneficial than constantly blocking out thoughts about my Cancer. The moment of solitude in the water was also heightened by the actual contents of my thoughts. I recognise the disapproval of some may follow, however, the platform is designed to share, so I feel it is a point to be discussed. The idea stems from the entry yesterday about the percentage of my body that is healthy compared to the tumour growing inside of me. For some reason, I have felt the need to draw on sensations from the environment to support my strength and well-being. I achieved this today by taking a moment to simply breathe whilst attempting to seek power from the ocean, sun and trees to heal my body. It is agreed that maybe the levels of desperation are showing, however, I am seeing the attempt as another tool that will possibly result in my survival. Therefore, it may sound naive and laughable, but if I survival, then anything attempted definitely outweighs my death.

Meditation and my influences…

8th December 2014: Sydney, Australia

The saga continues. My day thus far included two sleeps, a gentle yoga session, and three periods of meditation. In addition, more time in the sun, a repeat of the cleanse in the salt water and the added element of laughter. Interestingly, a point overlooked yesterday was the unexpected social encounter with a friend whilst swimming. The time spent chuckling with a friend should have featured, particularly when considering the power of laughter and social connection on our well-being. In terms of measuring the trajectory of this flu. Overall, I would seem to be feeling better, namely, with the sore throat appearing to have disappeared, and hopefully this signals further progress tomorrow with a return to full heath very shortly.

A point I am wanting to get across is for the need to develop and maintain a routine when meditating to support my body switch from the ever present mode of thinking into one more at peace and conducive to healing. Currently, the following phrase has been repeated in my mind before bowing my head to kiss my hands, “I have strength, I have power, I will progress, I will become more intelligent and I am hoping for good health for all my loved ones”. I then focus on five main points within my body, those points being my middle eye and symmetrical points in both my hands and feet. I have never planned for such a routine, and the influences coming to my attention appear to derive from a combination of readings about the power of frontal lobe, i.e. the middle eye and a Jeudo/Christian image of Christ. Surprisingly, I have no connection with a religion so am unsure of how an image of Christ has appeared into my consciousness, possibly just a classic case of the subtle effects of priming, and the power of tapping into the unconscious mind to influence behaviour and thinking. On this matter, it is my knowledge, that the five points are included in an Eastern Approach to medicine for their potential healing powers, leading me to deduce another unknown influence that has surfaced into my subconscious mind. Lastly, I am aware my process has evolved since first being exposed to the connection between the mind and body, and may be exported in greater depth in a later entry to portray my personal journey thus far.

Why should life be about enduring rather than enjoyment?

10th November 2014: Sydney, Australia

An entry last week established a timeframe setting an intention to integrate a space for affirmations or breathing into my morning daily routine. It appears the aspect of physically positioning myself in such a way is the barrier needing to be overcome. I have identified that an acceptance of not choosing to complete the task results from the stiffness felt in my body upon first waking. Ultimately, meaning I am not achieving the outcome due to the necessary effort involved. Interesting, it contradicts my entire underlying approach to life since starting my plan to find a place for Cancer.

Often when talking about Cancer, I use the phrase ‘what it brought to me’ in an attempt to reframe common conceptions about the experience. My outlook towards Cancer is to view it in terms of what is can provide, opposed to what can be taken away. It was developed in the initial post-surgery phase to combat a sense of me believing in ‘enduring’ pain or discomfort as a means of progression. The roots of this belief commenced whist lying in the hospital bed recovering from the surgery, and later it was applied in many areas of my life, including swimming in a pool. For example, I was wanting to stop swimming, however, thoughts about enduring the discomfort of the process kept me swimming more laps than desired. Consequently, a level of risk to my health could have resulted from this belief. At present, I am attempting to shift this belief about enduring to simply living my life. The reasoning derives from a belief in the need for a healthy mindset, and the connotations associated with a life of enduring do not equate to a healthy mindset.

My mind meanders like a dog on a leash walking in familiar territory

8th November 2014: Sydney Australia

A new addition to my daily routine was mentioned briefly in the last entry prior to the diversion stemming from the rudeness about the staff at the pharmacy. In some ways, maybe the shift from topic was necessary as this very morning, the routine was not integrated into my day.

