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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 ...
    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
    London, UK - England (South East)
    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. ...
    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 ...
    Dr Julian Kenyon
    Twyford, UK
    A medical practitioner working in Integrated Medicine, Dr Julian Kenyon was the founding partner of the Centre for Study of Complementary Medicine in ...
    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. ...
    Breast Cancer Haven
    Breast Cancer Haven have suspended their live services since the pandemic, but the website still contains a lot of very useful videos and information for breast cancer patients ...
    CLAN Cancer Support
    Lerwick , UK
    CLAN Cancer Support is an independent charity for anyone affected by any type of cancer at any time from diagnosis onwards. ...
    CLAN Cancer Support
    Lerwick, UK
    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. ...
    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 and are able to offer an extensive range of ...
    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. ...
    Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living (The)
    Letchworth, UK
    The Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living is an award-winning registered charity offering a broad range of drug-free treatments and holistic health...
    NHS Centre for Integrative Care
    Glasgow, UK - Scotland
    The NHS Centre for Integrative Care, previously known as Glasgow Homeopathetic Hospital, on the Gartnavel Hospitals site, offers people with long term conditions a wide range of opportunities to enhance their health and quality of life ...
    Olive Tree (The)
    Crawley, UK
    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 pioneered the Bristol Approach to cancer care for people with cancer and those close to them. ...
    Sara Lee Trust
    St Leonards on Sea, UK
    Providing complementary therapies, counselling and creative therapies to people in Hastings and Rother living through cancer and other serious illnesses ...
    Information & Advice
    Cancer Counselling London
    London, UK - England (South East)
    The aims of Cancer Counselling London (CCL) are to provide professional specialist cancer counselling and support for cancer patients and those close to them. ...
    Cancer Decisions
    Lemont, United States
    A Moss Report assists with educating a cancer patient about any promising alternative treatments for their particular condition. Please see the website for costs of downloading or ordering a printed copy of each Moss report. ...
    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. ...
    Maggie's Centres
    Cambridge, UK - England (South East)
    Maggie’s Centres’ philosophy is in helping people with cancer to be as healthy in mind and body as possible, while assisting them with contributions ...
    Maggie's Centres
    Fife, UK
    Maggie’s Centres’ philosophy is in helping people with cancer to be as healthy in mind and body as possible, while assisting them with contributions ...
    Maggie's Centres
    Glasgow, UK
    Maggie’s Centres’ philosophy is in helping people with cancer to be as healthy in mind and body as possible, while assisting them with contributions ...
    Maggie's Centres
    Wishaw, UK
    Maggie’s Centres’ philosophy is in helping people with cancer to be as healthy in mind and body as possible, while assisting them with contributions ...
    Quest for Life Centre
    Bunadoon, Australia
    The Quest for Life Foundation provides interactive group programs to educate, empower and encourage people living with the challenges of cancer ...
    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 ...
    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 ...
    Nimaya Mindstation
    London, UK
    Described as London’s first Mind Gym, Nimaya Mindstation offers both machine-led therapies and specialist treatments including Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber ...