Meditation has been used for centuries to relax the body and calm the mind. For cancer patients, it can be a powerful tool to help alleviate the fears and anxieties that accompany a cancer diagnosis.
Meditation is one of several relaxation methods evaluated and found to be of possible benefit by an independent panel convened by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The panel found that it might be a useful complementary therapy for treating chronic pain and sleeping problems such as insomnia. Some cancer treatment centers offer meditation or relaxation therapy with standard medical care. Available scientific evidence does not suggest that meditation is effective in treating cancer or any other disease; however, it may help to improve the quality of life for people with cancer.
The NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that regular meditation can reduce chronic pain, anxiety, high blood pressure, cholesterol, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder in Vietnam veterans, and blood cortisol levels that are increased by stress (sometimes called “stress hormones”), as well as reducing the use of health care services. (Source: American Cancer Society).
The good news about meditation is that there aren’t any special tools or equipment necessary and that there are a number of ways to do it. CancerConnect.com shares the steps to meditation:
The first step, then, for most of us, is to pause. Take a step back and make a conscious decision to take the time to be still. Or, as meditation practitioners and self-help gurus like to say, “Sit with it.” However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. In a culture where more is better, sitting runs contrary to our lifestyle. Sitting is a start, but it will take more than sitting to quiet the mind, especially a mind overcome with fear of cancer.
Once you’ve made the decision to take time out and sit quietly, the next step is to notice your breath. The mind and the breath are inextricably linked. The breath is the pathway to relaxation and this relaxation is the pathway to the mind. By focusing on your breath, you can quiet your mind and enter a state of calm.