Wednesday, October 18th 2017
May
2010
15

Advance book excerpt: “Now, Embracing the Present Moment”

Soul’s Code presents a sneak-peek of Richard A.  Singer’s new book, Now: Embracing the Present Moment

In the chapter, It Is What It Is, Kristina Anderson tells Richard about her game-changing experience with breast cancer:

My oncologist says that people who have had cancer have found their inner soul.

This is certainly true for me.

To survive the emotional upheaval and fear that accompanies cancer — especially after treatment is over — I have had to find a way to live my life alongside cancer, and I’ve done it through the practice of mindfulness. While cancer introduced me to my inner soul, mindfulness has taught me how to love it and understand it, and it has brought me to a place of peace I never thought I would reach.

Before cancer I danced around the edges of mindfulness. I dabbled, I didn’t. I played with it, and then walked away. I dipped my toes in it, but was too steeped in my way of life to allow it to make a difference.

I’m 62. In my late 30s, life began to seriously spiral out of control.

I was a single mom managing a large independent bookstore, and my stress-level was causing sleepless nights and chaotic days. Yet working in a bookstore meant I had a library about mindfulness at my fingertips. I read books on Eastern philosophy, Zen Buddhism, soulfulness, and mindfulness. Most of what I read struck one chord or another but as I look back on those days, what I was missing from my search was practice. And it took me a long time to realize it.

The entry-point of breath

Early in my cancer treatment, I learned about breath. My breast cancer surgeon showed me a short exercise on deep breathing that helps heal the wounds in the chest of a woman who has gone through breast surgery.

I began to practice taking deep, slow breaths to fill my chest with oxygen. I would close my eyes and envision healing, love, and peace entering my body with each inhale. I did this, and in doing so, I began to bring the practice of mindfulness into my every day.

When I finished what I call my big-guns treatment (chemotherapy and other intravenous drugs), I felt at a loss.

As many cancer patients do when treatment is over, I asked what’s next. The doctors tell you to go back to work, go back to your life as it was before cancer (no thanks). But for me and many patients, what comes next isn’t about going back. You move forward and forge a new normal. You could go about your days just as you did before the big C but do you really want to? And most people can’t.

It changes you, your family, and everyone and everything close to you. On top of that, it opens the door wide to the possibility of recurrence and poses the question, “what if it comes back?”  And that’s where I got stuck, and that’s where practicing mindfulness saved me. I started attending a yoga class for cancer patients. I loved it from day one. Although I had practiced yoga and meditation in the 1970’s, my practice at that time lacked commitment and understanding. This time was different. I became conscious of how mindfulness changes us, and being mindful starts with noticing our breath.

My quiet is the antithesis of “cancer”

If I let it, it can get buried under deadlines and to-do lists, and sometimes I have to put post-it notes above the kitchen sink, on the bathroom mirror and on my computer screen as a reminder to breathe. To be mindful.

To practice being quiet and present. It’s easy to forget to breathe.  Sounds strange, I know, but think about it. Breathing is automatic, unless you’re affected by pulmonary conditions. It happens whether you think about it or not. But when stressed, I have a tendency to hold my breath, and I am usually unaware that I’m doing it.

Through yoga, I have learned how to breathe consciously and with purpose. Something as simple as breathing can be easily overlooked, yet when we are conscious of our breath, we are living in the present. It sounds so simple, but for me, as for many people, it wasn’t.

Today my number-one priority is my health. I eat an anti-cancer diet, I exercise, and I practice being mindful — of my life, my breathing, my health, my days, my nights, and those I love and those who love me. When I allow stress — and I say allow because I do have control over it — I stop whatever I’m doing and breathe deeply. I may also begin playing with slowness—a practice that is directly connected to being mindful. I move in slow motion. I rise from my chair and begin walking in slow motion. This practice serves to remind me that where my attention goes, my power goes.

My home-made mantra for freedom from fear:

I can breathe into physical pain and get instant relief from it
I can let go of that which I can’t control
I can love easier
I can live without the fear of death
I can be more patient
I can live today and not worry about tomorrow
I can be present to those around me, including strangers
I must be present to be mindful of life’s mysteries
That it’s okay to be silent, and through silence I find peace

Mindfulness has reminded me that everything is made of energy — the chair in which I sit, the bed in which I sleep, the table where I eat my food, the paper on which I write, the clothes that protect my body. And all of it and I are connected. Mindfulness has taught me that for Now, in this moment, I can be free.

Richard Singer is an award-winning author, psychotherapist, college instructor and most importantly a seeker of truth.  He has devoted himself to life-long studies at the doctoral level in Eastern psychology, Buddhist healing, and non-violence at the doctoral level.

Find out more about Richard and his other books at www.EmbracingthePresent.com, or contact him directly at: RAS9999@aol.com

Now: Embracing the Present Moment is available for pre-order via Amazon by following this link.

Read Richard’s previous articles for Soul’s Code: Honoring the human family: Nobody gets left behind and The death of the soul mate fantasy.

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One Comment on “Advance book excerpt: “Now, Embracing the Present Moment””

  1. Truly inspiration just like the other 15 essays included in the book. Add me on facebook and get more excerpts. Get the book from amazon today and send me receipt and I'll send u a free e copy so you can start reading right now. Ras9999@aol.com

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