• Finding a Daily Rhythm, Part 1

    Restore Your Health by Following a Daily Monastic Rhythm

    A famous George Gerswhin song says, “I’ve got rhythm… who could ask for anything more?” It’s a song about a woman who is content with her life. And, there’s an amazing amount of truth in those lyrics, because when you live with rhythm, you will be happier, healthier, more alert and productive.

    Rhythm, not just the musical kind, exists all around us. It’s a huge part of nature. Think about the sun cycle every day – rising and setting, the phases of the moon and its effect on tides, and the change of seasons, each following a rhythm. Then, think about your heart beat, breathing, and digestive cycle – there is rhythm within your own body.

    According to thefreedictionary.com rhythm (rĭth′əm) noun; is “the movement or variation characterized by the regular recurrence or alternation of different quantities or conditions.” As a regular pattern in time, a rhythm can refer to any natural cyclical event that lasts from microseconds on up to many years such as the rotation of the planets around the sun, or Halley’s Comet returning every 76 years. Within our bodies, we have rhythms that regulate our immune system, hormone levels, appetite and digestion, body temperature, blood pressure, even reaction time.

    You’ve heard of Circadian Rhythm which is an innate process regulating the sleep-wake cycle of all living things, and repeats approximately every 24 hours. We all have a “master clock” called the suprachiasmatic nucleus which is located in the hypothalamus of your brain near the optic nerves. It receives information from your eyes about the amount of light you are exposed to throughout the day; it then sends signals that regulate various systems in your body. This process can be altered over time, but ordinarily it attempts to follow its formulaic function even when we stay up late. This was proven in the 18th century when Jean-Jacques d’Ortous de Mairan, a French scientist, discovered that Mimosa trees, which fold up their leaves at night and open them in the morning, continued to follow this pattern even when kept in total darkness.

    This is how your Circadian Rhythm works: in the morning, after you wake up, your body temperature starts to rise, as does your blood pressure. Your melatonin secretions stop, and your testosterone secretions increase. It’s time to turn up the lights, open the curtains and let the sunshine in. By mid-morning, your gastro-intestinal system prepares for elimination, and you reach peak awareness. By mid-afternoon, your coordination reaches its peak, and your reaction time is at its fastest. Throughout the daylight hours, your body is absorbing nutrients, so this is the time for your largest meals. In the late afternoon and early evening, your muscle strength, blood pressure, and body temperatures reach their highest levels. As the sun sets and the dark of night takes over, things begin to slow down, and your body begins to assimilate the nutrients you’ve consumed. It’s time to dim the lights, and allow your body to start winding down. Use lower wattage bulbs, and avoid the blue-light of television, phone, and computer screens. Mid-way through the evening, your melatonin secretions start back up. If you go to bed by 11:00pm, you will reach your deepest sleep by 2:00am, this is when healing takes place; and your body releases human growth hormone which triggers tissue repair and cell growth. By 4:00am your body temperature and blood pressure will drop to their lowest levels. Then the sun rises and it starts all over again.

    When you stay up late at night for extended periods, especially if you’re losing sleep, your circadian rhythm gets out of sync which can increase your risk for anxiety, depression, obesity, and diabetes. It can lead to drowsiness and lethargy causing your work performance to suffer, your mental alertness to falter, and you may even become prone to accidents.

    Join us next week for the second part of this article…

    The Complete Guide to the Science of Circadian Rhythms by Jeremy Berger, observer.com, December 29, 2017

    Leading Like a Monk: Finding Our Rhythms by Greg Richardson, patheos.com, April 13, 2017

    Monastic rhythm of life by Ian Adams, churchtimes.co.uk, February 22, 2011

    What Are Biological Rhythms? by Amber Erickson Gabbey and Rachel Nall, healthline.com, November 4, 2016

    At Optimum Health Institute, we teach you all about establishing a daily schedule that supports your natural circadian rhythm.
    During your visit, our caring team can help you achieve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.

  • Meet Tamara Magiera-O’Gilvie

    “My dear friend, Julia Brown, had been a frequent guest at OHI, and raved about it,” said Tamara. “She looked so vibrant, fresh, and young when I saw her after a stay at OHI, that I knew I just had to experience that renewal for myself!”

    Tamara Magiera-O’Gilvie was born and raised in Northern Manitoba Canada, and moved to Florida in 1998 with her husband, Eric, and their three children. They started a watersports company, and later expanded the company to three locations on Fort Myers Beach. They also opened two restaurants. In 2018, they sold the watersports company and in 2020 they sold one restaurant.

