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  • Writer's pictureSurviving Breast Cancer

On My Mat: Mindfulness and Cancer


A mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment.

By guest blogger, Michelle Stravitz from 2Unstoppable


My cancer diagnosis, and the months and years that followed, have taught me the incredible value of mindfulness, particularly for combating the emotional rollercoaster of cancer treatment and survivorship. In many ways, it has saved me and restored my emotional well-being!

Exercise – in almost any form – is a great way to achieve mindfulness, and thus it can help with the anxiety, depression, and fatigue that often accompany a cancer diagnosis. And, as a bonus, physical activity combats so many side effects – for me it has helped loosen up tight tissue resulting from radiation and surgery, increase bone density and muscle mass lost during chemotherapy, and improve balance and brain fog caused by chemo and worry.

I have found that I can often achieve a state of mindfulness through exercise, whether I’m focusing on form and muscles during a barre class, on rhythm and dance steps in a cardio exercise class, or, most effectively, on flow and breath in a yoga class. Staying ON MY MAT is a lesson I have learned after many years of yoga practice, and most of the time I can forget about the grocery list, appointments, or fear of recurrence (!) and stay in the moment when I’m on my mat.

I can also achieve mindful meditation while walking, by focusing only on putting one foot in front of the other. One-step-at-a-time provides an ideal metaphor for the one-day-at-a-time and one-phase-at-a-time approach to cancer treatment. I can even find my mindful state when jogging. The thump-thump of my feet hitting the pavement keeps my mind only on the step ahead of me. And in that way my mat is my-feet-hitting-the-pavement, and nothing else.

“Cancer is known to cause high levels of anxiety and depression in patients and survivors, and mindfulness is a proven method for combatting these emotional states.”

What does this really mean?

Anxiety is defined as worrying about the future, and it’s hard not to do this when you’re thinking about where a cancer diagnosis might take you.

Depression is associated with looking back at the past, and it’s also hard not to go there when wondering what caused the cancer in the first place, reliving when it was discovered, and grieving for what life was like BEFORE.

Mindfulness reminds us to stay in the present moment … on our mats, on the pavement, or in our breath, where we are still very much alive, taking care of our bodies, doing everything we can to improve our outcomes and our quality of life … right now.

So … when your mind wanders ahead of you, or strays behind you … bring it back to your mat, whatever that mat looks like for you. Find your mat … your favorite form of movement … and stay with me, right here, right now. I’ll meet you there.


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Meditation Mondays:

Chakra Chanting with Gloria

Mondays at 10:00 a.m. ET 


Thursday Night Thrivers:

All Stages Support Group

Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. ET



Thursday Night Thrivers:

Metastatic Breast Cancer Support Group

First and third Thursdays

of the month at 7:00 p.m. ET



Thursday Night Thrivers:

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Support Group

Second Thursday

of the month at 7:00 p.m. ET


Tuesday Night Thrivers

Después de un Diagnóstico:

Grupo de Apoyo en Español

2do y Cuarto Martes de cada mes 

7:00 p.m. ET


Encourage and Empower

For Newly Diagnosed

September 10, 11:00 a.m. ET


Breast Cancer Book Club

The first Sunday of the month


Restorative Yoga:

Unearthing Opportunities

May 20 ,  5:30 p.m. ET


In Body Breathwork

May 21 ,  6:00 p.m. ET


Brain Spotting

May 27,  6:00 p.m. ET


Qi Gong

May 28,  11:30 a.m. ET


Art Therapy

June 3, 6:00 p.m. ET


Forest Bathing

Jun 4,  6:00 p.m. ET


Reflect & Recharge

Expressive Writing

June 10,  6:00 p.m. ET


Yoga Fitness with Chair Assist

June 11, 11:30 a.m. ET


Yoga Stretching for DIEP flap

June 11,  6:00 p.m. ET


Más eventos en español


Upcoming Events


Surviving Breast Cancer provides breast cancer support, events, and webinars at no cost to you! Whether you are looking to gain more knowledge on a particular topic or meet up with other breast cancer survivors, we have something for everyone. 


Our standing appointment on Thursdays is for all stages. We also host specific breakout groups once a month for specific stages and subtypes such as Metastatic breast cancer, and Inflammatory Breast Cancer, etc. 


The Book Club meets the first Sunday of every month at 11 am ET. You are welcome to join each month or pick and choose your month based on your availability and the book we are reading. 


Through art, writing, and other creative modalities, we hold the power to manage our stress, make sense of our now, and relax into moments of stillness. 


Free, monthly, online classes in restorative yoga, yoga for breast cancer, and Zumba. 


Después de un Diagnóstico

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