Restlessness, one of the Five Hindrances, is a state of mental agitation that keeps us from being present in the moment. When I am experiencing restlessness I know the best thing to do is to sit and meditate. Yet when my mind seems like a chipmunk on caffeine, the last thing it wants to do is be quiet. This is exactly how I was feeling a few weeks ago when I was anxiously waiting for a phone call from the surgery center informing me what time I had to come in. A couple of weeks prior, I had an odd looking spot on my right breast checked by my dermatologist. It turned out to be Melanoma. Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer. Thank God it was only stage I, meaning that the cancer hadn’t grown down under my skin yet. Now I had to come in for surgery to have a larger part of skin removed, to make sure all “bad” cells were gone. They’d make a wide excision, that has the shape of an eye, and then stitch it back together. This thought alone caused a large part of this mental agitation.
I was nervous and calm at the same time. I’ve never had surgery before. I also knew all would be well. During the surgery they played soothing music for me, and I was holding a rose quartz that my brother once gave me, for comfort. One of the surgeon’s assistants tried to engage me in conversation. I think she intended to distract me from the unpleasantness of the experience. And unpleasant it was, initially. The six injections with anesthesia the surgeon stuck in my breast were quite painful. Yet I didn’t want to chat. I wanted to be fully present. I wanted to focus on my breath. I wanted to do self-healing, and honor my body as it was going through this rather traumatic event. I consciously breathed slowly in and out. I turned my awareness to the frequencies of Reconnective Healing and felt my body filling with light. I could feel the presence of benevolent beings in the room, although I couldn’t see them. I felt very empowered that, by using mindfulness and healing, I could keep myself at peace without taking any Valium or other substance.
Later that night I was in a lot of pain. I was definitely not at peace anymore. I was very far from ok. I felt shaky. I felt emotional. They cut into my boob and stitched it up and now it looked all funny (not funny)!
The day after I still didn’t feel good. I was questioning myself. What about that inner peace? Wasn’t I supposed to feel better? Instead of dwelling on it, shouldn’t I just “move on”? I realized, however, that in order to “process” this whole skin cancer event, what I really needed to do was feel. Feel the pain (although I was taking some painkillers to keep it manageable), feel the confusion, feel the not ok-ness of all this. It is ok to not be ok. Because that is how I felt. And I knew this too would pass.
For a week I rested, I meditated, I read. I gave myself full permission to only do what felt good (which wasn’t much). Going outside felt overwhelming. I couldn’t wear a bra, and therefore I felt exposed and vulnerable. Was I angry at my body? No. I softly spoke to it: “It’s ok. Shit happens. I love you anyway.” And I visualized filling all the cells in my body with healing light. I had debated for a long time if I would post anything on social media about my experience. I am glad I did, as I felt very supported. As much as I loved everyone’s encouragement, well wishes, loving energy, and prayers, at some point, though, it felt like too much of a responsibility because I felt as if I had to respond to every kind message. I just wanted to turn my phone off and be still. I did. A whole day of silence felt like the ultimate act of self-care. And then, suddenly, after a week I felt a lot better.
Why am I sharing all this? Because hearing that I had a Melanoma was a wake up call for me. I always thought cancer would only happen to other people. I am living such a healthy life. I practice yoga, meditate, and eat healthy. I take care of my skin. I always use sunscreen, wear a hat, don’t stay in the sun for too long, etc. But the ironic thing is: the spot was on a part of my breast that was always covered by a bathing suit! I’m not saying sun doesn’t cause skin cancer, but clearly it is not the only cause. We don’t always know why things are the way they are (although we like to think that we do). And who knows, if I hadn’t been so healthy (for the most part), maybe this would have been worse.
In this world of social media in which everyone seems to have the greatest life, filled with the most healthy meals, gorgeous homes, pretty clothes, happy vacations, and body slimming yoga classes, I think it is important to remember that we all have moments when we’re not feeling ok. And that’s ok. It is ok to not be ok. This event brought me back to the first of the Four Mind Changings: everything is impermanent. The sudden realization that my death is certain, and may come sooner than I thought, was very sobering. Of course, I knew I wasn’t going to die from this Melanoma. But still, I was reminded that our existence is ephemeral. We should not waste it. We should be fully present, and experience all of life. We need to stop looking outside of ourselves. We need to turn inward. We need to take care of our body and love our self. It is not a “yogi thing”. It may actually safe our life.