According to the Health and Human Performance Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University, meditation is helpful in buffering the effects of stress for well being and physical health. There are two main modalities of meditation practiced: concentrative meditation (CM) and mindful meditation (MM). CM teaches individuals to focus on a single sound, image, mantra, and their own breath. MM is not focusing on a singular thing, but to be aware feelings, sounds or images passing through their mind. In MM it’s important to let them pass through your mind as opposed to holding on to them (Nowinski).
Mindful meditation can help cancer survivors and those going through treatment stave off symptoms of depression, loneliness, wipe out repetitive thoughts, and can even decrease the body’s inflammatory response which is linked to serious illness. Mediation is helpful before, during, and after treatment as a coping mechanism. (Deardoff). Clinical trials are under way to show the effects of meditation on stress linked to several chronic illnesses, such as breast cancer. In a study of 60 breast cancer survivors, women who practiced meditation regularly reduced hot flashes, improved sleep and mood. There is no evidence that meditation stops or prevents breast cancer, but rather it works well as a complimentary treatment (Nowinski).
In a 2008 NIH study, they advocate for meditation for individuals with cancer for the following reasons:
awareness and ability to recognize and correctly label emotions
improved self-awareness with a positive influence on specific stress-related medical conditions (including psoriasis, type II diabetes, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic low back pain and ADD)
greater meaning and peace in one’s life (Widmaeir).
How Do I Meditate?
There are many ways to meditate, but all forms begin with sitting quietly and comfortably focusing attention to one’s mind. Draw attention to the quality and velocity of thoughts in your mind. Do not push away the thoughts, but rather focus on them. Stay seated and notice each thought as it comes into your mind. Do not hold onto each thought but allow it to pass through. Do this hundreds of times, remaining neutral to the thoughts that occur, and focus on your breath for the entire session. Starting meditation you should do a 10 minute session, working your way up to 20 minutes, 30 minutes, and eventually an hour which requires extreme focus and practice. Be present in the moment (Deardoff).
Why Should I Meditate When I Have Cancer?
The mental clarity meditation provides is helpful when receiving diagnosis and treatment to remind you that cancer is not all there is. It is also helpful after treatment to reduce stress which is correlated to many chronic illnesses such as cancer.
To learn more about meditation, attend YCT’s Meditation Event this Saturday, July 19th 1-3pm @535 W 23rd St Entertainment Center.
Suggested donation $10
Stay calm, cool, and collected, Thrivers!:)