Relaxation and Meditation
There is a demonstrated link between the function of the body and the function of the psyche; if one is relaxed and easy in mind and emotions, the body will be relaxed also. Conversely, if the individual experiences anxiety or stress, research has proven that subtle but far-reaching changes occur in body chemistry, illustrated by physical tension. Relaxation and Meditation emphasise an approach to cancer in which the mind and spirit are as important as the body in responding to the disease. It is pertinent to ‘equate anxiety and tension with immuno-suppression’, ie. states of stress, depression and repression all depress the immune system, leading to for example – red blood cells carrying less oxygen in depressed people.
The Therapist based at Cancer Help provides clinical expertise to cancer patients and their families from the time of diagnosis, recognising the need for information, advice, counselling and coping strategies such as Relaxation and Meditation.
The aims of the services are:
- To enhance quality of life.
- To reduce stress, anxiety and tension.
- To offer coping strategies.
- To encourage self-esteem.
- To enhance the immune system.
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose – in the present moment – and non-judgmentally” (Jon Kabat-Zinn). Mindfulness training focuses on attention, acceptance, and self-compassion. It takes practice to be aware of when and where one’s attention wanders off to – this practice itself brings about change; and the training gives the possibility of living mindfully and letting this alter one’s life in many ways.
Mindfulness is appropriate for people living with chronic pain/illness as a means of controlling pain. It is a way to become alert to thoughts and feelings before they drive emotions or actions, and thus to establish some detachment from them. The technique teaches acceptance of self and the situation one is in and has lasting benefit for people with chronic pain. In addition it can provide lasting improvement for those with anxiety and reduces stress. In particular it has been shown to help cancer patients to cope with emotional distress.