Clare has a Masters degree in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy from University of Oxford and teaches Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy to people living with cancer. Clare is also a qualified Occupational Therapist, Yes to Life Helpline volunteer and one of the founding members and facilitators of Oxford Sangha, practicing in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh.
I feel a sense of joy and happiness and sadness pass through me as I write this and I am afraid to say a little tinkling of pride in myself! I am very grateful to all my family and friends who supported me and for 3 things that happened at that time. Whilst I was anxiously waiting for a diagnosis, Dr Rosy Daniel’s book 'The Cancer Directory' practically fell off a shelf at me and really provided everything I needed to know when confronted with this bombshell.
Secondly, a nurse in radiotherapy talked to me about the benefits of meditation. Finally, a dip into The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying helped me to understand that I had a choice about how I thought and felt. It was such simple advice but had a profound effect on me. It went something like this: - when you have a pain, allow it to be just a pain.
Following surgery and radio therapy when I had a pain in my throat my mind would be straight off on one “oh no, it’s back, the cancer’s back, it’s spread …….I’m going to die”. These thoughts would circulate and escalate and I would become more tense and surprise, surprise the pain would get worse and start spreading up to my face and my eye would start twitching and that was it I had myself in the grave!
After I read this snippet, when the pain came I would say to myself “it’s just a pain” and I would keep my attention on my thoughts to make sure they didn’t carry me off to some dismal place. I found that the pain no longer spread and would disappear fairly quickly if I allowed it to be, without adding a load of stress and tension with my thinking. Voila, pretty straightforward you say...
“If you are breathing, there is more right with you than wrong with you”.
Our feelings and thoughts are so influenced by each other and pausing for a few moments gives us the opportunity to observe our habitual patterns of thought and behaviour. The basic practice of mindfulness is to stop everything we are doing and just look at what is happening. I still find myself choosing what feels like the easier option in the moment – reaching for a glass of wine! However, at least now I am aware I am doing that.
To read more of Clare's Mind Choice series please click here.
To find out more about Clare's work, please visit her website.