For thousands of years, people have used meditation to heal a number of ailments. Meditation is a very important part of many Eastern religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as Christianity. There are multiple forms of meditation, but the two that are most well-known are mindful meditation and transcendental meditation. While mindful meditation consists of focusing on your breath and thoughts, transcendental meditation requires those who practice to focus on a word, mantra, or image. Meditation can also be guided or unguided depending on the practice.
Regular meditation has been linked with a number of health benefits, such as lowered blood pressure, reduced anxiety and stress, and improved sleep. It has also been shown to help in cancer treatments. According to the Journal of Clinical Oncology, breast cancer survivors who meditated regularly reported positive effects. They were calmer, happier, and better able to deal with stress. Some researchers have compared the effects of meditation to taking an antidepressant.
Meditation does not just help with mood. It may actually improve the chances of long-term recovery. In a joint study by Alberta Health Services’ Tom Baker Cancer Centre and the University of Calgary, breast cancer survivors who meditated or participated in a support group had longer telomeres than those who did not. Longer telomeres are associated with better overall health as they may protect against some diseases and are also considered an index of longevity.
As more research comes out linking meditation with improved cancer treatment recovery, more oncologists may recommend meditation to their patients.The Hope4Cancer® Institute, for example, expanded in 2015 to include more space for meditation. The Garden of Hope is a soothing indoor garden where patients can relax and meditate in a peaceful environment. The Hope4Cancer® Institute has created a positive, relaxing environment to synergize and improve the chances of long-time recovery.
If you are new to meditation but want to get started, there are a number of ways to begin practicing. You can do a Google search in your local area to see if there are teachers nearby. You can also purchase guided meditations or listen to them for free on YouTube. You can even start meditating with an app. HeadSpace, for example, offers many guided meditations, provides reminders so you know when to meditate, and has a built-in community for users to ask questions, socialize, etc.
Those who are suffering from a chronic condition like cancer or feel over-stressed, depressed, etc. may benefit from starting a meditation practice. Have you meditated before? Tell us your stories in the comment section below.