When meditation comes to mind, do you associate it with improved healing? In an interview on how mindfulness practices support healing, we interviewed life coach and meditation teacher Peter Radcliffe of Skillful MIND. After debunking what he believes to be the biggest misconception surrounding meditation, Peter reveals how meditation affects healing and explains 3 sure ways to meditate effectively, which may even assist with better healing outcomes.
What is meditation and how does it support healing?
Peter summarizes the definition of Meditation as “Practicing being here in the here and now, in that awareness mind”. Stress is one of the major adversaries of healing. If you’re able to bring your mind to a state of calmness despite your condition, you’ll fast track your healing.
Not only can reducing stress with meditation and mindfulness have a positive effect on healing outcomes, it can also improve state of mind.
Meditation is about “changing the way you look at the world” says Peter. And depending on your condition, if you can reorientate your mind to see whatever condition you have as neither good nor bad, you’ll start to heal emotionally too.
One big misconception that people have about meditation is that it is synonymous to relaxation. However, contrary to popular belief, one thing meditation is not, is a long, boring exercise that people perform whenever they wish to relax.
“Because people associate meditation with relaxation, they tend to consider meditation as sort of going into this semi-sleep kind of relaxed state when, in fact, what it is is you are completely alert,” says Peter. He adds that “The aim of meditation is not so much relaxation but calmness”. Meditation will help your mind remain calm even in stressful situations.
Meditation and mindfulness: what’s the difference?
The terms meditation and mindfulness are often used interchangeably. Are they really the same? These two activities do have many things in common and are used in similar contexts. Notwithstanding, the two terms do not exactly mean the same thing. So, what sets them apart?
Let’s hear it from the expert himself; “mindfulness is a quality of mind, and in particular, it’s an introspective awareness of what’s going on— I guess in the five senses around you— but in particular, in your thoughts…meditation is the act or the practice of empowering that mindfulness…So, mindfulness is a quality whereas meditation is the practice to get that quality”
3 Tips for effective meditation
Especially for people just starting out, meditation can feel boring. When this happens, you start seeing the practice more as a chore and less of an experience, which may mean you do not continue the practice. This is why you don’t have to go all-in right away. Start with the basics. Peter suggests 15 minutes every day, preferable every morning. This is because once you introduce a routine, you’re more likely to stick to it.
Make it fun
According to Peter “If you force yourself to meditate, you’ll develop an aversion for it”. So how do you avoid forcing yourself to meditate but still mediate? Simple. You make yourself love and enjoy it! You can achieve this by using sounds, such as nature music, or meditation in different scenarios such as a soft lawn.
Join a meditation group
Irrespective of where you are at on your meditation journey, joining a meditation group can benefit you immensely. It allows you to become accountable since there’ll be others there to help track your progress. Also, making meditation a social practice may even lead to new friends.
For all the benefits meditation has to offer everyone should be giving it a go. If you’re not exactly sure how to begin, follow the tips here and start small or join a group. You’ll get the hang of it eventually and in no time, experience the healing power of meditation.
Ready to get started on meditation? Here’s a bonus Meditation Audio Course from SkillfulMind to help kick things off. (you’re welcome!)
Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a specialised form of touch movement to aid in the movement and flow of lymph fluid. The lymphatic system has vessels and capillaries like the circulatory system carrying cellular debris and nutrients throughout the body. However, unlike the circulatory system it does not have a heart to pump contents through the body. Therefore, it relies on muscle contraction and movement to push fluid through the body to maintain equilibrium. Manual lymphatic drainage massage can be used as an adjunct to a health detoxification program or as an ongoing therapy for conditions of the lymphatic system.
It supports the immune system, the skin and everything in between.
How can it help me?
The list of benefits from Manual Lymphatic Drainage massage is extensive and includes:
Reduction of inflammatory acne.Reduction of fluid retention.Reduce pain and pressure associated with sinusitis and tonsilitis. To improve healing outcomes following surgery or injury.Increase detoxification and reduce the feeling of sluggishness.Encourage fluid movement from lymphoedema affected limbs.Relaxation and stress relieving.
Further indications for MLD:
Alleviates pain through the gate control theory
Removal of lymph nodes
HOW MANY TREATMENTS ARE NEEDED?
MLD is light like a feather but has an effect on a cellular level.
The frequency and amount of treatments will depend on the condition treated. Manual lymphatic drainage can be performed immediately pre and post surgery up to twice per day for acute conditions. Generally 1-3 times per week is suitable for many conditions.
In the world of therapeutic massage there are many sub categories to support and treat different ailments.
When it comes to post surgical care oncology massage and rehabilitation techniques for scars can increase flexibility, develop greater range of motion and increase quality of life for patients. This may allow clients to return to daily tasks with greater ease or simply to improve sleep quality and reduce pain.