    “I first came to OHI because I was burned out,” said Tamara. “I was working 14 hour days, feeling stressed and frustrated at not spending enough time with loved ones. For Christmas one year, my husband offered me a trip anywhere I wanted to go, and I said I wanted to go to OHI. My entire family thought I was crazy, but I knew it was the right choice for me.”

    Tamara’s resolve to get the most out of her Christmas gift paid dramatic dividends. “My first visit was both challenging and rewarding,” said Tamara. “In spite of constant fatigue, I attended every class, booked multiple massages and colonics, drank my wheatgrass and my Rejuvalac, and lost 11 pounds in a week. My skin was glowing, and my clothes fit better. I made lasting friendships, and felt energized and ready to focus on my body, mind, and spirit.”

    Tamara felt so rejuvenated by her first visit to OHI that she has become a frequent guest. She has visited the San Diego campus three times, and the Austin campus once. So what keeps her coming back? “The main thing that appeals to me is that OHI is a judgment-free community,” said Tamara. “It’s a place to connect with like-minded individuals working on health, spirituality, and awareness. I find it fulfilling and supportive. Every time I am a guest at OHI, I learn something new about myself.”

    Tamara makes it a priority to attend every class she can during her visits. “The Focus class has had a big impact on me,” Tamara said. “And what I have gotten out of it has changed each time I take it. The first time I took it I was stunned at how much time I was spending on social media, television, and texting. I curbed that, and was happy to have more time to spend doing things I loved. The last time I took it I realized the importance of being protective of my time, and scheduling what is important to me. I bought a planner, and scheduled my preferred activities, yoga, and time with friends and family. It is helpful for me to see it in a time slot in my planner.”

    Tamara has noticed changes, both big and small, in herself since she started coming to OHI. “I have become more present,” said Tamara, “living in the now instead of constantly living in the past or the future. I am more aware of what I put in my body, as well as who I spend my time with. The health of my body and the use of my time are both precious to me, and I want to make the most of them. I listen to my body now, and respect how I feel about things.”

    Tamara’s biggest breakthrough was very personal. “I chose to let go of criticizing myself, and trying to have everything ‘perfect.’ I always had this mental chatter that was unhealthy, and when I let that go (it’s a work in progress), I replaced it with living in the moment. This helped me to stay in the present. I put energy into being happy in the present rather than ashamed of the past or worried about the future. It’s a breakthrough that has brought me peace.”

    Tamara has also made a breakthrough where food and spirituality intersect in her life. “I like to eat a high-quality organic diet. The cleaner and closer to the earth that my diet is, the more open I am to powerful meditations. These meditations allow for clarity, patience, kindness, and compassion. I find that my yoga practice becomes meditative. It all becomes a circle of health beginning with the food then connecting to the spirit/mind, and coming full circle with the body. It flows freely and easily, and I am grateful to OHI for all of the tools to experience this connection.”

    Tamara has found that her healing journey often takes her outside. “I love to be out in nature, hiking and kayaking. And spending time with my dog is also healing for me. She is pure joy.”

    We hope you’ll come stay with us again soon, Tamara!

    In these uncertain times, look to OHI as your safe haven.  As we celebrate 44 years of holistic healing, we can teach you how achieve your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual goals for optimal health.  Stay safe, and be well.  Above all, embrace positivity!
    During your visit, our caring team can help you achieve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.

  • Find Serenity Through Prayer

    “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the LORD your God.“ Leviticus 23:22

    Here’s a warm and wonderful fall greeting to our OHI community. I love this time of year with the cooling temperatures, the color of the autumn trees, and the promise of a bountiful harvest. I offer you this Bible verse because regardless of the size of the harvest we should feast and share with those in need, especially during turbulent times. COVID-19 has been like an unexpected hail storm that damages the farmer’s crop, but rather than hoard what is left, it is better to take only what we need, and to help others as we can. At OHI, we have witnessed the generosity of so many of you in the most selfless ways and we are so grateful.

    In the spring newsletter, I talked about how seasonal change can be understood as a time of transformation, and a time to rediscover your Purpose in life. You might remember from my article Purpose is one of our 5 “Ps” to optimum health. At the time, I didn’t know just how transformational 2020 would be for everyone including OHI. We’ve responded by making significant improvements without changing our program that you’ve come to know and trust.

    In the summer newsletter, I discussed three more of our 5 “Ps” to optimum health: Patience, Persistence, and Positive Mental Attitude. 2020 has certainly challenged us on all three. We’ve had to be Patient about getting back out in the world. We’ve had to be Persistent in keeping our goals in focus. And, we’ve had to maintain a Positive Mental Attitude in the face of negative news (I’ll have more to say on that further down).

