• Strengthening the Spirit Through Prayer

    Prayer is an incredibly powerful act and a spiritual discipline we at Optimum Health Institute (OHI) practice to create and nurture our connection to God. Prayer is talking to God and meditation is patiently waiting, listening for God’s answer. Because we’ve been given the divine gift of free will, prayer is actually our first step in reaching out to God and affirming the existence of a Higher Source.

    There are thousands of ways to communicate with God. Some people get out in nature; others use music, a candle or incense to silence mental chatter. There are others who can pray anywhere, any time. When we connect to God on a heart level, we can stay mindfully in the moment without mentally over analyzing the experience.

    When you learn how to quiet the mind, you become more aware of God’s healing presence and your direct connection to Him. It can be particularly powerful to open all your prayers with an expression of gratitude for God’s many blessings.

    While we encourage individual prayer at OHI in the manner that’s most comfortable for each guest, we also cherish our tradition of prayer circles before meals and ceremonies.

    There’s great symbolism in prayer circles. When two or more are gathered in the name of the divine, their prayers generate powerful, purposeful energy and there’s a deep spiritual fellowship. While a group prayer may be more general, there is an undeniable healing energy that enfolds everyone. A circle symbolizes eternity, the perfection of creation without beginning or end. We hold hands and appreciate our community of caring, mutual respect for individual differences, and fellowship in our love for and surrender to God.

    Another OHI group prayer tradition is our Friday morning testimonials, where guests and adherents share their experiences. I remember when a young woman told how God had answered her prayers, but not as she anticipated. She endured a tough childhood and was raised by her grandmother. The girl fell in with a bad crowd and got involved in drugs and destructive relationships. Each time she began to straighten up, she sabotaged herself.

    She prayed for help and found a substance abuse recovery center. When she still didn’t feel whole, she kept praying for assistance and met a person who suggested she come to OHI. Her first few days she was sick as a dog while her body released years of toxins. By the middle of the week, she turned the corner and was transformed in time for Friday morning testimonials. She developed a personal connection to God and resumed her spiritual path with clarity and joy.

    What made the difference? She had to just trust that God really WAS answering her prayers, even though the first days at OHI were tough.

    Sometimes God responds to our prayers in ways we didn’t anticipate. Other times He responds so much more magnificently than we could have possibly imagined. The bottom line is this – the only true prayer is the sincere desire of the heart. And all true prayers are answered.

    Strengthen your relationship with God through prayer and discover a clarity that can’t be achieved through your works alone.

    And remember, Optimum Health Institute is here for you! We will motivate you to stick with your commitment to health and discover new ways to connect to a Higher Power. 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.

    Call OHI at (800) 588-0809 or visit www.OptimumHealth.org today for more information.

  • Missionary Spotlight: Get to Know OHI Missionary, Amber Hicks

    Amber Hicks grew up in a family that was health conscious and focused on prevention, but it wasn’t a specific health concern that eventually brought her to OHI.  In 2017 Amber lost someone close to her in an unimaginable way.  “I was really struggling to deal with the loss,” said Amber.  “I stopped doing many of the things I loved, and wasn’t living a very healthy lifestyle for a while.  I knew I needed a change.  My parents offered to send me to OHI, so in September 2018 I spent my first week at the San Diego campus.  While I was grateful to get away and eat healthy, I didn’t have any idea about the true changes I would experience that week.”

    Amber’s first stay at OHI was more than she could have hoped for.  “Before I came, I was tired, had brain fog, insomnia, stress, and anxiety, like many of us do,” said Amber.  “Halfway through the juice fast, I started to feel so much better, and I was able to sleep at night.  By the end of the week, I had lost weight, had a clear head, and more energy than I’d had in a long time.  While I really enjoyed the juice fast and the food, I especially benefitted from the classes.  The facilitators are so knowledgeable and passionate about what they teach.  I learned how intertwined our diet and mindset are with our physical, mental, and spiritual health.  Best of all, I learned different tools to let go of past trauma and grief.  I actually felt free and happy again.  The culmination of the week for me was the Release Ceremony.  It was honestly life-changing, and was just what I needed.”

