Research Shows Mindfulness Meditation Benefits Cancer Survivors
Mindfulness meditation is becoming more mainstream because of the many benefits.
The definition of meditation used to mean to me, among other things, sitting cross-leg in Tibet on a mountain not speaking for months at a time.
Is that the image you see when you hear the word meditation?
Fortunately, for me and many others there is new enlightenment on what meditation is, especially mindfulness meditation. The simple definition is that mindfulness meditation is the ability to pay attention to what is happening now, the present, without judgment.
If you are human, and I am assuming you are, your brain runs wild with 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. We think consciously and unconsciously about what happened yesterday all the way to what’s happening tomorrow on a consistent basis. I have heard this phenomenon called “monkey mind”, where your brain is constantly on. This can cause overwhelm and anxiety and can even hinder sleep.
Mindfulness meditation can help relieve the anxiety because at its core it slows down the consistent chatter, not by clearing the mind, but by helping you notice when your mind wanders and it supports you in bringing yourself back to the present moment.
In reality, the present moment is all we have. The past already happened and there is no way to go back and change it. The future is not guaranteed. If you are like Lisa and myself, you get that life changes on a dime and your plans for the future can be altered in an instant. So the art of living life for the present moment even though not an easy thing to do right away helps relieve the stress of what has already happened and what could happen. Life is now.
Does Meditation Benefit Patients With Cancer and Survivors Post Treatment?
The ASCO post put out the following research statements by Shelly Latte-Naor, MD, and Jyothirmai Gubili, MS, in 2017:
“In studies involving breast cancer patients, mindfulness meditation was found effective in alleviating anxiety and depression, decreasing long-term emotional and physical adverse effects associated with medical and endocrine treatments, and improving the quality of sleep. Furthermore, favorable effects produced by mindfulness meditation are sustained over several weeks following a practice of mindfulness meditation.
And mindfulness meditation not only benefits patients undergoing active treatments but also survivors posttreatment. Reductions in anxiety, fear of recurrence, as well as physical symptoms of fatigue severity and fatigue interference were observed in a randomized trial of breast cancer survivors following mindfulness meditation practice.
The continuing rise in the rates of cancer rates and longer survivorship underscores the need for effective symptom management across the disease continuum. Based on current evidence, meditation appears to be a promising modality for the relief of both psychological and physical symptoms associated with cancer and its treatments. It is recommended by the Society of Integrative Oncology as an approach to improve the quality of life of patients with breast cancer.
Mindfulness meditation is not only easy to incorporate in your daily life and noninvasive but has also been shown to be a cost-effective strategy when compared with other interventions in a study of breast cancer survivors.” **
Relaxing your mind and getting out of the survival mode of treatment to thrive into the next part of your life is key to living a bold, new life after cancer and it can start with mindfulness meditation.
We offer a free mindfulness breathing meditation at https://shinebeyondcancer.com/toolbox among several other tools that Lisa and I use to Shine Beyond Cancer.
**ASCO Post’s Integrative Oncology series is intended to facilitate the availability of evidence-based information on integrative and complementary therapies commonly used by patients with cancer.