Finding Peace In The Quiet

I first became aware of how much I valued quiet within days of the birth of my twin daughters who arrived 15 months after the birth of my son. It wasn’t actually their synchronized, soul penetrating cries of hunger that made me first crave total silence, but rather the awareness of the calm that befell me the first time all three fell blissfully asleep for the same ten minutes.

It doesn’t really matter if its the yowls of babies, the chatter of co-workers or the incessant blare of radios, stereos and televisions. Overwhelming assaults on our auditory senses can take its toll on our nerves and on our health. As obvious as this may seem, I am convinced that we don’t really appreciate the value of silence until we can’t find it.

As a teenager I enjoyed but didn’t really appreciate the lyrics of Simon and Garfunkle’s “Sounds of Silence.” The melody was beautiful but I didn’t really ponder if their was any deep meaning to be inferred from the rhythmic lines. I’m still not sure there was any deep meaning intended by a 21 year old Paul Simon, but as I grew older and found myself craving moments of solitude, I imparted my own meaning and used the song title as a reminder of what I needed in times of sensory overload. It became a sort of mantra I called upon to guide me to a physical or internal state of quiet.

There have been many scientific studies that have confirmed that excessive noise and commotion can trigger our sympathetic nervous system releasing the stress hormones and chemicals that are responsible for leaving us in a state of stress and anxiety. If the perceived threat or noise remains constant, the symptoms of stress can continue to plague us. If you wish to research some of these studies on your own, her is a link to an article in The Washington Post which provides a good starting place. For purposes of this article, I am more focused on helping you find ways to control and eliminate unwanted noise and recognize the benefits of peace found “In The Sounds Of Silence.”

Clearly, there is a great deal of unwelcome and excessive noise in our daily environment that is beyond our control. We can’t stop the traffic at will, or cease the cries and whines of young children on demand, or silence every loud cell phone screamer in our immediate vicinity. These are the times when trying to find inner peace is our best option. Not easy, but not impossible. The most effective techniques I have found to do this are deep breathing and what I call “withdrawing into inner stillness”. This is a simple technique, but does take a little practice. Start by sitting in a genuinely quiet place if only for a few minutes. Close your eyes and take a few deep belly breaths. Then visualize yourself sitting in the middle of a very active location. It can be a town square, a busy restaurant, a noisy outdoor cafe. Just close your eyes and see yourself sitting quietly, smiling as you observe the noise and turmoil swirling around you but allow yourself to stay emotionally detached. Notice your pulse and breathing. If you feel calm, just continue with the practice for a few more minutes. If you sense any anxiety, shallow breathing or quickening pulse, continue with the practice coming back to the deep breathing and then the visualization until you find it easy to stay still in the middle of the imagined noisy chaos.

Then comes the hard part, trying to implement this practice when you are in a real situation and the loud persistent noise swirling around you starts to make you feel anxious or irritable. If you can only manage a minute, then do a minute. If you an steal 5 minutes all the better. To some of you this practice may sound too simple and to others it may sound unrealistic. But to all of you, I would say “try it.” You may be pleasantly surprised at the calming effect this simple technique along with deep breathing can have on your nervous system.

Now, have you noticed how frequently you choose to surround yourself with noise? You may not think of it as noise, but our most common habits result in exactly that. Flipping on the radio or iPod in the car, and switching on the T.V. or stereo in your home are amongst the most routine and automatic noise makers we willingly activate. You may not think of this as noise, but it really is even if you are enjoying the music, talk or T.V. show. The constant bombardment of noise on our senses increases our level of stress whether we realize it or not. “Study after study has found that community noise is interrupting our sleep, interfering with our children’s learning, suppressing our immune systems and even increasing–albeit just a little– our chances of having a heart attack. Studies have also shown that chronic night noise not only leaves you shrouded in a fog of fatigue, irritability and poor concentration, but also activates the stress response as you sleep. And while the number of awakenings per night may decrease as you adjust to the din, the increased heart rate, blood pressure and breathing changes persist.” (Rick Weiss, Washington Post, June 5, 2007.)

I began eliminating just these two noise makers and was rewarded with not only less noise in my ears but less noise in my mind. In the car, I left the radio off and simply drove focusing on the road and challenging myself to not allow errant or rude drivers to interrupt the sense of calm I was managing to maintain without the pulsing of bass vibrating through my body.

