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Important Information:
Yes to Life's website content is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, nor is it intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information is for educational and informational purposes only and has not been reviewed by medical doctors or oncologists. Cancer is a highly complex group of diseases, and it is known to manifest differently in different people, often responding more favourably to individualised approaches to treatment and care. Yes to Life advocates that any person diagnosed with, or suspected of having, cancer, consults with a suitably qualified and experienced medical professional before initiating any type of therapy or supportive treatment. Click here to read our full Disclaimer.
Also Known As:
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, MBSR, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, MBCT

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a type of mental training that uses the mind to combat anxiety and bring about a sense of wellbeing. It includes mental practices that heighten physical awareness, as well as gentle stretching exercises (such as Hatha yoga), breathing techniques, and time spent in quiet, reflective meditation. Developed by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979, MBSR helps people foster their own mind-body connection, as well as create a deeper awareness of how thoughts and feelings can affect physical and emotional health. In contrast, mindlessness is a loss of awareness resulting in forgetfulness, separation from self, and a sense of living mechanically.


The typical Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course consists of an eight to ten week programme in a group setting, which includes guided instruction in mindfulness meditation practices, gentle stretching exercises, breathing, stress response and coping techniques. This includes approximately 20 hours of classroom training and a 6-hour retreat (usually between weeks 6 and 7), as well as daily home practice of mindfulness (recommended formal practice of 45 minutes daily, 6 days per week).

The core practices of the MBSR program include body scan (systematic awareness of different body sensations, generally done lying down), mindful movement (e.g. gentle Hatha yoga), and sitting meditation. Didactic content includes perception (and the impact of thoughts on the way one feels), stress physiology, and how to integrate mindfulness practices into everyday life. Sustained and maximum benefits occur with ongoing practice. Research clearly demonstrates a direct relationship between the amount of formal meditation practice and the magnitude of positive effects. Once one learns the basic skills, mindfulness meditation can be practised anywhere. Some people use meditation cushions and mats, though these are not essential. While mindfulness meditation is generally practised in a seated position, it can be done lying down, which may be preferred by some cancer patients.


While this mind-body approach is rooted in Eastern religion and philosophy, namely Buddhism, which dates back well over 2,000 years, its integration into modern healthcare settings and society is relatively recent. The seminal launch of the mindfulness movement in the West was the establishment of the Stress Reduction Clinic and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, in 1979. This is now the leading world centre for MSBR. Today tens of thousands of people have been trained in MBSR and related mindfulness-based clinical interventions throughout the world, in every continent except Antarctica.


Mindfulness meditation is very safe, has few associated risks and is suitable for anyone affected by cancer (patients, carers or family members – if you are a patient, you should have completed your first treatment). Sometimes people may experience a transient increase in anxiety when learning it, as they let go of usual busyness and distractions and become aware of unsettling thoughts and feelings. There is solid evidence that mindfulness-based therapy, including yoga, meditation exercises and other psychological techniques can help cancer patients to cope better with difficulties such as illness and stress, to experience a more vivid and clear sense of the present moment, experience inner peace and stillness, and to direct their attention away from the worries and speculation that make them depressed and anxious. Studies have shown significant improvements in mood, sleep quality, quality of life and wellbeing and that mindfulness-based therapy is an effective way of treating anxiety and depression in cancer patients. The two methods which have proved most effective are Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).

It is important that the mindfulness exercises are practised correctly if they are to be of any help. Although there are many books and guided meditation audio recordings available, Yes to Life recommends working with a teacher and having the support of other meditation practitioners. However, if you would like to read more about mindfulness before making a commitment to attend a course/do the training, Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery: A Step-by-Step MBSR Approach to Help You Cope with Treatment and Reclaim Your Life by Linda Carlson and Michael Speca is a good place to start.


Some cancer centres listed in this directory offer free courses. If there are no courses/ practitioners listed in your area, speak to your GP. MBSR group sessions are offered in many medical centres, hospitals and clinics.