    Amber’s first stay with OHI multiplied into three separate stays, which then led her into the OHI missionary program.  “I know how I felt after one week here.  I couldn’t imagine how great I’d feel after three months of detoxing and healing my body, mind, and spirit, and being able to support others to do the same,” said Amber.  “I was a full-time caregiver to my grandparents for the last 2-1/2 years, and when they passed away at the incredible age of 99, I decided to spend my transitionary time after their deaths at OHI, and start the next chapter of my life in the healthiest way possible.”

    Amber completely immersed herself in her new role.  “I love so many things about this program,” said Amber, “but I’d have to say the best thing about being a missionary is the fellowship.  I’ve become very close with my fellow missionaries.  We all support each other, and have formed lifelong friendships.  Being a missionary has really changed my thinking, and has given me a better sense of the type of life I want to live and the kind of people I want in it.”

    While Amber has benefitted from all of the classes at OHI, she does have a favorite.  “The Mental and Emotional Detox classes have had the most impact on me,” said Amber.  “We can actually rewire our brains and better our lives just by changing our thoughts and actions.  I find the science behind it fascinating!”

    Amber has noticed a change in herself after going through the OHI missionary program.  “I’ve always been a pretty positive person,” said Amber, “but being here has taken it to a new level.  I really do feel genuinely happy, at peace, and grateful every day.  I meditate regularly, and continue to learn and grow.  My life going forward is full of exciting opportunities and possibilities!”

    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.


  • Nurturing Yourself With Nature

    At OHI, our entire focus is helping support your on your healing journey through life.  We extol the virtues of an organic, raw, plant-based diet because we know that is the best way to nourish your body and mind.  We teach you all about meditation, and journaling, and vocal toning so that you can nourish your spirit.  But there is one key way to nourish your body/mind/spirit that we don’t teach a formal class on at OHI.  We simply let our beautiful campus set the example — everyone should spend time nurturing yourself with NATURE.  And now that summer is coming, consider the beautiful weather and longer hours of daylight your personal invitation to GET OUTDOORS!

    Why?  Being outside and communing with nature has some serious health perks:

    1. 1. Soak up the Vitamin D: When you’re outside in the sun, your vitamin D levels increase.  According to Harvard Medical School, vitamin D helps fight off conditions including osteoporosis, cancer, heart attacks, and depression.  As many as three-quarters of the population is vitamin D deficient from spending too much time indoors.
    2. 2. Improve Mood: Being exposed to light has been shown to improve happiness levels and mood.  So take advantage of those extended summer hours of daylight, and drink in the natural outdoor light.  It’ll lift your spirits!
    3. 3. Exercise in the Sunshine: Working out in your home during the pandemic is a great choice, but with the warm summer weather upon us now is the perfect time to exercise outside.  Put on your walking shoes, and go for a jog or take a lap around an easy walking path.  Get your heart rate up while you soak in the sunshine to get those mood-enhancing endorphins to kick in.
    4. 4. De-Stress in Nature: Spending time in the great outdoors has been shown to reduce stress levels, anger, and aggression.  If those stresses aren’t mitigated, they can elevate your blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension, and negatively impact how your nervous, endocrine, and immune systems are working.  Reverse all that negativity with a quick walk around the block!

    At each of our OHI campuses, we put in many hours to keep our grounds and landscaping in full seasonal beauty.  Why?  When people go through our program, they slow down and literally stop to smell the roses.  They notice God in nature, and this is one of the spiritual disciplines embedded within our program, as important as prayer and meditation.  To nurture oneself with nature is to see God in the beauty of the world — in the plants and flowers, in the birds and animals, and in the fruits and vegetables that nourish our bodies every day.

    Studies show that time in nature increases our ability to pay attention.  Because humans find nature inherently interesting, we naturally focus on what we are experiencing outside.  This provides a respite for our overactive minds, refreshing us for new tasks.  Spend some time in nature, and pay attention to how each of your senses is responding:

    • What are you seeing?
    • What sounds are you hearing?
    • What scents are you inhaling?
    • What can you feel on your skin?
    • What tastes are you aware of?

    As CDC guidelines evolve in this pandemic and some state/counties are loosening travel restrictions, we encourage you to enjoy time outdoors in a way that is both smart and safe — please continue to wear a mask in public, wash your hands, and physically distance.  It’s a small effort to make to protect yourself and everyone around you.

    So, hug a tree, and enjoy the healing power of nature for yourself!

    Our caring staff is 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.

