Meditation is a way to achieve physical, emotional and mental balance. Stress comes in many forms, and nobody is immune to its effects. For this reason, learning how to quiet your mind and just “be” – even for a few minutes each day – can have a positive impact on your overall health and outlook on life.
For people with cancer, meditation can help alleviate some of the anxiety they may be feeling about diagnosis and treatment.
The benefits of meditation
Meditation can help patients going through treatment in the following ways:
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Promotes immune system function
- Teaches people how to be mindful of their thoughts, actions and feelings
- Helps to develop better concentration levels
- Improves patterns of thinking
- Helps promote a state of balance in the body
- Improves quality of life while going through treatment
Practicing meditation can also help patients prepare for surgical procedures as well by reducing anxiety and stress responses in the body.
Meditation is not only beneficial for cancer patients, but can also improve the well-being of caregivers. “Meditation can help caregivers by reducing their stress reactivity and providing them with a tool to help practice self-care techniques for stress reduction and general well-being,” says Heather Swick, mind-body therapist at our hospital near Chicago.
How to get started
- Commit to 2-5 minutes a day
- Pick a consistent time and place to begin your meditation practice ( e.g., before getting out of bed in the morning, after a cup of coffee, before laying down for bed)
- Find a quiet spot
- Sit comfortably
- Focus on your breathing – in through your nose/out through your mouth. Listen to your body as you go.
- Take a few minutes afterwards to appreciate your mind’s ability to focus
One thing to remember: meditation can mean different things for different people. Some people prefer breathing, walking outdoors, enjoying nature or painting instead of sitting quietly. Spending time with family and friends or prayer can be an effective form of meditation as well. Whatever method you choose, remember that meditation is about giving yourself time for quiet and contemplation. If you find your thoughts wandering, bring yourself back to the present moment. And just breathe.