Making Scents

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We continue our five-part look at the senses, exploring in depth how each relates to all aspects of our existence, and our health.  Today, we’ll examine the sense of Smell.

You catch a whiff of Old Spice cologne in a crowd, and are suddenly transported to your childhood, watching your dad slap on his aftershave.  Or you’re grocery shopping, and the aroma from the bakery makes you think of your grandmother.

It’s not just your imagination – your sense of smell is a powerful memory trigger. Your olfactory nerve is right next to the amygdala, the part of the brain governing emotions, and emotional memory.  Some research has shown that if you want to remember something, sniff a specific fragrance while you’re learning it.  When you want to recall the details of the information, sniff that same fragrance again.

So powerful are our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual connections to our sense of smell that the complimentary practice of aromatherapy is frequently now offered in medical facilities and holistic health care centers.

The name “aromatherapy” is relatively new, but the practice is literally ancient.  Greek mythology credited the gods with using aromatic oils. Hippocrates, whose healthy lifestyle teachings are at the core of many classes offered at Optimum Health Institute (OHI), used aromatic oils for health and well-being.

While scientific tests haven’t clinically proven aromatherapy has measurable health benefits, there is enough evidence to show that some essential oils can definitely improve a person’s mood.  Because our mental state has a direct impact on our physical well-being, an elevated mood can positively impact our stress level, help our body naturally improve immune response, and add to our general sense of well-being.

Combining aromatherapy with massage enhances the body’s ability to relax, detoxify and come into a healthy, natural balance.

Some of the most popular and stimulating essential oils – lavender for relaxation, peppermint for energy and tea tree oil for cleansing and antimicrobial properties – are available through the Optimum Health Store.  You can order them by calling 888-643-7867.

Learning how to make that connection in your body, mind, and spirit is what we share at the Optimum Health Institute.  Honor yourself in a transformative environment at our missions in San Diego or Austin. We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health in 2013. Call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.

Become a Beacon of Light – Love Us? Yelp Us!

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We are a word of mouth ministry here at OHI. We do not do incur any additional expense subscribing to outside advertising. This helps us keep our tuition and room fees very affordable compared to other holistic healing centers. We appreciate all of our guests who have become ambassadors for OHI helping to spread the word about our program to friends and family.

With the onset of online review sites, like Yelp and Google + we now have the ability to reach many others who might be looking for a holistic healing center.  Your message may be that beacon of light for a person in search of changes in their life, physically, mentally and spiritually. We would love to have your experience made available for online readers who may be considering a stay at OHI. Many people search daily on either of these sites looking for a place that can help them on their journey to wellness.

Please just click on the links below, they will take you to our review sites. It will take just a few short minutes to get your testimonial posted and it will then be available to others who are looking for a safe and sacred place to facilitate their healing.

Yelp- It’s easy to access our Yelp review page, Click here for OHI San Diego , Click here for OHI Austin. Click on “Write a Review” at the top of the page. New to Yelp? It’s easy to get started, just click in the upper right hand corner of the page.  

Google+ – Click on either link below to access our Google + page. Scroll to the bottom of the review page and click on “Write a Review”. If you do not have a gmail address you can create one by clicking on the create account button. If you already have a gmail/google account just login in. Click here for OHI San Diego, Click here   for OHI Austin.  

The Power of Healing Sounds and Music

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When you listen to music, your whole body tunes in and reacts in different ways, depending on the tempo, mood, and sounds you are enjoying. Ancient healing principles have incorporated music-based therapies for centuries, and current research is only now beginning to fully understand the deep mental and physiological effects that music can offer. Below, you will learn more about how music can affect you by bringing more happiness into your life.

How your body reacts to music
If you hear music that you enjoy, you may begin to notice an improvement in your mood. This effect occurs because listening to music releases endorphins that ease pain, reduce stress, and lower blood pressure. Over time, these therapeutic qualities of listening to music can boost immune health, reduce your risk for heart disease, and improve your overall mood. Moreover, your body will react physically to the music you hear by slowing or speeding up your heartbeat to match the tempo of the tune you are hearing.

Making your own music
Tonal sounds can also offer healing effects, and you can create these sounds yourself using tools such as tuning forks and singing bowls. Singing bowls are used with a mallet that causes the bowl to make a steady, soothing noise as you run the mallet over the edge of the bowl. Tuning forks are easy to use as well, and they create a calming humming sound when you hit them on a solid surface. Both of these musical tools are excellent additions to the home that will allow you to ease an over-stimulated nervous system to ease stress, pain, tension, or anxiety.

Selecting therapeutic recordings
You can enjoy the calming qualities of music anywhere when you listen to CDs of therapeutic music that incorporate the sounds of nature, powerful chanting, or ancient musical instruments. You can order a number of healing CDs from the Optimum Health Institute store by calling (888) 643-7867.

