• Learn to Manage Stress using Mindfulness Practice

    How do you choose to alleviate stress? 

    Some use exercise or listen to music to decompress.  Some use food, alcohol, smoking, or drugs to numb themselves from stress.  Many employ inactive ways to manage stress — watching television, surfing the internet, or playing video games.  Those options seem relaxing, but they may increase your stress over the long term.  What you should be seeking are active ways to manage stress:

     

    Stay Organized.  When you balance many roles (boss, co-worker, parent, volunteer, caregiver, etc.) you frequently lose yourself in the mix.  One easy solution — list making.  Look at the big picture, and prioritize tasks and roles.  When it’s all down on paper, you take the pressure off yourself to react in the moment.

     

    Marshal Resources.  Don’t try to do everything yourself.  Ask for help.  And understand that sometimes getting most of a task done is just as good as getting all of it done.

     

    Cultivate Supportive and Healthy Social Networks.  Weed out toxic friendships.  Eliminate social media.  Focus on the relationships that bring you joy, bring you support, and bring you clarity in times of stress.

     

    Make Time for Self-Care.  You can’t take care of others if you neglect yourself.  Self-care isn’t about “treating” yourself once in a while.  It’s about regularly nurturing your body, mind, and spirit so that you are in a healthy space to make good decisions when faced with stress.  Book yourself a monthly massage.  Sign up for the weekly yoga class.  Regularly talk with a therapist.  Find the self-care practice that resonates with you, and block it out in your calendar.  You are worth it!

     

    Practice Mindfulness.  Mindfulness is mind-body training that uses different exercises and techniques to help you to live in the present.  Mindfulness practices teach you to manage your feelings and thoughts, enabling intentional actions, willpower, and decisions.

     

    How does mindfulness reduce stress?

    • You become more aware of your thoughts, and can step back from them and not take them so literally.
    • You don’t immediately react to a situation. Instead, you take a moment to pause, and then use your “wise mind” to come up with the best solution.
    • Mindfulness switches on your “being” mode of mind, which is associated with relaxation. Your “doing” mode of mind is associated with action and the stress response.
    • You are more aware and sensitive to the needs of your body. You may notice pain and can take appropriate action.
    • You are more aware of the emotions of others. As your emotional intelligence rises, you are less likely to get into conflict.
    • Your level of care and compassion for yourself and others rises. This compassionate mind soothes you and inhibits your stress response.
    • Mindfulness reduces activity in the part of your brain called the amygdala. The amygdala is central to switching on your stress response, so mindfulness mutes that response.
    • You are better able to focus. Mindfulness puts you “in the zone” as it is termed in psychology by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  When you complete your work more efficiently you have a greater sense of well-being, and this reduces the stress response.
    • With mindfulness, you can switch your attitude to stress. Stress doesn’t always have to be negative.  Increased pressure can help energize you when viewed positively.

     

    Let’s learn more about three effective mindfulness practices — present-moment awareness, breathing exercises, and meditation.

     

    Present-Moment Awareness

    Research published in the Journal of Research in Personality shows that present-moment awareness increases stress resilience and effective coping.  Present-moment awareness involves monitoring and attending to the current experience rather than predicting future events or dwelling on the past.  Overall, staying in the moment improves your mood and sense of well-being.  Being present in the moment when stressed is directly linked to greater perceived ability to handle that stress, and more reliance on core values to navigate the situation.

     

    Breathing Exercises

    Breathing exercises allow you to activate your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) — the calming response in your body — reducing your heart rate and blood pressure.  One of the most calming breathing exercises you an do is to breathe in (e.g., to a count of four), hold, and then breathe out for up to twice as long (e.g., to a count of six or eight).  You can gently constrict your throat, making a sound like the ocean, which is used in deep relaxation breathing.  Breathing exercises take the focus off the momentary stress, and forces your body and mind to pause.  That pause makes all the difference, and brings you clarity.

     

    Alpha Practice and Meditation

    A simple way of to think of meditation is training your attention to achieve a mental state of calm concentration and positive emotions.  In mindfulness meditation, you’re learning how to pay attention to the breath as it goes in and out, notice when the mind wanders from this task, return to the breath, and anchor yourself in the here and now on purpose and without judgment.  The key is to commit to sit every day, even if it’s only for five minutes.  Meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg says: “The most important moment in your meditation practice is the moment you sit down to do it.  Because right then you’re saying to yourself that you believe in change, you believe in caring for yourself, and you’re making it real.”

     

    7 Simple Steps to Mindfulness:

    1. Take a seat. Find a place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you.
    2. Set a time limit. Start short, say five or ten minutes.
    3. Notice your body. Choose a place where you feel stable, and in a position you can stay in for a while.
    4. Feel your breath. Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes in and out.
    5. Notice when your mind has wandered. Inevitably, your attention will leave your breath and wander to other places.  When you notice, simply return your attention to the breath.
    6. Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts.  Just come back.
    7. Close with kindness. When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (or if your eyes are closed, open then).  Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment.  Notice how your body feels right now.  Notice your thoughts and emotions.

