These words will be in the forefront of my mind as I continue through Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. We welcomed Deb Jennings of Sounds for the Soul to lead us in our first Self-Care Sunday session. It was a self-guided meditation with singing bowls, flutes, and chimes. I’ve had some experience with meditation and used to practice it quite frequently. However, like most things in 2020, I fell out of habit.
Starting the session, I was eager, slightly nervous, yet super excited. I haven’t hosted many virtual events in my lifetime. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to relax but I would quickly be proven wrong. In fact, I was not expecting my body to react the way it did in today’s session.
Deb started in with her singing bowl and what felt like a gentle nudge into a guided meditation. A few minutes passed by as we were breathing in a self-love affirmation and breathing out another affirmation of gratitude.There were several pitches and frequencies starting to awaken my heart and my mind. My body was resting. I was overcome by a chill as we welcomed in the helping energy of our higher selves. It was then I heard the sound of a flute and a beautiful song voice. The mantra stated, “I release control and surrender to the flow of love that will heal me.” It was exactly what I needed in that moment. I felt the tears welling up, pooling, then releasing a stream ever so gently down my face. Relief, probably the first I have felt that in many months and I’m not the only one.
Re’gina, a cervical cancer survivor located in Wisconsin shares, “This session also allowed me to remember a place I loved as a child, fond memory of San Bernardino mountains, Lyttle creek, pine trees, river rocks and mountain water… ahh. I’ll be keeping this memory alive for future meditation and happy placeness.”
Lorie, another cervical cancer survivor located in Michigan shares, “Her soothing voice, emotive language, and sound bowls brought me to a place of peace, so much so that I liked her page immediately when the session ended. The moderator and guide made my morning more peaceful.”
As you can see, spiritual things are felt and experienced when we give ourselves permission to receive those messages. Some trigger a release of emotions we didn’t know were even there. We cannot ignore the incredible messages embedded into Deb’s guided meditation, the ones that resonated with our community were anywhere from self-love and gratitude to forgiveness and healing and last but not least, leaning into our community for support.
Sunday evening proved to be yet another important lesson in self-care, love, and gratitude for many who attended. Cervical cancer survivor and yoga/meditation teacher, Tara Casagrande, led a candlelight foot scrub and meditation. It was the perfect way to round out a self-care Sunday.
Tara’s words were effective. She explained the root chakra and its connection to the area where the cervix is located. Tara emphasized how this small act of self-compassion could have a lasting impact. She taught us how to appreciate the relationship between one’s self and their feet. It was imperative to understand just how much work they’ve been through in the past year. This was a moment to give appreciation and gratitude for them.
Tamika, Cervivor founder and 19-year survivor, described the sensory experience from the texture of the scrub, to the warmth and the wetness of the water, and then catching the sweet, familiar scent of vanilla. She is adding the mantra of the evening into her daily affirmations: “I feel safe. I’m at home in my body.”
Tasha, a cervical cancer survivor in Florida, stated how before the COVID pandemic hit, it was a regular thing for her and her daughter to go have spa days. She has made a goal to practice the self-care routine once a week with her daughter using the recipe provided. She also enjoyed playing some smooth jazz while unwinding during the event. In her own words, “I love it!”
Emily, a cervical cancer survivor in Iowa says, “I didn’t have the ingredients for this scrub tonight, but I went through the motions anyways and it felt like a foot massage. Connecting with my feet and my toes, it felt good. A few weeks from now when I’m with my parents, I can see my mom and I sitting on the edge of the bathtub and doing this together as a little foot massage/girl time.”
Self-care is not selfish. In fact, without experiences like this to make us more self-aware, we often jeopardize our health and well-being while running ourselves ragged. Most of us that know how hard we can be on our own self. We can be our own worst critics, but we need to allow some grace. We see the incredible emotional support we receive every day within our community, and we want to encourage all of us to take it a step further. Let’s hold each other accountable in developing good habits including self-care.
Morgan Newman is a metastatic cervical cancer survivor, a Cervivor Ambassador, the 2018 Cervivor Champion recipient, 2019 Iowa American Cancer Society Action Network advocate and the 2020 Advocate of the Year by Above & Beyond Cancer.