Toolkit For Adults
- The Four Cs
- Meditation Practices
- When Someone You Love Has Cancer
- I Notice, I Imagine, I Feel
- Keys to Help You Sleep Better
- Trauma Recovery
The Four Cs – Keys to Peace of Mind and Resilience
People who flourish through difficult times have 4 distinct qualities which underpin their lives. These same 4 qualities are the foundation of every workshop and residential program at Quest. On our residential programs these qualities are explored in depth and tailored to the participants present. This enables people to leave the program with a toolkit of skills, strategies and ideas to implement. People return home with confidence to embrace their challenges.
Online Course: 4 Keys to Resilience and Peace by Petrea King via Feel Betterer – This link is an affiliate link, which means that Quest for Life is paid a commission if you decide to make a purchase from Feel Betterer.
Much of life is spent taking on more information, more identities and more learning. We then identify who we are by what we do. In meditation we unveil the treasure of our human ‘being’ beyond our human ‘doing’. Meditation is like relaxation for the mind. It is very simple. Observe and let go. Not holding onto thoughts or feelings, not adding to them, not resisting them, just observing and letting go.
As we quieten the chatter of our minds we discover an inner wellspring from which intuition, joy, inspiration, imagination, wisdom and contentment can effortlessly flow. Meditation becomes that sacred space in which we replenish and refresh ourselves.
The practice of coming to your senses can become a way of life, a way of being in the world that gives you access to your intuition, creativity, clarity, humour and more. It’s simply about coming to your senses, wherever you are, in whatever activity you might be engaged in.
Below, Petrea King first introduces you to the concept of coming to your senses and secondly guides you in a short meditation as you ‘come to your senses’.
If you have enjoyed these meditation practices, you might like to visit our online shop to see the range of meditation CDs we have available.
When Someone You Love Has Cancer
When someone is diagnosed with cancer or some other serious illness it impacts everyone that loves them. You may feel unsure of what to say to, or do for someone when they are newly diagnosed. You are probably feeling stunned, shocked or distressed and you may feel confronted with feelings of helplessness or powerlessness to change or ‘fix’ what has happened. This can feel like a deep anguish. Have compassion for yourself as you would for another person, as this might be very new emotional territory for you. The important thing is not to desert your friend (or yourself!) at a time when support is needed.
Practice compassion for yourself and for your loved one. This embodies a desire to ease their suffering and yours.
Here are some suggestions that you might find useful.
- acknowledge your own feelings of fear, sadness, anxiety or vulnerability if you have them and reach out for assistance if you need to. It’s ok for you to get help when you feel upset or are confronted by your own mortality, helplessness or fears. Embracing this challenge will build confidence in your own resilience to deal with difficult issues when they arise in life. Seek out a counsellor if necessary. Several are listed on our website who have had a lot of experience in Quest retreats. You are not alone in feeling helpless and there’s much that you can do that will make a profound or positive difference. Your feelings are as valid as the person who is dealing with the illness.
- communicate with your friend. Let them know that you feel upset, shocked, sad, distressed (or whatever) and that you are there for them. Only offer your assistance if you are willing to give it wholeheartedly.
- It’s fine to say, “I can’t imagine how you’re feeling right now but I want you to know I’m here, and would like to support you in whatever way I can”. This might take the form of dropping in a regular meal, organising a roster of friends to cook/clean/drive them to treatments/pick-up children/sit with them/iron/garden/mow the lawns/make phone calls/research therapies/therapists/books or residential programs that may be of benefit – or whatever is of practical assistance.
- ask the person what would be most helpful and give some suggestions eg. as above.
- let the person know that you’re happy to be of assistance and that you’re also happy to be told to back off if such assistance is not required. “I’d love to help by doing xxxx but I need you to tell me if I’m being too pushy. Is that ok?”
- find a way to communicate about cancer. “Do you feel like talking or would you prefer to have a cancer-free day?” “I’m always happy to listen to what’s happening for you but it’s fine too if you don’t feel like talking.” “I struggle to believe this has happened to you but I sure want to find a way to share the journey with you if that’s ok?” “Tell me to back off if I’m too ‘in your face’! I’d just like to be part of your life.” “I’m happy to do anything but you need to tell me when to stop. I’ll be fine with that.”
