Over the past decade or so, the CF community has developed a term of empowerment for ourselves — “CF Warrior.” It captures the attitude of strength and endurance that helps us fight this disease that takes over our bodies. It gives us back ownership of our own destinies.
I’ve proudly called myself a CF Warrior for years, and have every intention of continuing to do so. I love acknowledging my strengths and feeling powerful in my own body. I love the moment of discovering I can do something I didn’t realize I was physically capable of doing . . . summiting a mountain, singing as an operatic soloist, or feeling my feet float off the ground in a flying pigeon pose.
But there’s something about the metaphor of the warrior that strikes me as incomplete.
The word “warrior” is a term of combat. It’s about fighting . . . not loving. It doesn’t quite sit right, because it doesn’t capture a major element of living life in a body that has CF.
I fight cystic fibrosis, but I love my body.
Being a CF Warrior means diligently keeping up with medications and exercise . . . it’s a prescription for staying in the fight. But there’s more to living in my body than just that. I want to love my body, regardless of how healthy it is or what I can physically do on a given day.
My body is the vessel that carries me through life, even though it has a genetic flaw that causes this disease. It is worthy of love. I am worthy of love.
So I’m creating a new label for myself that I can wear alongside #CFwarrior. I’m also a #CFpeacemaker.
Becoming a CF Peacemaker
Being a CF Peacemaker is about finding peace within my own body – loving, nourishing and understanding its needs. No matter how much I wish I could change or cure this genetic flaw, the reality is that it is there. It will always be there, barring a miracle cure that can rewrite my DNA.
Sometimes I have diplomatic negotiations between my head and my heart. Or my lungs say I should go for a long hike in the mountains when my muscles are asking for a day of rest. Or my body says I really should be sleeping at 3am but my brain says, “sorry, I’m working right now.”
The CF Peacemaker runs interference for me with all these competing needs, so that I can just let go and BE. It helps me find a place of stillness for body and mind. The inner monkey brain chattering away doesn’t get to determine the direction of my thoughts. The Peacemaker reminds me that I am not what I do, and I am enough.
Meditation is about stillness of mind
Medication is my doctor’s prescription for CF. Meditation is my self-prescription for self love, and for inner peace.
A lot of Americans don’t really *get* meditation . . . and I admit that for a lot of years, before I understood it myself I thought of meditation with some “woo woo” stigma behind it. We are a culture of strivers and overachievers. We humblebrag about how busy we are. It’s even become a point of pride that it’s so hard to find time to schedule coffee with our closest friends. (We are social creatures who thrive on engaging with people we love. How on earth can we think this is a good thing?)
So for those of you who don’t understand what meditation is, or why it could be helpful . . . let me paint a picture.
The mind is like a stormy sea, with crushing tides of thoughts making waves that crash into each other. Meditation calms those waves, bringing stillness and clarity. It clears all of the flotsam and jetsam from our minds.
You can’t see through a surface that’s churning with waves. But you can see through still water, like the surface of a glassy mountain lake. Still water is so clear it feels like you could reach out and touch the bottom of that lake with your hand.
A still mind lets you see past all the clutter on the surface, to what’s really true and important underneath.
Letting go of preconceptions
Our preconceptions about meditation can make our walls go up when people even start talking about it . . . let alone invite us to DO it. That used to be my reaction when savasana arrived at the end of yoga class. But ultimately as I learned more about what meditation really was, I began to understand it. It gave me clarity and comfort. It even helped me find a much-needed emotional release that first time I really let those walls come down.
Practicing yoga – including the meditation part that used to weird me out – has given me more peace and gratitude toward my body. I am still a warrior… my body needs warriors just like the world needs warriors. But the world needs peacemakers, too . . . and that’s something I’m learning to be a little at a time.
I’ve now come to embrace and even love this body, genetically flawed as it is. I love it so much I would have to think long and hard about whether I would even accept a genetic rewrite that would cure my disease forever. I probably ultimately would, but I would find it hard to let go of my beautifully naturally flawed self . . . and the unexpectedly delicious and delightful life that those flaws have given me.
This month at CF Yogi we’re focusing on mindful practices, including meditation. Meditation doesn’t just happen while you’re sitting in a cross legged pose – it can happen anywhere you are.
Monday nights: Gentle Yoga with Heather B
Heather teaches in a Kripalu yoga style, which has been described as “meditation in motion.” These classes are appropriate for a wide range of physical abilities. We’ll gently explore range of motion, practicing unity of body and mind.
Sunday night March 3: Meditation Mingle
Heather will also be hosting a special event where we can make new friends interested in joining our mindfulness journey. We’ll talk about what meditation is (and is not), and Heather will lead a guided meditation to help us unify body and mind.
Hope you’ll join us in class, and on social media! #MindfulMarch #CFpeacemaker
Registered students, watch for your class invitations for these events! Not registered yet? Register here for our free yoga classes for the CF community!