Helping Your Mind, Soul and Body Heal with Meditation for cancer patients.
When I was in the midst of my cancer treatment years ago, I had a hard time enjoying much of anything. That’s to be expected when you’re sick and scared, and life seems dark and hopeless. The thing is, when we are in that state of fear and darkness, our body cannot heal.
I’ve talked about this before on this blog. Humans live in one of two states: fight or flight or rest and digest. Our fight or flight response to a perceived danger in our environment is ultimately what keeps us alive. But this response, from an evolutionary perspective, is only supposed to last for a short time – just long enough for our ancestors to run from a hungry saber tooth tiger.
Many years go, we didn’t hear of people dying from Cancer. But nowadays, Cancer is one of the biggest threats. So when we have Cancer, we feel we are in danger. And what happens to our bodies? They are in a perpetual state of fight or flight. This means our adrenal glands are constantly pumping out stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, and our hearts are racing and our blood pressure is always high.
How in the hell are you supposed to heal from Cancer when your body is in a perpetual state of crisis?
The Answer is Meditation.
Years ago, during my cancer battle, I began to meditate, and I know in my heart, soul and cells that meditation was the key to turning my disease on its head. Meditation allowed me to connect with a higher source and to feel … calm. For months I had felt anything but calm, and suddenly I had this overwhelming calm and peace settle over me.
For decades I have tried to share with people the benefits of meditation for Cancer, and for so many years, people looked at me like I had 19 heads! People called me names like the woo-woo nutter. One of my friends said to me, “What are you thinking, Prue. You can’t heal from cancer using your mind. You’re insane. You’re going to die without Chemotherapy and radiation treatments.” I’ve forgiven those long-lost friends because they only knew what they knew and when you think back 30 years, this meditation stuff was kind of out there!
We have more and more research coming out, touting the benefits of meditation for various health conditions. In fact, over 3,000 scientific studies have been conducted on the benefits of meditation and the findings have overwhelmingly shown positive outcomes for the treatment of depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, inflammatory disorders, chronic pain and more. Take a look at that list again, and if you’ve got Cancer, chances are you’ve got some or all of those symptoms!
In 2014, a breakthrough Canadian study published in the journal Cancer suggested that meditation may be a powerful complement to traditional cancer treatments because it seems to alter the cellular activity of cancer patients. This study was one of the first to suggest scientifically that there is, indeed, a mind-body connection. This news is very encouraging and why many traditional doctors are now encouraging their patients to give meditation a try to promote well-being and healing.
How to Get Started with Meditation as a Cancer Patient
I know several large cancer centers now offer meditation classes to help patients get started. See if yours offers this service. You may also ask your doctor if they know of any courses or practitioners in the area that offer meditation classes specifically for cancer patients.
If not, no worries, you can certainly begin a guided meditation practice right in your own home!
My dear friend and the pioneer of the mind-body connection, Dr. Bernie Siegel, has some beautiful meditations on YouTube. Also, Sloan Kettering Cancer Center who for decades scorned at the idea of alternative/complementary healing now has a channel on Youtube that offers guided meditations. It is great to finally see these traditional cancer centers waking up to the great benefits of alternative and complementary cancer treatments.
Here are some tips on getting started with meditation
1. It’s About Quality Not Quantity
Practicing mediation is a bit like working out physically. You don’t need to try and suddenly meditate for half an hour if you’ve never done it before, just like you don’t need to suddenly run five miles every day if you’ve never done THAT before.
Better to simply meditate for 2-3 minutes every day, and when you feel comfortable, go for 5-10 minutes and keep building. But there’s no need to think you have to meditate for hours every day to reap the benefits – you don’t. Twenty minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening are a great goal.
2. Get Comfortable – But Not TOO Comfortable
It is generally recommended that you remain seated with your back straight when meditating. The goal is to get yourself comfortable, so any bodily sensations don’t distract you. Remember though; you don’t want to get so comfortable that you fall asleep. This can easily happen, especially when you listen to a guided meditation that uses calming music and nature sounds like ocean waves.
3. Be Patient with Yourself
When just starting out, you’ll notice your monkey brain fights with you constantly. You want to quiet your mind but it keeps churning out ridiculous thoughts.
That’s okay, it’s to be expected. It’s called a meditation PRACTICE for a reason.
You’ve simply got to expect that you’ll suck at meditation at first, we all do, but keep at it. Commit to the practice and you will soon notice it becomes easier and easier to still your mind and connect to source.
Please take it from this cancer thriver – meditation was vital in turning my health around. Meditation is a big reason why I am still here 30+ years later when I was a cancer patient only given six months to live.
I am beyond grateful for finding Dr. Bernie Siegel’s meditation tape on the top shelf of a local library in Perth, Australia 3 decades ago. I cannot encourage you enough to give meditation for Cancer a try.