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Georgina Bates
London, UK - England (South East)

Georgina has sixteen years experience with working with cancer patients and their families, first as a therapeutic radiographer at St Bartholomew’s ...
Louise Bates
Leamington Spa, UK

Heathcote Holistics is a complementary therapy practice in Whitnash, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire; founded by Louise Bates, a Complementary Therapist, Author and Podcaster ...
Owen Okie - Bo Gort
Lochbroom, Scotland UK

Bo Gort and Owen Okie are committed to helping clients grow and flourish, using a range of tools and approaches to help you move towards greater fulfilment and mental or physical health ...
Andy Bryce
UK - England (South West)

Andy created an advanced EFT workshop called the Heart of Receiving in 2006, which facilitates the participants to release shame, guilt, low self esteem, and other blocks to receiving love, wealth and fulfilment. ...
Liz Butler

Liz Butler is a Nutritional Therapist from the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in 2000, with a Masters Degree in Nutritional Medicine at Surrey University, and a training in Metabolic Typing and Functional Medicine. ...
Dr Damien Downing
Dr Damien Downing MBBS, MRSB practises Ecological Medicine, allergy (or immune dysfunction), the identification and treatment of damaged or disordered immunity ...
Ludwig Esser
Swansea, UK

Ludwig Esser is a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist. He studied holistic cancer care at Penny Brohn Cancer Care in Bristol and guided interactive workshops for Breast Cancer Care Wales. ...
Jane Fior
London, UK - England (South East)

For the last 22 years, Jane Fior has been working with cancer patients and those close to them in two agency settings ...
Vicky Fox
Vicky Fox teaches weekly yoga for cancer classes and training courses to help other yoga teachers work with anyone living with cancer ...
Dr Dani Gordon
London, UK

Dr Dani Gordon MD ABOIM ABIHM is a London based double board certified medical doctor and world leading authority in Integrative and Cannabinoid Medicine ...
Steve Kippax
London, UK

Steve Kippax practices The Four Pillars of Health which will allow us to support and maintain our wellbeing, and when disease occurs, will hasten a speedy recovery ...
Dr David McGavin
Dr David McGavin is the co-founder of Blackthorn Trust, the Clinical Lead of Kairos Rehabilitation Trust, and GP with Special Interest in pain management ...
Mariana Panayides
Mariana Panayides is a counsellor and psychotherapist based near Finchley Road, in the Hampstead/Belsize Park area. She offers face-to-face, telephone and online sessions. ...
Aurora Beauty and Holistic Therapies
Worksop, UK

Aurora is a cancer charity established in Doncaster, to support and help local people and their families who have been diagnosed with cancer. Cancer patients receive 6 free treatments. ...
Blackheath Complementary Health Centre
London, UK - England (South East)

Blackheath Complementary Health Centre is a multi-disciplinary practice providing complementary and alternative approaches to health care ...
CLAN Cancer Support
CLAN Cancer Support is an independent charity for anyone affected by any type of cancer at any time from diagnosis onwards. ...
CYANA (Cancer You Are Not Alone)
London, UK

CYANA provides cancer support for the residents of Newham and surrounding boroughs. Qualified and experienced Counsellors offer one-to-one, couple and facilitated group support sessions and telephone counselling or advice. ...
Chrysalis Freedom
Salisbury, UK

Chrysalis Freedom offers sessions of intensive breathwork for people suffering with the effects of anxiety and trauma related disorders ...
Coping with Cancer in Leicestershire and Rutland
Leicester, UK

Coping with Cancer has a team of therapists who are experienced in treating those affected by cancer ...
Derry Well Woman
Londonderry, UK

Derry Well Women is a not-for-profit centre which offers health and social care services to women of all ages in a welcoming, relaxed, safe and confidential space ...
FORCE Cancer Support Centre
Exeter, UK

The FORCE Cancer Support Centre (Friends of the Oncology and Radiotherapy Centre, Exeter) offers practical and emotional support ...
Holistic Centre (The)
Godalming, UK - England (South East)

A requirement of the Holistic Centre is that all therapists are fully qualified members of their appropriate Professional Body and that they all hold Public Liability Insurance. ...
NHS Centre for Integrative Care Gartnavel Hospitals Glasgow
Glasgow, UK - Scotland

The Centre, on the Gartnavel Hospitals site, offers people with long term conditions a wide range of opportunities to enhance their health and quality of life ...
Napiers Herbal Medicine Clinics
Napiers the Herbalists provides original herbal remedies, natural therapeutic skincare, botanical beauty and herbal food supplements and teas, an operates four herbal medicine clinics ...

