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The idea that touch can heal is an old one. The first written records of massage date back 3,000 years ago to China. Massage therapy involves touch and different methods of stroking and kneading the muscles of the body. A licensed massage therapist should do the therapy. Talk to your healthcare provider before beginning this alternative treatment for cancer.
Meditation and Prayer
Meditation is a relaxation technique that allows you to focus your energy and your thoughts on something specific. This is especially helpful when your mind and body are stressed from cancer treatment. For example, you may want to repeat a word over and over or look at an object, such as a picture. Another form of meditation is allowing your thoughts, feelings, and images to flow through your mind. For people who believe in a higher spiritual power, prayer can provide strength, comfort, and inspiration throughout the cancer experience. Whether you pray alone, with family and friends, or as a member of a religious community, prayer may help. A member of the clergy or your spiritual advisor can help you incorporate prayer into your daily life.
Muscle Tension and Release
Lie down in a quiet room. Take a slow, deep breath. As you breathe in, tense a particular muscle or group of muscles. For example, you can squeeze your eyes shut, frown, clench your teeth, make a fist, or stiffen your arms or legs. Hold your breath and keep your muscles tense for a second or two. Then breathe out, release the tension, and let your body relax completely. Repeat the process with another muscle or muscle group.
You also can try a variation of this method, called "progressive relaxation." Start with the toes of one foot and, working upward, progressively tense and relax all the muscles of one leg. Next, do the same with the other leg. Then tense and relax the rest of the muscle groups in your body, including those in your scalp. Remember to hold your breath while tensing your muscles and to breathe out when releasing the tension.