For a complete healing experience with Optimum Health Institute , sign up for our holistic healing program that draws on ancient principles from 24 spiritual disciplines promoting the healing of the mind, body, and spirit. Our program consists of three week-long sessions to be taken consecutively or independently in the company of other guests who are learning to cleanse the body, quiet the mind, and renew the spirit. To learn more about the details of our program, call (800) 993-4325 or visit our website.

Heirloom Tomatoes: A Summertime Favorite

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The vibrant selection of fresh fruits and vegetables available in the summertime offers the perfect assortment of delectable meal choices fit for a raw diet . Heirloom tomatoes in particular are a delicious summer treat that come in varieties of all shapes, colors, and flavors to incorporate into your warm weather meals. Here is a look at some facts about where heirloom tomatoes come from and how to select them for your healthy diet.

What makes heirloom tomatoes special?
While many tomatoes are given the name of heirloom tomatoes , there are some specific characteristics that make true heirloom tomatoes special. In order to be an heirloom, tomato varieties must be passed down through several generations and grown organically, often in small family farms or personal gardens. Unlike commercially grown tomatoes that are not genetically diverse, heirloom tomatoes are naturally pest-resistant and adapted to a wide range of growing conditions.

What are the varieties of heirloom tomatoes?
When you bite into an heirloom tomato, you can taste the incredible difference between it and a commercially produced tomato. You can also experience a variety of pleasing flavors paired with eye-catching colors of green, orange, red, and purple. Some of the most popular varieties of heirloom tomatoes that you might plant in your garden or pick up at a local farmer’s market include large red Brandywines, exceptionally sweet Super Snow Whites, or boldly striped Green Zebras.

How do you select heirloom tomatoes?
Choosing heirloom tomatoes at the market is unlike selecting commercially grown varieties, as standard grocery store tomatoes are intended to look symmetrical, be free of lines and blemishes, and feature an even color. Most varieties of heirloom tomatoes do not carry these characteristics, so you might experiment and explore different types so that you can discover those that please your palate most.

At Optimum Health Institute, you will learn to cleanse the body through such techniques as raw dieting, which is incorporated into our three-week holistic healing program . Each week-long program session includes activities and classes that promote healing the body, mind, and spirit using techniques derived from 24 ancient spiritual disciplines. You can learn more about this program or book your spot today by calling (800) 993-4325 or visiting our website.

Declaring Independence from Unhealthy Habits

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Every time a family got together on the 4th of July, they’d make Grandma’s special brisket exactly the same way she had always done it.  First they’d cut off one end of the brisket, put it in the pan, then season it and pop it in the oven.  After several decades of get-togethers, someone finally asked why they always cut off the end of the roast.  At that point it was just habit – and no one really knew. After some digging, they solved the puzzle.  It turns out Grandma’s roasting pan was too small to hold the whole brisket.

Some less than optimal habits we have are like that – we don’t even know anymore why we started doing them.  Others, like nail biting, being “too busy” to meditate or eating junk food, are daily choices that don’t serve us well on a physical, mental, emotional or spiritual level.

Habitual behaviors become imprinted not just in our conscious mind, but also our muscle memory.  That means if you’ve been a smoker for years, the physical act of taking a cigarette out of the pack, reaching for your lighter and then holding the cigarette in your hand becomes automatic.  You’ve built neural pathways in your brain, which means the neurons can communicate directly with your muscles, bypassing conscious thought.

The good news is, psychologists say unhealthy habits definitely can be broken.  Here are some tips to help you declare your independence from bad habits:

1)    Breathe! – When you catch yourself falling into an old unwanted habit, just stop and take three deep, mindful breaths.  Dr. Andrew Weil, author and founder, professor, and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, suggests inhaling to the count of four, holding that breath to the count of seven, then vigorously exhaling to a count of eight.  Do that three times to clear your mind and break the old pattern.

2)    Be gentle with yourself – NO trash-talking is allowed.  That means silently yelling at yourself, or labeling yourself as stupid, weak or a loser is definitely counter-productive.  Choosing more positive behaviors is all about nurturing, respecting and loving yourself.

3)    Watch your words – Things your conscious mind says are immediately taken literally by your subconscious mind.  If you say, “I’ll NEVER kick this habit and get healthy,” you’ve just set yourself up to fail.  Here are some powerful word substitutions that can move you in the right direction: Instead of “I’ll try,” say “I will.”  Instead of “I always smoke,” say, “In the past, I smoked.”  Instead of “I’ll never kick this,” say, “I am kicking this.”

