Mind-Body Therapies including meditation, breathing exercises, and body scanning alleviate the side effects of cancer treatment as well as promote a sense of general well-being in survivorship. These therapies induce relaxation, release physical tension, and support patients and their families through potentially stressful medical procedures. Breathing exercises downregulate the nervous system, which allows the mind to access deep relaxation while providing relief from pain and stress. Body scanning, which incorporates directed breathing, simple muscle engagement, and mental focus, is another practice that can reduce pain and stress.
We teach patients and their families a 7-Step Body Scan approach for discomfort and stress. Sessions may be complemented with audio recordings that patients can listen to on their own, building up their daily practice.
Visual Imagery refers to the practice of imagining or creating an image in your mind and holding that image for a specific effect. Directly promoting relaxation by bridging the brain-mind-body. Imagery is a range of techniques that focuses and directs the imagination. Imagery techniques range from simple visualization to direct story telling. In TCM, it is said that Qi follows Li, meaning energy follows thought. If you visualize a sensation, place, or event that evokes tranquility, you can hold that thought and it can manifest in your body or life. This helps create calming pleasant images to replace negative thoughts.
In the hospital and pediatric clinic, Integrative Therapy clinicians and Child Life specialists teach guided imagery techniques to patients and families. Projects such as imagination scrapbooks, relaxation pillows, or animal masks, use a five-sense approach to creating calming images for children. Integrating these images helps create a feeling of ease during procedures and long hospital stays. The Child Life staff is also trained in Peggy Huddleston’s technique, “Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster.” This mind-body program uses visualization for preparation and support prior to surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health defines meditation as: “a mind and body practice that has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being. Mind and body practices focus on the interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior." Meditation techniques may involve a quiet space, relaxed posture, focused attention, and a practice of allowing thoughts to come and go.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation practice that supports the balance of mind and body. We adapt meditation and mindfulness practices for children, adolescents, and adults. Patients and their families find these practices helpful in coping with the stress, anxiety, and discomfort associated with cancer treatments. These techniques are designed to support them during treatment and through transition off therapy and into survivorship.
 Zaccaro, A., Piarulli, A., Laurino, M., Garbella, E., Menicucci, D., Neri, B., & Gemignani, A. (2018). How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review on Psycho-Physiological Correlates of Slow Breathing. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 12. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00353
 Dreeben, S. J., Mamberg, M. H., & Salmon, P. (2013). The MBSR Body Scan in Clinical Practice. Mindfulness, 4(4), 394-401. doi:10.1007/s12671-013-0212-z