A breast cancer diagnosis can be terrifying and during that time, utilizing the practice of sankalpa (especially in conjunction with the above mentioned down-regulation techniques) can be an excellent place to start to address the myriad fears and worries that can take your mind and run with it. After diagnosis, women need to feel they are able to move forward with their personal priorities and deepest most peaceful sense of self intact. Their positive mindset is important and may be positively influenced by a practice of sankalpa. I will give you suggestions below about how you might use them, but without further ado, here are the sankalpas that rattled in my bones and the quotes that inspired them:
“Vigilance—…You are your best advocate. Pay close attention to changes in your body and energy level. Speak to your specialist if you have questions or concerns. Make your health and peace of mind your top priorities.” ~ Breast360
- I am a self-care vigilante. (Thanks to fellow YTU teacher AnnMerle Feldman for use this clever term)
- I am my own best advocate.
- I speak my concerns and ask questions when I have them.
- I prioritize my health, and my peace of mind.
“It’s all about preparedness…It’s important to be well educated with the process of surgery … remember that it’s not a sprint to the finish line… When a patient can say, ‘This is who I am, this is what I have, this is what I want, and this is what I’m going to get’ she’s ready for the process.’” ~ Dr. Benjamin Lam
- I am well prepared for this journey. It is not a sprint to the finish line.
- I have patience with the process in which I am engaged.
“Dr. Dupree’s powerful positivity instilled in me a calming sense that I was more than my diagnosis. That although there would be questions, and waiting, and testing, and deciding and buckets of fear; although things may seem dark and scary and anything but ok; that along with all of that I was still supported, I was still guided, I was still loved, that I was still made of an infinite vitality than no human body could ever hope contain indefinitely, and that come what may ultimately no matter what, I would be ok.” ~ My Mom
“Fear paralyses, knowledge empowers” ~ Dr. Beth Dupree
- I am not my diagnosis. I know who I am and what I want.
- Empowered by knowledge, I move beyond fear.
- I am supported. I am guided. I am filled with an infinite vitality.
- Come what may, I will be OK.
A Sankalpa Practice for Breast Cancer Patients
Find a comfortable place, ideally lying down with the feet elevated if this is available to you. The benefit here is multifaceted. You’re decompressing the tissues of your central nervous system and helping to down-regulate your autonomic nervous system’s stress responses as well as decreasing your heart rate and releasing soft tissue tension. Bonus: Use a YTU ball to roll out your feet first. This will improve blood flow to the lower body, before the inverted position helps that fluid to recirculate. If this position is not comfortable to you, find another that is.
There is no wrong way to approach your sankalpa. Give yourself over to gravity. Take a few slow thoracic-abdominal breaths in and focus on lengthening your exhale more and more. This should help to relax you further. Keep breathing and see how you feel about closing your eyes. With each breath in, let your belly swell to capacity, and with each extended breath out, hold your sankalpa in your mind and heart as you send it out into the world. Alternatively, you could put your sankalpa on a sticky note on the bathroom mirror or scream it at as loud as you can while driving in the car.
If you are patient diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing treatment, I recommend you tune into my third article which will offer specific Yoga Tune Up ® corrective exercises and Roll Model Method ® Therapy Ball practices to support some common challenges during treatment. If you are a practitioner who works with patients diagnosed with breast cancer, I recommend you tune in next time where we will discuss the specific impacts of common treatments and my recommended approach to supporting patients through them.