Mindfulness: You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf

by Anna Suarez @ 02.07.2017

Mindfulness: You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf

The post highlights the talk by Jon Kabat-Zinn in Helsinki and the benefits of mindfulness-based techniques in treatment of various diseases, including childhood cancer.

We have talked about the importance of psychological side of childhood cancer treatment and mentioned various approaches to support mental health of children with cancer and their families during our cancer research month. Today we will talk a bit deeper about mindfulness-based approaches.

‘You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf’ is a famous saying by Jon Kabat-Zinn describing his teaching of mindfulness. Jon Kabat-Zinn is the founder of Mindfulness-Bases Stress reduction program and the person who adopted teachings of Buddhist monks to western clinical approach stress, pain, and many other symptoms. And in the end of June Anna from Triumf Gamification was very lucky to attend his talk in Helsinki.

During his lecture Jon Kabat-Zinn demonstrated what mindfulness is and is not, and how he and many others medical and research specialists are successfully using mindfulness-based techniques in the practice with patients who have various diseases, including cancer. As he described the room where his patients are practicing mindfulness: ‘From the outside it looks like they are doing nothing. On the inside they are doing just about everything’.

Mindfulness-based techniques have been shown to improve the course of ongoing treatment, reduce chronic pain and recurring symptoms, help manage anxiety and many more. Unfortunately, there is little research on mindfulness-based programs for children with cancer, but many clinicians and parents note that it does help the kids, particularly to reduce pain. More studies show that mindfulness skills help childhood cancer survivors to manage stress.

Jon Kabat-Zinn noted in his talk that the positive effects of mindfulness on the body go via reduction of inflammation. We do not know yet how exactly that happens. But the results speak for themselves: mindfulness does improve physical and mental health. Its biggest value lies in the fact that we are all born with mindfulness – ability to be present here and now, in the present moment. It is always within human beings, specialist can help to merely find the way back to it. And there are many professionals like Jon Kabat-Zinn who are doing that brilliantly.

To read more about mindfulness, you can check out Jon Kabat-Zinn’s books Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness and Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life.