A regular meditation practice can help you become more accepting of yourself and others.
"The heart of a meditation or mindfulness practice is compassion," says Angela Buttimer, MS, NCC, RYT, LPC, a licensed psychotherapist at Cancer Wellness. "We call it 'compassion training' because we don't always feel compassionate toward ourselves or other people organically. When you practice meditation, you can set an intention to be more compassionate of yourself and others."
Being judgmental of yourself and your loved ones can have a negative effect on your health.
“Non-acceptance can work against us during a stressful time, causing tension and stress," says Buttimer. "When we are training in the mindset of acceptance, we are connected to serenity, harmony and relaxation. These qualities improve our immune system functioning."
Meditation for self-acceptance
"Meditation can help us catch ourselves in habitual reactions of non-acceptance so we can make an effort to change those reactions," she says. "We can practice acceptance as a mantra and set an intention to be more accepting and less judgmental as we move throughout the world."
During the cancer journey, you will see vulnerabilities in yourself. It is important to accept these vulnerabilities and give yourself grace.
"You don't always have to be the strong one or the caregiver," says Buttimer. "Sometimes you're the one who needs help and support. That can be a very humbling realization."
Instead of judging yourself harshly for your perceived flaws, ask, "What do I want to strengthen within myself?"
"While we want to get better at certain things or want others to improve in specific areas, it is important to recognize our inherent goodness and accept ourselves and others as we are as we work to improve," she explains. "We can make room for our humanity and wholeness, not needing ourselves to show up perfectly at all times."
Meditation and accepting others
"Our expectations of ourselves and others can sometimes be askew and unrealistic," she says. "If we are walking around with judgment and negativity toward ourselves and other people, it will be hard to maintain relationships."
If you are going through cancer treatment, acceptance of your caregivers is particularly important.
"Our caregivers show up with different strengths and capacities," says Buttimer. "They are not always going to do things how we would do them. Caregivers are also facing vulnerabilities and thoughts about mortality when their loved one is going through treatment. There is a certain among of acceptance you should embrace."
Clarifying your beliefs
Meditation can help you see your own beliefs more clearly. You may discover you have been holding onto thoughts you didn't realize you had.
"Sometimes we are telling ourselves a story about ourselves or other people that is not true, which creates judgment," says Buttimer.
What story am I telling myself about this situation, person or myself?
Is it true?
How is it affecting me?
Acceptance during the cancer journey
"From my experience working with cancer survivors, I have seen people let their harsh judgments of themselves and others fall by the wayside once they receive a cancer diagnosis," she says. "Cancer puts things in perspective and negative thoughts or judgments are no longer so important."
Learn more about meditation and other ways to find peace in your daily life.