BY BARBI WALKER
We all lead busy lives, oftentimes forgetting to care for our health. In our over-connected, over-scheduled and ‘burning the candle at both ends’ lives, our physical and spiritual well-being takes a back seat. But to keep up the pace, our health has to be…well, healthy.
The lull between summer and the holiday rush is the perfect time to rejuvenate and revive your spirit by taking advantage of our great respite suggestions. In keeping with Breast Cancer Awareness month, I suggest you take time to be aware of your own health and don’t put it on the bottom of the to-do list.
In the United States there are more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors, according to the American Cancer Society, and I know you have all earned a little “me-time,” far from the appointments, doctors, and treatments that consume your daily lives – and even if you’re blessed to be cancer-free, you’ve earned it too. Step away from the emails, texts, stoves, mops and errands and put yourself at the top of your to-do list this month.
1. Set or adjust (something) again: 2. Adjust or adapt to a changed environment or situation: “she wondered if she could ever become readjusted to this sort of life,” Webster’s Dictionary.
Meditation is one of many ways to readjust. The benefits of meditation are well-documented for improving individuals’ health and mental states, as well as reducing stress levels. Navigating life after breast cancer is challenging and sometimes frightening without a guide or map. Sarah McLean, neck cancer survivor and owner of the Meditation Training & Retreat Co., based in Sedona, AZ, offers self-discovery retreats and workshops in Sedona, and programs for meditation novices through her Everyday Meditation classes, in Phoenix. This dynamic and passionate teacher served as the education director for the Chopra Center for Wellness and began teaching meditation in the early ‘90s.
McLean helps breast cancer survivors answer a common question: “What am I supposed to be doing with my life?” through her mediation classes and retreats.
The Yoga of Writing: A Woman’s Meditation & Writing Retreat, is McLean’s recommendation for survivors. This intimate three-day retreat guides women as they write, talk and listen. She teaches them how to quiet the mind and stay in the present moment. “People don’t really pay attention to their lives,” McLean said. “That’s why meditation is so important…is to be present.”
For survivors struggling with their post-cancer identity, this is the perfect workshop. In a small, intimate group setting just for women, survivors are empowered to navigate and re-examine their lives, belief systems and roles. “The deep listening that happens during the retreat is very powerful,” McLean said. “Women learn to listen and trust their own voice.” The Yoga of Writing: A Women’s Meditation & Writing Retreat is March 16 – 18, 2012 in Sedona, AZ.
1. To regain (something lost) 2. To regain (lost physical or mental resources), Webster’s Dictionary.
It is possible to regain the power of your inner spirit.
If you need to nourish your spirit, there is a place in Sedona, AZ designed to help you tap into your faith and beliefs, and recoup your soul with personalized experiences.
Cancer survivor Gregory Drambour owns the spiritual retreat Sedona Sacred Journeys. Drambour is a shaman, someone who treats ailments or illness by mending the soul (much like an old-world psychotherapist) and has been leading workshops and healing retreats for over 22 years.
Drambour’s retreats—which include a Cancer Survivors and Patient Retreat—and belief systems are cultivated from Native American modalities. He emphasizes the importance of working with individuals to help them learn how best to access their own inner wisdom.
The Sedona Sacred Journeys cancer retreats are personally tailored, ranging from three to five days, and most often include a “vortex” experience, for which Sedona is well-known. Vortexes are areas believed to be rich with highly concentrated spiritual energy which is a powerfully conducive to prayer, meditation and healing. As the environment interacts with a person’s inner self, an experiential moment is created, according to many.
Learning to forgive and finding the gift in cancer is not an easy thing to do, but Drambour believes it’s an important step in order to recoup one’s spirit. “Cancer survivors are a tough bunch,” he says. “But we’re in the same club. They can look in my face and see that I understand.”
This month The Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, AZ, offers Being Present, Manifesting Presence: a Retreat for Women.
The retreat, held October 28 to 30, 2011, features Carol Whittaker, PhD, and Gloria Cuevas-Barnett for a weekend of prayer and rituals designed to awaken the heart and mind to the present moment.
“Being present to ourselves puts us in the place where we can experience and respond to the grace that is always present and sustaining us,” notes the renewal center. Attendees will have opportunities to share their journey and faith in individual sessions. The experience promises to help women enjoy wholeness and personal freedom through prayer.
To rescue from an undesirable state; also to restore to a previous natural state, Webster’s Dictionary
“I am woman, hear me roar.” – Helen Reddy.
Reddy’s #1 Billboard song was the theme for the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s. This anthem is still empowering women today, and breast cancer survivors can roar with the best of them. Now you have an anthem in your journey to reclaim your body — the very one that fought cancer, suffered treatments, and won. Let your inner lioness out and let her rip it up on the gym floor.
For some tough love and booty-kickin’ workouts (after a doctor’s release of course!), head over to Results Only Fitness and Catalyst Training.
Results Only does not hold your hand, babysit or gloss over the truth, but if you’re ready to demand your life and your body back, Results Only is a great option for you.
Owner and trainer Bobby Kelly guides you through workouts that challenge your body and mental stamina. Kelly’s enthusiasm and dedication to overall wellness is reflected in his approach to fitness, and he only accepts applicants he feels can benefit from their conditioning program.
The gym is not like a typical personal training gym. Each week Kelly creates new workouts to push his clients and help them realize their fitness goals. Clients work in group settings to motivate and encourage each other, but Kelly and his staff of trainers work also individually with applicants to learn their personal goals and limitations. “I’ve had women in here from all ages that have had breast cancer. I even have a 90-year-old woman client,” Kelly says. “And she’s in the best shape of her life!”
Results Only isn’t just about the body, it’s also about the mind. Kelly’s experience as an athlete and coach coupled with his obsessively creative workouts will help any woman not only reclaim her body, but also make positive changes that will last a lifetime.
1. To make young or youthful again: give new vigor to: to restore to an original or new state, Webster’s Dictionary.
The word alone makes one feel like relaxing, especially when it’s coupled with a spa.
Maybe what you need is a massage, a mani/pedi, some herbal tea, an organic green salad and smoothie to nourish tired cells after breast cancer treatment and recovery. Right now, a great place for you is Canyon Ranch in Tucson, AZ.
Renowned for its integrative and restorative therapies, Canyon Ranch has a Health & Healing Center with access to board-certified physicians, exercise physiologists, nutritionists and other health specialists well-versed in attending to the special needs of breast cancer survivors.
Aside from the obvious relaxing spa and rejuvenation opportunities that the resort offers, social services and licensed therapists are also on staff and available to help survivors with questions or concerns.
Considering all the changes that take place when a woman battles breast cancer, it almost seems like a trip to Canyon Ranch should be a standard part of every set of “doctor’s orders.” Take care of yourself and utilize these resources as you transition to your new self, by pampering and rejuvenating your old self. “Just relax and get a massage,” Sheryl Press, spokeswoman for the resort, said. “Because your body is not a medical experiment.”
By giving yourself the gift of a trip to Canyon Ranch, Press said, you are giving yourself the gift to “just come back to you.” And what better gift to give yourself for being such an amazing fighter and survivor — YOU.
Breast cancer or not, take it from this survivor – your life isn’t just about cancer; taking care of you means taking care of your health – your soul, your heart, your passion, your imagination, your hopes, and your faith. Take time to recoup those things, reclaim the wholeness of you, and rejuvenate yourself. YOU will be glad you did.
Barbi Walker is a freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. Barbi lives in Phoenix with her husband and young son.