Your Cancer Answers: How Can Meditation and Other Coping Techniques Help Cancer Patients? | Health, medicine and fitness

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Question: How Can Meditation and Other Coping Techniques Help Cancer Patients?

Meditation and other coping methods can have several benefits for people with cancer. Benefits may include, but are not limited to, reduced anxiety and depression, less stress, more energy, and less chronic pain. At the same time, there are very few risks. Anyone can start at any time. Meditation focuses on the present.

In mindfulness meditation, the goal is to calm your mind and be present in the moment without entering thoughts. Meditation can involve focusing on a sensation such as your breathing and simply observing that sensation without judgment or analysis. Some people recite a verse or repeat a mantra while others leave their thoughts blank to enter a meditative state. Most of the time, meditation is done while sitting quietly, but it can also be done with light activity (e.g. walking meditation). Meditation can be self-directed or directed by someone who has been trained.

There are several tools available to aid in meditation. Keeping a journal or journal can help reduce stress. Taking an art class or a creative painting is another way to express emotions and reduce stress. There are many general health and wellbeing benefits from meditation. It has been found to lower the heart rate, lower blood pressure, relieve muscle tension, and improve mood. Emotionally, meditation has helped many people restore a sense of calm by centering their thoughts and closing their minds to fears of the future and regrets about the past.

However, meditation can also have specific benefits for people with cancer. Several studies have shown that meditation significantly improves the perception of stress in people coping with cancer. This benefit can go beyond subjective wellbeing when stress is relieved and can also contribute to a healthier immune system. Chronic pain is a common and very frustrating symptom in people with cancer.

Meditation has been shown to help relieve pain and the number of pain relievers needed to control it. Meditation can also be linked to less insomnia and improved sleep quality, as well as improving cognitive functions and reducing fatigue in cancer patients.

While there are other coping therapies besides meditation, you can easily do these yourself without wasting time on your day. It is a way to connect with a natural state of mind that is spacious and clear. The point is not to eliminate thoughts, but to notice when our minds are busy or racing. Meditation can help you connect with your breath and calm your mind.

Mission Hope Cancer Center provides a convenient opportunity for guided meditation classes. Please visit us on Friday, March 26th, at 3 p.m., for a virtual presentation / workshop entitled Inner Garden Meditation, moderated by Barbara Hannelore.

This class combines self-care and art with gently guided meditation. Patients, carers, and community members are encouraged to participate. No experience required. Recommended materials: drawing paper and paints. Call Ashley Hahn at 805-346-3402 for information, reservations, and instructions on how to participate through Zoom.

HAVE A QUESTION? This weekly column from Marian Cancer Care invites you to send your questions to Your Cancer Answers at mariancancercare@dignityhealth.org

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