    “How does Nature Impact Our Wellbeing?”, takingcharge.csh.umn.edu

    “Why you should nurture yourself with nature”, myseniorhealthplan.com

    “Nurture Yourself in Nature,” by Judy Klipin, judyklipin.com

  • Guest Spotlight: Meet Sarah Meyer, a first-time guest at OHI Austin!

    Sarah Meyer is quite the globetrotter.  Her job has taken her around the world, living in far flung places like Afghanistan and Vietnam.  She currently resides in beautiful Tunisia, at the northernmost tip of Africa on the Mediterranean Sea, so she did not make the decision lightly to get on a plane amid a pandemic to come to OHI.  “I knew I needed help,” said Sarah.  “I was at a breaking point.  OHI seemed like the perfect medicine.”

    Sarah was diagnosed with MS in her early 30’s, and, still active at nearly 50 years old, has worked diligently to manage her health.  “I have lesions on my brain and spine,” said Sarah.  “I took medication for nine years, but after all those years of declining health and much research, I decided to focus my emphasis on nutrition.  I became ‘plant-based’ on Thanksgiving night, 2011.  So many of my health problems (e.g. persistent vertigo, eczema, etc.) resolved so quickly that I didn’t feel the need to ‘prove’ the positive impacts of my diet changes until 2015 with an MRI, which showed that my lesions were either stable or had reduced.  My neurologist said it was probably a fluke, but year after year my MRIs showed improvement.  I decided to stop taking injectable MS drugs in 2014, which my neurologist said was a terrible mistake, and still my lesions remained stable or continued reducing.  By 2018, my doctor just shook his head in amazement, and told me to keep doing what I was doing.  I can tell you from personal experience that nutrition is absolutely vital to continued good health.”

    In late 2020, however, Sarah started having severe trouble walking, and her MRI showed four new lesions on her brain (the first new lesions since 2010).  “My diet hadn’t changed at all,” said Sarah, “but I was under tremendous stress.  My professional workload was heavy, but that was not new; however, working in-person in an office during a pandemic was very stressful, particularly given so many unknowns about COVID.  I could see I would eventually be in a wheelchair if something didn’t give.  I was talking to a friend, and she suggested OHI.  I looked at their website, and it checked all the boxes for me — organic, vegan diet, strict COVID protocols, and time and space to work on my mindset.  I booked a 3-week stay right away.”

    Sarah immediately connected with the staff and missionaries at OHI.  “They were all so supportive,” said Sarah.  “Cheryl Green was instrumental in changing my thinking.  She said to me, ‘It’s not just the food, maybe it’s your mood’.  I suddenly realized I needed to pay attention to my stress, and add more fun into my life.  As soon as I changed my perspective, my body responded.”

    Sarah’s stress made it difficult for her to maintain weight.  The classes in digestion and food combining were pivotal for her.  “The idea that you have to slow down your eating, thoroughly chew everything, and not drink for an hour or two after eating to give your body time to absorb the nutrients seems so obvious now,” said Sarah.  “It’s a game changer.  It solves all sorts of problems like irregularity and weight loss.  Since leaving OHI, my weight has held steady at a much higher, healthier number.  The simplicity of the OHI program is what makes it so meaningful.”

    Sarah also enjoyed the Deep Breathing class.  “It helped me get so much more out of meditation,” said Sarah.  “I feel like my health is my own again.  Thank you OHI!  And for anyone interested in a blog about my personal MS journey, they can read more at www.blessedwithms.org.”

    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.

    Call OHI at (800) 588-0809 or visit www.OptimumHealth.org today for more information.

  • Scholarship Recipient, Hiba Zananiri, Finds a Change of Perspective through OHI

    Born in Jordan, Hiba Zananiri came to San Francisco with her family before the age of 2.  She works as a makeup artist, and also with an association for au pairs, supporting them and their host family on their 1-2 year cultural exchange commitment.

    “Coming to America can be a big adjustment for young people,” said Hiba.  “Embracing change really is a journey.”

    In 2018, Hiba was rear ended in a serious car accident, and was left with tremendous back pain.  “My friend told me about OHI.  I became a Christian at the age of 21, and my friend told me that OHI’s Christian values would set the tone to take advantage of this health opportunity.  But even working my two part-time jobs still left the cost out of reach for me.  I applied for the scholarship, and was thrilled when my application was accepted.  The scholarship gave me the chance to do something no one in my whole family has ever done — take time for ME!”