    Fall is a Time of Preservation, Maturity, and Gratitude

    We now enter fall, when nature’s bounty is ripe and ready for picking. I recall from my youth how many of the neighborhood families would bring out the Mason jars, boil them for purity, load them up with fruits and vegetables from their gardens, then put them away to savor on some winter’s day. In many ways autumn is all about preservation – of values, traditions, and truth.

    We can find a great deal of spiritual symbology in the fall season. The changing color of the leaves reminds us that change is constant. The falling of the leaves reminds us that letting go of the past and moving forward is what life is all about. And, the ripening and maturing of crops is symbolic of our spiritual maturity.

    The season of harvest is a time for work, mindfulness, and gratitude. Every effort of the farmer working the land, every furrow turned, seed planted, and weed pulled, is with the harvest in mind. His commitment is to the reward at the end. Here at OHI our commitment is to fulfilling the needs of the body, mind, and spirit. One of the ways we do that is through Prayer, the most powerful of OHI’s 5 “Ps” to optimum health.

    “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

    Lately I’ve become concerned that news stories have been spreading mixed messages that contradict each other. News sources I’ve considered reliable are running stories that seem at odds with each other. Sadly this is very confusing; and finding the truth requires verifying every report from multiple sources. It seems that some media, politicians, and experts are posting messages that are not based on facts, and you have to wonder why they are not being transparent. There should be no hidden agendas. We want to trust our government officials, newscasters, scientists, experts, in short, our fellow human beings. We are all in this together, and if we can’t trust the purveyors of vital information, then doubt and uncertainty will tear us apart.

    The reason I’m bringing this up is because significant portions of the truth are being left out which distorts stories and creates fear, the most powerful of our. Media creates sensational stories to build an audience, and sell advertising. You may recall from the summer newsletter how I mentioned that people have a propensity for bad news, and how it is a natural instinct that protects us. Some media companies and politicians know this and use it to manipulate us. So, when you hear a story that makes you anxious or afraid, you should verify its accuracy.

    OHI Is Your Trusted Partner

    The problem is what fear-based news does to people. It keeps them in a state of panic and nervousness which creates an imbalance in their body, mind, spirit, and hides the truth. And, all of this unease can turn into disease. Here at OHI, we are committed to the truth. For example, we provide both biblical and scientific sources for any medical or scientific claims we make. We are here to empower you through our classes and activities, so that you learn to understand your body, mind, and spirit and restore balance. It’s good to have a community with which you can discuss concerns and focus on healing. OHI provides the community you’ve come to know and trust. When you start feeling anxious, we help you get back to basics with daily practices, mindfulness, intention setting, and prayer. Our mission statement, guiding principles, and spiritual identity are all founded in truth. OHI’s tried and true program and loving supportive community remain constant in our changing world.

    Our program has integrity; we’ve been doing this for 44 years – despite the various fads and trends on nutrition, health, and fitness – our program is still as effective as it was on the day we opened our doors. Our program, leadership, staff, missionaries, donors, and guests all contribute to holistic healing by creating a safe and sacred space. We wouldn’t still be here if it wasn’t true. We have guests who have returned every year for decades, and who regularly refer their loved ones to us. Our main concern is the safety of our entire community: guests, missionaries, and staff.

    “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22

    The Power of Prayer

    In troublesome times like we’ve been experiencing; the act of prayer calms you and brings peace. But, prayer does much more than soothe the soul; it enables you to awaken the love of God within you, so that you can better cope with pain, disappointment, and loss. It nourishes your body, mind, and spirit so you stay focused on what is important – like your Purpose. You can even pray for Patience, Persistence, and a Positive Mental Attitude. Prayer is the fifth of our 5 “Ps” to optimum health that I have been discussing with you this year.

    Prayer is powerful in many ways. For me it is often enough to simply pray for strength every day. It brings me closer to God, and it will bring you closer to your higher source. Sharing the load reduces the burden you may feel on your journey through life’s opportunities. With prayer you can express gratitude, ask for guidance, and listen for answers. You can pray for healing, and you can pray for others. As English poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, once observed, “Prayers are the very highest energy of which the mind is capable.”

    Prayer is portable, you can pray anywhere for any length of time. As little as 30 seconds of prayer, acknowledging God and giving thanks for all the blessings in your life, can relax and calm the nerves. Pray in the car while you’re driving (but please keep your eyes open), pray in the checkout line at the store, pray in a place that is sacred to you, or pray while you’re out on a walk or communing with nature.

