Meditation, the process of concentration that engages the mind and body to increase inner awareness, is gaining increasing popularity in western society as a healthy, natural way to achieve stress relief and a state of calm. The many benefits of meditation include better ability to manage angry thoughts, ongoing relief from muscle tension and an overall increase in feelings of optimism and wellbeing. Many people who practice regular mediation also report a greater access to their creativity and a connection to an inner source of awareness. For many regular practitioners, meditation accesses a place where intelligence and creativity can be limitless in a way that goes beyond rational thought.
The American Cancer Society reports that meditation is now being used to help patients recovering from cancer treatment, as a means of improving their overall quality of life. A control group study that worked with ninety cancer patients over a seven-week period found that over 30 % of the patients who meditated experienced a significant reduction in mood problems and stress symptoms. The experience of meditation also seemed to positively influence the outcome in patients who were being actively treated for cancer.
The Meditation Society of America is another group that is acknowledging meditation as a powerful tool in healing. Health problems and medical treatments for cancer, which include radiation, chemotherapy and surgery, have been found to be much more effective in patients who are able to relax and release negative thoughts and tension.
The benefits of meditation for cancer survivors involve an overall psychic change in the way illness is viewed. Whether a patient is recovering from, a mind-set that focuses on worry, fear and anger, will increase adrenaline and interfere with the healing process. Meditation, however, is found to release endorphins in the system which not only heightens a sense of well being, but promotes healing—a huge boost for survivors. The calming effect positive visualization brings on during meditation is immensely powerful.
Along with the benefit to the immune system is the link to overall healthy living. Staying in a meditative state can bring a focus onto healthier ways of living, including making positive changes in one’s diet and a pledge to exercise more. All these behavioral changes are side benefits of meditation that can enhance a survivor’s health. This ancient art, practiced with intention, is a powerful aid in the cancer survivor’s recovery from illness.