As a cancer fighter/survivor, you may feel overwhelmed by the physical and emotional changes that come with your diagnosis and treatment.
One way to help manage these changes is to incorporate meditation into your life. Regular meditation can improve your overall health and well-being by reducing stress and boosting your mood. It can also help with body image and intimacy issues that can arise after a breast cancer diagnosis.
Meditation is an ancient practice that has been used for centuries to help people find clarity and inner peace. There are many different types of meditation, such as mindfulness, guided imagery, and mantra meditation. The key to finding the right practice for you is to experiment and find what works best for your needs.
Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation that focuses on the present moment. This can be done by sitting in a comfortable position, closing your eyes, and focusing on your breathing. As you breathe in and out, pay attention to the sensations in your body. Allow your thoughts to come and go without judgment. If your mind wanders, simply bring your attention back to your breath.
Guided imagery is a type of meditation where you focus on a mental image that helps you relax. This can be anything from a peaceful beach scene to a calming waterfall. As you visualize the image, take deep breaths and focus on the positive feelings it brings. This can help reduce stress, improve body image, and increase feelings of intimacy.
Mantra meditation is a type of meditation that focuses on repeating a phrase or word. This can be anything from a positive affirmation to a specific intention.
One I would suggest for this community is “I love my body” or if that feels wrong for you, try “I am here” but you are welcome to come up with anything that you like! As you repeat the phrase, focus on its meaning and how it makes you feel.
This can help you feel more connected to your body and mind and can help you create a positive outlook. Even if you don’t feel particularly loving towards your body at the moment, allow yourself to entertain a version of yourself that does. Repeating positive phrases and affirmations help re-wire the brain.
When it comes to sex, anxiety can be a major hindrance to having a pleasurable experience. While it's normal to feel anxious or even scared before or during sex, having too much anxiety can cause performance issues or even stop you from wanting to engage in sexual activities altogether.
Fortunately, meditation can be an effective tool to help manage sexual anxiety. Meditation is a great way to reduce stress and clear your mind of anxious thoughts. It can help you become more aware of your body and your breathing, which can be calming and have a positive effect on your sexual performance. During meditation, you can focus on your breath and let your worries and anxieties fade away. This can help you become more present in the moment and enjoy the experience.
As we discussed above, meditation can also help you learn to be more accepting of yourself and your body. It can help you become more confident and comfortable with your body, which can be a major factor in reducing sexual anxiety. Being able to accept yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin can help you feel more confident with your partner, and can even make sex more enjoyable. Communication and presence are two of the TOP ingredients to a satisfying sexual experience!
Meditation can also be a great way to start exploring your fantasies and desires in a safe, judgment-free way. It can help you connect with your body and become more aware of what feels good and what doesn't. This can help you enjoy sex more and reduce any anxiety or fear you may have.
Overall, meditation is an effective tool to help manage sexual anxiety. It can help you become more present in the moment, become more accepting of yourself and your body, and explore your fantasies and desires.
No matter which type of meditation you choose, the goal is to be consistent. Start by setting aside a few minutes each day to practice. As you become more comfortable with your practice, you can increase the length and frequency of your meditation.
Meditation can be an effective way to help cancer fighters and survivors manage body image and intimacy issues, especially breast cancer fighters. It can help reduce stress, improve mood, and increase feelings of connection and peace. By incorporating meditation into your life, you can feel more in control of your physical and emotional health.
I have included a very simple body scan exercise for you to try:
This exercise is designed to help you become more aware of your physical sensations and to reduce any physical or emotional discomfort and allow yourself to experience more pleasure by getting out of your thoughts and into your body:
Begin by finding a comfortable position. You can sit in a chair or lie down on your back.
Focus on your breath. Take a few deep breaths in and out and allow your body to relax.
Now, bring your attention to your feet. Notice the pressure of your feet on the floor. Notice any sensations that arise.
Continue to move up your body, slowly and attentively. Notice the pressure of your lower legs on the floor or chair. Notice any sensations that arise.
Continue to move up your body and notice the pressure of your thighs on the floor or chair. Notice any sensations that arise.
Continue to move up your body, noticing the pressure of your pelvis on the floor or chair. Notice any sensations that arise.
Continue to move up your body, noticing the pressure of your stomach and chest on the floor or chair. Notice any sensations that arise.
Continue to move up your body, noticing the pressure of your hands and arms on the floor or chair. Notice any sensations that arise.
Continue to move up your body, noticing the pressure of your neck and head on the floor or chair. Notice any sensations that arise.
Now, bring your awareness to the whole of your body. Notice the sensation of your body resting on the floor or chair. Notice any sensations that arise.
Allow yourself to take a few moments to simply observe and accept whatever physical sensations or emotions arise. Now, slowly open your eyes and come back to the present moment.
Although it sometimes involves stepping out of your comfort zone, you CAN make peace with your body after cancer. As a survivor myself, I can attest that doing the work to feel good in my body by eating well, exercising, managing stress, and exploring my mindset has been incredibly life-affirming. My sex life is better than it was prior to my diagnosis because I have explored these techniques and you can have that too!
Wherever you are at, congratulations on your inspiring journey and perseverance on the path to recovery. You have made it through a difficult experience and you should be proud! My hope for you is that you are able to find peace with your body. You have gone through so much and your body has been through a lot. Even though it may not look the same as it did before, it is still beautiful and strong. It is a reminder of your strength and resilience. Take time to show yourself kindness and compassion. Allow yourself to feel all of your emotions, both positive and negative. Give yourself permission to take time to heal and grieve. I hope you are able to take pride in and be gentle with yourself.
Wishing you well,