Calm Strengthen Heal
These Practices Will Assist You To:
Mobilizing the Body/Mind for Healing Before, During and After Surgery
I am part of the developing collaboration among neuroscience, psychology and mindfulness. We have learned to mobilize what we think, feel and imagine enhancing the body’s healing and immune capacities. The impact on the surgical experience and its outcome is profound.
Mindfulness is the simple practice of observing our internal experience of body sensation, emotion and thought in the present moment as they flow by, with an attitude of curiosity and open mindedness. The experience of paying attention to our internal landscape is, by itself, both soothing and transformative to the brain.
Some fun facts:
- 30 years ago, Jon Cabot-Zinn introduced Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Now over 10 million adults meditate.
- Over 20 years of studies show the benefits of preparing for surgery with mindfulness practices.
- Stress has been shown to increase blood flow and muscle tension, perception of pain while suppressing the immune response and impairing wound healing.
- Anxiety, negative beliefs, self talk and a negative focus on the body, along with hypervigilence for catastrophe increase cortical and compromise the immune system.
Priming the nervous system and the immune system with mindfulness practices results in the use of the more optimum side of the prefrontal cortex, consequently more positive perceptions of the experience. Research demonstrates a 23-60% reduction in pain medication needed, reduced bleeding, faster wound healing, less anxiety and sleep disturbance and lowered surgical stress response overall.
A patient participating actively in my preparation process shows better self care in terms of less smoking and drinking and improved exercise and nutritional habits.
Rather than going into “fight or flight” mode, feeling trapped and overwhelmed, the patient is able to relax fully and to surrender to the surgeon’s skill, enjoying the ease of being in good hands. This delicate collaboration between surgeon and patient mobilizes healing during surgery. The patient feels empowered by the ability to use their skills.
I listen to my patient’s feelings and concerns about surgery, co-creating a plan that meet their needs. We work experientially to cultivate present moment awareness, practice breathing patterns, full embodied relaxation and grounding techniques. Then we add cognitive reframing to create positive expectation and trust. We embed specific healing statements that activate an optimum healing response. We develop guided imagery around recovery and healing as well as self soothing techniques. I have adapted the many tools I use from contemplative practices, neuroscience, sensor motor psychotherapy, EMDR, imagery and hypnosis.
As a result of our work before surgery, the patient has “wired in” positive expectation, trust in the surgeon, an array of relaxation and healing resources as well as a deep sense of safety. Healing is shown to be accelerated in a body that feels safe. Brief, frequent practice with the recording enhances the effect.
Rather than experiencing fear during surgery, patients will be focused on following the sensation of the breathing patterns, grounding, visualizing and using their personal recordings. They may enjoy soothing self talk and even connecting with those in the room. The body receives the procedure with ease, bleeding and complication is minimized.
Everyone benefits from a calmer patient who heals quickly.
After surgery, patients may use these techniques for pain management, or further hypnosis techniques may be added.
I suggest scheduling two sessions before surgery, if possible. Two sessions allow us to fine tune the process after practice has occurred. These techniques can also be taught in a weekly group. Patients will then always be able to induce calm within seconds throughout their day. Or focus on any goal from relieving insomnia to improving focus for sports.
After surgery, patients may use these tools for pain management or hypnosis techniques may be added.
I use mindfulness in my private practice for improving focus, productivity and creativity. I also use it as the access route to deeper internal experience that releases symptoms of all kinds as well as resolve self limiting beliefs and trauma. It is especially effective for anybody related concerns.