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Meditation is a technique you can use to handle stress, pain or other strong emotions. Learn how you can practice meditation to help calm your mind.

Key points

  • Meditation usually involves sitting quietly and being aware of your breathing, and can help you to handle stress, pain, discomfort and other strong emotions.
  • You can find information about meditation online, at the library or from your health-care team. Some hospitals may offer meditation sessions for patients and families.
  • Try to practice every day and if you find yourself distracted, gently direct your mind back to your breath.

What is meditation?

Another way to handle stress, pain, discomfort or strong emotions is to practice meditation.

Meditation is a practice that calms your mind and helps you feel more at peace with yourself. It can be very helpful to deal with all the stress, worry, discomfort, uncertainty and strong emotions that can accompany cancer.

Learning how to meditate

There are many different types of meditation, but most involve sitting quietly and being aware of your breathing without trying to change it. You can find books on meditation in your local library and there are helpful tips and videos online. Some hospitals and local organizations offer meditation sessions. These can be very helpful when you are first starting out, but you can also try it on your own.


Find a place to sit quietly. You can sit in a chair or, if it is more comfortable for you, on a cushion on the floor with your legs crossed in front of you. Let your hands rest on your thighs or in your lap. You can close your eyes or you can let your gaze rest on the floor about a metre in front of you. Try to stay still, but if you’re uncomfortable and need to shift positions, that’s ok. If you can’t sit, then you can meditate lying down.


Slowly become aware of your breathing. Don’t change or control anything; just notice where the breath travels in your body, whether it is hot or cool, fast or slow, deep or shallow. Notice your breath passing the outsides of your nostrils as it travels in and out of your body. Feel the muscles in your body start to release. When thoughts come into your mind just notice them and then gently bring your attention back to your breathing. Continue gently bringing yourself back to your breath as many times as you need to.

Practice tips

  • Try not to get frustrated if thoughts frequently come into your mind. Meditation can be really difficult at first and takes a lot of practice. You may notice how busy your mind is and how easily it gets distracted. Try to be gentle and keep practising.
  • It is most helpful if you practice meditation every day. Start with a small amount of time and slowly increase as meditation gets easier. Try not to judge your thoughts or how well you are doing. Just gently direct your mind back to your breath.

The Mental Health Learning Hub has a series of guided meditations you can use to help you relax, focus on your thoughts, and relieve pain and stress.

Last updated: September 3rd 2019