     

    Overall, managing stress should not be a stressful experience!  Take each moment as it comes, and employ the many stress management techniques and mindfulness practices detailed here to manage your reaction to it.  Be kind to yourself.  You’re doing great!

    Our caring staff members are eager to give you all the unconditional support, inspiration, and transformational tools you need to bring your body, mind, and spirit into healthy balance in a serene, peaceful setting. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.

     

     

    Stress Symptoms: Effects On Your Body And Behavior, Stress Management/Healthy Lifestyle, www.mayoclinic.org

    Managing Stress Through Mindfulness: A Resiliency Tool, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJ2qnmoMVdo

    Mindfulness for Stress Reduction, University of Minnesota, www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu

    Mindfulness Meditation: A Research-Proven Way to Reduce Stress, American Psychological Association, October 30, 2019, www.apa.org

    How to Meditate, Mindful, www.mindful.org

    How to Use Mindfulness to Manage Stress, www.skillsyouneed.com

    How to Manage Stress With Mindfulness and Meditation, Mindful, www.mindful.org

    Nine Ways Mindfulness Reduces Stress, www.mindful.org

  • Celebrating, Appreciating, and Supporting Women

    Greetings to our OHI community; I wish you a bright and joyful summer as we fully embrace all the wonderful outdoor activities of the warmer days ahead. As we proceed on this journey out of the quagmire caused by Covid-19 this is a great time to renew our spirit and zest for life.

    You may recall from our Spring newsletter, I wrote that Spring cleaning can also be a time to cleanse our minds of negative thoughts about ourselves and other people. I also wrote about and shared techniques for developing mental toughness and mental resilience. In this issue, I want to step out of my comfort zone and do something different.

    She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. Proverbs 31: 17-18

    These verses (and those following) are from the beautiful prose poem from Proverbs entitled, The Wife of Noble Character. I love these verses because they celebrate the breadth and depth of all women. In the Jewish tradition, this is a song of praise from both men and women to all the women in their lives: wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, and friends. It celebrates women, who are their own person, with their own unique talents and abilities.

    Over the years I have had the opportunity to conduct pastoral care and counseling with many women, and I want to disclose some of virtues I have learned from them. In brief, I would like to celebrate, support, acknowledge and appreciate the amazing qualities of women.

    And while my intention is to recognize and rejoice the accomplishments and unique characteristics of women, it is also to speak to the men in this audience – to share with them the beautiful differences between the sexes to cultivate and encourage better communication and understanding. Relationship researcher and therapist, John Gottman, Ph.D. stated it best, “How a man understands and responds to a woman will determine his eventual wealth, his social status, his energy and motivation for life, his resilience, his mental and physical health, how well his immune system works, how well he copes with stress, his happiness at home and at work, his self-confidence, his friendships, his connection to his children, how his children turn out, and actually how long he will live.”

     

    Men Who Understand Women Will Support Them Better

    Let’s start by looking at our fundamental human survival instincts. These are: perpetuate the species, preserve it, and provide for it. All people have these same instincts, but they operate differently in men and women, and they are so deeply ingrained in our core that it is useless to fight these differences. It is better to become aware of them, understand them, and to work with them.

    Men have long been extolled as being the bigger, stronger, and faster gender, and yet, women are more amazing. Compared to men, they have better memory, sense of smell, stamina, and pain tolerance. Overall, women are more robust than men.

    Women are like teabags. We don’t know our true strength until we are in hot water.”
    Eleanor Roosevelt

     

    From Birth Onward Women Are Designed to Thrive

    What makes women more robust remains a mystery to science, but I believe it has to do with the survivability of the human species. Despite these physical advantages, women still face occasional health opportunities. That’s why our program here at OHI is designed to help women get in touch with their bodies while learning how to keep them healthier.

    She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Proverbs 31: 25-26

    There are many fundamental differences between men and women, but until we learn to understand those differences and celebrate each one, there is likely to be conflict between us. For example, men don’t understand why women enjoy shopping as much as they do. But, like so many of the differences between men and women, it dates to our hunter-gatherer, cave dwelling days.

    While the men were off quietly hunting, the women, with babies strapped to their backs, were foraging together in social groups: talking, laughing, and teaching. And, it was much more than picking nuts and berries; women collected firewood, edible and medicinal roots and leaves (while insuring with their powerful memory – the poisonous ones to avoid), items to adorn their bodies, their men’s and children’s bodies, and to decorate their living abodes to make all more comfortable, attractive and homelike.