So, I have been trying to face the day with a period, always aiming for more than a few seconds whereby some gratitude, breathing exercises or affirmations are made. The timing is of essence. Initially, I was able to dedicate more time and concentration to this task, and as the months passed I felt a wondering mind was more often taking centre stage. Some thinking had been directed to this area of my life over the previous weeks, and on some days I was able to enter both a peaceful and alert state rather than a mind meandering like a dog on a leash walking in familiar territory. How was I to combat this? Well, attempting to complete this task in the warmth of bed where I have just had 8 hours of blissful sleep was probably not the idea location. It was decided a change in location was needed plus the task should commence immediately upon waking opposed to allowing a myriad of thoughts to circulate throughout my thinking.

At this point, some background information should have portray the intended message, and it derives from the learning undertaking during a four day spiritual retreat in July. The main point taken form the retreat was a reinforcement of my personal belief in both my mind and body being the force of change and creation, rather than an external greater power. Therefore, bearing this in mind, I felt a level of movement was needed to be incorporated into the daily routine, and consequently the plan was to get out of bed, taking to the yoga mat to hold a certain pose (sleeping baby). Expectedly for the level of my flexibility, it was not possible for my forehead to rest on the floor upon waking up in the morning. Completion of this required a process whereby my thoughts were consciously directed internally to the areas of my body relaxing and stretching to fulfil the intention to reach a peaceful state to commence the day. I found the process of focusing on each part of body unlocking kept me in a conscious state where my mind didn’t wander. In addition, a recognisable difference was noticed from starting to the finishing the exercise. It it highly likely that reference to a measurement is not a factor that should be discussed in this context, however, it assisted in my goal of completing affirmations whilst also symbolising the nature of change, i.e. is gradual, and not an easy process. I am displeased in not continuing the routine, so have considered use of another timeframe to really give myself the opportunity to gauge my capacity at introducing the task into my daily routine.

My Super Bowl

6th October 2014: Sydney, Australia

Yesterday was grand final day for the sport of Rugby League, a day my friends and I referred to in the past as a second Christmas Day. Maybe best comparable to Super Bowl day in the states or a World Cup final for football nations. Regardless of whether others share my passion for the game, it won’t often influence the positive feeling associated with this time as people typically get together for a BBQ, be it for the match or the long weekend and meet with family or friends, heading away for a weekend escape or choose to spend time at the beach/park/pool to celebrate the extra day without work. This year was to be both special and unusual for me, I had just returned to Australia after four years away, yet, a lot of changes were anticipated to how the occasion would unfold, particularly as the day was being hosted at my house.

When looking back, it can be seen as another learning curve in my journey. Similar to a lot of aspects of my life, it was no easy ride. Feeling of elations were intertwined with disappointment. The sun was burning, fun waves were to be had whilst surfing in the morning, a group of friends and family were getting together to feast over the food prepared. Feelings of disappointment surfaced came from the very moment of waking up, the culprit being the sore throat whom was again sending a strong reminder of it’s presence. My first thoughts were directed to the frustration at my slow recovery rather than the excellent times spent with my nephews the day before. Next, I became nauseous whilst surfing, taking away from the experience of enjoying the 32 degree weather whilst surfing fun waves. Such a combination is normally a remedy for everything! The day was starting to get away from me and the feelings of nausea lead to a fatigue, thus, it was decided to not pursue the plan of integrating yoga into my day and opt for some rest, food and an early dose of medication. I get the feeling all this can seen a little over dramatic, however, context is needed to look at the past feelings associated with the day and then the realisation of the changes for me.

Remarkably, a quick meditation whilst the artificial cortisol (medication) flowed through my body lead me to feeling much better. From that point on, I can’t recall a moment when not feeling unwell or unsettled, and had an amazing day surrounded by friends and family, plus was more than pleased with my ease and comfort at just occasionally sipping on two ciders throughout the duration of the eight hours. A duration of socialising I have definitely not been able to enjoy since the beginning of the year. So the learning from it? I firmly believe everything I face is trial and error. Some options may not work whilst others, like magic make me feel good, and are then seen to feature within my future thinking. The answer to why I started to feel better could simply be attached to the medication. A decision to ignore this pivotal point would be overlooking the mechanisms of the human body, however, looking at the day in greater depth would show the significance of many other factors contributing to sustained positive feelings. In advance, I had taken any stress out of the day by planning for healthy food to be served throughout the day, had support from my parents in setting everything up and the experience was shared by a circle of friends and family, including the visit of my little nephews whom always make me happy. An analysis of the situation would show I controlled my environment, was connected with family and friends, created an atmosphere whereby everyone was understanding of my needs with no pressure on me, was complying with medication, healthy food options were aplenty and in regards to mindfulness, the day finished with a meditation before drifting into a deep slumber. Evidence again of the principles enabling me to find a place for the Cancer, one whereby I am still able to enjoy my life.