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Mindfulness: this way it helps cancer patients

Mindfulness: this way it helps cancer patients

February 4, 2024

Before the diagnosis of cancer arise very diverse feelings such as sadness, fear, anger, impotence, or injustice. When the disease is known, most people are accompanied by their relatives, friends and close relatives, either sooner or later.

However, do they really show what they feel when they talk to them? Do they let themselves be invaded by emotion when it knocks on their door? The answer in most cases is 'no'.

While it is true that in some people let their emotions flow, whether of sadness, anger or injustice, in most cases people make useless efforts to be good to others. In fact, in many occasions they can get to experience what is known as Experiential Avoidance Disorder , manifested by the avoidance of everything related to the disease. This avoidance reflects a lack of acceptance of the disease.

All these efforts to put aside the discomfort are in vain, the person ends up seeing himself in a spiral of thoughts that are avoided with daily activities and that, beyond promoting a high mood, the intensity of the malaise increases. In this way, the welfare and the quality of life of the person are affected.

What is Mindfulness and how does it help cancer patients?

From psychology these aspects are worked through different techniques and therapies. In recent years, Mindfulness has proven to be effective in the work of some relevant issues during cancer:

  • Facilitates the modulation of pain
  • It enhances sleep quality
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improve personal satisfaction
  • Improves quality of life

Mindfulness is a practice from Tibetan Buddhist meditation and, at present, it is framed within the Therapy of Acceptance and Commitment. Its objective is to be aware of every physical and psychological sensation that our body sends us. However, the purpose of Mindfulness is not to eliminate the pain or the thoughts or emotions that create discomfort, but to hear what they have to say without judging them, giving them the attention they need.

This is because our body talks to us constantly, every pain, thought, emotion or pain we have is a message from our body. When day after day we insist on not hearing it, it stalks us when we least expect it and with a greater intensity, since we are not listening to what it has to say to us. Mindfulness facilitates the acceptance, understanding and regulation of such emotions, thoughts or physical sensations.

Basic pillars of this therapeutic philosophy

There are several types of Mindfulness and a multitude of activities to implement full consciousness, but it must be taken into account that the most important thing is the attitude that is taken when performing these exercises .

Shapiro and Carlson pointed out seven factors to consider for practice:

  • Not judge : be aware of all experiences, both internal and external, without limiting them.
  • Be patient : be open to discovering what our body has to show us without having to press it.
  • Have confidence : trust in the information that our senses give us without the intention of hurting us.
  • Do not fight : do not try to avoid emotions, thoughts or physical sensations.
  • Let go : all thoughts and emotions come and go. Sometimes we have the need to remain in a state of well-being. However, Mindfulness intends to pay attention at every moment, being fully aware of what happens, as well as the changes that occur.
  • Beginner's mind : if we want to perform the Mindfulness exercises properly, we must place ourselves in an inexperienced position, similar to that of a baby. Babies discover their world little by little, they watch and listen attentively, they feel it, they suck it and even smell it. Mindfulness aims to place you in a similar position, where your inexperience allows you to perceive each experience with all the senses before categorizing it.

Bibliographic references:

  • Collete, N. (2011). Art therapy and Cancer. Psycho-oncology, 8 (1), 81-99.
  • Hart, S.L., Hoyt, M.A., Diefenbach, M., Anderson, D.R., Kilbourn, K.M., Craft, L.L., ... and Stanton, A.L. (2012). Meta-analysis of efficacy of interventions for elevated depressive 36
  • symptoms in adults diagnosed with cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 104 (13), 990-1004.
  • Hopko, D.R., Clark, C.G., Cannity, K., and Bell, J.L. (2015). Pretreatment Depression Severity in Breast Cancer Patients and Its Relation to Treatment Response to Behavior Therapy. Health Psychology.35 (1), 10-18.
  • Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003).Mindfulness based interventions in context: past, present and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10, 144-156.
  • Shapiro, S.L., Bootzin, R.R., Figuerdo, A.J., Lopez, A.M. and Schwartz, G.E. (2003). The efficacy of mindfulness-based stress reduction in the treatment of sleep disturbance in women with breast cancer: an exploratory study. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 54 (1), 85-91.
  • Shapiro, S. L., and Carlson, L. E. (2009). The art of science of Mindfulness. Washington D.C: American Psychological Association.

Mindfulness Meditation for People Living with Cancer (February 2024).

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