Why do we Meditate?

words by Kevin Berrill, LCSW

Dealing with cancer- your own or that of a loved one- can be stressful, even overwhelming.  At the time of diagnosis, it is not uncommon for our minds to become flooded with questions and worries about the future.  For someone affected by cancer, a busy life must stretch to accommodate all that goes with a cancer diagnosis, such as having to deal with the effects of treatment, financial stress, and uncertain health outcomes.  Those who are finished with treatment frequently face uncertainty about recurrence and dealing with the delayed emotional or physical effects of treatment.

Although mindfulness training has its roots in Buddhist tradition, it is now practiced much more widely, including hospitals, clinics, schools, and prisons to help relieve stress, improve mood, and to enhance relationships.

A common myth about mindfulness is that the goal of the practice is to clear the mind of thoughts.  In reality, our brains generate thoughts even when we meditate.  Sometimes people do experience very beautiful and pleasant moments while meditating.  But in this conditioned world, which contains sorrow as well as joy, there is no escaping difficulty. The practice of mindfulness actually makes us more aware of- and sensitive to- physical or emotional pain, our own and others'.  

But if mindfulness does not eliminate difficulties or fix our problems, it can offer us a way of relating more wisely to them.  It teaches us to observe our own thoughts and feelings and experiences with greater detachment and with deep compassion.

Read "If You Feel Drawn to Mindfulness at Home" by Kevin Berrill, LCSW