How Meditation Helped Me Heal from the Inside Out
When I was diagnosed with cancer many years ago, I was devastated and thought my whole world had fallen apart. Now I see that I was right — my whole world had indeed fallen apart. But this was a blessing in disguise. By losing my life as I knew it — a life of unhealthy overworking, insufficient sleep, and lack of connection to myself — I was given the opportunity to change everything I was doing and create a brand-new life for myself, a happier life that now revolves around meditation, and that's something I wouldn’t change for the world.
When Things Fall Apart
For more than 25 years, I worked in the corporate world in several high-profile roles. I thought I loved my job doing business consulting in the IT sector, and I was very much married to my work. At the time, I considered myself at least partially healthy, running marathons regularly and eating quite well. But the truth is I didn't know what real self-care was. I thought taking care of myself involved just getting a massage or an acupuncture treatment on a weekly basis, then going back to my nonstop hustle the very next day. Clearly, I had no sense of the importance of slowing down or having work-life balance, and not surprisingly, I eventually got burnt out. And not just that — I also got cancer.
By the time all this unraveled, I was fatigued and suffered from a little bit of depression. I was also very emotional, so when something didn’t go my way, I would immediately react. To be completely honest, I wasn't a very nice person to be around! When people say to me now that I have such a calming presence, it always makes me feel good, because in the past, I wasn't calm at all. Until I got diagnosed with cancer, it never occurred to me that something was not right in my life and that changes needed to be made. I was stuck in the eye of a storm that I couldn’t even see. I didn’t have any awareness of how toxic my life was, and sadly this is the case for many people living unhappy, stressful, unhealthy lives. They don’t know what they are doing to their bodies and their minds, day by day and thought by thought.
Using Chaos to Fuel Positive Change
When I found out I had cancer, I was in a state of complete shock. To make things worse, I received the news via voicemail on a Sunday night. It was possibly one of the most challenging days of my life. The next day, I went to see the oncologist, and I underwent surgery soon after. As all this was happening, my life felt completely out of control, and all I could do was surrender. After trying to control every single detail of my life for so many years, this was an amazing feeling — just surrendering, and finally understanding that everything in my life needed to change. I immediately did things like giving up coffee, switching to an alkaline diet, making sure I rested enough every night, and picking up the greatest gift of all: meditating on a daily basis.
Throughout my life, I had tried different types of meditation, but I'd never developed a consistent practice. Once I got sick, however, I found the motivation to really immerse myself in mindfulness. Deep down, I knew this was exactly what I needed. It’s unfortunate that it took a life-changing experience like this for me to do it, but I’m grateful that I finally got there. From then on, everything started changing for me. The first thing I noticed was that my energy levels improved, my mind settled, and I had a more positive attitude toward life in general. I also stopped feeling like a little hamster on a wheel, always struggling, and was able to access a place of peace and stillness that I didn’t know existed within me. It was such a gift!
The Practice That Supported My Journey
Of all the many different types of meditation I tried, mindfulness is the style I was the most drawn to because of how I felt and the difference it made in my life when I practiced it. Once I started practicing it consistently, I felt like a completely different person. My only regret is that I didn’t learn this as a child. I think my life would have been very different if I did.
On top of my daily mindfulness practice, I also did daily visualizations to support my healing process. I would lie down and relax, and then visualize my body in a perfect state of health, part by part, cell by cell. I did that every single morning and found that it helped me feel calmer throughout the day. It reassured me that I was being looked after and that my body was healing, and this helped me relax. Sometimes I would also do it at night before going to bed, as it took away the anxiety and allowed my worried mind to calm down and fall asleep.
Learning to Surf the Waves of Life
Even though we need doctors, and everyone should find a healing path that works for them, it’s also essential to understand that our state of mind influences our health. Nurturing our mind and treating it with respect is much more important than many people think. We can learn to understand our negative mental patterns, and to observe them, knowing that we shouldn’t believe everything our minds tell us. The more we just observe the mind, the calmer it can become. And if we can calm our minds, we can then calm our bodies and support them in their healing process.
Life can be full of ups and downs — with extreme highs and lows for some people. But the more we practice, the better we will get at riding the waves of life. We will stop fighting life and instead will start surfing its waves and enjoying the ride.
For more on using meditation to support your healing journey, listen to Alison's guided visualization for perfect health.
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