    Hiba immersed herself in the OHI program.  “I learned so much about food, healthy body treatments, and lymphatic exercise,” said Hiba.  “The breath work exercises were life-changing — so simple, yet so effective!  The amazing teachers made all the difference.  And the most unexpected outcome from my time at OHI is that I met my best friend.  It was the first stay for both of us, so we really bonded.  Outside of OHI, we happen to live very near each other, so we hang out all the time now.  It has been a huge blessing in my life.”

    OHI helped Hiba change many habits for good.  “I do the lymphatic workout all the time,” smiled Hiba.  “I practice my breath work, and make it a point to incorporate raw foods into every meal.  I know I’m getting real health benefits from every raw veggie I eat.”

    But OHI’s biggest gift was an adjustment to Hiba’s perspective.  “I used to walk around carrying the burden of trying to share my love of God with every single person I met,” said Hiba.  “But OHI showed me that everyone is dealing with different challenges.  I needed to give up the burden of responsibility, and trust that God will take care of everyone Himself.  That trust means when I share my love of God with people I feel more loving and relaxed about it.  I know that God is sovereign and I’m grateful to be led by Him, and trust His plans for everyone.”

    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 44 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.


  • Staff Spotlight: Introducing Pharon Wilson, Kitchen & Growhouse Manager at OHI Austin!

    Pharon Wilson laughingly says he ended up working at OHI by accident.  “I have been a guest at OHI seven times,” he said, “and I’ve loved every minute of it.  I was strongly considering applying to be a missionary at OHI, but when I went on the website for the application, I noticed that they had a job opening for a Kitchen & Growhouse Manager.  I thought, why bother becoming a missionary for three months when I could take this opportunity to work at OHI full time.  I’ve now been at OHI for 2 years, and I couldn’t be happier!”

    Pharon had an impressively diverse work history leading up to OHI.  He graduated from the University of Texas, Austin, with a degree in Communication Disorders.  He worked at Procter & Gamble for 19 years in sales and product supply, then moved on to attend culinary school in Manhattan at the Natural Gourmet Institute of Food and Health.  He took his newfound culinary certification to New Orleans, and started his own catering and wellness business.  He also opened his own healthy café, and taught cooking to kids.  After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Pharon moved to Los Angeles and worked as a chef for a healthy home meal delivery business, creating custom meals for clients with specific dietary needs (heart-healthy, diabetes-friendly, etc) for two years.  He then moved on to Cincinnati to start an early childhood school for students aged 6 weeks -14 years old.  The school was based on restorative practices, and focused on empathy and creativity.  He had been in Cincinnati for five years when his father suddenly got sick, so in 2017 Pharon moved back to Texas to care for him.  After a year of care, his father recovered, and that’s when Pharon felt ready to take on his next adventure, and began working at OHI.  “I had a deep desire to work in the wellness sector,” said Pharon.  “OHI is a great fit for my passion and values.”

    As the Kitchen & Growhouse Manager, Pharon manages the kitchen and growhouse operations (preparing food for guests, and growing wheatgrass and sprouts), and also teaches food preparation classes.  “I teach four classes — Sprouting, Dehydrated Foods, Fermented Foods, and Wheatgrass Growing,” said Pharon.  “Each week, guests come to OHI with varying health opportunities and needs, so each teaching experience is different depending on what the guests’ interests are.  It’s never boring!”

    Having been a guest at OHI many times helps Pharon connect with guests.  “I understand that there will be low and high points throughout a detox,” said Pharon.  “I can definitely empathize with that because I’ve done it myself.  I know that I have to be present in the moment and put the guest’s needs first.  On a personal note, my mother passed away from colon cancer several years ago, so I think differently about life now.  I know how fragile it is, and yet how amazingly strong and resilient people can be.  I am so happy to support guests on their individual journeys of growth and change while they’re here at OHI.”

    Pharon’s personal wellness journey has led him to consider his own habits, and what he should let go.  “I have become much less attached to the outcome,” said Pharon.  “I now see the value in the journey itself.  Goals are so important, but when you’re working on yourself, you can’t be so invested in achieving the outcome that you try to tackle too much change at once.  That’s setting yourself up for failure.  If you can find one thing that really speaks to you and work on that, then you’re more likely to embrace that change for good.”

    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.

    Call OHI at (800) 588-0809 or visit www.OptimumHealth.org today for more information.