     

    The Biggest Thing Men Need to Know About Women

    Author and educator, Alison Armstrong makes this observation of how men’s minds function, “One of the biggest things that men don’t know about women is the occurrence of being safe or unsafe for women.” Men take their strength for granted; while women are aware of how weak they are. A woman’s perception of a physical threat to her safety is significantly more sensitive than a man’s. That awareness is something a woman cannot avoid, it’s a primal instinctual fear, and they are constantly monitoring their environment to determine whether it is safe. Armstrong adds, “Women always ask two questions: ‘Am I safe?’ and ‘Am I loved?’ and we [women] can’t hear the answer to the second question until the answer to the first question is, ‘yes.'” In other words, a woman cannot experience love until they experience being safe.

    I can’t express how important it is for men to understand this one point. John Gottman reinforces this by observing that the one trait all women look for in a man is trustworthiness. That is, you are who you say you are, and you do what you say you are going to do. It’s all about reliability, accountability, and showing up. Throughout history a woman’s safety has depended on her partner’s trustworthiness.

    Gottman says the key to effectively communicating with a woman is through understanding, empathy, and acceptance. When a woman wants to share her feelings, men need to resist their instinct to fix things, and simply listen. Ask her what she is feeling, and what it means to her. Don’t interrupt; try to feel what she is feeling, and show her that you understand and value how she feels. This doesn’t mean you agree with her, it means you accept that is how she feels. When you do this, she will feel safe and more willing to solve the problem between you.

    I would like to encourage men and women to use their power and leverage at work to help accelerate a woman’s professional growth by creating or supporting learning and development programs for women. As a leader you can also be a powerful influence by mentoring female co-workers, offering advice, and enabling them to achieve their own leadership roles. When women on your team excel publicly acknowledge them, recognize and celebrate their accomplishments and success so that they are not overlooked. And when you witness discrimination, bias, or sexism use your power to intervene, call attention to it, educate, and recruit allies to help prevent future occurrences.

    Each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women.”

    Maya Angelou

     

    Women today, don’t have the support of a tribe like our ancestors did, but they can help themselves by networking with other women and developing their own social and support groups. OHI is a great place to start your own tribe. Spending a week or more at one of our campuses will provide you with a cohort of fellow travelers. Most of our guests are women, and they are all very similar to you, seeking to cleanse the body, quiet the mind, and renew the spirit with our time-tested holistic program.

    Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. Proverbs 31:31

     

    Female Spiritual Leaders Influence All People

    Women today are important as spiritual leaders. They have an opportunity to serve as role models and guide women (and men) to God, and help them lead more spiritual lives. Here at OHI, we welcome all religious traditions and provide a safe and sacred environment for worship, contemplation, and service. At OHI, our female (and male) staff, missionaries, and returning guests serve as shepherds to help our first-time guests navigate our campuses. Women as spiritual leaders demonstrate how people can awaken their spirit and discover what inspires them; how to cope with pain, disappointment, and loss; and nourish their spirit through reflection, prayer, and celebration.

     

    OHI, The Safest Place to be Outside of Your Home!

    We continue to make upgrades to both of our facilities. At both locations, our OHI for Life Wellness Rooms are outfitted with a Molekule air purifier and 100% organic cotton linens and towels (including fitted sheets). We also brought Covid-19 testing in-house. At OHI San Diego: every guest room has wood flooring, high-speed internet, black-out shades, our guest room bathrooms have been renovated, and 80% of our food is from local organic farms. At OHI Austin, we added new wood flooring and carpet to our exercise classroom. We hope you come to experience our OHI for Life Wellness Rooms – designed with your safety and comfort in mind.

    Call us to book your reservation today: (800) 588-0809. Or visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org.

    Here’s wishing you health and wellness in this summer season.

     

    Yours in prayer,

    Robert P. Nees, Jr.

    Senior Pastor and Chairman

    Optimum Health Institute of San Diego and Austin

  • Triggers and Self-Soothing

    Life is full of ups and downs, and you can be emotionally triggered by anything at any time, and you feel upset, fearful, hurt, angry, or just a tangle of a lot of different emotions.  What are the body sensations/visceral reactions when you’ve been triggered?  The physical symptoms could include a racing heart, your throat tightening, breathing in your chest instead of in your diaphragm, veins bulging, or clenched muscles.  So what should you do once you’re triggered?  Self-soothing is the answer.

    Self-soothing means calming your own anxiety and fears, allowing you the space to think and act clearly and effectively in the moment.  According to psychology, self-soothing helps to reset bodily systems after an acute stress response.  Your body is in fight or flight mode!

    Here are steps to take to self-soothe after you’ve been triggered:

    Pause!:  When you’re emotional, your brain reacts in a split second the moment it perceives a threat, flooding the body with stress hormones.  To regain your equilibrium and act rationally, the cortex needs around two seconds to come back online and take over, so giving yourself a little pause is imperative.

    Breathe:  During your pause, take a deep breath in and a long breath out.  When the out-breath is longer than the in-breath (a ratio of 4:6), you send a message to your nervous system to relax.  Focused breathing is a powerful trigger buster.

