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About Breast Cancer>Wellness & Body Image>Complementary therapy > Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

Mindfulness-based stress reduction

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The most widely researched meditation program is called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR. It combines a variety of techniques, including body scan, sitting meditation, and gentle and mindful yoga.

How MBSR might help

Studies of MBSR in women with breast cancer show that the practice can have a strong positive impact on mental health and lower levels of hormones that cause stress.

How MBSR works

MBSR follows a structured format. Workshops usually include a series of group classes that combine meditation and yoga, plus a daylong retreat.

Mindfulness practices typically ask you to focus your attention on something simple, like your breath or sensations in your body. All mindfulness-based approaches help you find inner steadiness, stillness and peace by finding a way to accept each moment just as it is. Mindfulness meditation teaches you to let go of worries about what might come next and any regrets you may have about the past.

During the body scan portion of a MBSR workshop, you’ll focus on how each part of your body feels, starting from your feet and working your way up, or starting with your head and working down. Body scan makes you more aware of the sensations of your body in the moment.

MBSR asks you to acknowledge all sensations, both negative and positive, and be at peace with them. The goal is not to pass judgment, but to let thoughts and feelings come and go in the moment. It is a form of mindfulness meditation.

What MBSR costs

Several large medical centers offer MBSR programs. Your treatment team may be able to offer a recommendation.

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Living Beyond Breast Cancer is a national nonprofit organization that seeks to create a world that understands there is more than one way to have breast cancer. To fulfill its mission of providing trusted information and a community of support to those impacted by the disease, Living Beyond Breast Cancer offers on-demand emotional, practical, and evidence-based content. For over 30 years, the organization has remained committed to creating a culture of acceptance — where sharing the diversity of the lived experience of breast cancer fosters self-advocacy and hope. For more information, learn more about our programs and services.

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