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Together is a new resource for anyone affected by pediatric cancer - patients and their parents, family members, and friends.

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Mindfulness and Physical Therapy

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by concentrating on the present moment, while calmly accepting the feelings and thoughts that come to you, used as a technique to help you relax. 

Anxiety, stress and depression are prevalent in our society, especially in people with chronic illnesses. Children with chronic illnesses, including pediatric cancers, are at risk for both physical and psychological concerns. Because the brain is more pliable between the ages of birth and 2 years; 4 and 6 years and around puberty, introducing mindfulness at a young age can have lasting effects.

Mindfulness-based intervention appears to be useful in improving anxiety and could improve stress, depression, quality of life and fatigue in children and adolescents with chronic diseases ages 4-18 years. Mindfulness has shown promise in these areas:

  • Mental health
  • Coping skills
  • Self-regulation
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Decreasing elevated blood pressure
  • Reduction in negative school behaviors
Types of mindful skills include sitting meditation, visualizations, and mantras.

Types of mindful skills include sitting meditation, visualizations, and mantras.

Types of mindfulness

The purpose of body scan mindfulness exercise is simply to notice your body. It is not necessarily about relaxing your body, however this may occur as a kind of side effect. It is simply about being aware of your body, in the present moment.

Sitting meditation is a mindful attention on breaths or rising and falling of abdomen with nonjudgmental awareness of thoughts and distractions flow through the mind.

Visualization helps keep your focus and can help the mind from wandering. It can help keep your mind engaged in your goal of slowing your thoughts when clearing your mind feels like too daunting a task.

Mantra is a sound vibration through which we mindfully focus our thoughts, our feelings, and our highest intention. Mantras are deigned to bring you into a state of deeper presence and awareness and can be used during meditation. Mantras can be repetitions of words, phrases or sounds.

"I find it useful to be mindful when I work with kids as a staff chaplain. Mindfulness means being fully in the present moment without making judgments. A big part of mindfulness is not judging how you feel. You can have emotions and be aware of them, but they don't have to control you." 

Chaplain Elizabeth Hawkins

Incorporating into your routine

It can be beneficial to make mindfulness part of your daily life. 

Here are some ways to use mindfulness in your day or during a physical therapy treatment:

  • Body scans: Body scans can be performed throughout the day at any time. Before and after appointments can be good times to be aware of your body and how you are feeling. Example: One minute explorations to bring attention to your body and feelings.
  • Mantras: Mantras are a perfect way to start and end your day. Pick a phrase that is important to you and repeat it to yourself 10 times. Example: "I am strong". 
  • Meditate: Meditation can be performed any time throughout the day. Pick a quiet place that will allow you to focus. Meditation can be guided or performed individually. Meditation can be combined with yoga practice and can include positive thinking or affirmations. Examples: send postive thoughts of kindness, love and gratitude to self and others
  • Mindful breathing: Counting your breath is a great option for beginners getting started with mindfulness based therapy. Count one on your breath in, and two on your breath out. This can help quiet your mind and focus your thoughts. Examples: Belly breathing and pulse count
  • Mindful movement: Simply means being aware of the movements you make and of your breath. It can be practiced anywhere, whether you are alone in nature or with others in a crowded city. Example: mindful walking meditation can be performed in between appointments or in the parking lot prior to appointments.

Mindfulness resources: 



Submitted: November 2021