meditation & cancer

Meditation earning a place in health care

wildmind meditation newsDavid Stroud, Las Vegas Review-Journal: Tina Encheva is sitting in a chair in front of five women, all of them lying on their backs on top of spongy yoga mats. The women’s eyes are closed and their hands rest palms down just above their hearts.

The hypnotic sounds of lilting flutes and humming Tibetan singing bowls are playing over a meditation tape, and Encheva’s delicate voice floats in and out like wind chimes tousled by a soft breeze.

Encheva guides them through the relaxation of their …

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World-first evidence suggests that meditation alters cancer survivors’ cells

wildmind meditation newsFor the first time, researchers have shown that practising mindfulness meditation or being involved in a support group has a positive physical impact at the cellular level in breast cancer survivors.

A group working out of Alberta Health Services’ Tom Baker Cancer Centre and the University of Calgary Department of Oncology has demonstrated that telomeres – protein complexes at the end of chromosomes – maintain their length in breast cancer survivors who practise meditation or are involved in support groups, while they shorten in a comparison group without any intervention.

Although the disease-regulating properties of telomeres aren’t fully understood, shortened telomeres are associated with several disease states, as well as cell aging, while longer telomeres are thought to be protective against disease.

“We already know that psychosocial interventions like mindfulness meditation will help you feel better mentally, but now for the first time we have evidence that they can also influence key aspects of your biology,” says Dr. Linda E. Carlson, PhD, principal investigator and director of research in the Psychosocial Resources Department at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

“It was surprising that we could see any difference in telomere length at all over the three-month period studied,” says Dr. Carlson, who is also a U of C professor in the Faculty of Arts and the Cumming School of Medicine, and a member of the Southern Alberta Cancer Institute. “Further research is needed to better quantify these potential health benefits, but this is an exciting discovery that provides encouraging news.”

The study was published online today in the journal Cancer. It can be found at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cncr.29063/full

A total of 88 breast cancer survivors who had completed their treatments for at least three months were involved for the duration of the study. The average age was 55 and most participants had ended treatment two years prior. To be eligible, they also had to be experiencing significant levels of emotional distress.

In the Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery group, participants attended eight weekly, 90-minute group sessions that provided instruction on mindfulness meditation and gentle Hatha yoga, with the goal of cultivating non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. Participants were also asked to practise meditation and yoga at home for 45 minutes daily.

In the Supportive Expressive Therapy group, participants met for 90 minutes weekly for 12 weeks and were encouraged to talk openly about their concerns and their feelings. The objectives were to build mutual support and to guide women in expressing a wide range of both difficult and positive emotions, rather than suppressing or repressing them.

The participants randomly placed in the control group attended one, six-hour stress management seminar.

All study participants had their blood analysed and telomere length measured before and after the interventions.

Scientists have shown a short-term effect of these interventions on telomere length compared to a control group, but it’s not known if the effects are lasting. Dr. Carlson says another avenue for further research is to see if the psychosocial interventions have a positive impact beyond the three months of the study period.

Allison McPherson was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. When she joined the study, she was placed in the mindfulness-based cancer recovery group. Today, she says that experience has been life-changing.

“I was skeptical at first and thought it was a bunch of hocus-pocus,” says McPherson, who underwent a full year of chemotherapy and numerous surgeries. “But I now practise mindfulness throughout the day and it’s reminded me to become less reactive and kinder toward myself and others.”

Study participant Deanne David was also placed in the mindfulness group.

“Being part of this made a huge difference to me,” she says. “I think people involved in their own cancer journey would benefit from learning more about mindfulness and connecting with others who are going through the same things.”

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Clear new evidence for mind-body connection demonstrated in study

wildmind meditation newsFor the first time, researchers have shown that practising mindfulness meditation or being involved in a support group has a positive physical impact at the cellular level in breast cancer survivors.

A group working out of Alberta Health Services’ Tom Baker Cancer Centre and the University of Calgary Department of Oncology has demonstrated that telomeres — protein complexes at the end of chromosomes — maintain their length in breast cancer survivors who practise meditation or are involved in support groups, while they shorten in a comparison group without any intervention.

