Evidence is growing to support the role of yoga and allied consciousness expanding sciences in the cure of cancer. To date researchers have accumulated evidence that meditation may be a factor in triggering off certain bodily reactions, responsible for dissolving and removing cancer from the body and mind.
Dr. Ainslie Meares, MD, DPM, of Australia has published research on meditation therapy for cancer. His subject was a 49 year old single woman with proven cancer of both breasts. His work is based on the following theory:
‘There is evidence to suggest some cancers are influenced by immunological reactions. There is some similarity between immunological reactions and allergic reactions. Some allergic reactions can be modified by meditative experience. Furthermore, some cancers are influenced by endocrine reactions, and some endocrine reactions can be modified by meditative experience.’*1
Of the three patients with cancer used in his trial, two quickly dropped out. The third, with proven carcinoma of both breasts and spread of cancer throughout her body, had received medical treatment by radiotherapy and naturopathic treatment by laetrile (extract from apricot kernels) in Mexico, but still her condition had deteriorated so that she required blood transfusions. The patient's progress after her visit with Dr. Meares is as follows:
‘Whatever the final outcome may be, there is no doubt that the progress of her condition has undergone a dramatic change for the better after intensive meditation. This change is much more than the relief of pain and improved attitude of mind which one might expect from intensive meditation.’*2
Dr. Meares is now looking for more volunteers for this experimental work:
‘They must be prepared to attend my rooms every weekday for three months and to practice what I show them for two or three hours at home each day. Above all they must be capable of developing a sense of Commitment to the venture.’*3
Much larger studies of cancer and meditation therapy have been instigated by Dr. Carl Simonton of USA. In addition to conventional radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery, Simonton uses relaxation and visualization techniques similar to yoga nidra and meditative techniques taught here at Bihar School of Yoga.
‘The patient is asked to meditate regularly three times a day for 15 minutes in the morning upon arising, around noon, and night before going to bed. In the meditation exercise, the first couple of minutes are used to go into a state of relaxation, then once the body is completely relaxed, the patient visualizes a peaceful scent from nature. A minute later the patient begins the main part of the work of mental imagery. First he tunes in on the cancer, 'sees it in hit mind's eye. Then, as Simonton describes it, 'he pictures his immune mechanism working the way it's supposed to work, picking up the dead and dying cells'. Patients are asked to visualize the army of white blood cells coming in, swarming over the cancer and carrying off the malignant cells which have been weakened or killed by the barrage of high energy particles of radiation therapy given off by the cobalt machine, the linear accelerator or whatever the source is. These white cells break down the malignant cells which are then flushed out of the body. Finally, just before the end of the meditation, the patient visualises himself well.’*4
Simonton instructs his patients in the general principles of the immune mechanism. Patients with visible cancers, e.g. on the skin and mouth, are responding to this therapy. In a trial of 152 patients, he found that the optimistic and committed patients were most successful in therapy, and also showed fewer distressing side-effects to radiation therapy.
The work of people such as Ainslie Meares and Carl Simonton is very encouraging. Their openness to meditative techniques is showing positive results, gratifying to both patient and doctor. Further research is now being collected to back up such claims and to give them scientific credibility and acceptance. For example, studies conducted at the University of Rochester over a 20 year period have pointed out that cancer may be caused by feelings of 'hopelessness' which an individual may have developed towards life in general.
These studies open up new realms of possibilities for treating psychological as well as physical diseases. Through yogic techniques the blocked doors of the personality are opened up to positive, dynamic, creative living charged by the vital energies of the cosmos, prana shakti.