My heart sank the day I read the answer of Ankita on Quora where she wrote about her cancer. I had been following her on Quora for 3 years and her answers on marriage were a dream everyone wants to live. I could not digest the fact that there is a deep struggle behind the happy go lucky woman. Later, we became acquaintances when I enquired with her about Vipassana experience, friends when we recommended books to each other and soul sisters when we discovered how we have similar outlook and dreams in life. Ankita and I have been exchanging ideas, tips, personal life and pet projects over the past one year and I never felt that I was talking to someone who was struggling with an illness. She does the best with what is under her control.
In this article, I am going to share with you my interview with Ankita, who is the true definition of resilience. When asked what is the secret behind resilience, she gave the credit to her father who always showed her to do everything in her control and leave the rest to the Universe.
When Ankita was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2017, she thought to herself “Dying is not an option. I want to live.” The tumor was so small and so widely spread that the only option for doctors was to keep the Cancer under control. She was put on medication that she had to take every day. Doctors did what they could while she started looking for alternative therapies for treatment. Inspite of everything, the Cancer spread to her brain in Dec 2018 and in Oct 2019 they found a new tumor again in the brain. That was when she lost all her hope. Until then she practiced everything – different forms of meditation, naturopathy, clean eating, Yoga, breathing exercises, reiki. The only thing which didn’t try until then was Vipassana which ended up becoming a life changer for her.
When she registered for Vipassana retreat in 2020 Feb, all she wanted was to learn to accept death if healing doesn’t happen. But on the 7th day, as she was meditating on the chest area, she felt that a huge negative energy left her right lung where the tumor was located. A sudden feeling of fear and anxiety was accompanied by a light body and a chaotic mind. That was when she felt prana entering the dead area where the tumor was located. You can read about her magical experiences during the Vipassana retreat here.
While Ankita has a good family support system and best health care treatment, meditation played a key role in bringing her body back to life. She says that “Meditation is underrated”. As Vipassana involves sitting in meditation for long hours, she strongly suggests that one should prepare well before going for Vipassana to have the maximum benefits.
Her present meditation routine looks like below:
Two and half hours of meditation
Her meditation is split into an hour in the morning, an hour in the noon and half an hour of mantra chanting. The morning and afternoon practices include a mixture of guided meditation, vipassana, energy, and chakra meditations.
Five years ago when she started meditation, it was limited to one minute which gradually increased with time especially after Vipassana. She says that “To feel calm, I need at least an hour of sitting where the initial 30-40 minutes are spent calming the mind and the rest is when I actually feel at peace. Though there are many days when the whole session is spent with a messed up mind.”
Two hours of Pranayama
She practices 30 minutes of Kapalbhati and 30 minutes of Anulom Vilom twice a day. She says “Honestly, when I first started pranayama I wasn’t aware of the benefits. I just did it because my father said it helps detox the body. However, after reading different books, it gives an idea of how the pranayama helps balance the ida, pingla of the body. “
One hour of Yoga on Alternate days
In her words “In the initial years of diagnosis, my body was very weak. Therefore, all I could do was gentle exercise. And there came Yoga. The inclination was also because of the cultural background. I initially tried different techniques like Hatha Yoga, however, something that could resonate the most with me was Ashtanga Yoga. Maybe because the postures asked me to concentrate on breathing while practicing Asana. Practicing Yoga were the moments when the mind would calm down and it would leave me feeling refreshed. I guess that was the motivating factor behind going to the classes.”
Finally, she thinks that no one factor could be the reason for her staying fit. It’s the accumulation of everything she did and still does. However, if she has to pick the life saving one it would be the 10 day Vipassana retreat. She recommends it to everyone as something which everyone should experience once in a life time.
Note: Ankita teaches meditation to cancer patients. Reach out to her over here.