QuestPrehab digital prehab is a virtual prehabilitation service that prepares patients, mentally and physically, for major surgery or cancer treatment ...
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Buffalo, United States

Roswell Park helps set international standards in cancer care through its role as a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network ...
The Center for Advanced Medicine

The Center for Advanced Medicine (TCFAM) offers Integrative Oncology with highly customised programmes focused on individual needs and care ...
Information & Advice
Cancer Information and Support Society (CISS)
St Leonards, Global (ie: web based)

CISS promotes non-toxic holistic medicine. The educational organisation promotes prevention, self-help and freedom of choice in therapies for cancer...
Cancer Options Ltd
Nottingham, Global (ie: web based)

Led by Patricia Peat, an experienced oncology nurse, Cancer Options offers support and information on orthodox treatments, clinical trials and developments worldwide. ...
Canhelp Inc
Livingstone, United States

CANHELP serves patients and/or family members who wish to take an active part in the healing process and are willing to think outside the conventional medical box. ...
InspireHealth Supportive Cancer Care
InspireHealth supports physical, emotional and spiritual health during cancer with their clinical team of supportive care physicians, counsellors, dietitians and exercise therapists ...
Yes to Life
London, UK - England (South East)

Yes to Life is a charity that offers support to people with cancer in the UK who want to take a proactive role in their treatment ...
Associazione Ricerca di Terapie Oncologiche Integrate
Rome, Italy

The ARTOI is a non-profit and multidisciplinary professional organisation that studies, researches and applies treatments for cancer ...
Full Circle Charity
London, UK

Full Circle Charity offers holistic support in the NHS for people of all ages with life-challenging illnesses. ...

HeartMath is a system of simple and powerful self-regulation techniques which are easy to learn and designed to be used “in the moment” ...
Jane Scarth House
Romsey, UK - England (South East)

Jane Scarth House is a local charity that provides emotional and practical support to anyone whose life is affected by cancer ...
Liverpool Sunflowers
Liverpool, UK

Liverpool Sunflowers is a charity providing support to local people following a diagnosis of cancer or other life changing illness ...
Nightingale Cancer Support Centre (The)
Enfield, UK - England (South East)

The Nightingale Cancer Support Centre’s mission is to improve the quality of life of cancer patients, their family and friends ...
Olive Tree (The)
The Olive Tree Cancer Support Centre is an independent charity providing a range of support services to cancer patients, their carers and families. ...
Penny Brohn UK
Bristol, UK

Penny Brohn UK is the cancer health and wellbeing charity with a wide array of services free and online ...
Quest for Life Centre
Bunadoon, Australia

The Quest for Life Foundation provides educational self-help programmes and community-based outreach workshops that encourage, educate and empower people ...
Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine
London, UK

The Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine (RLHIM) is a centre for evidence-based practice, education and research, specialising in chronic and complex medical conditions. ...
Sadie Centre (The)
Letchworth, UK

The Sadie Centre (formerly known as The Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living) represents a holistic approach to life, about health promotion and illness prevention ...
South East Cancer Help Centre
South East Cancer Help Centre aims to give any person affected by cancer an opportunity to explore ways which may help them to cope with their situation ...
The Sara Lee Trust
The Sara Lee Trust supports people in Hastings and Rother who have been diagnosed with cancer or other life threatening illnesses by providing free counselling, complementary therapies and group activities ...
Weston Park Cancer Information and Support Centre
Sheffield, UK - England (North)

Weston Park Cancer Support offer 4 free Complementary therapy sessions to cancer patients in their region to help ease the side effects of cancer treatments ...