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Mindfulness Meditation’s Triumph as a Cancer Treatment

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Meditation can help you battle cancer

Cancer Research’s UK home page recently reported:  “One in two people born after 1960 in the UK will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime”.

I was born in 1959 and at the ripe old age of 55 I have managed to be the positive side of this statistic, thankfully.

Let us look deeper into the causes of cancer and how we can avoid what seems like the inevitable. My Guru always used to say, Disease is two words – Dis and Ease.  This indicates that health problems have a mental origin.

We need to dig a little deeper into understanding the context of dis-ease!  It’s widely researched and published today that stress has a harmful effect on us.  Our modern world is a very stressful place and it is very easy to get swept away by social and cultural pressures.

The origin of stress is fear

The origin of stress is fear.  Our system has a wonderful ability to preserve itself, guided in principal by our autonomic nervous system.  Our five senses connect exterior data about our environment to our conscious mind, and our autonomic nervous system responds accordingly.  If we experience cold, then our internal heater goes on, blood is withdrawn from our skin and we burn more fuel to create warmth.  It´s so wonderfully efficient that it has guaranteed our survival over millions of years.

We can see this fear in the gazelle´s eyes and body movements as it runs for its life with a cheater in chase.  All creatures and forms of life have this inbuilt self-reservation mechanism, and as an example, we can even see this in a rose bush displaying it´s protective thorns.

Our ego is responsible for much of the stress we experience as it is forever trying to preserve itself and our sense of identity.  It wrongly assumes the authority of our higher self in the same process of trying to preserve itself. Instead of becoming the vehicle through which our higher self expresses itself, it becomes the slave to the impressions and memories, both positive and negative of the mind that dominate our thoughts and behaviour.  (As you will read later, our thoughts have a direct effect on our well-being).

Our thoughts become conditioned by those impressions and we lose clarity, and thereby, the true reality and realisation of our higher self.  A conditioned and patterned mind can no longer act, but only reacts to the information passed to it, not only internally by our thinking process, but also from the exterior stimuli from our environment.

Albeit, we could not survive without the ego, it needs clarification so the light of the higher self can shine through without impediment. Hence, it will become the aforementioned vehicle in expressing our higher or divine self.

One of the attributes of manifestation is preservation

If we want to take this to an even further level of analysis, one of the attributes of manifestation is preservation.  It is nature´s nature to manifest and we have deliberately avoided using the word “create” here as this implies will.  Manifestation is a natural, inherent process as the flower emanates fragrance, it is its nature to do so – it manifests the fragrance without any will.

Therefore, the autonomic nervous system is indeed our engine of preservation moving us from sympathetic states to parasympathetic states with perfected automaticity.

So, we misinterpret many natural things and laws around us and this creates us stress as we grapple to preserve ourselves or something to which we have become attached or conditioned.

Being in a constant state of fear causes stress and this burns up the mind and body’s resource very quickly as our autonomic system responds to the threat. Stress hormones are secreted into the bloodstream, and as we know, they are not that easy to metabolise quickly.

Constant mental agitation caused by fear and consequently, stress is indeed the precursor to illness, and in my understanding this is how disease takes hold of us.  Free radicals in our system dominate and create imbalances at our cellular level.

So, it is our mind or mental self that makes us ill?  Yes, of course, if we have a bad diet then this does not help, but what causes us to have a bad diet is also from the mind level, be it greed or ignorance.

Meditation make us more mindful

Meditation makes us more mindful and this can help us have greater mental control and use those energies in a constructive way, drawing on the finer, positive energies as opposed to the grosser energies of negativity.

The benefits of meditation to our day to day lives are numerous. Not only are more and more people seeing the spiritual benefits of the practice, meditation is being used in a secular, non-spiritual manner, and is rapidly being adopted by a growing number of medical institutions around the world. It has been successfully utilised to treat cognitive, psychological and emotional illnesses and disorders, such as:

  • Depression, including major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD)
  • Addiction issues

Those who suffer chronic physical illnesses benefit, too. The power of the mind in treating physical ailments has long been noted, and recent studies have made exciting discoveries of the physical benefits that meditation can provide. Managing and treating cancer requires a coordination between physical treatments (such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and surgery) and therapy solutions, including group therapy support, one-on-one counselling, and, specifically, mindful meditation-based therapies.

Mindful Meditation and Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

The MBSR was felt to fill a health service gap, possibly allowing the patients to learn to navigate and stay afloat in what may seem to be the large and small waves of their transformed lives” –Matsousek and Dobkin, 2010

Psychologists, when talking about life stressors, typically discuss problem-focused and emotion-focused strategies. The former is useful in dealing with a tangible, solvable problem, and involves managing behavior, including breaking approaches down into smaller tasks, seeking more information, or evaluating pros and cons of approaches in dealing with the stressor.

However, cancer is an uncontrollable problem, at least in the sense that it can’t be immediately solved by our behavior. The existential issues, fear of uncertainty and feelings of helplessness that cancer brings up are best treated with an emotion-focused strategy. This is where mindful meditation comes into its element.

Dealing with stress – which can potentially cause and aggravate existing physical problems – is extremely important in tackling cancer, and developing a healthy perspective is essential in both coming to terms with the illness and potentially overcoming it. It is clear, then, that meditation-based practices are highly effective in both stress and mood management, but also in cultivating profound, valuable traits and perspectives, that can benefit quality of life immeasurably.