    You can pray alone as Jesus did, or you can pray with others which helps create and maintain community.

    Science Proves the Healing Power of Prayer

    “Studies have shown prayer can prevent people from getting sick,” says Harold G. Koenig, MD of Duke University, ” and when they do get sick, prayer can help them get better faster.” After analyzing 1,500 reputable medical studies, Koenig concluded that people who pray more have better mental and physical health. He adds, “They have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, and probably better cardiovascular functioning.”

    Science is also showing us why prayer makes us feel so peaceful. Herbert Benson, MD, a cardiovascular scientist at Harvard University, who has conducted studies on prayer for the past 30 years says, “All forms of prayer evoke a relaxation response that quells stress, quiets the body, and promotes healing.” He discovered what he calls the “relaxation response” which is a physiological state of the body during prayer. It shifts the body’s dominant state from the fight, flight, freeze mode in which people tend to spend most of their day to the rest and digest mode. He has also observed that prayer increases the brain’s release of dopamine which helps us feel more relaxed, focused, and happy.

    If you’ve ever thought that prayer only works because you are programming your subconscious to believe that it does, then I have good news for you. Praying for another person’s healing, or having others pray for yours actually works, even when the recipient doesn’t know about it, and science has now proven it.

    OHI – The Safest Place To Be Outside of Your Home

    OHI provides a safe and sacred place for healing and prayer. Our campuses offer many comfortable spots that are private where you can pray. You don’t have to wait for the pandemic to be over to visit us here at OHI and work on developing your positive habit of prayer. We are open now and serving guests just like you. And, keeping your safety in mind, we have taken great strides in implementing the CDC’s protocols of physical distancing; limiting the number of guests in our program; we use electrostatic spray disinfection systems, and we use only safe,

    non-chemical cleaners in all common areas; and we continue to test all our employees on a bi-weekly basis to ensure we maintain a healthy operation. We’ve also been busy developing our new OHI for Life Wellness Rooms – where safety meets comfort. Each guest room is outfitted with 100% certified organic cotton bed linens and a Molekule air purifier. OHI is your safety bubble for healing and that’s why we are the safest most sacred place to be.

    Wishing you health and wellness in this blessed fall season.

    Yours in prayer,

    Robert P. Nees, Jr.,

    Senior Pastor and Chairman

    Optimum Health Institute of San Diego and Austin

    At Optimum Health Institute, we teach you all about the 5 P’s to optimum health, help you establish a powerful practice of prayer, and help restore your peace.

    During your visit, our caring team can help you achieve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.

  • Restoring the Body’s Natural Balance Through Detoxification

    “Detoxify” is a common word among holistic healing advocates, but not everyone is clear about its meaning. The process of detoxification simply refers to cleansing and nourishing the body to promote healing and longevity. The body has the marvelous ability to heal itself—as long as it is treated right. With a lifestyle that includes eating nutritious, natural foods; drinking plenty of water; exercise; and enough rest, the body has the tools it needs to restore itself to a natural balance.

    Many people turn to this lifestyle because they’ve grown tired of the effects of poor health and they want to feel better. This was the case with Regina, who was 40 years old but felt twice that age. Her joints ached constantly, her brain was foggy, and she was always tired.

    Finally, she decided she’d had enough; it was time for a major change. And that was the beginning of her pursuit of a healthier, happier life.

    Regina started by focusing on her eating, because she knew her diet needed a serious overhaul. She completely eliminated fast food, and substituted fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other nutritious foods.

    It was tough at first, as breaking bad habits often is. But after just four days she was breathing more easily, and by day seven she felt no pain for the first time in years. She was thinking clearly again, and had more energy than she’d had in a very long time. This huge transformation in Regina’s health was the eye-opener she needed. From that point on, she was totally committed to a healthier way of life.

    If you identify with Regina’s experience, you are not alone—and you can change your life too. Start with your diet; a food plan that consists of raw, organic vegan meals can detoxify your body and help you embrace behaviors that will positively affect every area of your health, happiness, and well-being.

    Foods that are rich in fiber not only detoxify and nourish you; they also keep your digestive system running smoothly. This can help prevent chronic constipation, which has been associated with the development of depression. When the body fails to properly eliminate waste products, nutrients that are essential for brain function can’t be digested and absorbed. Toxins from the accumulated waste can filter back into the system and cause irritability, anxiety, and even insomnia.

