by Professor Lynn Basford
Arm 3. Meditation/Visualisation Techniques
Any gynaecological surgical operation, no matter how small, is a stressful event.
Scientists have long since known that managing stress prior to surgery is a key to enhance a speedy recovery, reduce any complications, reduce pain, reduce the need for medications and return bodily functions to normal.
These are the known physiological responses. Negative stressors can be triggered by our mental state, therefore letting go of negative emotional thoughts about the operation encourages a positive outcome.
In health care terms we are not just the sum of our bodily parts, but a dynamic relationship with our psychological, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. In other words we are a holistic or holographic phenomenon and should address any disease or dysfunction from all angles.
Each element can influence the other in a vicious cycle; e.g. if we have a physical illness this affects our emotional and psychological well being, conversely, if we have an emotional distress or a psychological disposition it affects our physical body.
The benefits of Visualisation
As part of your pre-operative preparation one effective way in which you can assist the surgical outcome and your restoration phase is to undertake mindful meditation through a process of Visualisation. Such simple techniques have been repeatedly shown by research studies to:
- Relieve pre and post operative pain;
- speed up the healing process;
- reduce stress/anxiety;
- reduce the need to ‘catastrophize’ the situation;
- reduce tension and uncertainty;
- develop positive coping strategies;
- Take control of the situation and adequately make preparations.
Meditation and visualisation techniques are considered to be useful healing tools worldwide. However, they are often overlooked or ignored by western practitioners. In addition, people often say, “Oh thats no good for me because i can’t meditate or visualise”.
What is important to remember is that we visualise through imagery every single day. Just think of a sunny day, or a birthday cake, or the favourite dress? Imagery is a basic universal language as everything we do is processed through the mind as an image.
Through mindful imagery it is claimed that 90% of people’s problems can be relieved drastically. Unfortunately, most of the images that pop into our heads do more harm than good. Indeed, the most common type of imagery is worry and imagery that is influenced by negative thoughts. We think of the negative connotations, ‘the what if scenarios’. Worrying about possible eventualities with respect of what can go wrong.
Such ways of thinking affect our physiological responses, raises blood pressure, heart rate etc. making us more susceptible to disease.
Just think of the positive people you may know who are always looking at the bright side of life, they ooze health and wellbeing. Very rarely do they have a cold, and when they do they quickly recover. JUST LUCKY, you might say. NO! its all in the attitude of the MIND!
Focused visualisation can enable you to become that positive person!
So, lets make a start:
You only need 30 minutes a day, some prefer first thing in the morning, others last thing at night. It does not matter, as long as you make a start. Figures suggest that if we do this for 21 days it becomes part of your life style routine. Like cleaning your teethe.
Where to do it?
- You don’t need any special place or room, as long as you are undisturbed.
- Switch off phones – Undisturbed means Undisturbed.
- Some people like their bedrooms, but you should not be cold, or uncomfortable.
- Wrap a blanket or towel around you, or put on socks, anything to make you comfortable.
- If you are sitting, make sure you can sit for at least 15 mins in this position.
- If you find it hard to visualise, try doing it to music.
Close your eyes and take a deep breathe and let out a long sigh. The breathe is very important as we tend to hold it or breathe very shallow. Don’t force the breath, but follow its flow until you formulate the following three cycles:
(i) Deep breath in
(ii) Deep breath out
(iii) relax in “still point’ – this is when you are neither breathing in or out. It is the natural process, but is so often overlooked.
Through focused breathing we can begin our visualisation;
Imagine a beautiful scene that you love, the golden sands and the gentle roll of the waves, or a summer garden filled with perfume from the roses, the sound of birdsong, or any scene in nature that you like.
Hear the birds singing, feel the sun warming your body. Relax in the knowledge that you are safe. Feel the energy and love you have for this place and take this relaxed feeling to the surgical theatre where you will undergo your surgery.
Visualise your surgeon expertly doing their job removing and repairing the part of you that needs restoration.
Feel how good it is to have a loving and caring health care team who only want the best possible outcome for you.
See them all smiling as they wave you on your journey, back into the warm, safe ward. You are still relaxed knowing that your recovery is on its way. You feel no pain or discomfort.
Now project your image to seven days later, back home in a loving and supportive background knowing that all your preparations have come to fruition.
If negative thoughts come into your mind, just acknowledge them and release them in to a bubble of pink light.
Calm your mind from mindless chatter- the constant dialogue that you have with yourself.
Slowly come out of your meditation, open your eyes and know that all is well. Feel calm and refreshed, ready for a new day a new dawn in your life.
Remember to PRACTICE-PRACTICE -PRACTICE