This is a guest post from my friend Alan Levi; it was supposed to be published before my hernia repair op… but then I ended up having the operation early!
Recovering from surgery can be a worrisome and anxiety ridden process, so I hope this article provides some useful and productive advice that will boost your confidence and speed your rehabilitation.
Firstly, as a personal trainer, I am not speaking from some lofty position of giving advice without having experienced that of which I speak – that sort of thing really irritates me! In November of 2016 I had hip replacement surgery, so I feel well equipped to discuss this issue.
I treated the entire experience as an experiment, in the best possible way, into the Law Of Attraction and re-wiring my mind to achieve the very best outcome possible.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Law Of Attraction, it is the basic premise that like attracts like, married to the Buddhist concept that our thoughts and mind create our reality. Have a ton of negative thoughts? Then you draw more negativity into your life. Happy and carefree with a positive outlook? You will attract more and more of this.
Now, you may stop reading, laugh cynically and roll your eyes at this woo woo nonsense, but…bear with me…even if it is all utter codswallop, surely having a positive outlook on your life, relationships, health, even in the face of occasional negative outcomes, would mean your quality of life were better? That focusing always on the positive would surely put a spring in your step, or garner a greater degree of resilience?
I refused to listen to any nay-sayers, negative people, limiting beliefs or horror stories. I didn’t read the possible negative outcomes, the dangers or any of that. It wasn’t that I was “burying my head in the sand”, I had to have the surgery, so why focus on anything but complete success?
I visualised my easy and pain free recovery.
I saw people around me amazed at how fast I returned to full fitness.
I saw the people at my local gym comment on how impressed they were with my rehabilitation and what a good example of the importance of training I was.
And everything I saw, came to pass.
As well as this I also utilised a tool in which I am a qualified Master Practitioner – Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or “tapping”). This technique of tapping ancient Chinese acupressure points whilst using a form of exposure technique (i.e. talking out loud about what concerns you) has a clinically effective benefit of reducing excitation of the fear based portion of the brain, the amygdala.
This basically means that whilst you face up to a fear, the portion of your brain that is reacting to it is also being sent a soothing signal simultaneously.
It means that there is a downgrading of stress, fear and anxiety – the situation hasn’t changed, however your response to it has. How much? Cortisol has been measured to decrease as much as 24% according to a study in the prestigious Journal Of Nervous and Mental Disease (Church D, Yount, Brooks AJ 2012 Oct)
This technique also has miraculous benefits – I have seen clients have a total overhaul in terms of their self-esteem, demolishing limiting beliefs, negative self-talk and the like.
The power of the mind over the body always has fascinated me, and Dr David Hamilton’s excellent work How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body was an exemplar. I highly recommend it, because it is a treatise on that awkward anomaly of scientific research, the Placebo Effect. Which is simply a reductive way of simply describing the mind’s ability to heal the body.
Do you really believe that your emotional state has no bearing over your physical state? Well let’s try an experiment
It was an iron bar!
Or if I say something that may make you blush, without so much as laying a finger on you I would have caused an involuntary profusion of blood vessels on the surface of your skin. And just by saying that you look amazing in that dress. How cool is that?!
So, if we can harness the power of the brain in relationship to physiological effects, where does the potential of this end? My position is simple – only in the limitations of your mind. Wim Hof teaches people in a few days of seminars to withstand temperatures that are absurdly cold, all through the power of the mind. Meditative practices in China have been shown to increase the bone density of monks. And here is the kicker…these people have the same two arms and two legs you do – all they have done is harness the power of the mind and concentrate its potential in a productive way.
It’s a complex subject, and outside of the scope of this article to explain how you can do this – there are so many modalities that it really is a good idea to experiment and fine one that suits you, whether its EFT, Havening or meditation.
To start off I will give you some practical techniques you can use to engineer a more positive and productive mindset, right now!
The first one is something I am religious on…and try to encourage all my clients to utilise – The Grateful Diary.
Gratitude for what you have in your life RIGHT NOW is the absolute cornerstone of formulating a happy life, because even if you don’t believe in the Law Of Attraction, that our thoughts become things and that we attract that which we give our greatest focus on comes into our experience, then follow this line of logic…
Physiologically it is impossible to be grateful and stressed simultaneously! That’s right; when you fill your being with a sense of overwhelming gratitude for even the smallest of life’s blessings it reduces your body’s ability to also create the destructive mechanisms of stress and anxiety.
How you start in this practice is simple: you purchase a diary that you like the look of. Mine is leather-bound and looks like it was found in an ancient mariner’s treasure chest, but any book will do. I fill out a page every day of ten things for which I am grateful, and why. I also write down things that I want in my life, as if they have already happened. This is where it gets really woo woo, so grab your pinto beans, pop on a hand-woven jerkin from the Himalayas and sit cross legged for this newsflash…feeling grateful for what you want to come into your life as if it were already there, is the foundational principle for having that thing come into your life.
I won’t bore you with why I think this happens, I recommend you read The Secret or The Law Of Attraction for the opinions of greater minds than mine on this complex subject. Let’s just say you are keying into a higher frequency of positivity and given enough time, focus, and positive thought it will manifest itself as surely as stepping out into the sun will give you a suntan. It’s pure cause and effect.
The next tool to downgrade your stress is EFT, and I was fortunate enough to study the method pioneered by Dr Silvia Hartmann. This system focuses firmly on de-stressing the patient prior to working on any specific emotional or physical issues. The belief is that by reducing stress, we can achieve greater clarity and more constructive prioritisation of problems.
As a resource in this article I have attached a link to my demonstration of this technique for you – I sincerely hope you find it of use
So, in simple conclusion, your keys to success are:
- Visualise your positive outcome
- Feel gratitude at every available opportunity and ensure you keep a Gratitude Diary
- Use EFT to reduce stress (and under correct guidance ramp up your emotional frequency to a more positive level)
My next post will be on the practicalities of supplementation for post-operative recovery.