Yoga and Meditation Recommended for Breast Cancer Patients

It's impossible to imagine exactly what it feels like to hear that you have breast cancer. A burden of the heaviest kind, a breast cancer diagnosis can send patients on emotional roller coasters, with some lows feeling like the ride may have gotten stuck. But to cope with the anxiety, researchers are recommending meditation and yoga, two great non-invasive alternative therapies that can help clear a stress-ridden mind. 

First Study
One new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs looked at which alternative therapies provide the biggest benefits. The short answer? Meditation, yoga and relaxation with imagery. 

The research, which involved information from 4,900 studies published between 1990 and 2013, ranked a wide range of therapeutic practices including massage, relaxation with imagery, music therapy, energy conservation and yoga, among others. Yoga, meditation and relaxation were given a grade A and were regarded as viable care options for breast cancer patients. 

Each care option was scored based on how well it could help patients cope with stress and anxiety from a breast cancer diagnosis. The research could provide the framework for hospitals to implement new ways for patients to deal with the emotional trauma of cancer.

According to Time, up to 80 percent of American patients with breast cancer undergo complementary therapies to handle anxiety and stress after they receive a diagnosis. 

"Women with breast cancer are among the highest users [of these therapies]…and usage has been increasing," the authors wrote in their study. "Clear clinical practice guidelines are needed." 

Another Study: Analyzing Stress at the Cellular Level
A separate study, published in the journal cancer, showed that practicing mindful meditation had a positive physical impact at the cellular level in breast cancer survivors. The team working out of Alberta Health Services' Tom Baker Cancer Centre and the University of Calgary Department of Oncology highlighted that telomeres – the protein complexes at the end of chromosomes – maintain their length in breast cancer survivors who practice meditation, while they shorten in a comparison group without any intervention. 

"We already know that psychosocial interventions like mindfulness meditation will help you feel better mentally, but now for the first time we have evidence that they can also influence key aspects of your biology," Dr. Linda E. Carlson, principal investigator and director of research in the Psychosocial Resources Department at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, said in a press release.

Over the three-month period, 88 breast cancer survivors who had completed their treatments attended eight weekly, 90-minute group sessions that provided instruction on mindful meditation and gentle yoga. Patients also practiced meditation and yoga at home for 45 minutes a day. 

The blood tests demonstrated that the two practices shield telomeres from the shortening effects of stress.

"I was skeptical at first and thought it was a bunch of hocus-pocus," Allison McPherson, who underwent a full year of chemotherapy and numerous surgeries, said in a press release. "But I now practice mindfulness throughout the day and it's reminded me to become less reactive and kinder toward myself and others."

One Man’s Struggle With ALS: Meditating to Stay Positive

In the last month, the Ice Bucket Challenge has swept through all corners of the Internet. The viral trend has boosted awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, leading to more than $80 million in donations for the ALS Association. But the social media craze is more than a fad for some people – like Keith Ten Pow.

Pow, who lives in Liverpool, England, was diagnosed with ALS 21 years ago. He was a former salsa dancer and instructor who loved to stay active. Now the disease known for muscle atrophy has left him unable to perform the activities he loves. Despite the immense challenge, Pow tries to remain positive with meditation and a fighting spirit. 

"I meditate a lot to help calm me down and keep me feeling positive," Pow, who speaks with the help of an interpreter, told Liverpool Echo. 

There are lots of meditation benefits, from uplifted mood to lower blood pressure to reduced stress. Master of meditation Ilchi Lee is a big advocate concerning the perks of the ancient technique. Pow takes advantage of the meditation to stay on the sunny side of things. 

As a note, ALS is often called motor neuron disease (MND) in the U.K. The basis for the condition is a premature degeneration of motor nerves. 

"Everyone that has MND is different but I am a fighter," Pow told the source. "I'm still here 21 years on from being diagnosed, but that's why. Always stay positive."

Meditate Before Business Presentations

Whether large or small, business presentations can be a nerve-racking experience. That's why taking a few moments to mediate leading up to the meeting can prove helpful.

Ilchi Lee, a master of meditation, says that among the many mindfulness meditation benefits, the ancient practice is designed to help clear the mind, relieve stress and improve sharpness of cognitive skills.

Even 60 seconds of meditation before your presentation can produce a noticeable impact, explained speaker Todd Herman, a leadership consultant who works with professional athletes and corporations like Shell, Chevron, and Cisco.

You can do this anytime, any place. Some people might even practice a little mindful meditation in their cars outside the building.

Meditation Quick Tips
Here's what to do:

  1. Take deep breaths through your nose down to your diaphragm and steadily exhale through your mouth. This can slow down your heart rate and oxygenate your blood, working to reduce anxiety. 
  2. If you have access to it, put on some soothing music such as a jazz, tambura or nature sounds like the ocean crashing.
  3. Close your eyes and get used to feeling with your eyes closed. Then focus on your deep breathing. 
  4. For meditation for beginners, it's helpful to set a timer for two minutes, close your eyes and imagine the number one as a physical object. When your attention begins to drift, imagine the number two, and so on. By the end of the exercise, you'll make note of the last number you thought about. With practice, the number will decrease because you'll learn to put the brakes on the thoughts zooming around your head. 

Other Helpful Ways to Prepare
Practice the Positive of Negative Preparation Principle. When astute business people are deciding whether or not to invest, they don't just see the positive outcomes. That would narrow their scope. They also see everything that could go wrong. As counterintuitive as it sounds, it's helpful to think of everything that could go in your presentation and then prepare a response for them. Before entering the meeting, visualize everything going right. 

After meditating, be sure to keep your presentation's intention at the front your mind. Remind yourself why you are giving your presentation. Chances are, it's not for you but for others. A simple reminder of how your information might benefit an audience member can be an uplifting thought before showtime. 

Meditation Can Cut Cardiovascular Disease in Half

When patients calm the brain down through meditation, they not only feel more relaxed, their bodies are physically more stress-resistant. Studies have shown that meditation reduces blood pressure and cuts the risk of heart attack.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, and people of all ages and backgrounds can get this condition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that early action is key, and meditation is a great place to start.

In one 2013 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, researchers examined women and men diagnosed with prehypertension – blood pressure that was higher than normal, but not high enough to require antihypertensive drugs. While one group were assigned to work work mindfulness skills, including sitting meditation and yoga exercises, the "comparison" group received lifestyle advice plus a muscle-relaxation activity.

Those in the mindfulness-based group had a significant reduction in blood pressure, with systolic blood pressure (the first, higher number) decreased by an average of nearly 5 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). In contrast, the systolic blood pressure of those in the control group dropped less than 1 mm Hg.

About three out of 10 Americans have prehypertension and may be prescribed medications for the condition. Stress temporarily raises high blood pressure, and over the long run, these stress-related blood pressure spikes may add up. There's no question that stress is an epidemic in the 21st century, and meditation just may be the antidote.

Ilchi Lee, an expert of meditation, points out that calming the mind helps build stress-resistance, temporarily quieting the outside noise and finding a sense of inner calm. Focusing on breathing and gentle body movements reinforces the mind-body connection, and when done daily, guided meditation can work wonders.

Dr. Robert Schneider explained to the American Heart association that certain types of meditation my be successful in reducing heart disease risks for both health individuals as well as those who are suffering from a heart condition.

Fighting Off Heart Problems
Another landmark study, published by the American Heart Association in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, corroborated the findings of the benefits of meditation. For the research, 201 participants were instructed in either meditation stress-reducing program or a lifestyle-modification course. Those in the meditation group made a big leap in dropping their blood pressure by 5 mm Hg. In short, meditation may cut the risk of heart attack and stroke in half.

"Many doctors and scientists are recognizing that mind-body-heart research has crossed a threshold," Schneider told PR Web.

Based on publications from the AHA, there's evidence supporting that specific types of meditation techniques have been successful in reducing death, heart attack and stroke rates by as much as 48 percent. Additionally, hundreds of additional peer-reviewed studies on meditation practices have been conducted over the years, all of which have provided a great deal of scientific evidence supporting the claims that, when properly practiced, meditation may improve practitioners health and overall well-being.

Transcendental Meditation May Reduce PTSD

Soldiers returning home from with life-changing events or refugees from war-torn countries may suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Individuals with PTSD often cannot stop thinking about the horrifying event, reliving the experience again and again. To ward off its symptoms, a number of studies have shown transcendental meditation lowers the painful effects of PTSD.

Transcendental meditation is a technique specifically designed to steer your mind away from distracting thoughts and promote a state of relaxed awareness. It consists of sitting with eyes closed and repeating a mantra, which is a meaningless sound from the Vedic tradition of India. Experts point out that when meditating, the ordinary thinking process becomes replaced by a state of pure consciousness, or "transcended." In this state, PTSD patients can achieve stillness, rest, stability, order and an absence of mental boundaries.

PTSD in Refugees
A recent, small study indicates that Congolese war refugees who learned transcendental meditation showed significant reduction in PTSD in just 10 days. The research was published in the February 2014 issue of the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

In the study, 11 subjects were assessed using the PTSD Checklist for Civilians, which ranks PTSD on a scale from 17 to 85. A score less than 35 means the symptoms of the disorder have abated.

Initially, the participants received an average score 77.9. After only 10 days of practicing transcendental meditation, their PTSD test scores dropped to an average of 48, a shockingly significant reduction. At the 30-day mark, the subjects were tested again, with scores falling to an average of 35.3, meaning they were almost without their disorder. 

"What makes this study interesting is when we tested them in the 90 days before they began the TM technique, their PTSD scores kept going up," co-author of the study Fred Travis, director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management, said in a statement. "During that period their scores were rising, from 68.5 at the beginning to 77.9 after 90 days. But once they started the transcendental meditation technique, their PTSD scores plummeted."

According to the researchers, something profound happens when one experiences a traumatic event. It locks into a specific brain functioning by over​ stimulating the amygdala, thereby trapping people into a rut of thinking and feeling, in this case fear, mistrust and vigilance. However, with transcendental meditation, people enter a deep state of restfulness, which calms the amygdala and alleviates PTSD symptoms. Researchers note it allows the individual to "see more possibilities."

 Esperance Ndozi, a 35-year-old mother of five, was among the Congolese refugees traumatized by the civil war. Before the transcendental meditation, Ndozi could hardly sleep and was disturbed by her dark memories. Yet after a week of mediating 20 minutes a day she said she found noticeable relief from the symptoms.

"Your mind, your body relaxes," Ndozi told the Maharishi University of Management. "You feel you are out of the outside world. You are just in your peaceful world. No negativity. It doesn't come near me now."

This was the fourth study to highlight an improvement in PTSD through meditation. Currently, transcendental meditation is being considered as a viable treatment by the U.S. military. 

PTSD affects at least 7.7 million adults in the U.S. Meditation has proven to relieve stress in PTSD and provide relief to the sufferers. Learning how to live with yourself can seem like an insurmountable hurdle for natural treatments, but this type of meditation has proven a beaming ray of light.

Ilchi Lee, an innovative leader in the human brain potential development, encourages transcendental meditation to overcome the personal challenges, no matter how big they are. 

Google Science Fair 2014: One Judge Weighs in for Holistic Change

The Google Science Fair, a global online competition open to students from 13- to 18-years-old, is encouraging youth to change the world, one idea at a time. In its fourth year searching for the next generation of great scientists, Google continues to foster outside-the-box thinking to tackle real-life problems.

Thomas Culhane, a National Geographic explorer and one of the judges in the competition, recently weighed in on the forward-thinking contest. The urban planner-slash-teacher has worked with young students for the past four years of Google Science Fairs competitions. He points out that the project finalists are inspirational on several levels, developing fresh, innovate ideas from the ground up. Each student, Culhane notes, is dedicated to solving big-world problems and doesn't let education stop outside the classroom.

"I'm a big picture guy whose greatest joy as a member of the National Geographic Explorers Team has been taking the innovation challenge to work with explorers outside my field and see how we can put the puzzle together to make holistic improvements immeasurably better than what we can do alone," Culhane told National Geographic.

Certainly, reshaping how we view things is a team effort. Ilchi Lee, a dedicated advocate of a peaceful, sustainable world, wholeheartedly agrees with these sentiments. Lee reinforces the holistic education approach as a way to make connections not only to the community, but to the nation and across borders in the world as a whole. The author and mediation advocate adds that to reach our full potential, it all starts with one person, one idea, one thought. To harness that positive energy, Lee has written several books, many of which are on The New York Times Best Sellers list, that lay the framework for individual's potential and powerful identity. 