Although the disease-regulating properties of telomeres aren’t fully understood, shortened telomeres are associated with several disease states, as well as cell aging, while longer telomeres are thought to be protective against disease.

“We already know that psychosocial interventions like mindfulness meditation will help you feel better mentally, but now for the first time we have evidence that they can also influence key aspects of your biology,” says Dr. Linda E. Carlson, PhD, principal investigator and director of research in the Psychosocial Resources Department at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

“It was surprising that we could see any difference in telomere length at all over the three-month period studied,” says Dr. Carlson, who is also a U of C professor in the Faculty of Arts and the Cumming School of Medicine, and a member of the Southern Alberta Cancer Institute. “Further research is needed to better quantify these potential health benefits, but this is an exciting discovery that provides encouraging news.”

The study was published online in the journal Cancer.

A total of 88 breast cancer survivors who had completed their treatments for at least three months were involved for the duration of the study. The average age was 55 and most participants had ended treatment two years prior. To be eligible, they also had to be experiencing significant levels of emotional distress.

In the Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery group, participants attended eight weekly, 90-minute group sessions that provided instruction on mindfulness meditation and gentle Hatha yoga, with the goal of cultivating non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. Participants were also asked to practise meditation and yoga at home for 45 minutes daily.

In the Supportive Expressive Therapy group, participants met for 90 minutes weekly for 12 weeks and were encouraged to talk openly about their concerns and their feelings. The objectives were to build mutual support and to guide women in expressing a wide range of both difficult and positive emotions, rather than suppressing or repressing them.
The participants randomly placed in the control group attended one, six-hour stress management seminar.

All study participants had their blood analysed and telomere length measured before and after the interventions.
Scientists have shown a short-term effect of these interventions on telomere length compared to a control group, but it’s not known if the effects are lasting. Dr. Carlson says another avenue for further research is to see if the psychosocial interventions have a positive impact beyond the three months of the study period.

Allison McPherson was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. When she joined the study, she was placed in the mindfulness-based cancer recovery group. Today, she says that experience has been life-changing.

“I was skeptical at first and thought it was a bunch of hocus-pocus,” says McPherson, who underwent a full year of chemotherapy and numerous surgeries. “But I now practise mindfulness throughout the day and it’s reminded me to become less reactive and kinder toward myself and others.”

Study participant Deanne David was also placed in the mindfulness group.

“Being part of this made a huge difference to me,” she says. “I think people involved in their own cancer journey would benefit from learning more about mindfulness and connecting with others who are going through the same things.”

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Mindfulness meditation improved quality of life in adolescents with cancer

wildmind meditation newsChristine A. Zawistowski, MD, HemOnc Today: A diagnosis of cancer is accompanied by a high degree of emotional stress.

Consequently, psychological interventions have become a vital and integral component of cancer care.

One example is mindfulness meditation, a form of meditation derived from the Buddhist practice of insight meditation. It is designed to develop the skill of paying attention to both inner and outer experiences with acceptance, patience and compassion. It focuses on experiencing life in a nonjudgmental way, in the moment.

The practice strives to help patients develop stability, inner calmness and non-reactivity of the mind. In essence, it tries to train …

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Mindfulness-based meditation could lessen cancer symptoms among teens

wildmind meditation newsBusiness Standard: Researchers at the University of Montreal have suggested that mindfulness-based meditation could lessen some symptoms associated with cancer in teens.

Catherine Malboeuf-Hurtubise of the university’s Department of Psychology and her team asked 13 adolescents with cancer to complete questionnaires covering mood (positive and negative emotions, anxiety and depression), sleep and quality of life.

The group was divided in two: a first group of eight adolescents were offered eight mindfulness-based meditation sessions and the remaining five adolescents in the control group were put on a wait-list. The eight sessions were 90 minutes long and took place weekly.

After the last meditation session, patients from …

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Mindfulness-based meditation helps teenagers with cancer

Mindfulness-based meditation could lessen some symptoms associated with cancer in teens, according to the results of a clinical trial intervention led by researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine children’s hospital.