    Name the trigger:  When you’ve been triggered, it’s just as important to notice what triggered you as well as how your body responded.  For instance, if you had a particularly stressful conversation with a co-worker and you notice your heart is racing, place your hand on your heart, and name it out loud.  Creating a mind-body connection between the trigger and your body’s response pushes your brain to go from feeling to thinking, so you can apply rational thought to the incident.

    Distract your senses:  Take over for your body, and distract yourself for a few minutes with a senses countdown.  Look around you.  Name five things in your immediate vicinity you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.  Psychologists recommend creating a self-soothing box that includes objects to soothe all five senses:  comforting smells such as essential oils or body lotion; pleasant tastes such as herbal teas or favorite snacks; soothing things to touch such as a soft blanket or a squishy stress ball; comforting sights such as photos of loved ones or pets; and soothing sounds such as a favorite piece of music or a guided meditation track.

    After you’ve self-soothed in the moment, turn to self-care options that will bolster your mental health long-term:

     

    1. Change the environment. Go outside and focus on nature, or find a cozy indoor nook with a pleasant view. The change of venue doesn’t have to be for more than a few minutes, just enough time to feel rejuvenated.
    2. Stretch. When triggered, your body may respond by freezing up. A few simple trunk twists, neck rotations, or toe touches can help.  Or hold a few yoga qui-gong poses.
    3. Take a warm shower or bath. Treat yourself to a little steam to loosen up your tight muscles. Pour in some Epsom salts, and soak away your troubles.
    4. Soothing imagery. Lean into behaviors that you find soothing – light a candle, dim the lights, look at photos of happy times, or read an inspirational quote or affirmation.
    5. Listen to music. Familiar music can have a calming effect. Or tap into a relaxing music video for stress relief that can be found online.
    6. Soothing smells. Pleasant smells are everywhere: try an essential oil diffuser, burn a scented candle or incense, or smooth on some scented hand lotion.
    7. Self-compassion. How would a good friend speak to you in a triggered situation? Speak compassionately to yourself.  You’re doing the best you can.

     

    You can’t help feeling triggered sometimes.  How you choose to cope with it is up to you.  Take ownership for your better mental health with focused self-soothing and self-care techniques, and you’ll gain control over the triggers instead of the other way round.

    Learn more about emotional detox and self-soothing at OHI San Diego and OHI Austin. Our caring team can help you achieve your mental, physical, 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 Benefits of Sprouting

    Sprouts have been a staple of Chinese cuisine for more than five millennia, and they’ve recently become popular in the West as well. Sprouts are very young plants that are harvested just a few days after they germinate. Most sprouts you’ll encounter fall into four categories:
    1. Bean and pea sprouts: These include mung bean, kidney bean, black bean, lentil, and snow pea sprouts.
    2. Vegetable sprouts: These include broccoli, alfalfa, mustard green, and red clover sprouts.
    3. Nut and seed sprouts: These include pumpkin seed, sesame seed, and sunflower seed sprouts.
    4. Sprouted grains: These include wheatgrass and quinoa sprouts.

    Sprouts are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and are a great source of antioxidants. Specifically, sprouts are an excellent source of phosphorus, beta-carotene, vitamins K, C, A, and many B vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, folate, and pantothenic acid. Sprouts also contain minerals like zinc, calcium, manganese, copper, potassium, and magnesium. In fact, sprouts have higher amounts of these nutrients than fully-grown versions of the same plants. Plus, sprouts are low in fat, sodium, and calories.

    While sprouts provide many nutritional benefits, research also points to many health benefits to eating sprouts:

    Low Blood Sugar Levels
    Studies suggest that sprouts can lower blood glucose levels. This may be a result of two separate processes. First, compared to unsprouted seeds and grains, sprouts have lower levels of carbohydrates, which may help control insulin levels. Second the presence of enzymes in the sprouts affects how the body breaks down carbohydrates, which impacts glucose levels.

    Improved Digestive Health
    According to many studies, sprouting a seed significantly increases the amount of fiber it contains. Much of this fiber is “insoluble” fiber, which means it doesn’t dissolve in your stomach. Instead, it acts as a prebiotic and feeds the “good” bacteria in your intestines. These bacteria are important for maintaining a stable, healthy digestive system, and can help reduce symptoms like bloating and gas.

    Improved Heart Health
    Several studies have shown that consuming sprouts can lower cholesterol levels in people with diabetes or obesity. One study showed an increase in “good” HDL cholesterol as well as a drop in triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol. Lower levels of cholesterol are connected to lower risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis.

    Boost the immune system
    The natural bioactive sulforaphane compound in sprouts helps activate the body’s immune response against viruses.

    How to soak and sprout nuts, seeds, and grains
    Soaking and sprouting is very easy. The method is exactly the same for nuts seeds, and grains – only the time required for full germination changes.

    GET a quart-sized (or larger) mason jar. Remove the solid middle insert of the lid, and cut a piece of cheesecloth or breathable mesh to fit inside.

