The Beacon June FY22


Iris Bar and her daughter

MASTERING MY MIND THROUGH MINDFULNESS Iris Bar shares her story of how mindfulness and meditation helped her cope with metastatic breast cancer and inspired her to become a mindfulness and meditation teacher to help others turn this ancient art into a modern-day practice. I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer six years ago. Cancer had spread to my bones, spine and liver. I was so sick I could barely walk. My daughter’s kinder was across the road from our house, and I couldn’t even take her there. I felt terrified, but something in me knew that besides going through long rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, there were other ways I could enhance and support my healing and recovery. I believed the way I related to my diagnosis, my relationship with all that was happening, and the narratives I was creating in my mind all played a major role in my ability to respond to this crisis. Rather than just “giving myself” to the doctors for them to “fix” me, I wanted to participate actively as a patient. I knew I needed to find ways to shift my fearful thinking without suppressing my feelings and to use my mind as an ally to overcome the many hurdles I faced. So I began to meditate and practice mindfulness daily. I started by consciously slowing down, pausing, and noticing in the present moment what was going on with me. I discovered how much self-judgement and criticism I had which would not support my healing. I consider myself a kind person, but I wasn’t being kind to myself. I was feeding fear-based thinking. I learnt to pay attention to my thoughts and feelings with kindness and compassion. Mindfulness is not about stopping thinking. That’s like asking our heart to stop beating. Instead it helps us distinguish when thoughts serve us and when they don’t. It’s about knowing when to see the mind is our servant and when it is our master.

Over time, I could ease my racing mind and regulate my intense feelings and emotions. I regained a sense of empowerment. This significantly changed how I coped and even flourished while living with cancer. I felt I had turned my crisis into an opportunity for growth and began living a more aware, joyful and satisfying life. That’s not to say it wasn’t also sometimes hard, challenging and frightening. I have now been practising mindfulness and meditation consistently for six years. I feel there is much more space to how I respond to life, and particularly to the things that challenge or irritate me. I’m a better mum, friend and partner because of it, and I now see myself not as a cancer survivor but a cancer thriver. To read more about Iris’s story, visit .



Issue 91 | June 2022

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