About Mind-Body Therapies


Mind-body therapies are a group of healing techniques that enhance the mind’s interactions with bodily function, to induce relaxation and to improve overall health and well-being. Daily practice is essential for deriving benefit from these therapies, which have become increasingly popular over the last two decades. A growing body of research indicates that mind-body therapies are safe and effective ways of mitigating physical and emotional symptoms, and improving coping skills in cancer patients. Because these practices are pleasant, noninvasive and beneficial, they are most suited for patients and survivors to help manage their own care.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s About Mind-Body Therapies database, a tool for the public as well as healthcare professionals, can help you evaluate the benefits of mind-body interventions. The database is continually updated to provide you with objective and evidence-based information.


Acupuncture is a therapeutic component of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It involves the use of very thin needles along with heat, pressure, or electricity to stimulate points on the body, promoting the flow and balance of internal energy. Acupuncture can help treat chronic pain and some symptoms associated with cancer treatment.


Aromatherapy involves the use of concentrated plant oils, known as essential oils, to improve well-being. It is a popular complementary therapy used to relieve stress and produce other pleasant sensations.

Guided Imagery

Guided Imagery involves deliberate use of the power of imagination to recreate mental images, sounds, smells and even tastes, to ease anxiety and to facilitate mind-body healing.

Low-intensity exercise

Activities done at a comfortable pace such as walking, swimming, biking, rowing, dance, resistance training, using an elliptical machine, other low-impact aerobics, or mind-body movement practices like tai chi, qigong, and yoga can be considered low-intensity exercise.

Massage Therapy

Massage is effective in reducing symptoms associated with cancer such as pain and anxiety. Current oncology guidelines recommend using massage for depression and mood disorders. Massage is generally safe and increasingly used as a complementary therapy to provide relief from certain symptoms of cancer and other illnesses.


Meditation practices involve using the mind to focus one's attention, regulate breathing, and develop a non-judgmental awareness of thoughts and feelings to achieve inner calmness, physical relaxation, psychological balance, and improved vitality and coping.

Music Therapy

Music therapy can promote relaxation, distract from pain associated with many illnesses, and relieve distress. It can also strengthen and enrich communications and provide support to loved ones.


Qigong, a practice developed in China, integrates body movement, muscle relaxation, and breathing exercises to improve physical, emotional, and psychological health.

Tai Chi (Tai Ji)

An ancient Chinese tradition, tai chi is an exercise program that uses a sequence of precise body movements, meditation, and synchronized breathing to improve health and well-being.


Yoga encompasses breathing exercises, moving through various postures, and meditation techniques that can help promote relaxation and health.