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Developing the virtues of stillness and tranquility is essential for recovery and restoring our strength and energy after stress, illness or surgery. Like deep nurturing sleep, stillness and tranquility allows the parasympathetic nervous system and other self-healing mechanisms in the body to do the work of recovery and rebuilding. In quieting the mind, we support our body and our brain’s ability to regenerate and heal.  By quieting our mind, stillness emerges and our ability to listen to our needs is enhanced.

One of my patients, Sarah, recently underwent hip-replacement surgery.[1] In anticipation of the surgery, Sarah struggled with heightened levels of anxiety. In the weeks prior to the procedure, I taught her complementary medicine techniques to prepare and recover. One of the most effective tools I teach in my practices in Reston, Bethesda, and Washington DC is called grounded, mindful breathing, which helps in quieting the mind and listening to our physical and emotional needs. As a physically and mentally active and productive person, Sarah struggled to sit, breathe and quiet herself, and listen to her needs for healing and restoration. During her recovery after surgery she said to me, “I was able to be with myself in such a different way, I took my time to walk and enjoy nature, eat more slowly, and calm myself when going to sleep. I slowed down and was able to better enjoy and attend to the world around me.”

There is ample research evidence suggesting a strong relationship between psychological stress and wound healing – as in surgical procedures (Waldburn, J., et al. Psychological stress and wound healing in humans, J. Psychosom. Res. 2009; 67(3):253-71). We can think of healing as battling an illness and destroying what is bad, but also as nurturing, boosting and supporting our self-healing mechanisms – our immune and other systems.

The latter approach requires de-stressing, quieting and listening to our essential needs.

Carlos Durana Ph.D. practices individual counseling and therapy in Bethesda, Reston, and Washington DC.

[1] This example has been anonymized and altered to protect the privacy of my client.