There’s nothing like a heart procedure to help you forget about your brain tumor — and vice versa. Readers may recall that I wrote for the Health section in February about my experience “watching and waiting” for 10 years as a benign brain tumor slowly grew. Like many people in our aging society, I find myself — at age 62 — with a surprisingly long list of medical problems.
Yet I am blessed to have excellent health insurance and medical care, to be fit and — generally — to feel great. I walk my dog several miles and practice yoga each morning, teach yoga classes and take ballroom dance lessons. My yoga practice has proved extremely helpful throughout varied health crises, as it focuses on recognizing the interconnections between body and mind and learning to ride waves of emotion without letting strong feelings wipe you out.
Living with health issues can be a challenging daily practice involving gratitude for the gift of breath and having faith that, even if a condition can’t be cured, healing is still possible. And I’ve learned that just because you’re a patient, you don’t have to be helpless. Even in that most vulnerable position — wearing a flimsy, ill-fitting hospital gown — you can still influence your internal environment and reduce suffering. Breathing, meditation, prayer and sometimes gentle movement can all help cultivate ease in body and mind.