  • The Impact of Breath Work on Your Health

    Breath work is at the very foundation of self-care practices.  Let’s explore the importance of breath, learn how it impacts the body and mind, and then discover the techniques of how to breathe correctly.

    Deep breathing is the very foundation of good health.  So how does our body respond to oxygenation?  It all starts with the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.  They are the two branches of the autonomic nervous system that regulate internal organs and glands.  The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems work together to keep our bodies functioning,  but they have very different functions.  The parasympathetic nervous system takes our body into “rest and repair” mode.  It slows our heart rate and our breathing, increases blood flow to organs of digestion to stimulate the digestive process, and allows the body’s immune systems to function optimally.  The sympathetic nervous system takes our body into “fight or flight” mode.  It increases our heart rate and our breathing, increases blood flow to skeletal muscles to give you the strength needed to fight or flee, and it suppresses immune function.  Focusing on deep breathing enables us to down-regulate the sympathetic nervous system, allowing the parasympathetic nervous system to become dominant.  In other words, taking deep belly breaths using your diaphragm “turns on” your parasympathetic nervous system, allowing you to go into rest and repair mode and release stress and tension from the body.

    In contrast, when you fall into a pattern of shallow breathing, breath holding, or hyperventilating, that triggers the sympathetic nervous system, kicking off “fight or flight” responses throughout your body.  When your body is subjected to chronic stress you go into fight or flight mode, depressing your immune system and resulting in conditions like high blood pressure or constipation.  So if you find yourself in a stressful situation, take a long, slow, deep breath.  Let your parasympathetic nervous system take over before you do long-term damage to your body.

    Deep breathing also improves the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs, helping you clear out mucus and other fluids and improving overall lung capacity.  Deep breathing also works to strengthen the diaphragm, a major respiratory muscle located under the lungs.

    Athletes often use deep breathing techniques to bring much-needed oxygen into the bloodstream to improve performance, i.e.: speed and endurance.  Deep belly breathing delivers the maximum amount of oxygen to your cells.  When your cells are fully oxygenated, it increases your energy, stamina, and physical performance.

    Deep belly breathing also helps reduce both chronic and acute pain.  When we hurt, our first instinct is often to hold our breath to still our body.  But deep breathing through the pain is actually a much more effective choice.  For example, the Lamaze method teaches breathing techniques to reduce pain during childbirth.

    Deep breathing to increase cell oxygenation is also important for helping to heal health opportunities.  Many diseases, like cancer and viruses, are anaerobic.  That means they cannot survive in an oxygenated environment.  When you oxygenate your cells, toxins are discharged through the breath.  Research on heart patients indicates that certain breathing techniques can help prevent repeat heart attacks.

    How does breathing impact the mind?

    The organ in the body that uses the largest amount of oxygen is the brain.  Taking slow, deep breaths whenever attention drifts oxygenates the brain, and brings back focus.  Shallow breathing often feels tense and constricted, while deep belly breathing helps restore a sense of calm and relaxation.  That calm brings about an emotional awareness and allows you to release negative and/or suppressed emotions that are connected with health opportunities like low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, or addictions.

    The Techniques of Breathing

    Effective deep breathing just takes a little practice.  First, put one hand on your abdomen, just below your belly button.  Feel your hand rise about an inch each time you inhale and fall about an inch each time you exhale.  Your chest will rise slightly, too, in concert with your abdomen.  Remember to relax your belly so that each inhalation expands it fully.  As you exhale slowly, let yourself sigh out loud.

    Once you have practiced deep breathing, you can move on to regular practice of breath focus.  As you sit or lie comfortably with your eyes closed, blend deep breathing with helpful imagery and a focus word or phrase that will help you relax.  Imagine that the air you breathe in washes peace and calm into your body.  As you breathe out, imagine that the air leaving your body carries tension and anxiety away with it.  As you inhale, try saying this phrase to yourself: “Breathing in peace and calm.”  And as you exhale, say: “Breathing out tension and anxiety.”  When you first start, 10 minutes of breath focus is a reasonable goal.  Gradually add time until your sessions are at least 20 minutes long.

    Here are three different deep breathing techniques you can try:

    Deep Belly Breathing (diaphragmatic breathing). You can do this breathing exercise while sitting or lying down.

