Fearful, confused, uncertain, and even numb – these are just some experiences people may have after hearing a cancer diagnosis. What should I do now? How do I get the best cancer therapies? What is my future? How will my family as well as friends cope and support me? How will I manage?
Research studies indicate that mind-body interventions in oncology enhance their healing. By incorporating mind-body support, people affected by cancer can experience a decrease in depression, a heightened sense of well-being and engagement in life, acquire better coping skills, experience less pain, less fatigue, and more energy—making it easier to handle stress and illness.
How does this happen? Each person contains the mind-body connection. “Mind does not dominate body, it becomes body—body and mind are one,” said Candace Pert, PhD, a scientific expert on the mind-body. Both the mind and body feed each other in a joined collective that physically impacts health. Mind-body wellness not only supports moods and coping strategies, mind-body vitality also helps health and healing against cancer plus other ailments.
So what cultivates and provides ongoing support for mind-body wellness? Along with this article, you can also learn more on our blog and Mind-Body Skills Group classes. Wellness Within facilitates a Mind-Body Skills Group 6-week session for cancer patients and cancer survivors on developing Mind-Body skills. Mind-Body Medicine focuses on the interactions between mind and body and the powerful ways in which emotional, mental, social and spiritual factors can directly affect health.
Learn and strengthen yourself by exploring these powerful mind-body strategies and develop them as daily self-care practices.
Every human being alive breathes constantly. Inhalation and exhalation support internal body functions. Yet most people are not breathing deeply and with attention into their breath. Deep breathing creates internal connections, including the mind-body balance.
Concerns in cancer patients can insert imbalances into their breathing. To help overcome negative thinking in the mind, breathing plus other mind-body strategies can turn it off. Attention to breathing helps to cultivate relaxation and restoration in the entire body and mind. Here are simple, dynamic ways to support your breathing.
- Take deep breaths daily and be aware of how you feel in the process. When you notice any shallow breathing, use it as an opportunity to transform the breath on other levels in your physical body.
- Listen to various types of music and observe your breathing. Music actually supports the breath and movement in the body.
- Exercise and use movement practices to transform breath in your body. That often includes moving your feet faster than your head. Use walking, jogging, running, biking, hiking, time in nature, yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, shaking dancing, fitness, and other forms of movement.
- Feel awareness that breathing supports the mind-body-spirit connection. God is the breath within your breath.
- Explore some breathing practices in our Meditation resource.
“Meditation is a technique for bringing us into the present moment and the experience of living in that moment, free from anxiety about the past or apprehension about the future.”
-James S. Gordon, MD
While breathing, meditation supports a powerful process of relaxation and self-awareness from within. Gentle meditation cultivates silence and stillness also for powerful levels of healing. Research shows that meditation provides many health benefits such as less fatigue, stress, nausea, types of pain, better moods, sleep, and other aspects of wellness within.
Dr. Gordon’s Soft Belly: a Four Minute Practice in Relaxation shares guidance to calm toward improved inner peace.
Another resource is a soothing Ocean Guided Meditation with Deepak Chopra. The Chopra Meditation Center also offers a free 21-Day Meditation Challenge throughout the year.
Think about it. You have thoughts with sensory qualities that create mental images, which affects what you see, hear, taste, smell, touch, and feel. Those qualities are then stored in your body and create patterns to process information, how you relate to yourself, life, relationships, and the world. Those are your belief systems that reside internally with your imagery.
“Imagery is one of the most powerful ways our mind communicates with the body.”
-O. Carl Simonton, MD
In your healing journey, develop a deeper relationship with imagery to learn more about yourself for transformation of your whole person toward more profound balance within. There are different ways to use and improve imagery.
- Learn about yourself through identifying and expressing imagery from your internal to your external levels of self with painting, dance, and many types of art.
- Transform your internal structure by applying positive statements to parts of your life that need support for improved mind-body balance. For example, if you are dealing with cancer, read Getting Well Again by O. Carl Simonton, MD with effective mental imagery created through his decades of work supporting cancer patients.