    Another important aspect of detoxifying the body is proper combinations of foods, since eating two foods together that differ in digestion times can have a toxic effect. A dense protein like avocado, for instance, can take from two to three hours to digest, whereas digestion of a melon only takes about 30 minutes. The protein will keep the fruit in the stomach longer, causing it to ferment. Learning about proper food combinations can go a long way toward detoxifying the body.

    At Optimum Health Institute, we can teach you all about detoxifying your body, as well as how to adopt healthier habits that can change your life. Experience the energy and clarity of eating and living clean, all in an environment of encouragement, support and spiritual fellowship.

    During your visit, our caring team can help you achieve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.

  • The Peaceful Beauty of the Alpha State

    During times when you’re feeling stressed, or you can’t seem to relax, or your mind won’t stop racing, do you ever wish you had the magical power to instantly feel peaceful?

    Actually, you do have that power.

    No matter how keyed up you may feel, peace and serenity are only a few breaths away. All you need to do is find a place where you can sit and close your eyes for a few moments. Take a long, slow, deep breath through your nose, and then release your breath slowly through your mouth. Repeat two more times, and you will feel measurably calmer.

    What you’ve just done is touched into the Alpha state, a meditative level of brainwave activity in which you automatically release stress and negative feelings. It is in the Alpha state when the body, mind, and spirit are gently brought into balance.

    We spend most of our waking moments at the Beta level, which is the opposite of Alpha. Whereas Alpha is a state of non-arousal, Beta is a state of hyper-arousal. It is in the Beta state when the brain solves problems, makes decisions, and keeps us engaged and attentive. We need that level of brain activity in order to be productive—but prolonged periods of time in the Beta state can be exhausting, physically and mentally. It can also lead to chronic stress and depression.

    By learning how to slow those brainwaves down, we can immediately shift into the more balanced and healing Alpha state. Rather than being alert, easily distracted, and focused on what we need to do next, we’re relaxed and fully mindful of the present. We feel peaceful as our body, mind, and spirit begin to effectively integrate. We become aware of all that is sacred to us, and are able to let go of what no longer serves us.

    You can switch from the more frenetic Beta state into the deep relaxation and receptivity of Alpha anytime you feel the need to do so. Simply practice the deep breathing exercises described earlier. You can also take it to the next level with mindful meditation. Sit straight with your feet flat on the floor, or sit in a cross-legged position. Gently rest your hands on your legs, palms up, and bring your thumb, index finger and middle fingers together. Close your eyes, and be mindful of your breathing.

    It can be helpful to silently repeat a word or phrase that has special meaning to you. “God is love,” “Shalom,” or “Om” are popular choices to get you into a peaceful state. Starting at your toes, imagine all the tension and stress of the day slowly flowing out of your feet and into the earth. Relaxation continues to wash over your body, taking you deeper and deeper into a place of complete contentment.

    As you bask in the peacefulness of Alpha, inspiration, creativity and sudden insights may float into your awareness. People often find solutions for issues they’ve been dealing with, or discover a completely new way to look at a situation.

    When you feel you’ve spent enough time basking in the Alpha state, you can gently bring yourself back into consciousness. It’s helpful to silently say a positive affirmation, like, “Every day in every way I am getting healthier and healthier, happier and happier.” Count from one to five, bringing yourself back into a state of refreshed alertness. One, feel the chair beneath you; two, three, wiggle your fingers and toes; four, you’re back in the room, and five, open your eyes. Take a moment to stretch and mentally review your experience. Do any images, thoughts, or insights stand out? If so, write them down.

    Once you’ve practiced mindful meditation a few times, and have seen for yourself the profound difference it can make in your state of mind, you’ll want to use your “magical power” over and over again. And the more you use that power, the more you’ll benefit from the Alpha state, and be able to return to it whenever you need calming.

    Experience a healing Alpha state in all the mind-body-spirit classes offered at the Optimum Health Institute holistic health missions in San Diego and Austin, Texas. Come help us celebrate 44 years of holistic healing. Our caring team will give you the tools, encouragement, and inspiration to detoxify your body, quiet your mind, and rejuvenate your spirit while you are surrounded in serene beauty.

    Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.

  • Embracing Your Spiritual Awakening

    A new season beckons … and it’s a wonderful time to think about awakening the Spirit within.

    That is an essential part of our well-being, although we don’t always focus on it as we should. Especially today, when the world seems fraught with challenges that crowd our minds and threaten to steal our peace—but we needn’t let that happen. By purposely turning away from the challenges, we can see that a brand-new season offers renewed hope. And there is no better time to focus on our spiritual health.