Research shows that specialised massage techniques can assist with:
Amy is a certified and experienced therapeutic and oncology massage practitioner, trained to hospital standards, who is passionate about working to enhance the healing environment for patients and uses speciality techniques to support the lymphatic system, soften scarring and improve quality of life.
Amy explained that oncology Massage is a gentle, nurturing and non invasive treatment that takes into consideration all the changes that occur to your body, physically and emotionally, once a diagnosis of cancer and treatment occurs.
The massage is modified to make it safe during all parts of the cancer journey, whether you have just been diagnosed, are undergoing surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, or are in palliation or remission.
She also spoke about scar massage as a suitable treatment to reduce the appearance of a scar as well as dealing with the physiological and psychological effects on the body. Bringing feeling back into a region which may have felt disconnected from the body allows the client to feel whole again.
Massage is not just limited to the body, scar massage face treatments can also be beneficial for a range of conditions.
“Scars tell a story of where you have been. They don’t dictate where you are going.”
Amy shared so much more fabulous information during the podcast including:
Massage and cancer contraindications
How to find oncology massage near me
Where to find oncology training
Why scar massage may reduce the need for scar tissue removal surgery
How to reduce scar tissue after surgery
How internal scar tissue may impact movement
So make sure you listen in to EP4 of the heal thy skin podcast with Amy Tyler of Therapeutic Massage to hear the rest of the interview.
We’re not shy about saying how much we love the lymphatic system. Waste disposal, immune system regulator and nutrient distributor, the lymphatic system carries white blood cells where they’re needed and filtrates and eliminate garbage to prevent toxicity.
It’s not wonder that we were excited to speak with Tony Van Der Neit of Zebra Lymphatics on the dermhealth.co podcast!
Tony owns a remedial massage, lymph and wellbeing clinic in Eumundi, Queensland. He shares the same passion for the lymphatic system and believes that a healthy lymphatic system leads to a long and healthy life.
Tony treats and works with individuals with a myriad of conditions including:
Acne vulgaris & Rosacea
Ambulant / Disabled patients
Move your body
Moving your body everyday in some way was one of the top tips that Tony shared in the interview. To hear about more ways to improve your lymphatic system health listen to the podcast!
You can learn more about Tony and the therapies he offers by visiting his company website here.
Although the complex mechanism behind healing and the formation of scars is quite capable of full recovery, it does require plenty of support. This support comes in the form of nutrients from your diet.
What does your diet have to do with this? Well, the skin is a sensitive organ and, seeing as it is the largest one you have, it requires a lot of nutriment to rebuild and repair to return as close as possible to the condition it was in before the injury.
Many of the different growth factors that are responsible for healing of wounds need precursors and regulators that govern their function. All these are the result of various biological compounds that are sourced from the diet. It is no wonder, therefore, that there are plenty of recommendations out there to have a diversified and healthy diet in order to have a glowing skin. Many conditions that denigrate the integrity of the skin are a direct result of poor diet and the ensuing malnutrition. Kwashiorkor, marasmus, pellagra and scurvy are a few of the well-known skin-affecting conditions whose roots lead back to malnutrition.
SO WHAT EXACTLY DOES NUTRITION BEING TO THE TABLE REGARDING WOUND HEALING?
The nutrients present in you are the Lego bricks used by the body to put together the complex structure that is your skin. They are divided in two; the macronutrients and the micronutrients. The former include proteins, carbohydrates and fats whereas the latter include a multitude of vitamins and minerals and trace elements.
Proteins: Proteins are the very bricks used in the construction of the wall that is the skin. Throughout the stages of wound healing, it is mainly proteins at work. From haemostasis, inflammation to proliferation and reorganisation of the new tissue, it is proteins at work. The growth factors and cytokines are proteins. The same applies to the fibrin used to clot and the collagen deposited to recreate the extracellular matrix. Proteins!
Carbohydrates: Every cellular process in the body requires energy to take place and carbohydrates are the source. In wound healing in particular, energy from carbohydrates is especially required during the fibroblast proliferation stage. If you recall, fibroblasts take charge of the formation of the new extracellular matrix as well as calling on macrophages and neutrophils via chemotaxis.
Fats: Fats are also a source of energy needed for high metabolic activity. Wound healing definitely qualifies as one of such bodily activities. Apart from being a source of energy, fats are also need in the creation of the dermal layers, and cell walls many of which contain a considerable amount of fat.
WHAT MICRONUTRIENTS PULL THEIR WEIGHT IN THE PROCESS OF WOUND HEALING?
Micronutrients are required in small doses in the body, but they do pack a punch regarding the work they do therein.
