What is it?
Mindfulness is the quality of being present and fully engaged in the present moment – free from distraction or judgement. Mindfulness practices can include focusing on the breath and observing each rise and fall, body scan meditations, and mindful walking. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a 6–8 week course designed to help you cope better and be at ease in your life.
Why use it
People practise mindfulness to change the way they think about experiences. By becoming aware of thoughts and feelings, you can choose how to handle them in the moment. This can increase attention and awareness, and strengthen wellbeing.
What to expect
Mindfulness can be practised sitting, standing or lying down. An instructor will support you to focus attention in a mindful way. This could be through following a series of exercises that focus on breath work and calming the mind.
What is the evidence?
There is good evidence to show that MBSR lowers the levels of stress hormones in your body, which can assist in healing, and improves immune function. Clinical practice guidelines include MBSR as an option for managing cancer-related fatigue.
Studies on mindfulness show it helps improve the quality of life of people with cancer, increases coping, and can reduce pain, anxiety, depression and nausea.
Check whether your cancer centre runs mindfulness programs. There are also online programs and smartphone apps you can download.
Even 13 years after I was treated for prostate cancer, in the back of my mind I still worry that it will come back. I did a mindfulness course to help me deal with this fear and found it really helpful.John (prostate cancer)
Meditation and Relaxation Podcast
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Dr David Joske, Clinical Haematologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and PathWest, Chairman and Founder Solaris Cancer Care Foundation, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The University of Western Australia, WA; Australasian Integrative Medicine Association (AIMA); Dr Robert Blum, Clinical Director, Cancer Services, Bendigo Health, NSW; Sally Brooks, Senior Pharmacist, Medicines Information, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Suzanne Grant, Senior Research Fellow, NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University, and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Prof Danforn Lim, Adjunct Professor and Advisory Board Member, NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University, and Adjunct Professor, UTS, NSW; Christina Line, Statewide Services Senior Coordinator, Cancer Council WA; Jen McKenzie, Physiotherapist (Lymphoedema) and ESSA Accredited Exercise Physiologist, The McKenzie Clinic, QLD; Simone Noelker, Wellness Centre and Pastoral Care Manager, Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Nirzari Pandit, General Practitioner, RACGP Specific Interests Integrative Medicine Group, NSW; Georgie Pearson, Consumer; Cris Pirone, Counsellor, Cancer Council SA; Dr Elysia Thornton-Benko, Specialist General Practitioner, and UNSW Research Fellow, NSW; Kirsty Trebilcock, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA.
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