Using Visualization To Calm Anxiety in Trying Times

Image Source: rgbstock.com

During these trying times, it is easy to feel a sense of rising anxiety, even fear. It feels like the world has gone mad.

While fear is a reasonable response to what is going on in the world, I would encourage you not to stay in that place for too long. It has detrimental effects on your immune system, and what you need right now is a highly functioning and strong immune system.

The rapidly growing field of psychoneuroimmunology shows us very clearly that stress and a continual barrage of negative thoughts weaken the immune system. See this article from the American Psychological Association about how stress affects immunity.

One extremely beneficial way to boost immunity – one that costs you nothing other than time – is the use of meditation and visualization.

Meditation helps your immune system do its job better. There’s even an article about that on Deepak Chopra’s website. Here’s the link.

To get you started, I am sharing my absolutely favorite white light visualization – I used this daily instead of going through radiation treatments (after I finished six months of chemotherapy, I already felt so toxic, I knew my body wouldn’t handle much more). I don’t recommend that you do the same, I am merely sharing this visualization because it’s such a wonderful remedy for heightened anxiety, fear, and depression. I always feel better after doing this visualization, and I hope it helps you to feel better, as well.

I hope you enjoy it. If you want to save it to your hand-held device, you should be able to right-click on it and do that.

Marnie’s Healing White Light Visualization

If you are interested in learning meditation but don’t have access to nearby classes, I have created a how-to course that you can enjoy without leaving your house. More information here.

Beside you in the healing journey,

How to Cope with the Anxiety of a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

For those who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and are suffering from anxiety – fear – hopelessness – whatever you’re feeling, I created this video, How to Cope with the Anxiety of a Breast Cancer Diagnosis, for you.

It’s just a little over 3 minutes long – please listen right through to the end because I share some important information throughout the video. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave your comment either on this website or underneath the YouTube video, and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.

GET MY BEST TIPS on healthy ways to beat breast cancer and prevent recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

The Fear of Dying – Changing the Mindset

https://marnieclark.com/The-Fear-of-Dying-Changing-the-MindsetThe Fear of Dying – Changing the Mindset

One of the things I hear most frequently, as I work with women dealing with breast cancer and all that it entails, is the fear of dying. We talk about it in hushed tones, as if we are afraid to even utter the words “I might die from this.” I went through exactly the same thing when I was working on healing from breast cancer. It is a common thread among nearly every single person fighting cancer. In this post I will share with you some things that helped me with that fear of dying and what you can do to change your mindset.

“Many people facing life-threatening illness begin by being scared of dying. This is not surprising and often this fear leads to a high motivation to get well. However, if the focus is ‘I don’t want to die’, from the mind’s point of view, what is the target, what is the goal? Obviously, the dying! An important step in getting well is to shift the focus onto living and finding what there is to live for – the passion. In comparison with trying not to die, there is far more healing in focusing on living and living well. We are healed by what we turn towards, far more than what we turn away from. When we affirm life, healing is a much greater possibility.” – Ian Gawler, excerpted from “The Creative Power of Imagery“.

I found these words by Ian Gawler to be immensely comforting. They were kind of like a re-set button for my overworked brain when I was going through breast cancer. Reading those words, I realized that he was absolutely right. Changing your mindset from “I don’t want to die” to “I am living each day with passion, love and healing” may not be easy but it’s SO worth the developing this skill. Here are some tips to help you.

1. LEARN TO LISTEN TO YOUR INNER VOICE – Recognize that your inner voice is your touchstone, your guide as to how you are feeling. It’s also good to help you discover whether or not you are making progress. By listening to what your inner voice has to say, you can learn much about yourself. If you find that your everyday thoughts are filled with negative criticism, stress, self-blame, regrets and fear, get some help. Find a practitioner of EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique. This is a healing technique that (in simple terms) relies on tapping on acupuncture meridians, employing the use of neurolinguistic programming and positive thinking to change negative thoughts and beliefs into more positive ones, and it seems to do this on not only the mental level, but also energetically and spiritually. It may seem like a simplistic solution, but it can be quite powerful.

2. MAKE A CHOICE TO TURN NEGATIVE THOUGHTS INTO POSITIVE – We all have down days, but by paying close attention to negative thoughts when they occur, you can make the choice to turn away from negativity and embrace more positive, harmonious thoughts. Why is this important? Because we ARE what we think. Engaging in positive thinking changes you, both energetically and physically, from someone who is full of self-blame, stress, recrimination, and negativity to someone who is open, loving toward themselves and others, motivated, and more healthy. Yes, I said that – more healthy. Research shows that positive thoughts actually change your brain! It’s a whole new area of science called neuroplasticity. By engaging in positive thought and positive activity, you can rewire your brain and strengthen areas of the brain that stimulate positive feelings and emotions. Here’s something you can try. When you find yourself in that cycle of negative thinking, worrying or obsessing, there are three things that can help:
a. When the worry and fear hit, mentally yell “Stop!” (I even envision a big red STOP sign).
b. Remind yourself that the worry is not real – it’s something your brain has conjured up. Tell that worry to sit down and shut up!
c. Reframe your negative thinking by focusing on more positive or distracting thoughts. Mentally switch gears and choose to think about something you love. Redirect your actions – go do something uplifting or fun. This might take the shape of helping a neighbor, calling someone you love, taking a walk, making a healthy smoothie. Make a list of things you love to do – and I suggest this because sometimes when you are down and depressed, you have difficulty even thinking of something uplifting to do that will make you feel better. Get the list out! Start doing more of those things!
After awhile, you will notice things changing and improvements in your way of thinking. The key is to do these 3 things EVERY SINGLE TIME you begin to worry or obsess. This breaks the pattern and helps you to rewire your brain.

3. TRY MEDITATION – Another amazing thing to rewire your brain is meditation. One American study on loving-kindness meditation, reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2015 [1], found that one hour of loving-kindness meditation PER WEEK (and certainly we can find one hour per week) “enhanced a wide range of positive emotions in a wide range of situations” for those taking the time to do the meditation. Interestingly, even after three months post-experiment, the people who practiced meditation daily continued to enjoy increased mindfulness, better social support, purpose in life, and (most importantly) decreased illness symptoms. The reasons for taking up meditation are many. You only have to Google the words “benefits of meditation” to be rewarded with hundreds of studies and articles touting meditation. If you need help with meditation,  I have a how-to course that will teach you what works best, along with some great guided meditations that will help you. You can access it here.

The Bottom Line

What I came to realize is that by living with the fear of dying ever present in my mind, I was closing myself off to living NOW. I was projecting myself to some far-off day in the future when things might not be too good. By learning to live in the here and now, I lost that fear of dying. I came to understand that living in the present moment was one of the most powerful gifts a person can give to themselves. Because what do we really have other than the present moment? If we are truly alive in the here and now, we are quiet observers. We can really taste what we are eating and enjoy every mouthful. We notice the color of the sky. We hear that bird singing its heart out. We see the spark of love in our husband’s eyes. We see our children changing and growing. And really – what is more important than these things? Focus on the things you love and that fear will melt away. And you just may find that the energy you have freed up helps you to heal as well.

Please be aware that someone with a serious mood disorder or depression may require the help of a trained counselor. If you are suffering from severe anxiety or depression, please see a trained professional to help you get to the root of the problem.

References:
[1] Open Hearts Build Lives: Positive Emotions, Induced Through Loving-Kindness Meditation, Build Consequential Personal Resources – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3156028/

The Creative Power of Imagery by Dr Ian Gawler, ISBN 0855722819

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

How To Stop A Panic Attack

How To Stop A Panic Attack

I have been working with a number of people newly diagnosed with breast cancer, several of whom are suffering from panic attacks, so I thought it might be useful to post some information on how to stop a panic attack.

Because they can be so frightening, so debilitating and disruptive to your life, a panic attack is definitely not to be ignored.

