I was invited to be part of a health team working with a young woman with metastasized breast cancer. She had a patient advocate, oncologist, pain management doctor, nutritionist, and a yoga therapist. She was in extreme pain and was experiencing fear, anxiety and depression. I first met her in the hospital which is a place that can increase symptoms even as they attempt to reduce them. The best thing I could do in that moment was to listen but she wasn’t up for much talking. I invited her to listen within to her own breathing, feeling it, noticing it, following it. As her breath wasn’t particularly deep, the invitation was to expand, lengthen and feel it lower in her ribs and abdomen. Acknowledging the difficulty with this new way of breathing, I sat quietly and breathed with her, connecting with and seeing her. The importance of feeling safe and calm helps immensely with fear and anxiety easing the experience of pain. Offering guidance into her own inner resource, an aspect of iRest Yoga Nidra, helped create this feeling of safety. Her husband benefitted from the guided meditation and breathing practices as he sat nearby in her hospital room. Subsequent visits were in her home either on the floor, sofa or bed depending on how she felt. When she felt strong, gentle movement was offered before guided breathing and meditation.
I approached each visit with calm compassion and saw her as whole and not broken. I did not try to fix or change her but to facilitate her feeling of innate wholeness, her true essence not touched by cancer. It was an honor to spend time with her and knew she was able to find some peace in the midst of her emotions and pain.