“The only journey is the journey within.” Rainer Maria Rilke
“Whether good or bad, life changing situations often give people a chance to grow, learn and appreciate what’s important to them. Many people with cancer describe their experience as a journey. It’s not necessarily a journey they would have chosen for themselves. But it sometimes presents the opportunity to look at things in a different way.”
—National Cancer Institute, Facing Forward: Life After Cancer Treatment
It may be that it is important to remember our experience so that as we move forward in our lives we have the opportunity to bring a sense of meaning and possibility with us. Life-changing experiences, while sometimes devastating and frightening, can become an integral part of our humanity, showing us a deeper part of ourselves. We may find places within us we didn’t know existed, or visit old familiar territory that needs to be explored in the service of more fully becoming who we are. Such are the openings and the possibilities of surviving not only cancer but also the treatments for it that may linger on for weeks, months, or years, and sometimes for the rest of your life.
Cancer changes us … but whatever has been altered doesn’t seem particularly clear the moment you receive that diagnosis. Authentic transformation shows itself over time when we pay attention give attention, and allow awareness to emerge. The essence of contemplative work is to be met where you are, not where you think you should be or where others think you should be. To meet yourself at the edges of your own known world requires letting go into the unknown territories of you inner world. You have to trust your capacity for growth and “hang in.” You allow yourself to discover the untold story within you.
The process of searching for meaning, searching within yourself is more alive and authentic than most of the answers you think you already know. It’s not about the solution or the end result, it’s about the question, or more importantly, the questioning. Exploring our inner landscape, being in the here and now, discovery and reflection – this is a practice that is fluid and alive, not fixed or immobile. Life just keeps moving on regardless of our plans and agendas. It is the embracing of this reality, this process, that defines searching. Searching is an active, inner practice of self-discovery. It is both a solitary as well as a guided experience. It asks for a sense of presence.
When did you last spend some time being with yourself?
What did you discover?