Exploring the Effectiveness of Meditation on Post-Treatment Chemobrain

Last year, I collaborated with Ashley Henneghan, NP, PhD, to test the impact of Kirtan Kriya )mantra meditation) on chemobrain and I shared this article detailing the research with you last week.

Daily meditation is a challenge for almost everyone! As soon as you sit quietly, your mind is flooded with unresolved issues and unprocessed feelings.  Sometimes it can even be overwhelming to contend with them.  Meditation is not always a peaceful experience, especially as you are still coming to terms with a traumatic experience.

There’s a recently published study that highlights how women’s brains “age” as they go through chemotherapy – which is just about the best description that I can relate to.  I felt like my body and brain were aged 20-25 years post treatment.

I remember searching the library at MD Anderson in 2008 for studies or data on ”chemobrain” so I could understand what I was facing.  My doctors didn’t seem to understand that my cognitive impairment was real and couldn’t solely be attributed to depression or anxiety.

At that time, they were just beginning to discover that chemotherapy does indeed cross the “blood/brain” barrier.  Intuitively, I knew that my brain was part of my body so why wouldn’t it be impacted?

“…A handful of animal studies in the mid-2000s showed that chemotherapy drugs could get through the blood-brain barrier. Shortly after, a surge of neuroimaging studies provided biological evidence: Brains of chemotherapy patients had to work harder during memory recall than those of cancer patients who did not receive the drugs (Clinical Cancer Research, Vol. 15, No. 21, 2009). ‘The interpretation was that their neural networks had been altered, making the brain work much harder to do the same tasks, Kesler says.” (Cognition and Cancer Treatment)

To learn more, check out this great article written by Ashley Henneghan, RN, MPH, Associate Professor at the University of Texas School of Nursing.

If you’re affected by chemobrain and want to experience the benefits of Kirtan Kriya meditation, you can read more about how to do it here. I’m also happy to share a video meditation with you here.

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