    After all, when we feel turmoil, it’s often a sign that our souls are aching. By looking inward, we can experience the kind of healing that truly replenishes us—the kind that comes only from our Creator. In the Bible, the prophet Elijah heard God speaking to him in the form of a “gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12). If we don’t make an effort to tune out life’s noise and listen for God’s voice, we could miss His quiet message to our hearts.

    But when we do make an effort to listen for God’s quiet message, it can bring an amazing, incomparable sense of calm and renewed purpose.

    Byron Katie experienced this sort of calm—but not until she reached the lowest point of her life. She was suffering from addictions and severe depression, and then, in a moment of striking clarity, Katie had what she calls her “spiritual epiphany.” Suddenly she knew that by letting go of the turmoil that had long consumed her, and focusing instead on positive, hopeful thoughts, she could change her life into one of joy, purpose, and love. That’s when she created “The Work,” a method of self-inquiry that helps people separate myth from truth and is based on four questions:

    1. 1. Is it true?
    2. 2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
    3. 3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
    4. 4. Who would you be without the thought?

    From that day forward, Katie had a renewed purpose, and she dedicated her life to sharing her personal epiphany with others. She is convinced beyond any doubt that if she hadn’t confronted her own desperation, she would never have experienced the spiritual awakening that has transformed so many lives.

    We want you to experience your own spiritual awakening and be ready to face the new season with a renewed sense of purpose, hope, and joy.

    Take the first step by visiting our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and then call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation. Give yourself this precious gift of healing, and your life will be forever changed.

  • How To Encourage Your Kids to Eat Healthy

    We’ve all been there – you made a delicious, nutritious, and healthy dinner for our family only to have one or more of our kids turn their noses up at the meal you worked so hard to create. Don’t get discouraged! This article is meant to give you some good ideas on how to encourage your kids to embrace healthy eating.

    Try these tips when trying to encourage healthy eating habits:

    1. Provide Choices. Whether planning or preparing a meal, provide your child with choices. For instance, when preparing a snack give your child a choice between sliced apples, baby carrots, or celery with almond butter. This gives your little one the independence kids desire while keeping food choices in the healthy arena.

    2. Offer Hands-On Education. Take the kids to tour an organic farm. It’s one thing to see carrots, peeled and sealed in a plastic bag on the kitchen counter. It’s a completely different thing to stand in rich fertile earth and pull a carrot out of the ground. Or pluck blueberries from a bush and put as many in your pail as you put in your mouth. Or see how easily the vine releases a scarlet tomato when it’s ripe for the picking. Walking through the fields and groves of local farms will help kids feel a new respect for where their food comes from – and might even make them want to try their hand at growing something.

    3. Make Healthy Choices Easily Accessible: Knowing that the things that are most accessible are probably the first thing the kids will reach for, reserve the front of your refrigerator and cupboards for the healthy foods you want them to eat. A grove of broccoli “trees” standing in a bed of hummus; bite size celery pieces; grapes washed and off the vine and frozen; cherry tomatoes – when they’re prominently displayed and readily available, the kids will find the healthy foods first – and gobble them up.

    4. Get Kids in the Kitchen: If the only time your kids see their food is when it’s prepared and plated, they will continue to have a passive relationship with it. Instead, make it fun – and mandatory – that they actively participate in planning and creating healthy meals and snacks with activities that match their age and skill set. For very young kids, “Ants on a Log” is a great choice. You cut the celery and fill the stalk with almond butter, while they add the raisin “ants.” As they get older they’ll be able to use knives, a blender and other appliances with your direct supervision. The important thing is to let the kids have the hands-on experience of creating healthy, nutritious meals or snacks for family and friends.

    5. Be a Role Model: Children are easily influenced – especially by their parents. So, practice what you preach, and your little ones are more likely to follow.

    In these uncertain times, look to OHI as your safe haven. As we celebrate 43 years of holistic healing, we can teach you how to achieve your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual goals for optimal health. Stay safe, and be well. Above all, embrace positivity!

    Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, or call us at (800) 588-0809
    to make your reservation.

  • The Art of Encouraging Others

    We all know that words matter! Encouragement touches the heart and shows people you care. Knowing how to encourage people is essential to being part of a team, family, group and community. It’s a way of recognizing someone who is doing their best.

    The most effective parents, teachers, leaders and companies know that spending more time validating and less time correcting yields more immediate and lasting positive results. While one-on-one feedback is motivating, publicly acknowledging a person’s contributions can be even more powerful. Praising a person in front of their peers boosts their self-confidence to new levels, and encourages them to continue to produce quality work.

