The chances are you will have heard the term ‘mindfulness’ mentioned at some point recently; it’s being talked about everywhere from businesses to schools to the NHS. From radio discussions to newspaper articles, courses, books and apps, mindfulness has gained momentum as a growing trend over the past few years.
A cancer diagnosis gives rise to so many physical and emotional challenges which may continue well beyond treatment for the person experiencing cancer, and their family and friends. Mindfulness as an approach to meeting these challenges is becoming an important part of our programme of support at Maggie’s.
Mindfulness practise invites you to bring your attention to the present moment with an intention of acceptance, paying attention to thoughts and feelings without judging them, without believing there is a right or wrong way to think in any given moment.
These practises have the intention of teaching people practical skills that can be incorporated into daily life, and which can help manage physical and psychological health problems. With practise, these skills can allow us to navigate ongoing challenges in life with calmness, clarity, curiosity, compassion and resilience.
Vicky, 42, took part in the eight-week mindfulness course at Maggie’s after a diagnosis of ovarian cancer:
“The course has been… the golden thread that saw me through the second half of chemo, and taught me to listen to my body with curiosity. It’s taught me that I have huge resources within myself, including focus and calm, and a few simple techniques to help access them.
Whilst I’m not practising formally every day, I’m still finding I can ‘tune in’ to my body when I need to. It’s really reassuring to know that this skill is at hand in the background, and that all I need is my own breath. I definitely get less frustrated by the little things in life now. I’m much more easily able to slow down, to take a moment and to recognise negative patterns of thinking.”
Eileen, a lady in her 80s visited Maggie’s having been diagnosed with advanced cancer of the colon, shared this reflection after she had completed the mindfulness course:
“It was deeply rewarding, and made me realise how mindfulness has become an integral part of my life. I’m sure it’s one of the reasons I’m accepting the prospect of my imminent demise so cheerfully, and I’m enormously grateful.”
The mindfulness courses at our Centres are group-based, educational, supportive psychologically, empowering and encouraging of an active participation in individual health and wellbeing. Psychologists and mindfulness practitioners at Maggie’s use a stress-reduction based mindfulness throughout many aspects of our programme of support, as well as delivering more specific mindfulness workshops and courses. Some of our practitioners are further trained in the cognitive-based component.
Mary Turner, Cancer Support Specialist and mindfulness teacher at Maggie’s West London says:
“It is a privilege to see the incremental and beneficial effects of mindfulness lived and experienced by the people who come to Maggie’s. People who have attended our eight-week mindfulness course have experienced new ways of being, of coping with the challenges of a cancer diagnosis, of supporting a loved one, and of living with bereavement. I notice people looking brighter and more relaxed, struggling a bit less, and expressing a greater enthusiasm for living their life.”
If you would like more information about mindfulness at Maggie's, please contact your nearest Maggie's Centre.