Researchers find that meditation is beneficial to teenagers with cancer.
The findings come from a clinical trial study conducted by researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Children’s Hospital. They studied two groups of teenagers with cancer – one group participated in an 8 weeks mindfulness-based meditation sessions while the other groups was put on waiting list. Participants were asked to fill out questionnaires about their mood, sleep patterns, and quality of life before and after their meditation sessions.
After the eight sessions, teenagers that participated in the mindfulness sessions had lower scores in depression. Girls from the mindfulness group reported sleeping better.
“Our results suggest that mindfulness sessions could be helpful in improving mood and sleep in teenagers with cancer, as previous oncology research suggests with adults,” explained Catherine Malboeuf-Hurtubise of the university’s Department of Psychology.
Interestingly, researchers could not isolate the benefits solely to the mindfulness components of the sessions. In fact, they point to another very important aspect of meditating in a group setting: the social support provided by a group.
“The social support provided to the adolescents in the mindfulness group could possibly explain observed benefits on mood and sleep,” Malboeuf-Hurtubise said.
“Nonetheless, mindfulness-based interventions appear as a promising option to lighten psychological inconveniences of living with cancer.”
Indeed, the psychological impact of cancer can be overwhelming.
In addition to facing the physical challenges of living with cancer, adolescents can also experience anxiety about the progression of the disease. Anticipation of physical and emotional pain, social changes incurred by living with cancer, and the fear of recurrence after remission are also causes for stress, anxiety, and even depression.
This is precisely where mindfulness-based activities such as meditation can help.
Mindfulness meditation helps cultivate present-moment awareness. The meditator develops the ability to observe the present moment objectively, without judgment, complete with thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations that arise. In doing so, the meditator begins to disentangle from thoughts about the future and the past, thus reducing their habitual impact on the body and mind.
This is a welcomed addition to the growing body of scientific research documenting the many benefits of mindfulness-based meditation, particularly when it is practiced in supportive group setting.
Mindfulness based meditation classes are offered in New Jersey by life coach, speaker, and educator Leo Aristimuno.
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