4)    Rewire your brain – When you catch yourself falling back into a mindless bad habit, after you’ve stopped and taken those three deep breaths, quickly move your eyes straight up and to the left, then down and to the right, then up again and to the left – then roll them three times clockwise, then three times counterclockwise.  You just scrambled the neurological message your brain was sending to your muscles, interrupting that habitual pattern and starting a healthier new one.

5)    Break state physically – Besides retraining your brain not to access old muscle memory with the exercise above, give your muscles a different command.  Take a deep breath and raise your arms high over your head on the inhale, then bring your arms back to your sides on the exhale.  Any kind of stretch will bring you back into conscious awareness of what your body is doing, and help you regain control over those old mindless actions required to sustain a bad habit.

6)    Substitute a desirable behavior – Instead of reaching for a sugary treat or biting a nail, stop, breathe and think of something for which you are grateful.  Close friends, loving family, this beautiful day – your list of wonderful things to choose from is truly endless.  Shifting your consciousness into a positive state by counting your blessings diverts your attention away from the old harmful behavior.

7)    Celebrate your victories – After you’ve declared your independence from unhealthy habits, every night, before you fall asleep, take a moment to review your three most positive changes that day.  Savor them, congratulate yourself, and realize you’re making real progress, one day at a time.  You didn’t develop bad habits overnight, and you won’t change them overnight, either.  But you’re definitely on your way!

For more motivation in taking healthy control of your life, come experience the healing power of transformation for your body, mind and spirit at OHI.  We can help you learn positive new habits and achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Call us today at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.

A Matter of Taste

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We continue our five-part look at the senses, exploring in depth how each relates to all aspects of our existence, and our body-mind-spirit health.  Today, we’ll examine the sense of Taste.

Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and imagine you’re holding a slice of lemon.  In your mind’s eye, see the bright yellow skin, and inhale its citrusy aroma.  Now, imagine biting into that lemon, and sinking your teeth into the tart fruit.  Feel the sour juices spurting into your mouth. 

Chances are, you immediately began to salivate, and possibly even pucker, at just the thought of the taste of the lemon in your mouth.

As with all the senses, our ability to taste transcends being a mere physical sensation to engage us on mental, emotional and spiritual levels.  The mental image of biting the lemon activates the physical response of our salivary glands, almost as much as actually biting the lemon could.

There are five primary taste sensations: salty, sour, sweet, bitter, and umami.  The fifth, umami, was just added in 2007.  It’s described as an earthy, savory taste, like you’d find in mushrooms or savory soups, meat and cheese.

The sense of taste is such an important part of our lives it’s become part of our language. We give someone who’s not “sweet” a “sour” look.  “Bitter” people might use “salty” language.  We “hunger” and “thirst” for knowledge.  Discerning people have “good taste.”  We “savor” a good book.

Being out of balance in a mental or spiritual sense has a negative impact on our sense of taste.  For instance, a depressed or highly emotional person isn’t able to detect high fat levels in foods, while their ability to perceive other flavors can be heightened.  That’s why someone suffering from a traumatic breakup, for instance, could eat a pint of ice cream or a bag of potato chips without being aware of the high levels of fat, sugar and salt in the food.

Because the human brain is programmed to like fats, sugar and salt, fast food and processed food companies focus on creating products with such a high concentration of all three that the unhealthy foods create “cravings.”  The brain on fast food starts to process tastes differently, and perceive the unhealthy elevated levels of fat, sugar and salt as “desirable.”

When we stop eating junk foods and switch to live, raw vegan organic meals instead, like the foods offered at the Optimum Health Institute (OHI), the taste buds and brain do their own version of a detoxification.  As the body eliminates all the excess fats, sugars and salt from your system, the sense of taste comes back into balance. A bite of a Granny Smith apple is an explosion of sweet and tart on your tongue, while the natural saltiness of a dehydrated tomato totally satisfies.

To help deepen your awareness of your sense of taste, get a variety of organic fruits and vegetables.  A good selection would include a grape, a mushroom, a chili pepper, a dehydrated onion ring, an Essene cracker, a snow pea, fermented cabbage, a red pepper, broccoli and sunflower seeds.  Arrange the foods on a plate, and close your eyes.  Take a few deep breaths to go into a highly perceptive Alpha state, then slowly pick up one item at a time, and taste it.

How quickly can you tell what the item is? Does it seem to register a taste on a particular part of your tongue?  How does the taste change, if it does, when you bite into it, when you chew it, and when you swallow it?  You might discover, after this exercise, that you’re more appreciative of the taste of what you eat, and you’re also more aware of how your food can impact your mood.

To learn more about getting your body, mind and spirit into a healthy balance, experience the healthy lifestyle program at the Optimum Health Institute.  Honor yourself in a transformative environment at our missions in San Diego or Austin. We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health in 2013. Call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.