For a cancer patient, anxiety is almost a given, nearly as insidious as the disease itself.
Our immune systems are already compromised. Now we have a novel new virus to deal with–one humans have never encountered before.
It can be terrifying. The what-if’s can crowd out everything else, even to the point of making you throw up. It can overwhelm at almost any stage of the process, including when treatment is over and someone is considered cured.
My psychotherapist pointed out that anxiety starts with the emotion of fear in the body. For me, the fear usually showed up in my tense face and gut. Then my brain kicked in, producing anxiety. I had “so many bad thinks,” as tai chi Grandmaster Vince Lasorso pointed out.
The key to letting go of the anxiety and the bad thinks was to refocus my attention on the sensations in my body. I realized my thinking about my dread was my way of escaping the actual emotion, which showed up as uncomfortable sensations in my body.
Through practice, I was able to identify the fear in my body, to allow it to be what it was, and to stop my bad thinks. While learning this technique, it helped me to refocus my mind on things that were beautiful, admirable, and true—the reflection of sunlight on pine needles, the sweet scent of cinnamon, the vibration of a dulcimer. Another prescription for anxiety that helped was to pray. Bringing my fears to the Spirit and asking for assistance helped me let go of some bad thinks. A third method was refocusing on anything for which I could feel grateful. Even a small thing, like “Today I opened my eyes again.”
With practice, the need for anxiety pills—if you take them—might lessen. Maybe you can, after discussion with your doctor, ditch them. You can create a new prescription—one that relies on your focused attention and reduces the chemical burden on your body.
Thriver Soup Ingredient:
When you feel anxious, check in with how your body feels. Are you tense in your face? Does your chest tighten? Does your stomach contract? Try to let go of your thoughts and simply focus on the sensation in your body. Allow it to be what it is. Allow it to move around; allow it to get intense; and allow it to dissolve. If you feel it without thinking any thoughts (like gee, this is taking a long time), the sensations will lift after 90 seconds. Repeat as often as necessary. Sometimes I had to repeat for more than an hour before I could get on with my day. And if your brain still insists on thinking, try to redirect your thoughts to the Divine or practice offering gratitude—even if only for a moment.