Spiritual practices

What are they?

Spirituality is a very individual concept. For some, it may mean being part of an organised religion such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam or Buddhism. For others, spirituality may reflect their own individual beliefs about the universe and their place in it, or a search for meaning and purpose to their lives.

Often when people are diagnosed with cancer, the spiritual aspect of their lives becomes more important.

Why use them?

People often find comfort in prayer, meditation or quiet contemplation. Receiving pastoral care from a religious or spiritual adviser or a hospital chaplain can often help people, even if they are not part of an organised religion.

What to expect?

If you are part of a spiritual or religious community, you may benefit from:

  • prayer or meditation groups
  • a feeling of unity from the congregation
  • healing services for the sick
  • practical and spiritual support offered by members of your religious community.

If you are not part of a formal community, you can seek further information and support about your area of spiritual interest from support groups, friendship groups, your local library or online.

What is the evidence?

There is growing scientific evidence of a positive link between spiritual practices and health.

This information was last reviewed in May 2015
View who reviewed this content
View our editorial policy

Support services

Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum

Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment

Cancer information

What is cancer?
How cancer starts and spreads

Dealing with the diagnosis
Common reactions to a cancer diagnosis and how to find hope

View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends