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Meditate... and Exercise!

Body and mind are connected in our path back to wellness after breast cancer.

After hearing about the health benefits of meditation (a healthy brain), I began to meditate several years ago. I meditate most mornings for about 15-20 minutes (using a very simple approach). I've found that meditation improves my focus, clarity and attention span, and it helps to keep me calm. I'm trying meditation at night to help me get to sleep more easily (sleep disturbance is a side effect I'm dealing with).

Studies have shown that meditation boosts the immune system, reduces cravings and eases pain symptoms. It strengthens brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, sense of self, empathy and stress. No wonder it’s been called scheduled brain maintenance.

I take a simple, secular approach: sit quietly in a pleasing space with good posture. Breathe in for 6 seconds, hold gently for 6 seconds and breathe out for 6 seconds. Let thoughts come. And go. Continue for 10 minutes or longer. Reading on meditation (and accessing guided meditations) is also inspiring and instructive.

In addition, I try to practice gratitude: thinking each morning of three things I am grateful for and at the end of the day, three good things that have happened and why they were good.

The corollary to meditation and well-being is exercise. The CBC reported on a new Canadian 'meta-study' on February 21, 2017 at

Women who've survived breast cancer can reduce their risk of recurrence by avoiding weight gain and getting consistent exercise, a new Canadian review suggests.

The researchers reviewed 67 published research articles or reviews focused on lifestyle factors, such as exercise, weight, diet and smoking, to weigh how patients with breast cancer can improve their prognosis. Physical activity can reduce breast cancer mortality by about 40 per cent, previous research suggests.

It has the 'the most powerful effect of any lifestyle factor on breast cancer outcomes'.

The study found that "Following the recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week, along with two to three weekly sessions of strength training, can help reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence and mortality." See: Julia Hamer and Ellen Warner, “Lifestyle modifications for patients with breast cancer to improve prognosis and optimize overall health” (2017) 189:7 doi: 10.1503/cmaj.160464; Online at:

The researchers "tell patients exercise is part of their treatment."

I've acquired a Fitbit to motivate me. Instead of my old adage "I want to want to exercise", I'm working on "I exercise daily."

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