Wellness Within provides Expressive Arts classes, including Writing as a Path to Healing and Therapeutic Art to explore the nonverbal language of your soul through expressive drawing, painting, and collage.
Inertia is a stuck place in molasses when you cannot change. In contrast, movement involves an ongoing process of circles, cycles, and forward actions into transformation during your life. After all, the word emotion comes from the Latin word to move.
So how does this work? If you feel stressed and overwhelmed related to cancer with anxiety mentally and emotionally, putting your body in motion can shift your thoughts and feelings to lighten the load and create openings in your body helping you feel better in your mind. Movement is a profound form for healing of the mind-body connection. “If you put the psyche in motion, it will heal itself,” explained Gabrielle Roth, the founder of the 5Rhythms and international expert on movement practices.
Along with cancer issues, other mental and emotional challenges that existed before cancer may also intensify during and after cancer. Whatever comes up, it needs to be moved through, and without unhealthy ongoing patterns. Movement is a mechanism to create calm in chaos plus healing on profound levels of self.
“Movement is medicine.”
Here are some ways to experience movement for support and other types of healing in the mind-body connection.
- Hiking and being in Nature
- Tai Chi
- Chi Gong
- Shaking Dancing
Feelings, Thoughts, Beliefs
The mind-body connection is strongly influenced by your feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. So how does that function? Many beliefs are developed in childhood and continued in life considerably defining each person. Beliefs create thoughts, which define feelings, and feelings-thoughts-beliefs cultivate significant patterns. Since the constructs are profound in each person, they can be used to identify specifics for self-awareness, self-knowledge, self-care, self-transformation, and self-healing.
Exploration about feelings, thoughts, and beliefs offers profound healing modalities to people dealing with cancer. A first step is to identify feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. For example, some cancer patients experience dissociation physically, mentally, and emotionally. Challenges surface with relationships to the physical body in parts where cancer exists, and even perhaps a lack of trust. Other dynamics can surface in relationships with people in their life if and when cancer patients feel different, and/or other people cannot fully connect to cancer patients. A second step is to detect thoughts and beliefs from other times in life. A third step involves transforming thoughts and beliefs into healthier, healed vitality.
“We are not upset by what happens to us, but the view we take on them.”
-O. Carl Simonton, MD
As you deal with cancer, learn about your feelings, thoughts, and beliefs with tools to better construct them. Read Getting Well Again by O. Carl Simonton, MD, and you can also contact Wellness Within for more information.
The mind-body within also has a connection with spirit. Nobody is really alone. Mindful and mystical, mind-body-spirit connects each person from oneness to wholeness. Each person is whole when their spirit is united within their body into embodiment.
Dealing with cancer brings forth intense questions about life and death, existence and nonexistence. An existential crisis cultivates a search for meaning in a psychological and spiritual or psycho-spiritual crisis. With fears of mortality and uncertainty into the unknown, people affected by cancer may begin new conversations about spirit, spiritual needs, and spiritual embodiment. As those relationships become developed, people affected by cancer feel much better. Research even shows that spiritual well-being improves quality of life. The benefits are significant from reducing stress while boosting well to live plus supporting the soul’s evolution.
Ways to support mind-body-spirit healing include the following modalities and processes.
- Spiritual assessments
- Relaxation in silence and stillness
- Time in nature
Storytelling helps set the inner life into motion with identifying, expressing, and can even shaping all aspects of self. While looking into your mirror for identification, storytelling ultimately involves releasing and even with witnesses for support. Storytelling can also be combined with movement.
Some research studies indicate that cancer patients have dysfunctional coping strategies that prevent them from expressing emotions. As a therapeutic modality that cultivates mind-body wellness, storytelling can feature challenging life experiences with expression instead of repression feelings. In the process, storytellers feel improvements in their well-being and immune functions plus reductions in emotional stress. Wellness Within provides Writing as a Path to Healing classes.
