Mindfulness: Making Moments Matter

Dr. Shannon Wesley is the Regional Aboriginal Cancer Lead for the Northwest and a family doctor practicing with the Aurora Family Health Clinic in Thunder Bay.
Dr. Shannon Wesley is the Regional Aboriginal Cancer Lead for the Northwest and a family doctor practicing with the Aurora Family Health Clinic in Thunder Bay.

Palliative care is a philosophy of care that aims to relieve suffering and improve the quality of living and dying. The goal of palliative care is to provide holistic, proactive, timely, and continuous care that supports patients to live as they choose and optimize their health, comfort, dignity, and security. Palliative care is especially important for cancer patients when they find trouble with breathing, pain, or upset stomach from getting cancer treatment.

Dr. Wesley feels the following information is worth sharing and discussing with your loved ones.

Mindfulness is a practice that helps you connect with what you are experiencing in the present. Research has shown that mindfulness can positively affect your sense of well-being, even in the midst of illness. By focusing on your breath, you can find balance in the midst of distractions, demands and suffering. Mindfulness can help you live fully in the moment without getting stuck in it.

When you are mindful, you notice the ongoing stream of your sensations, thoughts and emotions. You notice what you push away, what you hold on to, and what you desire. You notice the choices you are making, and you are no longer on automatic pilot. Noticing can help you wake up to what you are experiencing.

Practicing mindfulness starts with an intention to make each moment matter. The next step is a commitment to set aside time for mindfulness meditations and exercises. Embracing attitudes and practices for cultivating mindfulness will enhance your development and experience of mindfulness.

Seven attitudes for cultivating mindfulness

In his groundbreaking books, Jon Kabat-Zinn describes seven attitudes that are important for cultivating mindfulness:

  • Non-judging – letting each moment be just what it is without labelling it as “good” or “bad”
  • Patience – letting your life unfold in its own time and way
  • Beginner’s mind – seeing everything as if for the first time
  • Trust – feeling confident about your ability to learn from observing your experience
  • Non-striving – backing off from striving for results
  • Acceptance – seeing things as they actually are in the present, moment by moment
  • Letting go – putting aside the tendency to cling to some experiences and reject others

There are many practices for cultivating mindfulness, and it may take a while to find which work best for you. The ones you choose will affect the amount of time you need each day for them. Generally you may wish to spend 15 to 45 minutes a day on the practices that suit you. Regular practice will gradually begin to affect how you experience life. You may begin to notice moments of “centredness” or inner spaciousness. These are not things to strive for, but they may occur as you practice.

After you have completed whatever mindful practice that you choose, end by coming back to your own body and breath. Enjoy the sense of connection you have with yourself and others.

For the full article and for more information on this topic, please visit: www.virtualhospice.ca