    1. 1. Relax your face, neck, jaw, and shoulder muscles.
    2. 2. Rest the tip of your tongue behind your top front teeth.
    3. 3. Straighten your back.
    4. 4. Close your eyes.
    5. 5. Breathe normally for several minutes.
    6. 6. Place one hand on your chest and one on your lower abdomen.
    7. 7. Breathe deeply through your nose, feeling your chest and ribs expand when you inhale.  Your stomach should expand outward against your hand.
    8. 8. Exhale, feeling your stomach gently contract inward.
    9. 9. Breathe slowly and deeply in this manner 9-10 times.

    Yawn-to-a-Smile Breathing. This breathing exercise opens up the muscles in the chest, which allows the diaphragm to fully expand.  It also strengthens the arms and shoulder muscles.

    1. 1. Sit upright with a straight back.
    2. 2. Stretch your arms up to shoulder height.  You should feel the muscles in your back stretching.
    3. 3. While your arms are at shoulder height, open your mouth wide, as if you were yawning.
    4. 4. Bring your arms back to rest on your thighs, while turning your yawn into a smile.

    Humming While Exhaling Breathing. Humming or chanting “om” can help pull oxygen into the lungs with each breath.  Many also find it can be calming.

    1. 1. Sit upright with a straight back.
    2. 2. Place each hand on the sides of your lower abdomen.
    3. 3. Keep your lips closed, and gently rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
    4. 4. Breathe deeply and slowly through your nose, keeping your lips closed and your tongue in position.
    5. 5. Allow your fingers to spread wide on your stomach as it expands.
    6. 6. Keep your shoulders relaxed.  Do not let them rise up.
    7. 7. Once your lungs feel full, exhale while humming or chanting.  Make sure to keep your lips closed.
    8. 8. Repeat for several breaths.

    At OHI, we believe the benefits of deep breathing are so important that we teach guests the principles of breathing in a variety of classes — Alpha Class, Conscious Breathing, Emotional Detox, Mind-Body Connection, and Vocal Toning.  Each class incorporates deep breathing in different ways, so whether you use it as a relaxation technique, a meditation technique, or a vocal toning technique, incorporating deep breathing into your wellness journey is easy to do. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.


    Relaxation Techniques: Breath Focus, July 2008, Harvard Women’s Health Watch, health.harvard.edu

    “The Best Breathing Exercises for Covid-19: Before, During, and After Infection”, written by Corey Whelan, medically reviewed by Angelica Balingit, MD, healthline.com, April 13, 2021

    “What is Breath work?”, healthline.com

  • Moving Forward in Our New Abnormal

    I bid bright and buoyant summer greetings to our OHI community. As the season fully opens in all of its splendor, the world is beginning to open up as well. People are getting out more and more each day, as some states are relaxing their Covid-19 restrictions. And, yet we are still struggling to make sense of the future before us.

    As I write this, the CDC is reporting that Covid-19 cases and deaths have been in a steady decline since January. They also report that 48% of adults in the U.S. have received both doses of the vaccine, and 60% have received one dose. The goal of herd immunity is stated to be 70% of the population with antibodies from either the vaccine or from having recovered from the infection, which might be achieved over the summer. And, here at OHI, we now have the ability to conduct Covid-19 testing in-house which means we can test our entire on-campus community three times per week, get results within hours, and if everyone tests negatively our guests will not have to wear masks (except when receiving a massage or colonic). Our staff will continue to wear masks.

    You may recall from our January newsletter, how we looked at two ways of protecting ourselves during our current circumstances and beyond by using Situational Awareness and Self-Care. In the spring issue I expanded on how we can remain safe by keeping mentally and physically healthy by staying socially connected, and doing so by utilizing Safety Bubbles. In this issue, I want to address how we can intelligently and safely move forward into our new abnormal.

    How to Move Forward in the Era of Covid-19

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

    I share this Bible verse with you because we are indeed entering a new era, but there is no need for us to do so in fear. There are several ways you can cope successfully. I will share four tactics for moving forward in this article.

    1. Move Forward with Purpose. I have written about this before because it is key to living a meaningful life. The first step is to stay focused on your objectives and intentions – your purpose. Covid-19 is just an obstacle, don’t let it throw you off course. Move forward without fear which can shut you down, and damage your health. Next, ask yourself, “What can I do today to move toward my goal?” Visualization is a great way to stay focused on your purpose. Imagine seeing yourself reaching your dream. The best way is to practice mindfulness which I will discuss below.

