Emotional SupportPhysical Health

Meditation can provide stress relief, improve mood

Meditation is a complementary cancer treatment that can provide stress relief, improve mood, and reduce fatigue in breast cancer patients and survivors. Meditation is a focusing technique that helps you turn your attention away from distracting thoughts and redirect your attention on the present moment. With meditation, you give attention to a single point of reference such as breath, thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations.  Meditation can be done sitting, walking, or through yoga; and the practice of meditation can extend into a mindset for daily life.

Meditation has been researched extensively and shown to prove effective  in improving psychological symptoms for breast cancer patients and breast cancer survivors. Mindfulness is a construct of meditation that describes engagement in a nonjudgmental awareness and strives to build openness to accepting personal experiences. Research has found mindfulness meditation to be a positive intervention for recently diagnosed women, women in treatment, and breast cancer survivors. There are several complementary cancer treatments based on mindfulness. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is one of the most commonly used mindfulness-based interventions. Mindfulness-based stress reduction has been shown to be effective for psychosocial cancer symptoms such as stress, depression, anxiety, and reduced quality of life.

Mindfulness meditation can be practiced at home or through a program. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Choose an area to focus on
    • Breath: focus on taking long deep breaths
    • Physical sensation: try scanning your body from head to toe and notice pain, warmth, or tension
    • Thoughts/mantra: repeat a word or phrase
  • Sit or stand in a quiet space in a comfortable position. You may close your eyes to help keep your focus
  • Work on bringing your awareness back to the focus area you chose (breath, physical sensation, mantra).
  • It is natural to become distracted: instead of judging yourself, acknowledge that you are distracted and redirect your attention to your focus area
  • Start with a management time interval and increase it as you become comfortable with meditation

Book Recommendations:

Breast Cancer: A-Z Mindful practices: Self Care Tools for Treatment & Recovery by Robin B Dilley, Ph.D.

Here We Grow: Mindfulness through Cancer and Beyond by Paige Davis


Cramer, H., Lauche, R., Paul, A., and Dobos, G. (2012). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for breast cancer—a systematic review and meta-analysis. Current Oncology19(5), e343–e352. http://doi.org/10.3747/co.19.1016

Lengacher, C. A., Johnson-Mallard, V., Post-White, J., Moscoso, M. S., Jacobsen, P. B., Klein, T. W., Widen, R. H., Fitzgerald, S. G., Shelton, M. M., Barta, M., Goodman, M., Cox, C. E., and Kip, K. E. (2009), Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) for survivors of breast cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 18: 1261–1272. doi:10.1002/pon.1529

Bower, J. E., Crosswell, A. D., Stanton, A. L., Crespi, C. M., Winston, D., Arevalo, J., Ma, J., Cole, S. W., and Ganz, P. A. (2015), Mindfulness meditation for younger breast cancer survivors: A randomized controlled trial. Cancer, 121: 1231–1240. doi:10.1002/cncr.29194

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