Volume 6: No. 4, October 2009
About This Image
Meditation is one of several relaxation methods evaluated by the
National Institutes of Health and found to be of benefit (1). Many
cancer treatment centers offer meditation or relaxation therapy with
standard medical care. Although it is not used to treat cancer,
meditation is a useful complementary therapy for treating chronic pain
and sleeping problems, such as insomnia, and for reducing stress and
anxiety in both the mind and body. In a controlled study of 90 cancer
patients who did mindfulness meditation for 7 weeks, 31% of participants
had fewer symptoms of stress and 65% had fewer episodes of mood
disturbance than participants who did not meditate (2).
This issue of Preventing Chronic Disease focuses on comprehensive
cancer control, and artist Kristen Immoor’s cover design features a serene
Koi pond. This image suggests a meditative setting — a quiet place free from
distractions to achieve a relaxed state — as well as an object of
visualization, a form of meditation in which one focuses on a relaxing image
to let go of intruding thoughts. Meditation can be self-directed or guided
by doctors, mental health professionals, or masters of different schools,
including Zen meditation, transcendental meditation, tai chi, or martial
arts. The ultimate goal of meditation is to separate oneself mentally from
the outside world by suspending the usual stream of consciousness, and
practitioners recommend at least 1 session of 15 to 20 minutes per day.
- National Institutes of Health. Alternative medicine: expanding medical
horizons: a report to the National Institutes of Health on alternative
medical systems and practices in the United States (NIH publication no.
94-066.S). Washington (DC): US Government Printing Office; 1994.
- Speca M, Carlson LE, Goodey E, Angen M. A randomized, wait-list
controlled clinical trial: the effect of a mindfulness meditation-based
stress reduction program on mood and symptoms of stress in cancer
outpatients. Psychosom Med 2000;62:613-622.
Cover created by Kristen Immoor
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