    Rediscovering and working on your purpose awakens the spirit within you. Find your purpose by asking these guiding questions: “What inspires me?”, “What gives me hope?”, “What gives me joy?”, and “What touches and heals my heart?”

    Sure, Covid-19 is a problem, but other than practicing your safety techniques, it is one that is out of your hands. Identify the issues you do have control over, and work on those. It would be wonderful if everyone followed the safest guidelines for bringing the world back to normal, but the best we can do is to live them ourselves, or as Mahatma Gandhi observed, “Be the change you want to see.”

    2. Practice Mindfulness to Stay Focused on your Purpose. Mindfulness is about living in the here and now, releasing the past, and allowing the future to stay in the future. There’s an old saying, “Wherever you are – be all there.” In other words, be in the present and live that moment fully even if it’s a simple task. Being mindful eliminates fear, anger, depression and anxiety while opening the door to peace and happiness.

    Here are some techniques for practicing mindfulness:

    • Focus on your breathing without thinking of anything else, if your mind wanders come back to your breathing.
    • Focus on a particular object such as the pen on your desk or the leaf on a plant, if your mind wanders come back to the object.
    • Practice body scanning. Mentally visit each part of your body from head to toe and pay attention to how it feels. Relax and release any tension before moving on to the next part.
    • Pay attention to whatever you are doing without allowing thoughts to go elsewhere. For example, when washing your hands observe the feel of the soap, and the warmth of the water.
    • Instead of doing common activities by rote, such as driving, eating, or showering focus on the activity itself.
    • Take your shoes off and feel the ground.
    • Practice listening to people instead of thinking about what you want to say. Mindful conversation is giving someone your full relaxed attention.

    Don’t judge yourself for where your thoughts may go, just bring them back to the present.

    3.Cultivate Your Critical Thinking Skills. In our new abnormal it is becoming more and more important for us to validate information. Critical thinking means you make a judgment call after examining and evaluating the information you have received. It means testing it, applying scientific methods, and then interpreting it.

    Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22

    If a story in the news makes you frightened, angry, anxious or depressed, your emotions are a signal that someone might be manipulating you, and that you might want to investigate further. If someone tells you something that triggers your emotions, here are some key questions you should ask: “Will you be more specific?”, “Can you give me more details?”, “Can you show me an example or give me a demonstration?”, “How can I verify that?”, “Why is this a problem?”, “What is your proof?”, “Is your evidence based on scientific method or is it anecdotal?”, and “Can this situation or condition be duplicated or is it coincidental?”

    When you hear something that raises a doubt in your mind, resort to logic. Ask yourself if all the premises are true. Premises are the reasons from which a conclusion is drawn. When you are presented with an argument, make sure you aren’t being distracted or confused with logical or rhetorical fallacies.

    Thinking critically also means questioning the purpose, the goals, and the objectives of the source of the information. Some questions to ask are, “Who funded this study or research?” or “Who gains the most from this issue?” The bottom line is that you must decide what to believe.

    In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

    Here at OHI, we prefer a reserved approach to safety. Many of our guests have health opportunities they have overcome or are in the process of handling. For this reason we recommend taking the greatest cautions: continuing to mask, social distancing, and handwashing.

    Being cautious doesn’t mean staying home. Experts are recommending outdoor activities as long as social distancing can be maintained; such as going to the beach where you can spread out. The CDC says, “Vaccinated individuals can gather indoors, without masks or social distancing, with other vaccinated people.” (OHI does not promote or discourage vaccine use).

    4. Come to OHI. One of the best ways to move forward is to visit OHI. We are constantly improving the cleanliness and sanitation of our facilities. We are your home-away-from-home safety bubble. And, we have taken every conceivable precaution to provide a safe and sacred environment for our community.

    Refreshing your OHI training will enable you to move forward by positively influencing the state of your health. You will rediscover the body, mind, and spirit connection while using your positive thoughts and emotions to promote healing and good health.

    Schedule a visit to OHI where you can revive and renew your purpose, practice mindfulness, and cultivate your critical thinking skills – all while reconnecting with the special friends who understand you and your goals like no one else. Because OHI is STILL the safest place you can be outside of your home.

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

    Wishing you health and wellness in this blessed Summer season.

    Yours in prayer,

    Robert P. Nees, Jr.

    Senior Pastor and Chairman

    Optimum Health Institute of San Diego and Austin

  • Can a Healthy Lifestyle Be Contagious?