Teal Swan To The Rescue

I had in mind to create a video with specific breathing exercises and other information, but I happened upon Teal Swan’s YouTube video “How To Stop A Panic Attack” and she has done such a good job at describing not only what causes an anxiety attack, tips on how to deal with them when they arise, as well as other holistic changes you can incorporate to help yourself heal from them, that I decided “why reinvent the wheel” and decided simply to share her video here.

Teal Swan, if you are not familiar with her, is an amazing young woman.  She calls herself The Spiritual Catalyst and offers advice on many different subjects.  She is incredibly wise for someone so young.  You can read more about her life’s journey here.

So without further ado, if you are experiencing a lot of anxiety or panic over your breast cancer diagnosis, please take nineteen minutes to view this video, I believe it really will help you (or at the very least, steer you in the right direction).

If you do continue to suffer with panic and anxiety, let’s connect. Sometimes all you need is a really good healing plan to subdue those fears and anxieties.  I would be honored to help you with that.  Please go to my page describing my breast cancer coaching services.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

How To Live In The Moment – 9 Tips

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng and Lumix2004

Image source: stock.xchng and Lumix2004

I was taught by a dear friend of mine, Judy, the importance of living in the moment when I was going through breast cancer.  I guess it had never occurred to me before then…

I was sitting with her in the sunshine on her porch and I had just been diagnosed and was feeling fairly traumatized by the notion that I had an unwanted “guest” in my body.

Judy was listening to my long litany of things I was worrying about – chief among them being “What if everything I do turns out not to be enough?”  Judy gave me a gift that day, by saying “Well you can certainly go down that road and worry yourself endlessly.  Or you can choose to just live in the moment.  Appreciate the here and now as fully as you can.”  That turned out to be life-changing advice, and I thank my friend Judy from the bottom of my heart for that beautiful lesson.

We Can Get Lost In the Past and Agonize About the Future

Being a human isn’t easy.  Our brains, which are so marvelous at figuring out complex things, can also be the bane of our existence.  We can listen to the tales our brain tells us – worrying endlessly about what happened at a party last week, what people will think, how big our credit card bill is – on and on and on.

Sometimes our brain gets fixated on the future, however, and if we are anxious or fearful about that, it can be paralyzing.  The trick is not to let our mind control us, rather, to take hold of the mind and direct it where you WANT it to go.

The reason I believe that living in the moment is important when you’re going through breast cancer is because there are so many things about which to be anxious and fearful.  Living in the moment truly strips that away and helps you to be more fully alive NOW (which is really all that matters – the here and now!)

My Favorite 9 Tips On Living In The Moment

  1. Release Your Self-Conscious Anxiety – If you can, release your worries about what people are thinking of you.  Most people are so focused on themselves, they really are not thinking about you as much as you think they are.  Who cares what they think anyway?  It simply does not matter.
  2. Truly Savor The Present Moment – Be alive to it, use all of your senses.  Really hear the song that is playing or what your child is telling you, totally immerse yourself in the beautiful colors of a sunset, truly feel your clothes touching your skin, taste that mouthful of food you just took – endeavor to identify exactly what you’re tasting.  If you’re doing something you perceive as boring (like walking to the bus stop), treat it as a meditation and observe with new eyes each thing you see on the journey – a bird, another human (smile at them!), a squirrel rushing past.  Your world is changing constantly – be alive to it.
  3. Be Very Mindful – All The Time! – This works especially well in your relationships with others and initially can be a little hard to do.  But the more you practice it, the better you get at it.  Simply put, it involves NOT reacting with anger in situations where you normally would.  Take a moment and really think about what is being said, how it’s meant.  The Buddhists call this recognizing the spark before the flame.  In short you are inhabiting your own mind more fully, by not reacting and pausing a moment to think about things you are being fully present.  When you do respond, do your best not to respond in anger but with thoughtfulness.
  4. Don’t Avoid Pain – By pushing away painful thoughts (or even physical pain) you are simply postponing dealing with it.  By facing it fully, accepting it for what it is and then releasing it (whether via a talk with your psychotherapist or a massage or whatever you need to do) you bring yourself fully into this moment.
  5. Meditation Assists – Living in the moment gets easier with meditation because you are actively clearing thoughts from your mind (like the wind blows clouds from the sky) when you meditate and concentrating on an affirmation or your breath.  When you notice your mind has wandered, simply bring it back to the present moment and your breath.
  6. Forgive What Has Happened In The Past – That old saying “To err is human, to forgive divine” has never been more true.  When you forgive someone for a wrong you perceived they have committed, you free yourself from the past and this allows you to be more present now.
  7. Do One Thing At A Time – When you are multi-tasking (and I know you are… we’re all guilty!) you are quite unable to focus on any one thing and give it your full attention.  Resist the urge to rush through it.  Do it slowly, thoughtfully, mindfully, like it was the single most important thing you ever had to do.  Try smiling while you’re doing it.
  8. Leave Blank Holes in Your “To Do” List – Resist the urge to schedule things really close together for 14 hours straight. Give yourself a little wiggle room to breathe, meditate, take a walk or simply sit and do nothing!  We have become human DOINGS rather than human BEINGS.  Just sit and “be”.
  9. Do Something Nice For Someone – Whether it’s for someone you love or a total stranger, nothing helps you to be more in the moment than to let someone know you care by doing something nice for them.  Even just smiling at a stranger as you pass by could have an impact on their entire day.  Hold a door open for someone, give up your seat on the bus to an older person, cook your spouse their favorite meal unexpectedly, tell someone how much they mean to you.  It feels really good – to them and to you.

