You don’t need to suffer from cancer to experience anxiety, tension, fatigue or depression. In our society these feelings are very pertinent.
When there is stress, it is the sympathetic nervous system that takes over in an attempt to “warrant our survival”. Adrenaline and cortisol are released in a “fight and flight” mode, which can feel exhilarating in short bursts, but is not designed to last more than half an hour at the most. Beyond that, it becomes damaging in a celular level.
There are very few real times in modern living, other than a true emergency, that we really need our sympathetic nervous system’s “fight or flight” responses, which our ancient hunter gatherer ancestors relied on for daily survival. And yet most of us live on that “fight and flight response mode”, at the risk of our internal health.
Further more, much of modern society’s endless anxiety is self created. It is not necessary be in survival mode constantly. Meditation is the key to restore our genetic right to a quiet, focused, and peaceful mind, the only environment for true happiness and health.
Meditation activates the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing down heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, sweating, and soothing all other sympathetic nervous system fight or flight functions.
Meditation increases oxygen uptake, improves nutrient flow, and improves circulation. When you are stressed, tense, & anxious, your blood’s lactate level increases, which can lead to an array of problems. These levels are greatly reduced during meditation much more quickly and effectively than with medicine or other methods.
Specifically regarding breast cancer patients, I have come across a few published scientific studies that prove a significant reduction on the incidence of secondary tumours in the group that, together with conventional treatments, was taught meditation techniques, compared with the group was merely administered conventional treatments.
In my case, the first chemotherapy infusion was very traumatic. The nurses could not get access due to my “dancing veins”. Eventually, after many attempts and guided by ultrasound, they managed. I was then advised I would require a central line to administer the remaining 6 months of treatment.
I started meditation and next time the vein access was immediate and trauma free!
I am just over half way through my chemo but my veins are still holding strong, and I think they might just manage the next 10 weeks!
It is not easy to quieten our busy minds! That is why meditation requires diligent dedication.
Persist and you shall definitely feel it’s benefits.
By no means I am an expert in meditation! There are days when I find it really difficult. But I still set my timer and sit for that half hour. It is amazing to watch the thoughts and pure garbage that fills my brain! I just let them go, one by one, in a bubble of light. Sometimes half an hour is not enough! But somedays, when I am lucky, the alarm on my timer goes off and I really just want to sit a while longer in this quiet peaceful state of mind.
Thankfully, there is a wealth of information about meditation online. Have a browse at these:
When I find it hard to meditate, I try guided visualisations. It is much easier to listen to a voice and go along with the suggestions. You could try one of these:
Specifically for chemotherapy patients, this is an excellent guided visualisation. It was a life saver for me!:
And if you are lucky to speak Portuguese:
Enjoy your quiet mind!