    There are several methods of encouraging others:

    1. 1. First, remind them of how they’ve succeeded in the past. A teacher saying, “You did a great job on your last paper” as she’s making the new assignment is simultaneously boosting her students’ confidence and encouraging them to excel again.
    2. 2. When people are facing a particularly challenging situation, help them break it down into manageable steps. Congratulating them as they complete each part motivates them to continue, and helps them maintain a positive attitude as they forge ahead.
    3. 3. Never diminish the importance of another person’s feelings. Saying things that minimize their apprehension, like, “It’s just not that big a deal,” can make them feel angry, betrayed or panicky. Too frequently the cause of an employee getting discouraged is she or he feels they’re out of the loop, or don’t really understand what’s being required of them.
    4. 4. Listen to their concerns without judgment, and let them know you respect their input. Then, clarify the goals, and together, come up with a practical and realistic plan to make it work.

    Sometimes the most effective encouragement can be a little compassion and empathy. Whether it’s a teen trying to drum up the courage to ask his crush on a date, or a colleague who’s swamped with projects, just taking the time to listen sympathetically may be all they need to move ahead with renewed confidence.

    In these uncertain times, look to OHI as your safe haven.  As we celebrate 43 years of holistic healing, we can teach you how to achieve your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual goals for optimal health.  Stay safe, and be well.  Above all, embrace positivity!

    Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, or call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.

  • Neyssan Moshref’s Journey to Wellness: Scholarship Recipient Prepares Her Body for Cancer Treatment

    In late 2014, Neyssan was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS). That is the presence of abnormal cells inside a milk duct in the breast. DCIS is considered the earliest form of breast cancer. It is noninvasive, meaning it hasn’t spread out of the milk duct, and has a low risk of becoming invasive.

    “In late December 2019, I was close to reaching my 5-year cancer-remission anniversary,” said Neyssan. “Out of the blue, I was stunned to be diagnosed with breast cancer. I was scared, depressed, and lost. My sister, Sahba, knew that before I could face any breast cancer treatment, I first needed to strengthen my body and my spirit. She had heard rave reviews about the OHI San Diego program, and the success guests had in detoxing the mind-body-spirit, so she generously offered to gift me a stay at OHI. We were both surprised and ecstatic to learn that there was an OHI location right here in Austin where I live!”

    OHI was an answer to a prayer for Neyssan. “I walked through the doors of OHI on that first Sunday evening pretty broken,” said Neyssan. “My heart and mind were dark, and I was feeling hopeless. The staff welcomed me with big smiles and beautiful energy. We started each day with lymphatic exercises. We would nourish our bodies with healthy raw foods and juices. We had amazing life-changing classes, and time to meditate and breathe. Since this was a process, I knew that I needed the full 3 weeks to reach the level of health to face cancer treatment. I asked about a scholarship, and was so grateful to learn that I would qualify due to my diagnosis. It truly was a blessing. With each passing week, I was blossoming, opening up, and feeling better. By the third week, I was a completely different person, and ready to fight my cancer.”

    Neyssan is optimistic about her future. “It’s been close to a month since my stay at OHI,” said Neyssan, “and I am feeling so empowered by what I learned there. My kitchen is now set up with a dehydrator and a juicer, and everyday I workout and take meditative walks. The tools I was given, along with the friendships I developed, are priceless. I’ll be forever grateful to OHI, and the opportunity their generous scholarship gave me to kick start my journey to healing.”

    Please consider contributing to the OHI Scholarship Fund to help those in need experience the benefits of the OHI program. Over the course of our 43 years, OHI has provided scholarships to individuals who could not afford to otherwise attend. In most years, we have been able to fulfill all requests for assistance through the generosity of our community. OHI invites you to join with us in celebrating our healing mission with a tax-deductible gift. Your contribution will help to make our community stronger, healthier, and more vibrant.

    Provide the Gift of Healing today by supporting the OHI Scholarship Fund with a tax-deductible:
    • One-Time Donation, or
    • Sustainable Monthly Contribution

    Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, or call us at (800) 588-0809
    to make your contribution.

    Thank you for your generosity!

    Optimum Health Institute is a non-profit, religious organization. Your donation is tax deductible.

  • What are Spiritual Disciplines, and Why are They Important Today?, Part 2

    In last week’s article, we described the practice of spiritual discipline and the important health and lifestyle benefits that result from having a spiritual practice. This week, we provide a ‘how-to’ kick-start your practice. Here is part 2 of our 2-part series…

    These spiritual practices inform how we embrace change at OHI in order to maintain a safe and sacred space for our guests to continue their practice. We’re not changing what or why we do what we do; instead we have adapted our space to provide a more intimate experience for guests. That means smaller classrooms, a higher staff to guest ratio, an increased number of private rooms, and much more. Through intimacy we may find a greater sense of personal well-being and spirituality.

