By Lennard M. Gettz, Ed.D
I met Dave Dachinger when I first launched the NYCRA group (NY Cancer Resource Alliance) around 2018. He was a retired firefighter and cancer survivor- traits that fit our cancer advocacy membership criteria. He soon joined our alliance- but what truly made him interesting was inventing an APP called LOVING MEDITATIONS to bring cancer patients undergoing the discomfort of a 'drip center' (infusion therapy or chemo trickle).
Over time and a lot of entrepreneurial spirit, Loving Meditations built quite a following for his meditation app throughout both the cancer care and patient community. Meanwhile, Dave's digital harnessing of the fruits of meditation became one of our references of how brain health and stress reduction could help the efficacy of any treatment.
EXCERPT FROM LIVE CALM WITH CANCER (…AND BEYOND)
By: Tamara Green, LCSW & David Dachinger
DECISIVE DOCTOR VISIT
About a year after my initial diagnosis of stage IV head and neck cancer, I had a follow-up visit with my oncologist Dr. C. After my vitals were taken and blood drawn, we had a brief wait in the bleak exam room.
During this exam, Dr. C. announced that my scans were clear and I was now officially cancer-free. He commented, “That was not an easy regimen (chemo, radiation and surgery) you just had, but you did phenomenally well!” He asked if there was actually something I did which helped me get through treatment in such good emotional and physical shape. I replied that I’d used a mindful wellness practice, listening to programs at the infusion center. His eyes lit up as he suddenly proclaimed, “That’s what I want for all of my patients!” He desired a way his patients could become calm before their exams or treatments.
As Dr. C. talked, Tamara’s eyes and mine met and a light bulb lit up. We’d been creating the Miracle Mondays guided meditation series for seven years, and we’d also recently lived through the cancer experience as patient and caregiver. Now my oncologist was pointing out a pain-point within his practice. As we exchanged huge smiles, we had our a-ha! moment: Loving Meditations was born.
Meditation has deep roots in research-based results. CancerNetwork.com, home of the journal Oncology, reported that mind-body practices like mindfulness meditation have been shown to “positively affect quality of life and biological outcomes” when used by cancer patients and healthcare professionals. 
Let’s face it. Cancer and other major illnesses are scary, overwhelming, and stressful. How can we handle them with more ease?
 CancerNetwork.com, home of the
journal Oncology “Mindfulness Meditation” by Susan
Bauer-Wu, PhD, RN
Oct 19, 2010 http://www.cancernetwork.com/oncology-nursing/mindfulness-meditation
HOW IT WORKS
The Loving Meditations App is available on two platforms, iOS (for iPad and iPhone) and Web App (for any device). For the free app download, go to http://www.calmcancerstress.com/ The mindful wellness programs are delivered via the App to empower cancer patients, survivors and caregivers with self-love, self-care and self-discovery on their healing journey, from diagnosis to survivorship.
As you watch Loving Meditations, Tamara’s calming voice, David’s expansive music and spectacular images shift you to a state of more calm. Our mindful techniques worked beautifully for us and also have helped thousands of people in over twenty countries.
REDUCING STRESS FOR PATIENTS
Imagine you’re sitting in the infusion center hooked up to a cocktail of IV medications. You are expecting to be sitting there for a few hours, anticipating discomfort and with time on your hands. Then you remember you have the Loving Meditations app on your device. Finding the right meditation is as simple as opening the app and answering a few questions with the Adviser feature. For example, when the Adviser asks, “Do you feel pain or discomfort?” you may choose to swipe right for yes, and the Adviser quickly guides you to helpful programs. Next, press play and enjoy the meditation. Whether you close your eyes and zone out or watch the beautiful images on the screen, you’ll be transported to a state of relaxation and tranquility.
RECHARGING FOR CAREGIVERS
Imagine that you are completely exhausted, overwhelmed, and in need of a recharge. While your loved one is receiving treatment, the Loving Meditations app sends you a reminder to watch the next meditation in your current program. You pop in your ear buds and see that the next meditation in the Vital Re-charge program is Refresh. Revitalize. Renew. Within minutes, you should be feeling much more energized, refreshed and inspired to go on with your day.
CALMING FOR SURVIVORS
Imagine you’re scheduled for a follow-up scan and are beginning to feel anxious about the procedure and results. Looking at your device screen, you notice an inspiring quote there from Loving Meditations. Opening the app, you navigate to one of the Mindful Minute videos called Total Focus Breath, a super easy technique to use anytime, anywhere to quickly calm and quiet the mind. You follow the breathing technique for the next several minutes. Quickly, a sense of “I’ve got this” replaces panic.
