The Road to Nothingness

Don

The Road to Nothingness

Don
First published March 2, 2013 on facingcancer.ca

The highway to nothingness is cratered with potholes, surrounded by flashing neon and sparkly roadside attractions, fast-food joints, and amusement parks; the hurdy-gurdy man is playing in the back seat while Led Zeppelin screams from the car stereo at volume 10.

Apart from that my all-day mindfulness meditation course was pretty much perfect!

On January 8, 2013 I embarked on a journey to oblivion.  Under the skillful guidance of Dr. Stephane Treyvaud  (http://www.mindful.ca) I am attempting to embrace the principles and practices of Mindfulness-based stress reduction.  Katie undertook the study in 2012 and continues both the study and practice to this day.  It has wrought profound change in her and in witnessing the incredible growth she experienced it struck me that we would increase the harmony in our lives if I too attempted to incorporate mindfulness in my day-to-day activity.

What I have learned so far – Katie is even more remarkable than I have always thought. What on the surface appears so simple – reduce stress in one’s life by embracing the notion of transparency, transcendence, curiousity, openness, acceptance and love – is in fact tremendously difficult.

Treyvaud and another modern pioneer in this realm, Jon Kabat-Zinn, suggest that there are seven attitudinal foundations of mindfulness.

1. Non-judging: being an impartial witness to your own experience.

2. Patience: understand and accepting that things must unfold in their own time.

3. Beginner’s mind: opening to the richness of the present-moment experience.

4. Trust: it is far better to trust in your own intuitions and your own authority.

5. Non-striving: meditation is a non-doing; it has no goal other than for you to be yourself.

6. Acceptance: means seeing things as they actually are in the present; accept yourself as you are.

7. Letting go: the best way to let go is to stop wanting things to be different than what they are.*

While tempted to address many of these items it is the last that I find particularly relevant in the context of this blog.

Since Katie’s diagnosis I have heartily wished that I could change spots with her.  That I could unburden her from the fear, the surgery, the chemo, the radiation, the pills, the innumerable side effects, the uncertainty, the anger, the madness, the bitterness, the rage, the guilt, the disappointment, the loneliness, the sickness, the lingering lassitude, the frustration, and the unknowing.

I can’t.  We both have to stop wanting things to be different than they are.

And this is a key and very difficult lesson for those of us riding shotgun on the cancer trail.  Especially I suspect for the men because as I have written so many times before it is our natural, hard-wired inclination to FIX IT.

However, I am also learning through mindfulness that the entire notion of hard-wired behaviour and attitude is simply not real.  We humans are NOT hard-wired.  There is plenty of quantitative and qualitative research to prove this point.  We have the ability to unleash the remarkable capacity of our brains by altering how we enter life each day.  For additional insight you may want to spend some time watching this video –http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf6Q0G1iHBI

Catherine (Bumpyboobs) in her post of February 22http://www.facingcancer.ca/bumpyboobs/2013/02/22/how-do-you-stop-worrying/on this site wrote about how she is attempting to manage her worries. She finds cleaning house helpful – among other things.

What Catherine though is alluding to is that if we let life’s insidious and unfair moments drive our living we are giving up – we are embracing a notion of victim hood that frankly serves no one.

Listen – these studies are immensely difficult and for someone with a profoundly active problem-solving brain they pose what appear to be insurmountable obstacles.

BUT – every once in a while I get it.  I am able to fully recognize that thoughts are not facts.  That amongst all the pebbles on the beach there is one that has particular resonance.  That I can accept where I am today and seize the opportunity to live – today!

Let the learning continue and perhaps there will be fewer potholes on the journey.



*Copyright Dr. S. Treyvaud

 

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Don

Hi BobinMO - Thanks. It seems to work a little better for me than trying to blindly careen through chaos.

Don

Hey Richard, \r\nYou are the very first person to notice. Obviously your awareness is high. Funny thing - I took that shot on the shores of Lake Ontario during a break during a one-day mindfulness retreat. When I applied a special effect just the one pebble showed up blue and given the context it kind of freaked me out! Thanks.