Relaxation and meditation

What they are

Relaxation uses slow breathing and muscle-loosening exercises to physically and mentally calm the body.

Meditation focuses your attention on the senses of the body, such as breathing. It is an important part of ancient Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism.

There are different types of relaxation and meditation techniques. Guided imagery or visualisation use sound and vision to encourage your imagination to create pleasant thoughts.

Why use them

Relaxation and meditation may help to release muscle tension and reduce anxiety and depression.

What to expect

Serene music may be played to create a peaceful environment. A counsellor will guide you through exercises and then, after a period of relaxation, you will usually be prompted to stay awake to enjoy your relaxed state of mind.


Clinical studies have shown that people being treated for cancer who practise relaxation have lower levels of anxiety, stress, pain and depression.

Some hospitals, cancer support groups and community centres offer relaxation and meditation groups. There are also many self-help CDs, DVDs and smartphone apps that will guide you through the different techniques. Cancer Council produces relaxation and meditation CDs. Call 13 11 20 for free copies.

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This information was last reviewed in May 2018
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