    FILL one-third of the jar with nuts, seeds, or grains, and fill the rest of the jar with warm, and filtered water. Screw the lid on with the cheesecloth or breathable mesh screen in place.

    SOAK for time listed in table below.

    DRAIN/RINSE thoroughly every few hours, or at least twice daily.

    INVERT the jar and lay at an angle so that air can circulate, and the water can drain off. Allow to sit in the light.

    WAIT for sprouts to show in 1-4 days. Sprouts vary from 1/8” – 2” long. When ready, rinse sprouts well, drain, store in a jar (with the solid part of the lid replaced) in the fridge.

    ENJOY within 2-3 days.

    Food Soaking Time (hours) Sprouting Time (days)
    Almonds 8-12 3
    Amaranth 8 1-3
    Barley 6 2
    Buckwheat 6 2-3
    Millet 5 12 hours
    Pumpkin Seeds 8 3
    Sunflower Seeds 8 12-24 hours
    Quinoa 4 2-3
    Wheat Berries 7 3-4
    Wild Rice 9 3-5

    Safety tips for eating sprouts
    Once you have fresh sprouts at home, they should be chilled and stored in a refrigerator that can keep them at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash your hands before and after handling sprouts, and rinse sprouts well before consuming them to reduce the risk of contamination from salmonella and E. coli. If they’re slimy, smelly, or musty, you should throw them out right away.

    Learn more about the benefits of sprouting and a plant-based diet at OHI San Diego and OHI Austin. Our caring team can help you achieve your mental, physical, 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.

  • Massage and How It Supports Healing

     

     

    Massage is perhaps one of the oldest healing traditions.  Many ancient peoples — the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, and Indians — were convinced of the therapeutic properties of massage, and used it to treat a variety of ailments.  Massage therapy is the practice of kneading or manipulating a person’s muscles and other soft-tissue in order to improve health.  When people think of massage, they frequently focus on how it offers physical, emotional, and mental relaxation, and helps alleviate stress.  However, the true benefit of massage is the pivotal role it plays in increased circulation/cleansing/toxin elimination, and the healing that elimination provides for our bodies

    How do toxins end up in our bodies?

    All the cellular metabolic processes that keep us alive also produce by-products and cellular waste, which are toxins.  Another way toxins end up in our bodies is that high levels of stress can cause the body to produce more acid than it is able to eliminate, which becomes toxins.  A third way toxins end up in our bodies is that bacteria in the body can lead to toxins.  Exotoxins and endotoxins are released through the destruction of bacteria.  Overall, your muscles act like a sponge, absorbing toxins and cellular waste into your body’s soft tissue and fat.

    How does massage therapy help the body detox? 

    The physical stimulation created by massage helps dissolve and eliminate toxin buildup in the tissues.  A massage effectively squeezes the toxins out from between the cells and muscle fibers to help your body detox.  But once the toxins and cellular waste are out of your tissues, they still need to be removed from your body.

    The lymph system is essential to eliminating toxins.

    Your body has sophisticated processes for eliminating toxins.  The lymphatic and circulatory systems transport the toxins out of the body’s tissue.  The primary mechanism of toxin removal is the circulation of blood and lymph.  The lymphatic system is responsible for the flow of lymph fluid, which is like the body’s “trash collector.”  The lymph picks up the toxins and metabolic waste materials from the cells, and brings it to the blood.  Then the body harnesses the natural cleansing abilities of the liver and kidneys to remove the toxins and waste from the blood.  The body then passes the toxins out with other body waste, through bowel movements, urine, or sweat where the by-products are removed through glands and nodes of the body.  While the lymphatic system is fundamental to naturally detoxifying your body, there is no pump in the lymph system to keep toxins moving, so it relies on exercise, deep breathing, and therapies like massage.  Massage can markedly improve blood and lymph circulation.  By stimulating the lymphatic system, it’s easier for the body to release wastes and avoid toxin build-up that could lead to lethargy or illness.  Overall, your natural cleansing abilities can slow down for a number of reasons — lack of exercise, or too little fluid or fiber in your diet.  When your lymph system is slow, the immune cells that help combat infections throughout the body don’t always circulate to where they are most needed.  Without immune cells, your body could have symptoms like aches, pains, and swelling.  Slow lymph fluid circulation can also cause deterioration in the organs and glands that play a vital part in your immune system.  Massage is a great way to jumpstart a slow lymphatic system, and help get your body back on track.

    Massage also enhances oxygenation.

    While we think of massage therapy supporting lymph and blood flow to carry toxins out of the muscles and tissues of the body, we shouldn’t forget about what improved blood flow brings TO the muscles and tissues of the body.  Better circulation means more oxygen, nutrients, and energy for the entire body.

    OHI guests can enhance their cleansing experience with massage and body work.  We have a variety of services available, including Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, reflexology, and lymph drainage.  Overall, a massage encourages your body to realign its own cleansing processes to work more efficiently, promoting efficient toxin removal, and creating lasting positive changes in your health.  Put the power of massage to work for you in your journey toward optimal health!