A final note:  When I am stressing about something it’s almost always because I’m reaching too far into the future and feeling concerned about it.  It helps to bring yourself back to “right now” by asking yourself “Am I okay right now?”  If the answer is yes, then feel gratitude and stay with that feeling for as long as you can.  Because right now is all we have.  90% of the things we worry about never happen.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach).  It is my honor to help you through this.

Your Emotional Health Is Important When You’re Going Through Breast Cancer

Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and Zela

Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and Zela

Understanding how our emotional health impacts our physical selves was something that I really wanted to grasp when I was going through the breast cancer journey.  Being a massage therapist, I knew the two were inter-related and important.

Repressed Emotions Can Be Detrimental

One of my favorite authors, Dr Bernie Siegel, was a wonderful source of information to me and helped me understand how our emotional health impacts our physical health.

In his book Love Medicine & Miracles, Dr Siegel shared the importance of expressing your emotions when cancer is diagnosed.  He said that feelings of anger and rage are usually well founded and must not be repressed.  Dr Siegel stated “Unexpressed feelings depress your immune response.”  He went on to say that the people who show and express how they feel “survive adversity better than those who are emotionally constricted.”

Dr Siegel discussed a 1979 study by Leonard Derogatis and Martin Abeloff, John Hopkins Medical School, who studied 35 women with breast cancer and found that those who lived longer were much more expressive in their anger, fear, guilt and depression as compared to those women who suppressed their emotions.

This illustrates how much repressed emotions are injurious not only for your mental health but also your physical health.  Emotional honesty not only improves your health, but also helps you to receive better quality of care from your family and your health care providers.

5 Ways To Release Pent-Up Emotions

  1. Seek help from a qualified counselor – a psychotherapist can assist you to offload all of that toxic rubbish you’ve been carrying around in your brain for so long.
  2. Go stand on a mountain top – or some other secluded place – and have a word with your Maker.  Pour out your heart.  Rest assured that your words will be heard.
  3. Find an Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner – I used this myself when going through breast cancer and it helped alleviate stress and anxiety to a huge degree.  Dr Mercola has an informative video on his site about this technique.
  4. Try meditation.  It is an inward journey that will help you to come to know yourself much better and helps to alleviate so much of the anxiety and fear surrounding a cancer diagnosis.
  5. Bodywork such as deep tissue massage and aromatherapy can help you release emotions that have been residing within you.

This is so worth doing – emotional toxicity causes so much disruption in our lives such as depression, insomnia, physical pain, and yes, cancer.  Seek some help, give yourself the best chance to heal.

I send my love to everyone taking this journey right now. If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

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