Mindfulness-based meditation focuses on the present moment and the connection between the mind and body. Adolescents living with cancer face not only the physical symptoms of their condition, but also the anxiety and uncertainty related to the progression of the disease, the anticipation of physical and emotional pain related to illness and treatment, the significant changes implied in living with cancer, as well as the fear of recurrence after remission. Catherine Malboeuf-Hurtubise of the university’s Department of Psychology presented the findings today at the American Psychosomatic Society Meeting in San Francisco.

The researchers asked 13 adolescents with cancer to complete questionnaires covering mood (positive and negative emotions, anxiety and depression), sleep and quality of life. The group was divided in two: a first group of eight adolescents were offered eight mindfulness-based meditation sessions and the remaining five adolescents in the control group were put on a wait-list. The eight sessions were 90 minutes long and took place weekly. After the last meditation session, patients from both groups filled out the same questionnaires a second time. “We analyzed differences in mood, sleep and quality of life scores for each participant and then between each group to evaluate if mindfulness sessions had a greater impact than the simple passage of time. We found that teenagers that participated in the mindfulness group had lower scores in depression after our 8 sessions. Girls from the mindfulness group reported sleeping better. We also noticed that they developed mindfulness skills to a greater extent than boys during the sessions,” Malboeuf-Hurtubise said. “Our results suggest that mindfulness sessions could be helpful in improving mood and sleep in teenagers with cancer, as previous oncology research suggests with adults.”

Differences between both groups were not large enough for the researchers to impute observed benefits solely to the mindfulness component of the sessions. “The social support provided to the adolescents in the mindfulness group could possibly explain observed benefits on mood and sleep,” Malboeuf-Hurtubise said. “Nonetheless, mindfulness-based interventions for teenagers with cancer appear as a promising option to lighten psychological inconveniences of living with cancer.” The researchers intend to offer members of the control group an opportunity to undertake the meditation sessions.

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Mind over cancer: can meditation aid recovery?

wildmind meditation news

Matthew Jenkin, The Guardian: Trials have shown that mindfulness can increase calm and wellbeing, lead to better sleep and less physical pain.

Cancer leaves many scars. For survivors, the wounds that run deepest are often those left on the mind. Fear, anxiety and depression are common during recovery. But instead of popping a pill, could practising a few minutes of mindfulness a day be as effective as any drug?

While Buddhists have been practising the meditation technique for more than 2,000 years, medical science is finally beginning to catch up, discovering the extent to which focusing the mind on the present moment can help …

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Research finds yoga, meditation can help women after cancer

Heather Yourex, Global Toronto: Susan Ockey has been practicing yoga for nearly 5 years. She started her practice after her cancer treatment finished.

“I just got through everything and then about a year later went, ‘oh my goodness… what happened? I had cancer.”

According to clinical psychological, Dr. Linda Carlson, many cancer survivors experience stress and anxiety long after therapy ends.

“It’s a huge problem for many cancer patients. They’re dealing with uncertainty, fears of recurrence, lingering side effects, pain, swelling in the arm, sleep difficulties… and fatigue is a big problem as well…

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Mindfulness and cancer

Richard C. Frank, MD, WebMD: I have just returned from the Omega Institute in Rheinbeck, NY, where I was a participant in an intensive retreat on mindfulness, “Mindfulness Tools for Living the Full Catastrophe: A 5-Day Residential Intensive Program in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).” The course is based on the methods of mindfulness meditation pioneered by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society.

I was one of 150 participants from around the world who sat in chairs or lay on mats and willingly gave their bodies and minds over to two leaders…

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The capacity to heal

Tali Hardevall, Jerusalem Post: It’s not every day that you go to an interview with hardly any prior information or knowing what to expect, and leave after an hour with new insights. My recent meeting with Dr. Isaac Eliaz was one of those situations.

Eliaz, Israeli in origin, is an M.D. He graduated from Tel Aviv University and is now an integrative doctor who specializes in cancer and chronic illnesses. He is also an expert in acupuncture, a yoga instructor, healer, educator and an experienced meditation practitioner.

For more than 25 years he’s been teaching and practicing Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, meditation and body and …

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