    Enhance your cleansing experience at OHI with massage and body work provided by our third-party service partners. These services* can relieve stress, remove toxins, or simply make your stay more enjoyable.  Our caring team can help you achieve your mental, physical, 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.

    *At OHI, we carefully select our third-party service partners; however, our service partners are independently operated and not employees of the OHI. Therefore, Optimum Health Institute is not responsible or liable for actions taken by these service partners or any injury that may result from the provision of these services.

  • Rediscover Your Sense of Exploration

    The best way to live a rich life is by being curious, passionate, and willing explore new things. Consider this scenario.

    After a day spent zip lining, playing, and spending time with friends, a child has a mini meltdown when his mother takes him to leave.

    The entire time his mom tries to buckle him into his car seat, he kicks, screams, and flails. Yet, instead of trying to squelch Mikey’s frantic attempt to stay, his mother validates his feelings while maintaining her position as a responsible parent.

    “Never give up, Mikey!” she said as she eventually managed to secure her son’s seat belt and evade his churning legs and arms. “Never give up!”

    It’s a child-like sense of passion, curiosity, wonder, and discovery that’s the difference between living a rich life and existing. Children are bold, inquisitive, friendly, forgiving, and non-judgmental. They’re also mindfully living in the present. About 90 seconds after the car pulled out, Mikey’s hysterical outburst gave way to delightedly staring at the horses grazing in a nearby pasture. He had emotionally “moved on,” and found something else to pique his curiosity and imagination.

    Each time we pause to focus our attention on something new or ask a question, we “grow” our brain. By age 3, the time when virtually everything is a new experience for a toddler, the brain reaches 80% of its adult size. By age 5, the percentage climbs to 90%. Science now understands that this brain growth, or “neuroplasticity,” doesn’t have to slow down or stop. People who continue to explore, question, discover, and use their imagination will continue to develop their brains.

    Bruce Lipton, PhD, an environmental biologist, coined the term “epigenetics,” or “above genetics,” to describe how embarking on new adventures, working to solve challenging questions, and tapping into our passion and creativity can keep our brains flourishing. To nourish your inner child and rekindle that natural quest to explore, try a few of these suggestions:

    1.) Go outside and play. Blow bubbles. Stick your bare toes in a creek. Fly a kite. Climb a tree, or just hug one. Being in nature grows your brain while it soothes your soul.

    2.) Get artsy. Music, painting, sculpting, dance – all creative pursuits nourish body, mind, and spirit.

    3.) Ask Why? Just for a day, as you go through your life, notice the patterns and start to ask yourself exactly WHY you’re doing things the way you’re doing them. Be relentless – just like a two-year-old would be. Don’t stop asking “Why” until you’ve imagined several new and more efficient ways to accomplish the same tasks.

    4.) Take a class. Learning a new language, or exploring medieval history, for instance, will activate completely different parts of your brain. Your heart will appreciate the adventure, too.

    5.) Whether it’s an afternoon excursion to a local historical spot, or epic globe-trotting, getting off the beaten path will open up whole new worlds of discovery.

    6.) Laugh! Children laugh about 300 times a day. This universal language of connection, delight, and release actually makes your brain spurt out “happy chemicals” that heal and calm. Best of all, it’s highly contagious.

    Explore, laugh, discover, ask a million questions and get answers, and unconditional support and encouragement, at OHI missions in San Diego and Austin, Texas. Our caring team can help you achieve your mental, physical, 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.

  • Toning: Harness the Power of Sound to Heal

    Vocal toning is a mental and physical workout that can help you achieve peace of mind. The sound waves vibrating through your vocal cords have been shown to produce beneficial effects on both the brain and body, which makes it one way to quiet an anxious spirit while also reaching deep down inside for balance in this chaos-filled world we live in today.

    What Is Vocal Toning? Toning is a gentle form of sound healing that helps us to heal on all levels by using certain notes and vowel sounds. The vowel sound is held for a certain number of minutes at the same pitch, unlike singing where you may vary the pitch. While there are multiple types of sound-based meditation techniques, those using a person’s own voice have been found the most effective. As the tones are sung, the chakras or our body centers respond. Using sound to resonate each center helps to “charge” those areas by increasing circulation, energy, and vitality. Quantum physics is suggesting that possibly disease in the body originates with disturbances in the electromagnetic field. Toning 3-5 minutes at each energy center helps “smooth out” the energy fields.

    Getting Started in Vocal Toning. Once you learn about vocal toning and how to use it, you can incorporate it into your private or group meditation sessions. Guided meditation classes are the best way to learn vocal toning and then the techniques learned can be practiced at home with CDs to provide a peaceful, soothing background melody for your sound healing experience.

