managing surgery

Although undergoing surgery seems to be a largely passive experience, it affects you on the body-mind-spirit level. Use the principles of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to help your body remain its strongest throughout the process.

Using Nature’s Cycles to Support Your Body’s Self-Healing Ability

Remember that each of us is a part of Nature, not “apart from Nature.” Because your body's energy fluctuates with Nature's cycles, the timing of surgery has particular importance in TCM. If possible, it's best to schedule surgery for the time of your birth. The day of your birth represents your body's highest energy peak. If you don't know when you were born, schedule procedures or treatments for the morning, when Earth Qi or energy is naturally rising. The days before and the day of a full moon are other good times to undergo surgery.

On the day of your breast cancer surgery, remain as peaceful as possible and keep your emotions as even as possible. This may, of course, be easier said than done. The calmer and more peaceful you are, the less Qi or energy you will use up. Consequently, the more energy you will save for healing after surgery. Eliminate everyone and everything that does not support your peace and serenity.

Special Taoist Breathing for Surgery

Ancient Taoist Qigong breathing techniques can help you recover better from surgery. Start practicing this technique several weeks before surgery so it becomes a natural breathing pattern. Use it when you start any procedure.

Focus on your navel, or dantien, which mean sacred energy center. The following technique is equated with infant breathing:

Breathe in through your nose; breathe out through your mouth. Practice often until you get used to this pattern. Then you can advance to the next step. While concentrating on your navel, breathe in and suck in your whole stomach. When you breathe out, push your stomach out. This secret technique can help open your visible gate (the navel—the stomach’s small hollow where the umbilical cord was attached to your mother) to allow you access to the invisible genetic connections of your parents and ancestors. Exercise several times each day and night before going to sleep.

As surgery begins, take slow, deep breaths. Concentrate on your navel, and continue concentrating as the anesthesia takes effect. Focusing your attention on the dantien area directs Qi inward, helping you to save it for healing.

After surgery, there will be many demands on your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energies. If possible, take several weeks off to recover before beginning chemotherapy and radiation. This will give your body a chance to rebalance and heal itself before you start the next challenging chapter of your healing journey. If you start chemotherapy or radiation too early, your body is unlikely to heal properly, or have the Qi to reduce scarring.

After Surgery: Take Time to Recover and Rebalance

After surgery, eat the recommended foods for breast-cancer prevention. Practice the Qigong movements at least twice a day. Rest … rest … rest . . . and rest some more! You may be tempted to start working again, to "get back in the game." Give yourself as much time as you feel you need to rest. This presents a difficult choice in our Western culture where resting is misunderstood and not always regarded as a productive activity. When it comes to healing though, resting is one of the easiest and most effective ways to preserve and build up healing energy. If you have acupuncture or take herbal formulas, you can heal more quickly.