"We haven't yet offered young people such a challenge, we haven't endorsed the 'permaculture' or 'sustainability' model as a topic with the importance it deserves so as a society we are still getting isolated sparks of genius that don't always mesh with one another comfortably when real world application is attempted," Culhane went on to the source.

It's safe to say that both Culhane and Lee believe in the same goal: A sustainable world. The grand prize of the Google Science Fair includes a National Geographic Expedition to the Galapagos. In June, finalists will be narrowed down to 90 regional finalists. Come August, global finalists will convene at Google Headquarters in California to discover the No. 1 winner. 

Parents should teach kids inspirational stories about honesty


Few traits are more honorable in a person than honesty. It's a quality that can land a person a job, earn them trust from a loved one and even help them live a stress-free existence. As such, teaching children the importance of being an honest person is integral to fostering their growth as a human.

Inspirational stories about honesty can be a fun way in which boys and girls learn valuable lessons about telling the truth, as they will likely view it as entertainment as they absorb the important fact of life.

Pinocchio is one example of a classic, beloved tale that teaches kids the virtues of honesty and the drawbacks of telling a lie, which can be substantial, as Pinocchio found out.

Other examples are abundant, and parents should expose their kids to many of them in order to drive home the point that being truthful comes with rewards, while being dishonest is often punished.

Inspirational stories for kids are a great way to show children important life lessons in a form that is accessible and enjoyable.

Inspirational stories about honesty are central to a fulfilling life

In a world so full of conflict and division, inspirational stories about honesty may be few and far between. However, this does not mean that virtue is completely absent from the world. There are still many people who are devoted to principles of forthrightness.

Take, for example, the author and trailblazer Ilchi Lee. He has long advocated for individuals to make peace and harmony a larger part of their daily lives. Part of this means practicing honesty in all of one’s dealings.

Lee recommends that individuals practice meditation techniques for beginners to gain a new perspective on the world around them. This may help them understand how their actions impact the people in their life. Once it becomes clear how a person can have such a profound influence on those around them, honesty may become a much more important quality.

Living an honest, authentic life is not only about avoiding lying to others. It also means being honest with oneself. Individuals should try to avoid building up images of themselves that are inaccurate. Practicing honesty in all areas of life can lead to a much more harmonious existence.

Inspirational stories are more important in today’s society than ever before

We live in an age of individualism, in which people tend to focus on their own accomplishments and overlook the contributions of others. However, inspirational stories about humility may teach individuals the value of not getting too excited about their own exploits.

The ethos of egoism is largely reflected by reality television. The highest aspiration of many people is to get a role in television in which they can essentially play themselves. We see the effects of this concept played out in many aspects of society, as humility seems to be a dying ideal.

Meditation techniques for beginners may be important for individuals who have trouble thinking outside of their own self. The process teaches people that they are not at the center of the universe. Rather, there is a whole world of other people around them that have their own desires, hopes and fears. Each individual on their own plays a relatively small role in this system.

In this way, individuals may be able to start developing their own inspirational stories about humility. Over time, it may become possible to disregard their own accomplishments and celebrate the humanity all around them.

Inspirational stories about honesty are the product of hard work

Have you ever heard an inspirational story about honesty? Perhaps you were told of a person who returned a lost wallet to its owner rather than simply pocketing the cash, or maybe you have heard about a co-worker who owned up to a mistake instead of letting a colleague take the blame.

These types of narratives are less common in today's society, but there are ways for more individuals to embrace the lifestyle that leads to them. By practicing honesty and sincerity every single day, more people may start talking about your strength of character.

In the U.S., there is a general attitude of individualism. This philosophy teaches people to fend for themselves. While approaching life in this manner can produce important self-sufficiency, it can also lead individuals to make decisions that benefit them at the expense of others. Sometimes, these choices even involve dishonesty.

Because people in this country are so immersed in this outlook, it may take serious efforts to begin approaching life in a more honest manner. Meditation techniques for beginners can enable individuals to clear their mind of preconceived notions about the way the world operates and allow them to see greater possibilities for honesty.

Author and philosopher Ilchi Lee says that honesty is one of the most important personality traits a person can have in life. Yet, it takes daily practice to preserve integrity and avoid situations that may jeopardize a person's efforts to live a more authentic life.

The benefits of this type of lifestyle may not be immediately apparent. However, over time, an individual may gain the respect of their acquaintances and community. Furthermore, their efforts may make the world a better place for everyone.