- be prepared for them to say ‘no’ to your offers of assistance. They need to surround themselves with people that feel ‘right’ for them at this time. Trust that they know what’s best for themselves.
- If the person has a partner, ask them how they’re feeling or if there’s anything you can do for them. So often the emphasis is on the person with the illness while the partner may very well be struggling and in need of support too. Remember, cancer impacts everyone in different but often equally painful ways.
- write to the person if you find it too difficult to talk about your feelings. You may find “I notice, I imagine, I feel” a useful structure to write about the situation.
- assume that you know what’s best for another person. There are no ‘shoulds’ as in, “You ‘should’ change your diet/meditate/read this book/stay positive/go to a Quest for Life retreat/talk to a counsellor/drink juice/be cheerful or whatever. Respectfully offer your ideas or assistance and be willing to hear that now isn’t the right time, they’re not interested in your ideas or that they don’t want your assistance.
- say, “be positive” as it conveys that your loved one is only acceptable if they are ‘up’, coping and on top of everything. Being positive is all about being real with what’s happening. It may be far more positive to say, “I feel scared, confused and a bit panicky” rather than “I feel fine”, when that is not the truth. (FINE stands for Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional!)
- tell them all your ‘cancer stories’. They need to be listened to and supported and not told about other people’s negative experiences. Even positive experiences need to be shared sensitively because you might convey that you are only willing to hear that your friend is fine/is coping/is determined to live, when really they need someone to hear their fears, concerns, ideas or anxieties. It’s not about other people’s stories; it’s all about your friend and their experience or needs.
- expect that if you have a strained relationship that they will want to heal it. You may need to deal with your feelings of rejection. They may feel they have their hands full right now and reconciliation with you might not be on their agenda. You can express that you would love a reconciliation, but be willing to hear that they may not. You may find the structure of “I notice, I imagine, I feel” to be a useful tool to initiate a difficult conversation. It is often best expressed in a hand written letter (not an email or text) rather than a conversation.
- express your distressed emotions to the point where your friend feels they have to support you. If you’re deeply upset, anxious or terrified, find someone who can help you resolve your issues rather than expect your friend with cancer to have to support you. It’s fine to share tears, to weep in one another’s arms, to share the anguish together, to hug and to hold. If you’re overwhelmed with emotion to the point where you’re not useful to support your friend then find someone outside of your relationship to assist you with your feelings.
There is no ‘right way’ to do cancer or to be a friend to someone with cancer. We are all human and it’s ok to not get it right. As Bernadette Arena, the facilitator of our Quest for Life retreat (for people with cancer and their loved ones), says when we stuff up: “How human of me!”
Your intention to be of service in a compassionate, humble and heartfelt way is sufficient motivation. To journey by the side of someone with cancer is a great privilege. It can also be challenging, rewarding and sometimes heartbreaking.
It is deeply satisfying to know that your presence and contribution makes a positive difference for someone else. And, as a young girl of ten once told me, “Sometimes hearts have to break before they heal.” It’s ok to cry, scream or express any emotion…you are not your feelings, you have feelings. Let the energy of them be expressed in ways that don’t wound yourself or others.
Love turns up when it doesn’t know what to do or what to say…love still turns up, preferably with a casserole in hand!
A loving gesture, a look or a hug can convey more than words at times and we are all learning to be better communicators. Good communication is a lifelong learning journey. Be gentle with yourself and your loved one and remember, with love, all things are possible.
There is more information about our residential retreats on the webpage. The Quest for Life retreat is tailored to meet the needs of both the person with cancer and their loved ones/partner. Some separate sessions are held for partners or loved ones as your issues are often very different to the person with the illness.
If living with cancer is no longer a challenging issue but your loved one is struggling to integrate the impact it has had on their life then our Healing Your Life retreat may well be of benefit. Please call to discuss your or your loved ones’ needs and we will be happy to answer any questions you might have. Participants who are financially challenged can be supported to attend our retreats through NSW Health and donations to the Quest for Life Foundation and our fundraising efforts. We endeavour to turn no one away on financial grounds.