    We’ve heard countless stories from our guests about how their stay at Optimum Health Institute has had a powerful, life-changing effect on their lives. What’s unusual, however, is to hear about someone whose life was transformed by OHI’s program … and the person had never stepped foot on the grounds. We heard such a testimony from OHI missionary, Doug Fulwider.

    Doug’s wife had been a staunch advocate of OHI’s healthy lifestyle program for decades, and had even studied with Ann Wigmore, the founder of Hippocrates. She insisted on following the plant-based, live, raw organic food plan to such an enthusiastic extent that Doug playfully named their home, “OHI West.”

    When his wife tragically succumbed to pancreatic cancer after a two-year battle, Doug was heartbroken. Yet even in his deep grief, he knew that emotionally giving up and reverting to old, unhealthy eating habits was not an option. He decided to honor his wife’s legacy, and maintain his own health, by signing up for an OHI stay. By his second week there, he knew he wanted to apply to be a missionary. The support from the OHI staff and other guests, the healthy plant-based meals, and the beautiful surroundings were the perfect prescription to heal his aching heart.

    Doug applied and was thrilled to be accepted into the missionary program. Before leaving, he had to find someone to house-sit for three months, and he chose the son of an acquaintance. The young man, Mikey, was at a crossroads in his life, and he expressed his desire to live at Doug’s while pondering his future direction. Doug had just one rule for Mikey – there could be NO meat in the house.

    While Doug continued his deep healing during his months as an OHI missionary, Mikey threw himself into completely changing his diet. He’d been inspired by Doug’s no-meat rule and the delicious plant-based OHI recipes Doug left for him.

    What began as a “house rule” quickly blossomed into a brand-new, healthier and happier life path.

    Mikey learned how to ferment foods, grow sprouts, and make seed cheese. He prepared delicious plant-based meals for his mother and uncle – and both of them saw such radical improvements in their health they were soon able to get off nearly all medication.

    Mikey even took a raw foods course and is studying to become a vegan chef. He’s developed quite a social media following, too, posting photos of his beautiful and delicious culinary creations online. While Doug was healing his heart at OHI, Mikey was healing his life – and preparing for a fantastic new future – using the transformational tools OHI provides.

    So the answer to the question posted in the title is a resounding YES! A healthy lifestyle most certainly can be contagious. We invite you to come to OHI and experience this sort of transformation in your own life. Bring body, mind, and spirit into a healthy balance with an extended stay at OHI San Diego or OHI Austin. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.

  • Celebrating the Divine in Everything

    Brilliant sunshine breaks through the clouds after days of seemingly endless rain. A butterfly lands on your hand for a fleeting moment. A phone call you’ve been dreading from your doctor brings unexpectedly good news – the answer to your prayers.

    All of these are, quite literally, cause for celebration.

    Reveling in the moment when positive things happen is an ongoing opportunity to acknowledge the infinite good – and the infinite God – in our lives.

    “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music,” we’re told in Psalm 98:4. Throughout the Bible, we read about celebrations marking everything from baptisms and weddings to feasts, dedicating the wall at Jerusalem, and Jesus’ birth.

    “Celebration is central to all the Spiritual Disciplines,” writes Richard J. Foster in his book, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth.

    Celebrating the small things helps us stay in the moment; we become more mindful of seeking out the positive. And that which we seek, we find. Our joy is contagious. Those around us will also start to discover delightful reasons to celebrate throughout their day. We strengthen the bonds within our spiritual community through celebrating together, honoring each other’s successes and growth.

    There is another benefit when we choose to celebrate just about everything. The spiritual discipline of celebration itself is a form of thanksgiving. Science shows us that shifting into an attitude of gratitude actually prompts positive chemical changes in our brains and bodies. We can more easily release stress, boost heart health, and lower blood pressure. We feel fewer aches and pains, heal more quickly, and enjoy deeper, more restful sleep.

    When we expect to see the divine in everything, we will find it. That’s when we truly begin to live our lives in constant celebration, doing all things with great love.

    We invite you to start this celebratory journey with an extended stay at Optimum Health Institute missions in San Diego or Austin. You’ll be able to celebrate with your spiritual community by linking up with old friends and making some wonderful new ones.

    Call us at (800) 588-0809 to book your reservation, and be sure to ask about our current promotional discounts. We look forward to seeing you … and celebrating the divine with you.