Mindful Meditation and Physical Benefits

Experimental studies suggest that psychological factors such as stress can affect the ability of a tumor to grow and spread. Studies in both mice and humans have found that the stress hormone, norepinephrine, may promote angiogenesis and metastasis, the spread and growth of cells, specifically cancer cells. In this case, while mindful meditation techniques might not directly impact cancer on a physical level, it does manage stress (up to a 35% reduction) which, in turn, limits potential stress-induced cancer growth.

Another study conducted by a research team from the University of Calgary and Alberta found that mindful meditation and gentle Hatha yoga practices actually impacted participants down to the cellular level. Participants underwent group sessions of mindful meditation and Hatha yoga both during weekly sessions and at home over a period of 8 weeks.

This finding adds to the literature supporting the potential for stress-reducing interventions to impact important disease-regulating processes and ultimately disease outcome” –Elissa Epel, UCSF School of Medicine

The study concluded that telomere length (protective structures at the end of gene chromosomes) lengthened after stress-reducing activities, namely mindful meditation and yoga. Lengthened telomeres are directly linked with longevity and improved disease resistance.

While most research in this area is in its infancy, early discoveries appear promising for cancer patients. The psychological benefits of meditation practices – including mindfulness, yoga, and even tai chi – are well documented. We are entering an era where technology can acknowledge and discover the serious, vital positive impacts to one’s well-being – especially when dealing with a serious illness such as cancer – that meditation and mediation-based practices can bring.

Meditation is an ideal practice in acceptance and observance of life’s surprises – be they positive or negative. This balanced, open perspective almost seems tailor-made for cancer patients, who are posed with serious existential questions, and an inability to directly remedy their condition.

It’s about time that a wide-spread, secularised form of meditation, such as the system taught by us in FISU Meditation, is accepted as standard practice for stress and emotion management in both Western homes and Western medical institutions.

………. Rajesh Ananda

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  • The Festival of Holi helps to bring the society together and strengthen the secular fabric of India and Indian communities around the world. The festival is celebrated by non-Hindus also as everybody likes to be a part of such a colourful and joyous festival.

    Also, the tradition of the Holi is that even the enemies turn friends on Holi and we forget any feeling of hardship or resentment that may be present. Besides, on this day people do not differentiate between the rich and poor and everybody celebrates the festival together with a spirit of bonhomie and brotherhood.

    In the evening people visit friends and relatives and exchange gifts, sweets and greetings. This helps in revitalising relationships and strengthening emotional bonds between people.

    Have a holi day!

    #holi #holicelebrations #meditation #fisumeditation #themeditationguru #holifestivalofcolours #festival

  • LONELY BUT NOT ALONE
    Loneliness is a mental state and is not the same as being alone.

    Even if you are in a crowd of people, you can still feel lonely, but you are not alone as you are in a crowded room. What you are experiencing is separation, which can be an imbalance between introversion and extroversion.

    There are different forms of loneliness from missing a partner, difficulty with friends or social circles because you do not have a partner or “I’m different”, so I do not fit in or something along these lines.

    Loneliness is very much connected with happiness which is a mental state that we have been conditioned to experience based on the values of the society in which we live. At this level, happiness has an opposite – unhappiness and is it also possible to experience both at the same moment. Therefore, this shows it is a temporary state at the mercy of exterior influences - the ups and downs of life.
    Our society tells us that happiness is being rich monetarily, to own luxurious possessions, and is based on material accumulation or wealth but we know that neither of these can give us permanent happiness.

    Through loneliness, why do we feel separate from others or society – it could be that we have lost touch with others because of our past experiences and our hurts, disappointments or insecurities.

    Furthermore, the reality is that we have lost communication with who we are. Lonely people often wrongly assume they have nothing to contribute, their opinions do not count, and they have nothing to share. Of course, this is so wrong and is just because of insecurity.

    We have become introvert – and this is a very lonely place to be as our communication abilities with others diminishes. So, even though we are in the same room, we feel alone or detached and have become introvert.

    So, first, we have to return to greater security and stability that can be done quickly with meditation. Meditation is perfect for allowing us to be re-connected with our self first, and then with the world around us including its inhabitants.

    #lonely #loneliness #introvert #extovert #fisumeditation #themeditationguru #separation

  • WHY DO WE SHUN GOOD WHEN WE FEEL BAD?
    Did you know that meditators can easily deflect negative thoughts and emotions because their minds have greater strength - an attribute of spiritual unfoldment.
    When we feel unhappy with ourselves and feel a failure or negative things are happening to us or around us, we shun good things by default.

    Once we feel sorry for ourselves, lose our confidence, or feel self-critical, we find it hard to associate with anything good or positive. Our negative thoughts attract more negative situations, and that’s why a succession of adverse events occur as we have attracted them.

    All the good things in our life we neglect or push away, like meditating - the practice that can help us most when times are difficult, restore the positive, create balance, make us feel good about ourselves again - and more so, to be objective to what’s happening around us.

    If we are caught in this scenario, let’s remind ourselves of all that’s good in our lives, bring it to the fore of our mind, and if those negative thoughts or emotions arise in our head, try to observe them objectively not giving them the attention they demand.

    Through meditation, we can deflect negative thoughts and emotions with ease from our minds – push them away. Over a period of meditation, those thoughts will be naturally refined and will become less bothersome.

    Accentuate the good, the positive - diminish the negative!

    #negativethoughts #emotions #fisumeditation #themeditationguru #unhappiness #goodversusbad #meditation #meditating #balancedlife

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