Before we can launch into battle, we must take care to properly armor ourselves and guard our most vulnerable part, our hearts. Our hearts keep us going in the most literal sense, pumping blood through our veins and ensuring that we are able to carry on. Whether or not we realize it, our hearts are guiding us in every strategy and decision.
For these reasons, it makes sense to protect and occasionally buffer your armor. This can translate to giving conscious attention to the skin, muscles, and tissue that protect our hearts. A breast self-exam allows us to tune into the energy of the heart center while also screening for signs of breast cancer.
Most breast cancer is found through self-detection, either through self-exam (25%) or by accident. While the possibility of finding something concerning during a self-exam might be scary to consider, we must remember that self-knowledge is our greatest ally. Try to draw strength from the fact that this is a practice that you can self-administer. Perhaps it will inspire you to investigate other aspects of your health that you can take into your own hands.
Note: Breast self-exams are one method of screening for breast cancer and should be done in combination with other prevention measures like mammograms and physical exams.
This breast exam ritual was adapted from guidance provided by BreastCancer.org. Read the original article here.
It is recommended to do a breast self-exam once a month, at the same time of the month. If you have a regular period, you should do a self-exam three to five days after your period starts when your breasts are likely to be less lumpy or tender.
You’ll begin this ritual standing naked in front of a mirror with your shoulders straight and your hands on your hips.
If your mind attempts to get critical, try to shift your focus to gratitude for all that your body does for you. If you cannot find gratitude, attempt to take a neutral gaze and approach this ritual in a clinical manner.
At first, you will just observe whether your breasts appear to be their usual size, shape, and color. Check that they are evenly shaped with no visible distortion or swelling. Consult a doctor if you see:
- Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
- A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)
- Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
Then, raise your hands above your head and check for the same changes. Also take note whether any liquid (watery, milky, yellow, or blood) comes out of one or both nipples.
Next, you’ll find a position lying down on your back. You will use your right hand to feel your left breast and your left hand to feel your right breast. Place your right hand behind your head. With the middle fingers of your left hand, begin at the nipple of your right breast, making quarter-sized circular motions and gradually moving in larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast.
Another option is to move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows. Make sure you examine the entire breast from top to bottom and side to side, from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to the center of your chest.
For the skin and tissue just beneath your breast, use light pressure; use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts; and use firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. You should be able to feel down to your ribcage when you’ve reached the deep tissue.
Place your left hand behind your head and repeat this process on the other side.
You’ll finish this ritual with a shower, as most people find it easier to self-examine when the skin is slippery or wet. Here you’ll repeat the same steps described above.
As you complete your breast self-exam, give gratitude to yourself for taking this time to prioritize your health. Give thanks to your heart center for all that it does for you. Imagine any impurities or unwanted energy being washed down the drain.
Feature Image by Blonzai