Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Shared Experience

This entry was written by Dorel Shanon, a breast cancer survivor who has attended Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer every year:

Dorel in action

My daughter Ari attended her first Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer event with me when she was in second grade. I went by myself the first year after completing treatment for breast cancer. It was a magical, powerful and incredibly transformative experience that I will never forget. That morning allowed me to take one more step in moving beyond my experience with breast cancer. I was excited to bring my daughter with me the second year. What I didn't realize was that the event would begin to define a partnership for us over the next six years.

Ari loved her first Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer event, and her small and incredibly energetic body moved effortlessly through the various poses. While the meditative moments were probably challenging for her, she enjoyed it and soon began taking a children’s yoga class in our neighborhood. We also began using yogic breathing techniques together whenever she was anxious or stressed. Although Ari’s yoga practice is now relegated to the annual Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer event (she prefers soccer, softball and other sports), she’s learned so much from participating in the event. It's also turned her into a successful fundraiser.

A few years ago, Ari decided to raise funds for LBBC by creating a fundraising team for her Bat Mitzvah project. Though she would probably describe herself as somewhat shy and not a natural fundraiser, she raised $3000 for LBBC that year. She also created her own team, Team Dreams, and brought about 25 people to the event. Last year Ari and I partnered together to raise money for her team and raised about $5000. We spent the morning on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, surrounded by her friends and many of their moms. It was amazing to see the young girls moving and stretching their bodies to Jennifer’s calm and inspiring meditations, holding graceful poses while we, the moms, tried hard to keep up! It was wonderful to see them take in the calm and focus that comes with the practice of yoga, especially in their otherwise insanely hectic lives. It was also moving to see this group of teenagers surrounded by breast cancer survivors.

That first Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer event gave me the opportunity to share with my daughter the importance of deep breathing to quiet the mind and create an inner peace, even for a moment. As she reminds me, it wasn’t always helpful or even possible to do this, especially during a temper tantrum! But now it’s not unusual for her to come to me when I’m feeling particularly stressed or anxious and say: “Mom, just take some deep breaths and focus. You’ll feel better if you do.”

I am filled with joy every year, when we walk up the steps of the Art Museum for our morning of yoga. The event, in and of itself, has given us a wonderful, shared experience. Beyond that, Ari has learned some important things from Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer: to strive to be fully present in each moment, to be grateful for the wonders of her body, and all it has to offer, to be in community with others whose lives have all been touched in some way by breast cancer, and to give back to an organization that has given so much to me and to our family.

Want to join this amazing event? Visit the event website and get involved by forming a fundraising team. Like Ari & Dorel, you can help us reach our goal of raising $200,000 for women affected by breast cancer.

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