    Who Uses It? More and more and more people are finding healing through vocal toning. Sound healing has become a popular and well-respected field in mind-body medicine. Some pioneers in this field are: Steven Halpern, Jonathon Goldman and David Ison. The Optimum Health Institute uses the CD, Sing the Body from Dorian Carter in their toning class. You can order this CD by calling the Optimum Health Store: (800) 588-0809

    Vocal toning is one of the many classes incorporated into the body-mind-spirit healing program at OHI. These teachings take place through three-week-long courses that can be taken independently or consecutively. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.

  • Missionary Spotlight: Get to Know OHI Missionary, Natalia Eric

    Natalia Eric has experienced adversity…over, and over, and over again.  And yet here she is, with a big smile on her face.  “I have seven grandchildren,” Natalia said.  “Cancer can come and knock at my door, but I am not going anywhere.  I intend to be here to watch them all grow up.  And OHI has given me that chance.”

    Natalia was born in Moscow.  She got married in 1984, and moved with her new husband back to his childhood home in Serbia, Yugoslavia.  They started a family, and lived there for ten years.  In 1994, Natalia and her family made one more big move, this time to Toronto, Canada.  The family all became proud Canadian citizens in 1997, and Natalia worked in a hospital as a labor and delivery clerical coordinator.  The years went by, and Natalia watched her three children grow up.  Then in 2008, her life was turned upside down.  “I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer,” said Natalia.  “Two years later, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, stage 4,” said Natalia.  “They had to remove my spleen and lymph nodes.  In 2012, the Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was back.  This time I had to undergo six rounds of chemotherapy, and then do chemo every three months for two years.  I had nothing left to give.  I was bald from all the chemo.  My life expectancy was five years at best.  I asked God for a sign that everything was going to be OK.  I went outside to get the mail, and when I turned around I saw a double rainbow over my house.  It was a sign, but what did it mean?  I was watching YouTube videos on healthy eating, desperate for some new options, and one of the YouTubers I was watching mentioned OHI.  It was just a passing mention, but it piqued my curiosity.  I looked them up, and immediately booked a 3-week stay.  The detox that my body went through that first week at OHI after holding all the toxicity of three years of chemo was terrible.  But after my body detoxed, it was like a light switch went on.  The grass was greener.  The sky was bluer.  I felt something that I hadn’t felt in a long time — hope.”

    Natalia immediately applied to the OHI Missionary Program, and started in May 2015.  “I wanted to be a missionary because my body needs a full reset that only a 3-month stay can give,” said Natalia.  “I now understand what my body needs to be healthy, and I teach my grandchildren to eat healthily.  I want them to value the good health they have now, and to honor their bodies as they age.  OHI has taught me how my body can heal itself as it’s intended to in nature, through the power of whole raw foods.”

    Natalia finds the OHI Missionary Program to be incredibly rewarding.  “Being a missionary allows me to meet different people every week,” said Natalia.  “For guests who are new to OHI, they are assigned a missionary as their buddy for the first week.  We spend a lot of time together.  They share their stories.  I share mine.  We learn from each other.  The experience is never the same, but the outcomes are always so positive.  Just watching the healing power all people experience in that first week of detox is nothing short of miraculous to me.”

    As a missionary, Natalia’s favorite thing to do is lead the exercise classes for guests.  “It is such a joy to stretch my body, and feel the power that it now holds,” said Natalia.  “I survived having Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma twice, then thyroid cancer, and then high blood pressure, and my body was broken.  I weighed over 200lbs, I had lost all my hair, and I didn’t have an ounce of strength left.  I came to OHI looking for anything positive to take hold in my body, after having so much negativity reside there.  Seven years later, I have lost 60lbs, I’m cancer-free, my blood pressure is under control, and I feel so ALIVE!  I tell everyone I know about OHI.  I have been a missionary five times, and each experience has been so valuable.  They have helped me so much, and that makes me want to help others.  I am so grateful to be here, and feeling this healthy.”

    Natalia has simple words of advice for anyone considering a stay at OHI.  “Be willing to be open, and change yourself,” said Natalia.  “Go to the Friday Morning Testimonials, and open your heart to people’s stories of change.  Every class will change your perspective, and help you on your healing journey.  Practice conscious breathing.  Learn alpha state mediation techniques.  Take the fermented foods class.  All of it will come together for you, so you can successfully continue the program on your own at home.  You will love your life!”

    Optimum Health Institute is here for you! We will motivate you to stick with your commitment to health and discover new ways to empower yourself. Explore the holistic healing program offered at OHI. This program offers three week-long sessions, where you will learn to cleanse the body, quiet the mind and awaken the spirit. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.