WHAT, ME MEDITATE?
We’ve heard folks say, “Yeah, but I have no time to meditate!” Looking at it another way, we don’t realize how many hours we actually spend watching the news, TV programs, or digital content on social media. Many of us devote significant time to this, sometimes to the point of addiction. Another common problem people mention about starting a mindful practice is that they can’t stop thinking and their mind is too “active” to meditate. They may have tried meditating in the past and found it difficult to sit and do nothing. Barraged by thoughts, they can’t shut them out. What if it was as easy as putting in earbuds and pressing play on the Loving Meditations App?
HOW TO QUIET THE MIND
Refrain from giving meaning or judgment to the thoughts, beliefs, fears, emotions, and feelings that will pop up during meditation. When they arise, don’t judge yourself. Gently smile and let them float away. Know that what emerges is ready to leave your system. That’s right, all thoughts, beliefs, fears, emotions, and feelings that surface are actually trying to leave your mind and body, so let them. To help them release, be the witness and observer of what arises and watch it gently float away. Even for the most seasoned meditator, thoughts come up. It’s no biggie. Just notice them with curiosity and let them drift away. Then return your attention back onto the guided meditation.
We wish you peace and ease on your journey!
What self-care solutions are available to reduce this harmful distress? Several easy and simple mindfulness meditation techniques can help. You can even do some standing in a checkout line, awaiting the doctor or while sitting in traffic. Along with yoga and repetitive prayer, mindful practices are known to evoke the “relaxation response”, which is the counterpart to the stress response. Meditators enjoy greater emotional clarity and mental resilience, and meditation can actually increase the amount of gray matter in your brain (which is a good thing!)
What is Modern Meditation?
In today’s relentless hyper-speed world of soundbites and snapchats, traditional practices like sitting and meditating for an hour in a quiet room are no longer practical. Modern Meditation reaches more people by adapting traditional meditation techniques to suit the needs and lifestyles of people today.
Science Backed Results
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University examined almost 19,000 meditation studies and found 47 trials on stress and anxiety which they deemed well-designed studies.1 The results of this meta-study were published in The Journal of the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine, and suggest that mindful meditation brings calming benefits to psychological stresses like depression, anxiety, and pain. Meditation has been demonstrated to reduce insomnia and help lower blood pressure. The benefits of the relaxation response have also been shown to increase mitochondrial resiliency, which may reduce vulnerability to disease.2
In another study at the University of Maryland, 63 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients used mindfulness meditation.3 They reported a 35% reduction in psychological distress and increased sense of well-being after an eight week period of mindfulness.
In the field of psychoneuroimmunology (the study of how the mind affects health and the body’s resistance to disease), research is showing that thoughts influence the immune system, and stress makes you sick.4 If that’s compelling enough to motivate you, why not launch a new healthy habit of mindfulness and meditation?
East Meets West
One does not have to sit in a full lotus pose on a Nepalese mountain to meditate or be mindful. Modern Meditation delivers a new approach to meditation based on scientific research by combining Eastern philosophy with Western science. As little as 5 to 10 minutes per day can deliver benefits. Although some meditation techniques, like Transcendental Meditation®, have specific routines – there are no set rules for meditating. The aim is simply to develop present moment awareness.
A variety of meditation apps make it easy, by blending user-friendly technology with meditation techniques. They feature deep breathing or guided imagery to help relax your mind. Using an app for mindfulness makes the process simple, is completely portable and keeps you on track with your practice. One app company, Headspace, is now seeking FDA approval as the first prescription meditation app with clinically validated meditation programs. Its rollout date is 2020.
No time to be mindful?
Let’s keep it really simple and focus on one form of mindfulness: breathing. Respiration is actually the only automatic body function we can voluntarily control. You can shift into a present moment state of calm quickly and easily by intentionally focusing on your breath. Breath work is the fastest state-changer available, it can soothe your nervous system and deliberately move you from fear to calm.
Get Addicted To the Healthy Med!
Get hooked on meditation, not social media or medication! If you spend a chunk of time immersed in social media feeds every day, why not shift some of that time to receive positive benefits of meditation? Or, the next time you have difficulty sleeping or feel anxious, try five minutes of relaxing breath work to see if that helps. It’s easy to get started by adding present moment awareness to your life. Building a mindful breathing practice into a meditation practice can be a simple as establishing a small, manageable routine and expanding it as you become comfortable.