The cancer journey and almost all challenges in life can feel supported with touch. When the physical body is affected by cancer, and sometimes thoughts and feelings are involved with perceptions of being different, alone, and other mental and emotional components, touch is a therapeutic modality for comfort. The body relaxes. The nervous system comes into better balance. Breathing can even further emerge. Muscles soften. On many levels, touch encourages the person to live.
Touch can involve soft contact, caressing, handholding, massage, craniosacral therapy, osteopathy, and other forms for connection. Touch can be received through 1) a treatment with a provider, 2) physical contact with loved ones and friends, and 3) how you caress yourself by even through stroking your arms and face. Let your actions support your environment to receive more touch. Ask for what you need. And hug yourself with self-love.
Art is a creative form for self-expression, release, internal and external connections, union with soul and spirit, and other powerful, profound woven mosaics turned inside out. Studies demonstrated health benefits from art with expression, awareness, releases of unspoken and unconscious concerns about illness and life, emotional conflicts into communion, enhances in communication, social skills, sense of comfort, freedom, self-confidence, and coping strategies, as well as reductions in anxiety, stress, fear, and pain.
Types of art include drawing, paining, collage, sculpture, movement, drama, signing, photography, and storytelling. Wellness Within provides Therapeutic Art classes.
When confronted with cancer, the priority often becomes therapies to get rid of cancer, shrink it, or at least control further growth. Some cancer patients also learn about and create an integrative cancer care plan for the whole person to improve their quality of life and cancer survival. What supports this new world for each person with cancer? How do cancer patients relate to themselves, family members, friends, colleagues, and other people they know?
Social connections include a potent offering for mind-body balance within. Cancer patients need support, and sometimes new situations can feel different and even uncomfortable. Quality communication and connections with the most important people in your life is critical to move through the cancer journey. If that does not occur, including for people that did not have those skills before cancer, help from quality professionals gives assistance to create necessary bridges for support and especially to love. The love within to yourself and around you provides significant healing in your cells and self.
Support groups led by quality professionals aid the healing for people dealing with cancer. In that group, you can also feel that you are not alone. Contact Wellness Within for more information.
High quality aromatherapy can dramatically shift your mind-body and even spirit. Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils from plants, including flowers, herbs, or trees, used as for specific benefits. Along with basic, meaningful improvements from aromatherapy for mind-body quality of life, some studies indicate that essential oils have antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and other improved health functions. Certain types of aromatherapy also impact varied levels of spirit and spirituality.
Some examples of aromatherapy include these types and their benefits.
- Ginger as a digestive aid to reduce nausea
- Lavender and chamomile for calming
- Frankincense against many unhealthy physical imbalances, including cancer, and also supports spirituality
- Basil for brain energy
- Sandalwood to enhance deep sleep
While there are many types of aromatherapy, the highest qualities are Young Living essential oils.
When the body feels stressed and even with blocks, laughter can shift, release, and improve health benefits, including to strengthen the immune and circulatory systems, boost oxygen intake, relax muscles, reduce pain, decrease stress, and provide many other well-being enhancements for wellness.
How do you laugh? Funny movies, books, jokes, and even tickling helps to create laughter. Humor also involves a positive attitude and belief system to support your perceptions through life.
Your foods strongly influence your mind-body connection. Many studies revealed the relationship between foods and mind-body consequences. If you eat junk, you will feel like junk. Every snack and meal can help you feel better or worse.
Unhealthy foods not only extend consequences to your mind, but also to your entire body. Your diet immensely defines your internal environmental throughout your physical body to alter your genes. Some foods kill cancer cells and others promote cancer cell growth. Learning differences between what to eat and what not to eat provides enormous benefits if you choose to eat cancer fighting foods. Diet absolutely impacts the separate and collective body, mind, and even spirit plus social and environmental health.
For more information about healthy foods for your wellness, visit Wellness Within’s Nutritional Resources.