Petrea’s books and CDs are often a very helpful place to start and provide practical tools and skills for living with challenging issues. Your will find information about each of her books at shop.questforlife.org.au
You will always receive a warm welcome if you contact us to talk about attending a retreat at Quest.
We look forward to our paths crossing with yours.
Listen to Petrea’s interview with Richard Glover here or download a PDF copy of this page here:
I Notice, I Imagine, I Feel
Excerpt from, Your Life Matters – The Power of Living Now by Petrea King
The formula of ‘I notice… I imagine… I feel…’ explained below, can be a very useful one for dealing with challenging conversations. When we use this formula – perhaps not with the exact words – we’re endeavouring firstly, to describe the behaviour or the situation that we see is happening. Secondly, we’re endeavouring to compassionately understand how it might be for the other person, and thirdly, we’re letting the person know how we’re feeling about the situation. This formula conveys that the other person is not the problem. It’s as if we stand hand-in-hand together looking at the problem rather than seeing each other as the problem. Here are some examples of how this formula might be used:‘I notice that your room is a mess and I’ve asked you three times this week to clean it up.’ (Perhaps this is better directed at your children rather than your partner!)
‘I imagine it is not a priority for you, however, it is for me.’
‘I feel angry and upset that what I’ve asked you to do hasn’t been done. Can we talk about this, please?’
This approach is very different from screaming at the kids and telling them how hopeless and feral they are. It can work well on the really difficult conversations that we often avoid such as:
‘I notice that whenever I want to talk to you about what happened to me when I was a child you change the subject…walk out of the room…go to the fridge…tell me not to be silly…tell me it’s all past history’…or whatever the behavior is.
‘I imagine you don’t want to talk about it because it’s in the past…it’s a painful subject…you think I’m blaming you…’ or whatever you feel compassionately might be the root cause of their dismissal.
‘I feel sad…alone…humiliated…angry…estranged from you…because we don’t seem able to communicate about this subject. Can we please talk about it together?’
‘I notice whenever I want to talk to you about driving more slowly you become angry…speed up…go quiet…get moody…laugh it off.’
‘I imagine that driving fast is something you enjoy…you don’t realize that you’re speeding…that it’s just the way you drive.’
‘I feel really frightened when you drive that way and I’m wondering how we can talk about it together.’
‘I notice that when I try to talk to you about the fact that I might die from this disease you change the subject…try and cheer me up…tell me to be positive…tell me I’ve got colour in my cheeks…pour a Scotch…stop me.’
‘I imagine that you might be as frightened of the future as I am…might find it as difficult as I do…are as sad about the possibility as I am…it might be your worst nightmare too…you don’t have words for it either.’
‘I’m feeling more and more alone with my thoughts because you only seem able to hear the “positive” or cheerful parts of me and I need to talk to you because you’re my best friend…I’m sad and lost and want to share my thoughts with you…I’m isolated by my fears and need to talk them through with you…I can’t make arrangements and let you know what I want in the future and I feel anxious about that.’
‘I notice that when I’ve mentioned your driving in the past nothing changes…you become angry…you laugh at me and tell me I’m a scaredy cat…you ignore me.’
‘I imagine that my thoughts and feelings on the subject are of little interest to you…an aggravation for you…of no consequence to you.’
‘I feel angry and upset that you ignore my pleas for you to drive more slowly and I’m letting you know that I’ll be making other arrangements to arrive at the destination…I won’t travel with you in the future…I’ll be driving from here on in.’
Sometimes this simple formula is best presented in the form of a letter. If the subject that you want to discuss is considered a thorny one and conversation about it seems impossible, then putting it in writing can have real benefits – it enables the other person to read your thoughts and react to them privately; they can throw the letter on the floor, re-read it and weep, ignore it or mull over it and come back to you later for a discussion.
