A breast cancer diagnosis can be terrifying and during that time, utilizing the practice of Sankalpa 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 offer suggestions below on how to use them, but to begin, 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 Abdominal Thoracic breaths 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 a practitioner who works with patients diagnosed with breast cancer, I recommend you tune in to my next article where we will discuss the specific impacts of common treatments and my recommended approach to supporting patients through them.
Love “self-care vigilante”. It’s good to have appreciation for the parts of us that search out self care vigilantly. It’s nice to have a focus, in a midst of a potential storm, in unknowns. Lovely written work. Thank you for sharing for the benefit of others,
I first heard and learned Sankalpa from the YTU training this week. I appreciate Jill gave us the opportunity to revisit it everyday, because I find myself focus on my Sankalpa more than I expected.
Thank you for this beautiful article. It helps me tune into the mindset of the person going through the illness which will allow me to support them better. I also love how it acknowledges the power of thoughts and intention in healing.
Sankalpa love here!! I cannot wait to integrate this into my cancer rehab group!! We do workbooks for them to fill out pre-program questionnaires, write about their experiences with the day’s exercises; which body parts hurt, what felt good, what weights they used, etc. I am now motivated to make the first page of the workbook a blank page describing what a Sankalpa is and invite them to create one for their 12 week session. I am excited to see how this impacts those beginning treatment and those who have gone through the process and invite them to explore their current goals outside of their diagnosis or explore their feelings as they navigate through the diagnosis. Either way, the empowerment that you feel by creating a Sankalpa gives you some control, and I know this population is wishing for SOME control back, THIS IS IT!!
Such a beautiful place to begin in any difficult time, place, or path…with Sankalpa. Thank you for this extraordinary and supportive reminder, no matter where you are or what you are going through. We are strong, resilient, loving…amazing beings of the universe. Always remember that, just breath, and repeat your Sankalpa. : ) Thank you! Thank you!
ladies with a breast cancer diagnosis should read this article, It is all how we see it and by reminding ourselves of the sankalpa we are taking control of how we feel.
My mom has been diagnosed with breastcancer twice. I saw what a bad diagnosis can do to you… she coped with it on her own way, and luckely she had a physiotherapist and a medical doctor whom she trusted and ‘guided’ her trough this emotional rollercoaster, with their own style of Sankalpa’s… Thank you for your blog!
In response to Bonnie, I feel that your description of a Sankalpa is correct but I also see how someone diagnosed with breast cancer now has different emotions and challenges which requires a different self awareness and self acceptance. In this case I can see how their chosen Sankalpa will focus more on the daily emotions and challenges arising from appointments and upcoming treatments. In this case their Sankalpa may change as each part of their breast cancer journey evolves. I think this fits your description of Sankalpa perfectly.
Hi Riannon – I read this blog post when it first came out and ironically was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer a week later. I am scheduled to have surgery in a week and a half and would love to read more about your suggestions for breast cancer patients. When is your next post scheduled? Also, do you have any other resources on this topic that you can send my way? I would greatly appreciate it!
PS – I attended a Science of Rolling training last Feb and have been using YTU balls for many years.
My understanding was that Sankalpa was about voicing, commiting to and taking refuge in your deepest desires and wishes for yourself on your own personal journey. For me that is different than statements that are positivities to try to convince me that I am not confused or terrified.
But I guess each person has to find what works.