Here I am alive and well, having survived my first ever proper surgery and grateful to feel good. So I thought I would share a bit more on how I prepared for it. This may prove useful for others preparing for something similar or facing a crisis – and if you want to point out things that I have missed or need adding, just send your comments to me and I will add them to the article, which will then be available online for everyone.
The first thing I had to manage was my fear around the surgery. I did not mind the knife, but I discovered that I had a phobia of general anaesthetics. This was related to childhood nightmares and sometimes waking up conscious, but unable to move in my paralysed body.
Speaking to my friends who are medical doctors, I was reassured that this phobia is completely normal and medics themselves undergoing surgery have precisely the same anxiety. It is a sensible anxiety, isn’t it – when faced with someone using a poisonous drug to render us unconscious. (Several of my ex-stoner friends, however, smiled when they remembered their operations and told me to enjoy the buzz.)
Anyway, in order to deal with the phobia, the bruising from the surgery and the after-effects of the anaesthetics, I asked a good homeopath to put together a remedy for me. It included arnica and phosphorus, and had other remedies relevant to me in particular. I also carried some Bach Rescue Remedy.
I also worked directly with the phobia in meditation. I contemplated, sensed and visualised myself inside the hospital and operating theatre. I visualised myself slowly going through the procedure and as I did this exercise, I noticed the sensations of panic as they arose in my body and emotions. I kept my breathing calm and greeted these uncomfortable feelings with the affection of a loving parent, accepted them and cradled them with comfort. Over a few weeks of daily practice, these phobic sensations decreased.
I also noticed a tendency in me to slob out as I approached the surgery. This included the normal stuff of feeling sorry for myself, eating too much of the wrong food, slumping with bad posture and so on. I was playing myself a story that I would get my body healthy again after the surgery. As best I could, therefore, given some pain and fatigue, I worked to counter-balance this attitude and exercised, ate and toned so as to be as fit as possible. I stretched, did weights and walked. Not a lot, but up to my limits. A fit body with a fit attitude, where the immune system is supported, will obviously respond better to surgical intrusion and crisis than one that is placid.
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For several months I carefully prepared myself in meditation. This is where I did my true healing work. As I wrote above, I worked slowly through my phobia and fears. At the same time I focused on getting the best possible outcome from the surgery.
I blessed the surgery team and visualised working in perfect harmony with a full support team of inner helpers. I particularly liked a visualisation done by my friend, Jane, when she was preparing for a caesarean. She threw a few grenades into the operating theatre and they exploded with sparkles of light and tiny healing spirits. I asked for the help and support of all beings who could make the process graceful and easy. I also visualised myself after the surgery, fit and bouncing with health as I facilitated workshops, wrote a new book and had a walking holiday.
But as I did all this inner work, I began to realise two things. The first was that I was coming from a point of anxiety and trying to fix my concerns. The second was that my approach was narcissistic and concerned only with me.
So I came home to the core of what I teach, my three golden keys.
- How can I use this situation to connect more fully with the wonder and energy of nature and the cosmos?
- How does it help me to reflect and expan my consciousness?
- How can I serve others and be more compassionate?
Coming home to these core values, I immediately felt different. I swapped worry for gratitude. The health crisis was opening me up and helping me surrender to the bliss fields of the great ocean. Every concern and fear was a useful reminder to be fully conscious and to watch what was happening with compassion and equanimity.
This led me to an uncomfortable insight. As is normal, the fatigue and discomfort were putting me on a short fuse with a higher level than usual of negative thoughts and emotions. I had been blaming the situation for this irritability, but now I could clearly see that the pressure cooker of the crisis was actually just revealing what was always there but repressed and below my threshold of awareness.
One of my prayers over the years has been to meet and integrate every aspect of my shadow before I die. In this context, this surfacing of negativity was to be welcomed. Now I see you! This does not get rid of the actual pain or crisis, but it provides an opportunity to expand consciousness and develop compassion. Thanks for the prods. What a great silver lining.
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I also noticed that I wanted to control the medical team so that they benefited me as much as possible. My attitude was completely understandable, but not congruent with my core values of compassion and supporting others. So I began to visualise the medics and the hospital, and began another kind of prayer.
- Whatever happens to me, may my presence and the whole process be a blessing for everyone involved.
- I have created and am responsible for this whole situation. I am sorry for everything negative I may have created and I ask for forgiveness. May everyone in the hospital be love and blessed. I give thanks for this wonderful situation and lesson.
Aligned with those intentions, I now felt that I had a foundation of integrity and I could move cleanly forward.
If you too are in any kind of crisis, I wish you love and relief. And if you have the reserves of energy, I wish you also the grace of using your crisis for greater compassion and enlightenment.
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