Our Circle+Bloom community bonds together to support and care for each other through our different and unique life experiences. Today, as we mark the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness month, we embrace our friends, family members, neighbors and colleagues who are struggling with cancer of any kind and offer a message of love and empowerment.
My personal experience with cancer has propelled me to act and to help those battling the disease.
One cancer patient pictures her disease as a black, illusive beast that is invading her body. Another patient imagines the chemo treatments as powerful light streaming through her and healing her. Both are authentic interpretations, but research shows us that people with positive mindsets tend to experience fewer side-effects, generally feel less pain, and respond to treatment more quickly than people with negative mindsets.
There’s no doubt about it, cancer sucks. But the way you choose to respond to negative life events can shape your experience of them significantly.
Meditation and Visualization are Easy Ways to Take Control
In cancer treatment, much of the medical process is in the hands of your doctors. When a person gets diagnosed, there’s fear and uncertainty about the future. There’s the loss of routine and predictability. But you are not powerless to influence your own health and healing. Meditation is something tangible that patients can do to care for their body and their mind.
The founder of Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute, Dr. Herbert Benson, described meditation as the “relaxation response” and demonstrated that as little as 10 minutes of visualization daily can help:
- reduce the adverse effects of chemotherapy – especially nausea, depression, and fatigue
- reduce blood loss during surgery
- lessen pain and allow for less postoperative morphine use
More than 3,000 scientific studies have been conducted on the benefits of meditation, including a 2014 study that was published in the journal Cancer that found that a consistent mindfulness practice can actually alter the cellular activity of cancer survivors.
Isn’t that amazing? Meditation can truly change our minds and bodies.
People who embrace meditation and visualization during their journey with cancer describe many powerful benefits, including the following six common experiences:
1. Regain Control and Feel Empowered
You do not need to be a passive body through the process of diagnosis and treatment. Your body is still yours, and you can take action that will make a positive impact on your physical and mental health. Meditation can help you retake that sense of control and empowerment.
“Instead of viewing chemotherapy as a medicine that would make me sick or lose my hair, I began to see it as a “positive force” that was going to help my body beat cancer and to heal. I suddenly felt empowered – that I could help myself during this process.”
2. Calm Anxiety and Stress
Your emotional state affects your immune system’s ability to fight disease. Research on people with various types of cancer suggest that practices like meditation and visualization can improve mood, quality of life, and coping – which may help your immune system function better.
The majority of American patients with breast cancer will undergo complementary therapies to manage anxiety and stress after they receive a diagnosis – like Jean Kane, who shared her story on BreastCancer.org:
“One method I used to support myself during treatment for breast cancer — and that others might find helpful too — is meditation. Before you stop reading, give me 30 seconds of your time. Before learning more about meditation I would have been skeptical, too. But last year, when in the throes of treatment, and when I would have grabbed any lifeline for help, my physical therapist suggested I try meditation to deal with the stress of cancer.”
3. Feel Less Afraid
So much of the fear with cancer is the unknown. Fear of the future and what will happen, and for survivors the fear of recurrence, can be extremely distressing. Meditation can help people address this fear by becoming more mindful in the present moment, and regaining a sense of control.
4. Manage Pain Naturally
Unfortunately, pain can a factor in cancer diagnosis and treatment. Pain can alter our mental and physical state, and often occurs alongside anxiety and fatigue. Meditation is a powerful way to help patients change the way they feel and experience pain. In one study, a little more than one hour of meditation was found to reduce pain more than even morphine or other drugs.
5. More Restful Sleep
It can be very difficult to sleep and get the rest that your body needs when you are feeling emotional distress, experiencing side effects from medications, or have pain. While poor or inadequate sleep can be frustrating and uncomfortable, it also leads to other physical problems. It’s important to get adequate deep sleep in order to lowers your stress hormones like cortisol, boost immune function, reduce inflammation, and promotes the body’s healing mechanisms. Meditation and visualization can help calm your mind and body so you can relax, sleep, and heal.
Meditation can be as easy as taking 5, 10 or 15 minutes of quiet to focus your mind on nothing other than the present moment and your breath. But many people who have little or no experience with meditation may find it difficult to know how to begin. Guided meditations can help by providing a gentle guide through meditation. A calming voice presents visualizations that support the listener and guides them to a place of positive self-love, acceptance and strength.
Circle + Bloom has partnered with top cancer researchers to create a free guided meditation audio that is appropriate for anyone with cancer, at any stage. I hope it will be helpful for you or someone you care about.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month we’re offering 25% off Circle + Bloom Healing from Cancer program through October 31, 2017! Simply enter coupon code Cancer25 at checkout.
With love and gratitude,