Sometimes it is enough to have conveyed the information about how you feel and things begin to change automatically. And sometimes it’s not even about the other person at all but communicating the feelings fulfils our need to understand and heal our emotional self. Don’t expect a response from the other person. If they choose to ignore what you’ve written, then you know more about that person and their ability to respond. Their response might equally come in the form of a hug, a gesture, a kiss on the cheek or a flower on your pillow.
The important part is that you have fulfilled your responsibility, which is to acknowledge and express yourself in a way that was never intended to wound – our intention is very important. If there is any intention to wound the other person, there will be a hidden barb in your words. Make sure your intention is honourable and that it is an honest communication based on the need to share your thoughts and feelings.
Keys to Help You Sleep Better
If deep, restful sleep is elusive, you might like to try the following ideas to prepare yourself for a good night’s rest. You may need to follow all the suggestions for at least a week before you begin to see the benefits of your efforts. I trust the implementation of these ideas will help you find refreshment, healing and deep, restful sleep.
- It generally takes five hours to go to the deepest level of sleep. This is the level where most healing and repair work takes place in your body; it’s also when children do most of their growing. When we’re stressed, in pain or otherwise restless, we may not arrive at that deep sleep level or, if we do, not stay there long enough to experience the benefits.
- Learn how to consciously ‘let go’ through relaxation techniques practised during the day when you’re not aiming to fall asleep. Within the first five minutes of deep relaxation your brainwave patterns are the same as in deep sleep.
- Create a ‘sacred space’ for yourself where you can ‘be’ and internally de-clutter yourself. It might be a table or a corner where you like to meditate, keep treasures from your walks, have your inspirational reading, fresh flowers, a peace candle, poetry, treasures from children in your life – a place you return to in your spirit to refresh, uplift and inspire yourself.
- Use the practice on this CD as you drift off to sleep. It will keep the mind focused rather than randomly thinking. You will go straight into your deep sleep level where you’ll access your deepest healing rest.
- Have plenty of pure water in your diet.
- Avoid eating for at least one and a half hours before sleeping otherwise the body is busy with the process of digestion.
- Avoid sugars (at all times) and other stimulants like coffee or chocolate before sleeping as they stimulate your nervous system.
- Spend 10 minutes reviewing the day before you get into bed. Revisit conversations, activities and make a note of anything forgotten, overlooked or misunderstood that needs revisiting tomorrow.
- Avoid doing anything too vigorous before sleeping unless it involves making love.
- Consider using a herbal relaxant. Herbs won’t make you sleepy; they nourish your nervous system.
- De-clutter your bedroom to de-clutter yourself, e.g. put fresh sheets on the bed, clear dressers or furniture of discarded clothing, put shoes away etc. Keep your bedroom clean and simple in its furnishings.
- Have a warm bath or shower before going to bed. Consciously ‘wash off’ your day and its activities.
- Light an aromatherapy candle/perfume to establish an association between that particular smell and coming to rest.
- Read something inspirational before you settle to sleep.
- Sleep with the window open to let in fresh air, no matter what the season.
- Sleep in natural fibres such as cotton, wool or silk. Natural fibres allow your body to breathe. This applies both to bedding and sleepwear.
- Make an absolute commitment to yourself that you will not ‘think things through’ in the middle of the night as it’s the most unproductive time for coming up with solutions to problems. Put a time limit on how long before you get up, make yourself a cuppa, read something or put into place some other strategy for not letting your mind run the show. Some people have periods of great clarity, inspiration or productivity in the middle of the night. Listen to what works for you but don’t settle for restless or tormented thinking.
- If noise outside is an issue, don’t resist it or allow yourself to get upset about it. Incorporate it into the background of ‘what is’.
- If staying asleep is your challenge then listen to the CD if you waken during the night – if necessary, go to the bathroom, back to bed and listen to the CD before the mind becomes active.
Download your copy of Keys to Help You Sleep Better
The Recovering from Trauma Series is a three part conversation between Petrea King, from the Quest for Life Foundation and Georgie Somerset, from the Queensland Rural Women’s Network.
This series focuses on practical tools and techniques for recovering from trauma, for children, adults and communities.
There is a workbook to accompany the series