Editor’s Note: Originally published on Huffington Post.
When I was in my early 20s and living in San Francisco, I worked with a psychic acupuncturist. Not psychic in the predictive manner that many of us think of, but psychic in the sense of understanding energy and how it flows through our body, mind and spirits. This is intuitive to many doctors and alternative care practitioners whether they market themselves as that or not. But based on my experience, it is part of the gift of any healer.
Through those sessions, I learned about so many aspects of self awareness. I learned about the chakras — the energy centers in our body that are connected to our soul. I first learned about visualization and how it can help us to let go of some of the thoughts that can make us feel stagnate and invite a new way of how we want to see a situation, emotion, or relationship. And I learned that breakdowns, which can often times feel like moments of emotive despair when we feel sidelined by life, are really just opportunities to rest in a pause as we travel the road to breakthrough.
When teaching meditation, one of the techniques we explore is noticing the pause between inhale and the exhale. It can be a powerful tool, especially when you consider what that pause is — nothing. It’s just a heightened moment to be present. I’ve come to know this pause quite well over the past few years. It has become a trusted pocket of peace where I am able to get a glimpse of my spirit and connect in a way where I’m reminded of the inner strength, resiliency, and forgiveness that is really innate to us all.
For all the positive that the pause can provide, it is by no means a panacea. In fact, it requires an uncanny ability to fully experience the moment at hand — hardships and all. However, if we can hang out in the pocket, often times it will reveal a moment of truth that helps us travel from breakdown to breakthrough. Here are just a few of the unlikely ways that this precious pocket of pause showed up for me.
1. Uncertainty to Relief
As I’ve shared before, nothing can prepare you for the word cancer. But more than that, nothing can prepare you for the logistical nightmare that a diagnosis can bring — especially the early stages. Uncertainty is running rampant, expert opinions are coming from all different directions, emotions are high, and there simply is no clear next step. I remember people telling me that this would be the most difficult time, but once I got my treatment plan in place, I would feel so much better. And they were correct. It took me about 6 weeks to get my initial treatment plan in place which consisted of a bilateral mastectomy — other modalities would be determined after that step. As ironic as it was, I remember feeling this deep sense of relief for what felt like the first time in weeks.
2. Despair to Acceptance
About 2 weeks after the surgery I received the news that because the cancer had spread to one rogue node, chemotherapy was looking likely. More than the surgery, chemo was my greatest fear. I of course lost it, but even in that moment of sitting in the doctors office, with tears streaming down my face, I found my pocket. It was happening whether I liked it or not. It was not a comfortable pocket, but by being fully present to it with the loving support of my doctor and my family surrounding me, I ultimately was able to set aside the fear and hear that this was simply the next step in my healing journey. I landed in acceptance and proceeded from there.
3. Innocence to Resilience
Weeks of difficult recovery passed and once my body was finally strong enough post surgery, I began chemo. When you start chemo, they recommend pacing your hair strategy which I did. I got a bob right before I began chemo, then I cut it into a pixie cut after my first treatment, and then just a few days after my second treatment, my hair really started to fall out and I went for the shave. I know this is a traumatic event for many people, but for me I once again, felt that sense of relief accompanied by a deep tenderness, love and innocence. It felt ironic but real. At the time, I had a dear friend and gifted photographer document my journey and she captured a moment just days after I lost all my hair that I will forever be grateful for. At the time I could not identify what this moment was, only recall feeling happy, light, and free. It is only now, 2 years later as I look at that image, I realize that I’m witnessing my own resiliency — that moment where my spirit really broke through. Which was ironic since I was literally stripped down of everything that up until that point I thought defined me.
What I have discovered and continue to discover every day, is that there is meaningful power in that pause and it can show up in a myriad of unexpected ways. That pause is where we get a glimpse of our spirit and find a reservoir of the deepest part of ourselves and can connect with the lessons it has to offer. Where there is nothing to do, but embrace the purity of the moment.