At home, I now find it incredibly peaceful and enjoyable to settle down with or without a glass of wine, close my eyes and breathe through the stillness. Some might view this as a form of mediation, and so it may be. I have several different types of meditation practices and all serve me well. What I have found in these moments was not unexpected given my current focus on yoga, meditation and healthy living choices. What did surprise me was how long it took me to figure it out. If turning off the radio, stereo and T.V. can reduce blood pressure, slow your breathing, improve your concentration and help you sleep better, why not give it a try? All you have to lose is stress and irritability and what you may discover is that there is much to be gained by finding peace in the quiet.

Donna, a mindful baby boomer is a RYT with Yoga Alliance with advanced training in therapeutic yoga.

Consoling and Encouraging Cancer Patients

Living alongside cancer can be frustrating. It reduces physical activities because of deteriorating health and agony because of symptoms. A friend or a loved one who is struggling with cancer should always realize that he or she won’t be ostracized and taken for granted. The subjects of death and heavy illnesses are difficult to learn occasionally and for majority of individuals, this is an unidentified and unexplored area. Assist someone you love suffering from cancer now by coping with tons of sympathy, propriety and joy.

Ascertain the condition of the cancer patient’s health problems. It is crucial to keep in mind if the affected person is in remission or has terminal cancer. It could also help if you know upfront if the patient is given alternative medicine for cancer treatment or going the normal therapy route. Give your caring and thoughtfulness in terms of the patient’s medical diagnosis. Providing the patient false hopes when his or her cancer is terminal and therefore permanent can frustrate them a whole lot more.

Cheer a cancer patient up by offering comforting novelties, no matter the medical analysis. Like healthy people, patients who are passing away of cancer have earned nearly as much attention and care as well. Make quilts or obtain comfy blankets so they will always feel warm and cozy in hospitals and treatment facilities. If the hospital does not permit quilts you can go for robes or bed jackets. You can also deliver snug socks or slippers. For those who have damaged or lost their hair due to medication, you can buy hats for them too.

Find out the cancer patient’s selected faith. If accepted by the infirmary or treatment facility, you can take the patient to routine observation of religious services. In case the cancer patient is not faith based in particular, you can engage in reading and talking about insightful materials, from essays, prose down to poems. With regards to reading material though, ensure that it jives pretty much to the patient’s opinions and feelings. It may also help to find out firsthand if the patient would also like to join in this recreation.

Then again, in spite of the diagnosis, folks should commit adequate length of time with cancer patients. Time is valuable for all cancer patients as a result it is important that he or she will be surrounded by family or folks the patient appreciates. If the treatment facility enables it, bring forward family members or friends for a visit. It is also crucial that the patient’s analysis shouldn’t be the top topic, but alternatively center on common things, like family events. When it comes to terminal cancer patients though, tread softly on the topic of the future because sooner or later the patient won’t take part in impending events because of his or her absence. Nevertheless, reassure the patient that family and friends will be looked after pretty much once he or she has perished. If the patient has been vocal about commenting on his or her favorite memories, you can stack up a scrapbook showcasing important aspects of the person’s everyday living. It will prove useful if the cancer patient should need to look back on his triumphs, romantic relationships, friendships or life in general.

As mentioned before, the topics of cancer, other sorts of severe afflictions, and loss of life are fragile subjects to be talked over with persons affected by it. Just remember those suggestions above, apply them to a family member, loved one or if you are volunteering for a cervical cancer alternative treatment clinic, apply them to patients and help them boost their self-esteems. Words and actions of motivation, comfort and consideration often heal and take away cancer patients’ worries. Even a lot more than common meds would.

Mindfully Touched

Mindful touch or mindful massage is about being in the moment for both the massage therapist and client. When a friend requested a massage while we were at the beach together, I was grateful for the opportunity to offer her compassionate touch after her medical ordeal that was life threatening.

Even though the time spent with her was only about 30 minutes, she told me afterwards that it is transformational, the most relaxed that she has been in months. With tears of gratitude she tells me that she could feel the touch of my hands on her head down to her toes.

My time spent with her is nothing unusual or certifiable in any type of special massage modality. My sole intent was to feel her relax, hear her breath ease and create a calm heart rhythm that was in sync with the music.

Mindful as a massage therapist I wanted to empathize with her silently without taking the burden on to myself. I kept seeing pictures in my mind’s eye of everything that she had gone through; many hospital stays, inaccurate diagnoses, repeat blood work and other procedures that would make even the calmest person be overwhelmed and scared about their future. Mindful of her children and grandchildren that I have seen grow up. How they must be affected by their mom’s illness.

My Oncology Massage training has given me the knowledge to modify a massage for each patient. Whether they are a cancer patient in treatment, a cancer survivor or someone else with medical issues, knowing what is safe, effective and research based gives me many modalities to draw from; energy based, light touch, comfort based, Swedish massage, lymphatic massage or manual lymphatic drainage. It is a combination of intuitively placing myself in their shoes to offer them what they need balanced with sound medical care. Each and every time someone tells me my training has given them relief from their illness, it renews my passion to continue my journey.

We all have healing powers and I realize that my gift is to be a Patient Advocate and teach people how to access their own powers as self-care techniques. Playing with her head and neck softly, feeling her breath, touching the rest of her body in a patterned way helped her connect her mind and body. Teaching her these mindful tools will continue to help her understand how to relax, incorporating music and meditation. A gift I lovingly gave to help her understand her own healing powers. Mindful.

Self care is hard work but so worth it. If I can’t take the time to do it for me and feel the results how can I educate others to do if for themselves. The next morning my husband and I wrestled with the rocking chair to position it outside to enhance the sunrise experience. Wanted to take full advantage of the sunrise, knew the rocking would help me sense the flow of the tides, to remember that tides change, life happens, flow with the tides, persevere in life. What came into my head was the country song that embraces the feeling of being rocked as a child or rocking your children. Created a mantra that was meaning and whimsical as I enjoyed the sunrise.

Rock me sunrise as the sun comes up

Rock me sunrise as the tide rolls in

Hey sunrise rock me

Rock me sunrise as my minds so full

Rock me sunrise as my heartstrings pull

Hey sunrise rock me… rock me

Breathe in, breathe out, hear the ocean, feel the breeze, listen to the music, picture a future and enjoy the here and now, a beautiful day at the beach.

Crying During An EFT Session

EFT in the hands of an expert practitioner usually feels effortless, with releases often occurring via laughter and giggles. However, there are the occasional tears, and whilst these are ushered out of the body safely, calmly and quickly by your experienced practitioner, it may be scary for the newcomer. This is how Linda tapped to overcome this challenge with ease.

“Linda” (name changed for privacy) was having a session to help her cope with the serious illness of a beloved pet. This is where one person would just go through the experience without feeling much and another would be totally grief-stricken. Our pets can be very close to our hearts. They give us love unconditionally. They are always there for us. They are almost like surrogate children to us, our babies. Linda was very hard hit by her dog Butch’s cancer, and in this session, she started by saying that she felt too overwhelmed to tap (do EFT) on it.

So she started her session by tapping for the overwhelm. She tapped the usual EFT statements, such as “it’s too overwhelming” as well as doing silent tapping on all the points. Such was the enormity of this grief that Linda had held it in until it was safe to let it out in her session. And, when finally in that session, all the overwhelm and grief came spilling out, almost straight away.

As the overwhelm subsided, Linda felt that it was not acceptable to cry. This is when people sometimes find that crying is not socially acceptable, should be over a much bigger issue and not something seen as so unimportant, a sign of weakness, or the person may feel under pressure to cry in order to facilitate the release. Linda had an element of each of those, and so she tapped on alternate points “it’s OK to cry”, “it’s not OK to cry”, as she tapped on all her favorite points, in-between bouts of plain tap-and-cry. She soon calmed down, stopped crying, and stopped feeling pressured to cry or not to cry.

Linda was used to EFT and was happy to allow this tapping to take her to a point of calm. However, sometimes newcomers to EFT are shaken by the sudden urge to cry, and unfamiliar with the speed of being taken by the tapping to a point of calm, they become scared and stop tapping, thereby holding all that sadness in, still unresolved. This is especially so if it was unsafe to cry in childhood, or if there came a point in life where the person had been hurt so much that they decided never to cry again. If you or someone you care for has been scared off EFT because of the fear of crying, I hope this article’s suggestions will be of help. And if you are new to this fast-acting quick release method, you can learn how with a free How-to download from many EFT Practitioners’ websites.

Wishing you calm and peace, I thank Linda for generously allowing me to publish her story.

© Suzanne Zacharia 2013. My name is Suzanne Zacharia and I am committed to spreading the word about health options. I believe that the more and better options one has, the more choice there is. And of course, you are advised to consult with your medical practitioner before embarking on any course of alternative, complementary, or beauty therapy.