    You will also experience each of these spiritual disciplines throughout our many classes and activities at OHI. Here are some finer points and how-to’s on a few of them:

    The spiritual discipline of Journaling is a chronicle of your activities and thoughts; a diary of your spiritual insights; a place to record your prayer requests; and a notebook where your private reflections, introspections, questions, and musings can be preserved. Daily, weekly, or whenever the mood strikes, you can choose how often you wish to write. Use a spiral notebook, legal pad, computer, or fancy book of bound blank pages. Date your entries and record your location. Feel free to journal anywhere: your desk, in bed, on the beach, in the woods, or at the local tea house. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling – this is for your eyes only. An easy way to get started is to write about a movie you saw, a book you read, or a museum you visited, and the reaction they invoked. Write about your feelings, your worries, your fears, your disappointments, your successes, your goals, even your daydreams. Write about ruminations you can’t seem to eliminate. Write to your creator and ask for guidance. Journaling will help bring clarity to your thoughts, and help you focus on what’s most important to you

    Simplicity is often thought of as eliminating excess household possessions and obligations on your calendar, but it is so much more than that. Decluttering your home and life is a worthwhile accomplishment. It removes a lot of worry and frees up time. Best of all, simplicity is all about streamlining your world so that you have more time for your life’s purpose. Simplicity is not about doing less, it is about doing more of what is most valuable to you. By eliminating short term distractions, you can focus your time, energy, and resources on achieving your goals. At OHI, we provide a safe and sacred space where you can identify your values and goals. Our Focus classes help you identify values that are important to you such as fitness, healing, or relationships. You’ll learn how to set goals, and how to make daily and weekly plans for achieving them. And, you’ll learn how to break down your time into important vs. unimportant activities, as well as, which ones are urgent and which ones are not. At OHI, we will help you simplify your life so you can devote more time to your passion.

    Community (Fellowship) is a huge part of the daily spiritual discipline here at OHI. Starting with New Guest Orientation and the Program Basics class, you will quickly find likeminded people with whom you will form a lasting community. Human beings cannot exist in isolation, and your OHI Community gives you a tribe who will give comfort, encouragement, guidance, and camaraderie. You will experience fellowship in nearly every one of your classes and activities. Especially satisfying is our You Validation class, where the OHI community lovingly gathers around and shares the qualities they like about you. Fellowship is important and you will develop a support group that understands you like no one else. You’ll create friendships that may last a lifetime. Maintaining your community is important once you’re back home. Make a point of staying in contact with your new friends by planning regular phone calls or visits back to OHI.

    Combine the spiritual disciplines of Bodily Exercise and Noticing God (in nature). You honor your creator by keeping your body in good physical condition. Not only does exercise keep you healthy; it reduces stress, lessens fatigue, and helps you sleep better. When you maintain a regular routine of exercise, you become a role model who leads others by example. An excellent exercise habit to develop is a daily walk. While walking you can also practice the spiritual discipline of Noticing God in nature. Albert Einstein observed, “God reveals himself in the harmony of what exists.” Perhaps you’ll see the power of our creator in the beautiful complexity of a dew covered spider web glistening in the sun; the determination of a plant growing out of crack in the sidewalk; the brilliant color of a flower in bloom; the delicate wings of a butterfly; or the sound of a hummingbird hovering nearby. As you continue walking, your heart rate increases, and you become aware of the amazing creation of God that you are: your body which consists of thousands of complex, functioning systems: circulation, digestion, breathing, seeing, and thinking. Take in a deep breath, then as you exhale… revel in appreciation for your maker.

    Plan a visit to OHI, and learn how these 24 ancient spiritual disciplines can help you develop inner strength and growth to achieve optimum health.


    Science and the Spiritual Disciplines: Silence by Anjeanette Roberts, reasons.org, January 19, 2017

    An Introduction to the Spiritual Disciplines by Brett and Kate McKay, artofmanliness.com, May 28, 2018

    The Spiritual Disciplines: Simplicity by Brett & Kate McKay, artofmanliness.com, May 28, 2018

    How to Practice the Spiritual Discipline of Journaling by Trina Dofflemyer, rzim.org, no date provided


    In these uncertain times, look to OHI as your safe haven. As we celebrate 43 years of holistic healing, we can teach you how achieve your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual goals for optimal health. Stay safe, and be well. Above all, embrace positivity!

    Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, or call us at (800) 588-0809
    to make your reservation.