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Meditation Relieves Stress and Depression in Breast Cancer Patients

Update Date: Oct 08, 2012 09:37 AM EDT

Breast cancer, apart from being a deadly disease, also leaves behind the survivors and sufferers with a lot of agony and depression. A new study suggests that a simple mindful meditation can help breast cancer survivors get relief from symptoms of depression.

Meditation, a practice of training one's mind, may help wipe out some of those repetitive thoughts about the past or future that can clutter one's mind, once the treatment is over, Medical Xpress reports.

Practicing meditation regularly could reduce loneliness and also decrease the body's inflammatory response to stress - which can trigger serious illness.

"Mindfulness meditation is particularly effective in buffering the effects of stress on well-being and physical health," said study co-author J. David Creswell, director of the Health and Human Performance Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University.

Creswell further says that although not much known about this, but meditation could help stop the spiral of negative thoughts.

Elesa Commerse, a meditation teacher, who has practiced meditation during and after her own breast cancer treatment, spoke about the benefits of it, reports Chicago Tribune.  

Commerse says that once the cancer treatment has ended, meditation helps the patient stay in the present and think in positive ways. "It's important to stay present when dealing with such devastating news because it is then that the mind gets very creative and usually in unhelpful ways - about the future or possible lack of a future," she says.

Speaking of the techniques to be followed during meditation, she says that first, one needs to calm their body and sit comfortably. Then, one needs to understand the velocity of their thoughts and welcome all thoughts, without trying to stop them from occurring. But then as the thoughts come, one needs to let them float away too, without sticking to them. Once this is practiced repeatedly, without any reaction and count, "keep coming back to the sensation of the breath that you are breathing just now - to the present moment," she says.

When asked if meditation was difficult to learn at a time when a patient is battling a life-threatening illness, Commerse said that she believes it is easier at that time "because you know why you need to learn how to do this."

She says there is an "amazing clarity" that comes along with cancer diagnosis and treatment. "What matters and what determines the quality of our life depends on what we choose to focus on. Whatever the mind focuses on magnifies," she says.

Her DVD, "Finding Your Way," is a nine-hour program that includes meditation and is designed to help breast cancer survivors navigate their changed world. Find it at

The study was published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

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