Some of the main ones include:
Vitamin B complex
Vitamin A, a fat soluble vitamin found mainly in vegetables, does a lot during the later stages of wound healing. It plays a big role in epithelial proliferation and well as maintenance of the collagen fibre that has been laid down. It inhibits various collagenases that break down collagen.
The vitamin B complex is found in dairy, meat, fish and vegetables. This set of 8 water soluble compounds mainly serves to promote cell proliferation as well as maintain muscle tone whilst increasing immunity.
Thiamine, a member of this set, is particularly essential. Lack of it results in decreased wound healing.
Vitamin C is a cofactor in the synthesis of collagen and also helps in the uptake and metabolism of other nutrients like iron. Speaking of, iron is vital in the formation of haemoglobin; the compound that carries oxygen to the tissues. In the hypoxic environment that is the wound bed, oxygen is needed to facilitate the healing process.
WHY IS NUTRITION IMPORTANT IN THE HEALING OF SEVERE WOUNDS?
Severe wounds like burns are usually chronic and therefore take on the secondary form of healing. This means that the wound edges cannot be closed and the healing process will take longer than normal.
In such instances, the patient has to be nutritionally robust, providing the body will all that it needs in order to carry out the repair. A study dealing with the wound healing response also noted that it is also important to focus on the food intake just before a surgical procedure because this provides the required energy for the healing process.
Apart from the nutritional requirements, the body needs plenty of energy to go on with this work. It is for this reason, therefore, that severe burn patients can lose weight as the body draws on its reserves. If this resting energy expenditure exceeds its value by 1.2 times, chances are the patient will not survive. High protein and high energy diets immediately after admission should try to offset this catabolic imbalance.
Kaimal S, Thappa DM. Diet in dermatology: Revisited. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2010;76:103-15.
Hart, D. W., Wolf, S. E., Herndon, D. N., Chinkes, D. L., Lal, S. O., Obeng, M. K., … Mlcak RT, R. P. (2002). Energy Expenditure and Caloric Balance After Burn: Increased Feeding Leads to Fat Rather Than Lean Mass Accretion. Annals of Surgery, 235(1), 152–161.
Windsor, J. A., Knight, G. S., & Hill, G. L. (1988). Wound healing response in surgical patients: recent food intake is more important than nutritional status. British Journal of Surgery, 75(2), 135-137.
Alvarez OM, Gillbreath RI. Thiamine influence on collagen during granulation of skin wounds. J Surg Res 1982;32:24-31.
The process of wound healing– to form a scar – is particularly convoluted, with many actions occurring at the same time. From the moment that the skin is injured, the body mobilises different cells to come to the site of injury to close the gap and repair it.
The end result of all this activity is the formation of a scar which, in an adult, is an almost indelible reminder of what they have been through. In the foetus, though, there is hardly any scar after injury.
The difference between the wound healing processes in the adult and foetus is that the latter experiences negligible inflammation. Without this period of inflammation of the tissue, the repairs are complete in an efficient manner, resulting in flawless skin.
ABNORMAL SCAR FORMATION
There are instances, however, where the inflammation during the healing of the wound goes on, resulting in the abnormal formation of scars.
These are two types of scars:
1. Hypertrophic scars are the kinds that continue growing, forming a thick and tough scabs, towering over the surrounding normal skin. However, they do no leave the confines of the original wound.
2. Keloids grow after the wound has healed and continue to grow, pushing out past the boundaries of the original wound. Even after the wound appears to have healed, there is still plenty of action going on beneath the skin. It is this unseen action – often inflammatory – that usually causes these kinds of poor scarring.
WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENS BENEATH THE HEALED SKIN TO CAUSE POOR SCARRING?
When this inflammatory action beneath the skin is influenced by any number of factors, it is thrown off course and can continue happening long after the wound has healed, resulting in the poor scars.There are local factors that increase this inflammation. Some of these include injuring the spot again and infection. These kinds of disturbances are likely to set off the wound healing process again, resulting in the formation of keloids or hypertrophic scars.
Reticular dermal inflammation can also be increased by systemic factors; these are factors that originate from within the body itself. The sex hormones are particularly good at dilating vessels, a phenomenon that usually increases inflammation.
With any number of these factors in play, chronic inflammation is a given. This then results in the formation of poor scars; hypertrophic ones and keloids.
Inflammation. (2018). [image] Available at: https://www.menshealth.com/health/what-is-inflammation [Accessed 14 Mar. 2018].Ogawa, R. (2017). Keloid and Hypertrophic Scars Are the Result of Chronic Inflammation in the Reticular Dermis. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(3), 606. Rodrigo G. Rosique, Marina J. Rosique, and Jayme A. Farina Junior, “Curbing Inflammation in Skin Wound Healing: A Review,” International Journal of Inflammation, vol. 2015, Article ID 316235, 9 pages, 2015.