We’re well aware that often times meditation is easier than it sounds. Meditation can be different for each and every person and it may take some experimenting to figure out what exactly works for you. We promise you that the reward is worth the struggle. Meditation can help reduce your blood pressure, decrease inflammation, and give you an overall better sense of balance and calmness. A study at the Ohio State University found that progressive muscular relaxation (meditation), when practiced daily, reduced the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
This week we’re bringing you a special post from B4BC wellness ambassador, pro snowboarder and breast cancer survivor, Megan Pischke. She gives us her take on meditation and a peek into how the process worked for her.
For at least half of my life, meditation has been essential to me in one way, shape, or form. Even when I couldn’t define it as “meditation,” I had a clear understanding of the importance of connecting with myself. It started out as selfish need to be happy by being outside whether it was snowboarding, bike riding, yoga, or surfing. Me time was necessary and of course still is — especially being a parent. I soon began to understand that my sports and being outside alone, became a connection that gave me a higher understanding of not only myself, but also to my relationships to just about everyone and everything around me, nature included. I discovered that my sports were all a kind of meditation to me. It’s like I lose track of my sense of time. I’m so in the moment while at the same time feeling exhilarated or peaceful or calm. At the end of my sessions I always feel so much more clarity than when I started.
Meditation has been there for me all along, it just took me time to reach a certain sort of awareness of what it is exactly I need from time to time. Honestly, sometimes I don’t know what I need, but I know I can always go inside, to feel safe, to feel love, and eventually gain perspective. As my time and understanding with meditation grew, I began to become aware of one thing: I have a really hard time sitting still with it, with myself. I feel better while I’m moving with my breath, getting lost in my heartbeats, not sitting down and finding the calm in being still.
I decided to become more conscious of my time in “shavasana”— what teachers consider the most important yoga move to master. I realized that I would fidget and my mind would race. I had a whole 5 minutes to plan out my next moves of the day, week, and beyond. Who I was going to email? What was that new way new to make French toast? Who did I loan that sweater to? Even with verbal prompts from a teacher, I would still struggle. What was holding me back from really letting go? My mind. Yup, I over think just about everything. In fact, I have always prided myself on being a great organizer and multi-tasker. But planning all the next moments of my day/week/year mixed in with an occasional flashback of yesterday/last week/last year, combined with a grocery list or three, all in those last 5-10 precious minutes of yoga class, was NOT working for me. The more elusive those moments became, the more I wanted those minutes bad. All I had to do was let go, be calm, ERASE. Easier said than done, but at least I had the awareness of my challenge. With awareness and practice, eventually it became easier — some days were of course harder than others. Eventually I quit falling asleep, I quit over thinking and began to have these truly blissfully enlightened, even often energized moments after yoga. It was a really expansive concept for me to overcome something like my over thinking. I won’t say that I have totally overcome it, but I am really really aware of it. I often would finish my class with an incredible amount of gratitude towards myself and everything and everyone who helped me get to this moment… and then I would let go.
Then I was diagnosed with cancer. After some time with pure shock, I knew in my heart that the last place I wanted to be was too in my head. In the beginning I was really scared. I had to redefine my own personal faith, I had to recreate what positivity even meant to me. I so did not want to get inside my brain. I didn’t want to look at all the fears and over thinking and negative story making that can happen inside there. I had to be ok with any negative feelings that came up… and then let them go. I was forced to look at possibilities that I once considered unimaginable, possibilities that came from another place: MY HEART, my favorite place in the world. I really feel like the small amount of knowledge and experience I had with meditation is what helped me get to these places. I had already found my source and there was no turning back.
Meditation was (and still is) a calming thought process that allowed me to find more focus and more determination that I thought I had. I took this idea of what meditation might be and made it my own to help me through the crazy times. I began meditating anytime, anywhere — especially outdoors where I felt connected in with what I consider the SOURCE. I sit on a rock in the middle of a river, close my eyes, and (work towards) letting go. I also do a lot of visualizations, why not?! Dreaming and making beautiful things happen in your mind and body is fun. I still love my moving meditations, in fact lately more than ever because I’ve got my energy back! Surfing and snowboarding are especially my favorites. But, I also now believe that the still moments for me can produce just as much connection, although in a different way. Both are just as much important to my personal well being, optimism and overall happiness.
It’s not easy. Some days it feels impossible and I struggle. So I try again later or the next day, and it’s always there for me. Losing myself in the expansiveness of being truly connected and reminding myself in this way that I always AM connected, has been the best way to find myself.