07/14/2013 11:05 EDT | Updated 09/13/2013 05:12 EDT

How Meditation Helped Me get Through my Mom's Cancer

Millions of people have experienced that dreaded moment when your heart drops hearing the words that a loved one has cancer. This happened to me last September. I was in my mother's kitchen, the sun coming through the window, my mother standing next to the sink. The words cancer coming from her mouth made my heart come to screeching halt.

She explained, the doctors had found a small lump near her colon and they would need to operate. I felt the breath rush out of my body. My mom and I had been best friends since I was born. In 1978, when I was eight, I convinced my mother it would be a good idea if we saw "Abba" at Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum. I also had another request: if we could wear matching outfits. Without hesitation and love, my mother agreed.

Now at 42, standing in front of my mother in the kitchen, my mind started racing with "what if's" and worrisome thoughts about losing my dearest friend. What kept my head from spinning out of control on that day and in the months to come was my daily meditation practice.

Meditation has now become a common part of the health care field because of evidence suggesting a positive connection between the practice and emotional and physical health. Examples of such benefits include: reduction in stress, anxiety, depression, headaches, pain, elevated blood pressure, etc.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts established that those who meditated approximately half an hour per day during an eight-week period reported at the conclusion of the study that they were better able to act in a state of awareness and observation. Respondents also said they experienced the feeling of being non-judgmental.

My meditation consists of a simple daily ritual of propping myself up with some cushions on the couch, my back supported, legs laying straight out in front of me, my palms laying in my lap and my heart open.

The meditation that I turn to is a modern meditation practice. Slightly different than a traditional mediation, modern meditation is not associated with any particular religion. Modern meditation integrates our contemporary thoughts, patterns and desires and connects them to our fears, worries, and anxieties, and transform them.

As I sit upright on the couch for my meditation, I listen to a recording of a guided meditation which allows my mind to ponder something as I am relaxing and allowing myself to detach from the thoughts of daily life. The meditation recording is approximately 10-minutes long and after each meditation I write down my thoughts in a journal.

As my meditation teacher has explained to me, meditating daily builds upon the previous day and provide a stronger foundation of a calm mind.

I have been meditating regularly for the past five years and it has shifted the way I am able to handle stress, dynamic problems, daily life, and challenging social situations. My mind has become more open and accepting to whatever life may bring me. In the good times, I feel more present rather than thinking about what needs to be done the next day. When I am laughing with my friends, I am truly there with them and in the moment.

Now with my mom's cancer (hopefully) in the past, I will continue to meditate for all the good days and not so good days to come. This ten minute practice has provided me with the inner strength to see me through some of my toughest times and to be open to more enjoyment in my life.

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