The effects of mindfulness meditation and gentle yoga on spiritual well-being in cancers survivors.

Bryan, S., Breitkreuz, D., Zipp, G. (2021). The effects of mindfulness meditation and gentle yoga on spiritual well-being in cancers survivors: A pilot study, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 27(3) 32-38. Manuscript online



Background: Cancer survivors face countless physiological and psychological challenges that affect their abilities and negatively impact their quality of life and general well-being. A biopsychosocial-spiritual approach to health management may be beneficial.

Primary study objective: To assess the effect of gentle yoga and mindfulness meditation on spiritual well-being in cancer survivors.

Methods/design: This is a mixed methods, quasi-experimental pilot study providing 10 weeks of gentle yoga and mindfulness meditation twice per week to cancer survivors.

Setting: The intervention was provided at a South Florida university in the summer months.

Participants: Ten cancer survivors self-selected to participate in the 10-week study; 2 participants did not complete the post-test data collection.

Intervention: Each class opened and closed with 5 to 6 minutes of nonmoving mindfulness meditation. The mindfulness meditation techniques included body scan, breath awareness, visualization, affirmation, and compassion meditations. The gentle yoga practice was a series of beginner yoga postures and stretches. The mindfulness meditation techniques of breath and body awareness during yoga created what is referred to as a "moving meditation" with yoga postures encompassing the movement portion.

Primary outcome measures: The Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy - Spiritual Well-Being 12 Item Scale (FACIT-Sp-12) and 2 open-ended questions.

Results: The FACIT-Sp-12 pre- and post-test data were analyzed using a paired samples t test. There was a significant improvement in overall spiritual well-being from pretest (μ = 34.25, SD = 7.28) to post-test (μ = 39.50, SD = 7.91); t (7) = -4.02, P = 0.003. Qualitative data: the participants reported improvements in various aspects of spirituality, fitness, emotional well-being, stress management, sleep, and a sense of social connectedness.

Conclusion: The biopsychosocial-spiritual approach to health care may play a vital role in addressing the well-being of the whole person. Gentle yoga and mindfulness meditation can result in improvement in measures of spiritual well-being among cancer survivors and may be further utilized as an accessible intervention for those who are suffering throughout all segments of society.