Meditation and Relaxation in Integrative Medicine

 In Current Blog

November 26, 2015
By: Dr. Boukaram

Integrative medicine is a new approach being used to treat patients, including those affected by cancer. This discipline originated in the United States and has begun to make its way within the medical field in Quebec. Integrative medicine allows for the resolution of health problems through the combination of two concepts: conventional medicine and non-conventional medicine.

There are different treatments used in this approach, including meditation and relaxation.

The Concept of Integration in Medicine

Before discussing further the different treatments used in integrative medicine, it is important to clarify the meaning of the word “integration.” The term refers to the physiological functioning of the human being. Integrative medicine allows for the coordination of all of the systems that make up the human body, in order to guarantee the maintenance of good overall health.

Integrative medicine is much more than a complementary approach to classical medicine, because it combines the therapeutic means and philosophical concepts from the methods existing in each culture. Effective integration in the treatment of any health problem involves the consideration of all the parameters that make up the life of the individual.

Definition of Meditation and Relaxation

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) defines meditation and relaxation as follows:

“Meditation refers to a group of practices in which a person concentrates his or her attention and suspends the flow of thoughts that normally occupy his or her mind.”

“Relaxation refers to group of techniques that combine breathing and intention to calm the mind by consciously producing the body’s natural relaxation response.”

How to Treat Cancer With Integrative Medicine

From a historical point of view, cancer is an illness that has always existed, but in the last century we have learned far more about the phenomenon. Since various types of cancer treatment are available, patients must be evaluated by specialized oncologists in order to determine the best course of action.

If the illness is not yet too far advanced, patients may first consult a surgical oncologist about the possibility of removing the tumour. They may also consult a radio-oncologist to benefit from radiotherapy treatments, as well as a medical oncologist when chemotherapy is necessary.

Integrating Mindfulness Meditation in Cancer Treatment

John Kabat-Zinn is a pioneer of mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness refers to the awareness of and deliberate paying attention to our moment-to-moment experience in the present. It is important to note that this process of paying attention is carried out without judgment. The watchwords for this kind of therapy are cognition, the psyche, psychophysiology, and the behaviour of patients.

Mindfulness meditation is a discipline with very simple principles; it invites patients to be attentive to the present moment and to adopt a conscious awareness that is free from judgment. When meditation is included in integrative oncology, it allows patients to maintain an awareness and an acceptance of their state of being. Furthermore, it encourages them to cultivate a state of non-judgment in facing the diverse events and experiences that affect their day-to-day lives.

Integrating Relaxation in Cancer Treatment

Relaxation is a therapy technique that is specially adapted to people suffering from stress, anxiety and pain. It is no surprise, then, if it is recommended as a parallel treatment for cancer.

Relaxation therapy intervenes on both a physical and a psychological level. It leads to a neuromuscular release and a deepened state of rest in patients, which in turn allows patients to feel a greater sense of peace and serenity. Relaxation is a meditation that focuses on the body and aims to restore a person’s emotional and psychological functioning.

Benefits of integration of meditation and relaxation in cancer treatments include pain relief, stress relief, reducing side-effects of medication and improving general quality of life.

This entry was originally published on Dr. Boukaram’s blog, in French only. To read more:

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