  • Scholarship Recipient Finds Hope in the Eyes of OHI Staff

    Armelda Byrd looked at the pandemic as an opportunity to improve her health.  “I thought I’d use the break from work to exercise and lose some weight,” said Armelda.  “I lost 35lbs, but the uterine fibroid I’d had for many years started to give me pain.  Surgery revealed the shock that I had rare Stage 3 Carcinosarcoma uterine cancer that had spread to my ovaries and some lymph nodes.  The mass weighed more than 15lbs.  I was in the hospital and rehab for over 4 weeks.  When I finally went home, I was in a wheelchair, and not sure what to do next.  I live alone, I was in pain, and I was rapidly losing weight.  My doctor recommended chemotherapy immediately, but I didn’t feel I could endure it.  My sister, a nurse, suggested OHI, but the program was out of reach for me financially.  I reached out to OHI, and by the grace of God, they awarded me a scholarship!  I combined that scholarship with my savings and financial gifts from my friends and family, and was able to book a stay at OHI San Diego for five weeks.  It literally changed my life.”

    Armelda came to OHI walking with a cane.  She could barely participate in classes during the first week because she was so weak.  “I know the program at OHI was pivotal to nourishing my body,” said Armelda.  “But the staff at OHI was what I needed to nourish my soul.  The love, understanding, and care they lavished on me made me confident that I would get better.  They give me the strength to keep fighting.”

    Armelda doesn’t use a cane now.  Her pain is manageable, and her muscle tone is improving.  “Without the OHI scholarship, I wouldn’t be here,” said Armelda.  “Before OHI, cancer consumed me.  My father always taught me to face my fears and with OHI’s program, I could feel the life force returning to me.  My doctor made me feel like I needed to prepare for the end.  OHI helped me prepare for the beginning of the rest of my life.  Thank you OHI!”

    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 45 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 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.

  • Change Your Wellness Habits to Change Your Life

    What does “wellness” mean?  “Wellness” is a personalized approach to living life in a way that allows you to become the best person you can be, balancing physical, mental, and spiritual well being.  Achieving that complex balance means going beyond diet and exercise to include other health touchpoints like managing stress, reducing the risk of illness, and more.  “Wellness” is the process of actively choosing to change individual habits to achieve a truly healthy and fulfilling life.

    Types of Wellness

    Let’s break down “wellness” to study each dimension — occupational, spiritual, physical, and intellectual wellness.

    Occupational wellness means finding your calling in life by participating in activities that are meaningful and provide purpose to your day.  Your job encompasses so much of your time and energy, so it’s important to pursue something you love.  So how do you feed your occupational wellness?  First, focus on the benefits and positives of your current job, and create connections with your co-workers.  Not every day will be a great day, but there are great moments to be celebrated in each day when you work with people you care about.  Second, increase your skills and knowledge to expand what you’re able to give of yourself while at work.  And finally, establish a healthy work/life balance so every wellness dimension gets your attention.

    Spiritual wellness represents your personal beliefs, principles, and values, and how you integrate them with action toward bettering yourself and the world around you.  It is a self-reflective practice that asks you find joy in everyday life as you look inward to discover the deeper meaning life should hold for you.  So how do you feed your spiritual wellness?  First, analyze patterns in your life to help you see that you have control over your destiny, and that your choices directly impact your ability to lead a happy and healthy life.  Second, make time for self-care to relieve the physical and emotional tension that can block your path to spiritual wellness.  Try meditation, journaling, or yoga to cancel negative thinking and leave space for positive change.  And finally, take time for travel.  Being in a new space that allows you to relax will increase your ability to connect with your inner self on your journey to find the deeper meaning in life.

    Physical wellness means caring for your body through regular physical activity, proper nutrition, and supportive mental health practices.  So how do you feed your physical wellness?  First, make daily exercise a goal.  Whether you take the stairs instead of the elevator or workout at the gym, the point is to move your body frequently.  The proven benefits of physical activity include strengthened bones and muscles, reduced risk of disease and stroke, and more energy.  Second, nurture your body with a well-balanced diet packed with fresh, healthy food.  A diverse diet with foods rich in vitamins and nutrients will not only help prevent illness, but also keep your body functioning at its best.  And finally, make sure you get enough sleep and enough water each day.  Rest and hydration are the very foundations for maintaining good physical health.

    Intellectual wellness means engaging in creative activities that expand your knowledge and skills — embrace life-long learning!  When you open your mind to new challenges and experiences, you improve your existing skills as you learn new concepts and ideas.  These new understandings help you become more mindful, more well rounded, and better able to understand the relationship between yourself, others, and the environment.  So how do you feed your intellectual wellness?  First, read, read, read!  Reading improves your memory and vocabulary, and increases your capacity for empathy.  Second, explore the world around you.  When you put the book down and go to a museum or take a nature walk, the experiential aspect of learning deepens your understanding.  And finally, create something.  Whether it’s playing an instrument or painting a landscape, tapping into your creative side helps anchor your emotional stability so your mind is free to learn new things.

    At OHI, our entire program – including our classes, diet, and community fellowship – supports all dimensions of wellness. Remember, wellness is a life-long pursuit.  Strive for balance, control what you can (diet, exercise, stress), and surround yourself with supportive care for the rest of it.  May the changes you make to your wellness habits change your life for the better! Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.