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cer triggers anxious thoughts and we tend to tense
up. "What's happening?" "Is it back?" "How long is it
going to go on for?" These quite normal reactions
create a cycle of suffering. Mindfulness helps us
develop a different relationship to pain and illness
by becoming aware of this cycle and replacing the
tension and resistance with more helpful respons-
es. We learn to let go of the struggle.
At the forthcoming Yes to Life workshop, we are
very fortunate to have two hours for you to expe-
rience and explore the benefits of mindfulness, so
that you can get a real feel of whether this is some-
thing for you. You will experience some simple
meditation practices and get some practical tips
and tools to take away and use in everyday life, at
times when things become
I see mindfulness as a life-tool for transfor-
mation, and not just in how we relate to the chal-
lenges of living with a chronic illness like cancer. We
can all benefit from the new perspective it can bring
to how we relate to our thoughts and feelings, to
those around us, and to the lives we lead. Mindful-
ness opens up a space, so that instead of being on
the treadmill of life, we find we have a choice and
are therefore better able to take responsibility for
ourselves. We begin to develop a kinder, gentler
attitude to ourselves and our limits, and to create
space for what really brings us alive. And even with-
out changing anything in our lives, we bring more
joy by simply being present for the good things, the
things we love.
I will always remember a wonderful young
man who was dying of cancer and was in that first
group at the Oxford Maggie's Centre, alongside
his fiancée. They had both dreamed of their lives
ahead. He was, understandably, full of anger at his
prognosis; but at the same time, he wanted to en-
joy the time he had left.
Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen Buddhist Master,
wrote a book called The Miracle of Mindfulness. To
this courageous young man, mindfulness was a mir-
acle. From the very first practice he did, there was a
great sense of relief. He described how he had been