• Moving on with Grace

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    Steve Jobs had to drop out of Reed College in Portland, Oregon when he didn’t have enough money to pay his tuition bills.  After guiding Apple from a garage start-up into a $2 billion company, he was fired.  That’s when he started animated film giant Pixar.  Apple brought him back and despite his battle with terminal pancreatic cancer, he rebuilt the slumping company.

    J.K. Rowling found herself divorced and penniless.  She sat at a small café for hours at a time, scrawling her ideas for a children’s story on the eatery’s napkins.  Her Harry Potter books went on to sell over 400 million copies and generate the highest grossing movie series of all time, while making Rowling a billionaire.

    Life is good when everything’s going well.  But what about when the bottom falls out, and everything you thought was a sure thing is suddenly taken from you.  How do you keep going, and follow your dream?  How can you even HAVE dreams? 

    Holocaust survivor Viktor Emil Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, perhaps said it best:

    “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

    The meaning we give to something will determine the power and emotional charge it will have in our lives. When we passionately care about something, or someone, we can use that attachment to give our lives purpose.  If we feel our lives have no meaning, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to rally and get back on our feet when the rug is pulled out from under us.

    In Frankl’s case, he didn’t just talk about the importance of the meaning we give to things.  His passion for his wife and his work undoubtedly kept him alive in the most gruesome of circumstances.

    Frankl studied medicine at the University of Vienna and was initially influenced by the work of Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler.  He was particularly interested in depression and suicide, and while still in medical school created a free program to counsel at risk high school students.  After his graduation, Frankl went on to create a special center in Vienna to treat tens of thousands of suicide-prone people.

    In 1942, Frankl, a Jew, his wife, brother and parents were forced to move to a Nazi ghetto.  He continued to practice psychiatry, and organized a mental health care program to help new prisoners handle their shock and grief.

    Frankl and his wife were transported to Auschwitz concentration camp, and he was then sent to another location affiliated with Dachau concentration camp.  He was forced to do slave labor, but held on to his vision of reuniting with his wife while he continued to help fellow prisoners until the Americans liberated them on April 27, 1945.

    He was to learn his wife, parents and brother all perished in the camps.

    After three horrendous years in the camps and losing the people closest to him, Frankl realized that even in the midst of the most dehumanizing and heartbreaking situations, life has meaning, and even suffering is meaningful. 

    That very year he wrote the best-selling book that was to significantly impact the world of therapy, Man’s Search for Meaning .  In it, he detailed his personal experiences, and how his constant search for the significance in every horrific occurrence gave him a reason to go on. This paradigm-shifting work became the foundation for logotherapy, a form of existential analysis Frankl created to help people rediscover their reason for living.

    In addition to ferreting out the deeper meaning in things, another tool for getting back on your feet can be found in the relatively new field of Positive Psychology.  By practicing daily gratitude, and reviewing the three most positive events of the day every night for a week, studies have shown people have become measurably happier for up to six months.  Just repeating the gratitude review for another week will provide another half-year of a brighter outlook.

    Detoxifying the body, quieting the mind and celebrating the spirit will also help people find new meaning and joy in their lives.  Experience all three at the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego or Austin.  We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.

  • Foods to Boost Your Memory

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    When you start eating the right foods , you might notice that you are better able to concentrate on difficult tasks, solve complex problems, and remember information more accurately. To get the biggest brain power charge-up from your cleansing raw diet, start including more of the memory-boosting foods listed below.

    Nuts and Seeds
    Not only are nuts and seeds excellent sources of non-animal protein, but they are also high in the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid. The body needs this nutrient to produce DHA, which is a primary structural component in the brain . The best choices for memory support are walnuts, chia seeds, and flax seeds.

    Green Tea
    If you rely on a morning cup of coffee to get you up in the morning, you might consider swapping it out for a cup of green tea instead. Green tea has been used to improve memory for centuries by the Chinese, and it is becoming well-recognized for this benefit in western cultures. The reason green tea is so good for the brain is its high concentration of the antioxidant EGCG, which slows the aging process on a cellular level.

    Rosemary
    Rosemary can improve memory as a part of your diet, or it can be used in soothing aromatherapy applications to help you relax. The calming effects of rosemary oil will reduce levels of cortisol, or the stress hormone, which can impair brain function.

    Kale
    Kale is surprisingly rich in omega-3 fatty acids, providing about 10% of the recommended daily value of these healthy fats per serving. Omega-3s support brain health by slowing the natural degeneration of brain cells and improving blood circulation to lower the chances of stroke.

    Dark Berries
    Berries are another great source of antioxidants and flavonoids that help delay age-related memory loss and cellular degeneration in the brain. Berries to eat more often are those that are darkest in color, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Even an extra half cup of berries each week will have a significant impact on your brain health.

    To learn more about how your diet can nourish and heal your body, discover the holistic healing program offered at Optimum Health Institute. This program includes three week-long sessions featuring classes derived from 24 ancient spiritual disciplines to promote healing of the body, mind, and spirit. For more details about the unique activities used in OHI’s holistic healing courses, call (800) 993-4325 or visit www.optimumhealth.org

  • Spiritually Plugged-in Kids

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    To see how nearly limitless access to information is impacting young people, the Optimum Health Institute talked to teachers from the east coast to the west; to educators ranging from a retired 30-year classroom veteran to a newly minted elementary school teacher working with her first class.

    The verdict?  There’s a quiet spiritual revolution going on in our schools.

    “The world is a lot smaller now because everyone is interconnected,” said a west coast teacher who’s logged a decade in the classroom.  “Go into any public school in the region, and up to 50% of the students will be from other countries.  It’s a hugely diverse mix, and everyone is interconnected through technology.”

    This connection, the teachers all agreed, makes every student more aware. It also seems to be making them more compassionate – a key spiritual virtue.

    “A lot of kids are compassionate because they’re born that way,” one teacher said. “Some are taught to be, either by parents or their school.”  For the one-third of students who don’t exhibit this quality, according to the educator, they probably just haven’t been exposed to it.

    “Compassion is contagious. We need to teach by example – for instance, brainstorming about things they can do to help the local community,” said another teacher. From there, it’s a short step to thinking of ways to help students in other communities, and around the globe.

    “Young people naturally want to connect,” a teacher said.  “A typical conversation is, ‘How old are you? Do you want to have fun? Let’s go play.’ They don’t care about where someone is from, or their race, or their ethnic background.”

    Perhaps the biggest misconception about kids’ spirituality, said one teacher, is the mistaken idea that they’re too young to understand.  “Believe me,” she said, “They know what’s going on.  They have such a wealth of knowledge, and a definite point of view.  They want to make a difference, and they all have something to contribute.  We need to listen to them – we’d be a much kinder, compassionate country if we did.”

    To learn how compassion and other spiritual virtues can help balance your body, mind and spirit, come experience the healing power of OHI missions in San Diego and Austin, TX. 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.

  • Harnessing the Power of Your Emotions

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    A Fortune 500 corporate executive contacted a minister and several-time Optimum Health Institute guest with a desperate request.  He had just learned his PSA levels were off the charts, and his prostate cancer had returned with a vengeance and metastasized into his lungs.  The best advice his physician could give him was to get his affairs in order.

    The stricken man told the minister that he knew she’d survived a near-death experience from a brain aneurysm, and had also tended to her late husband during his 2-year battle with melanoma.  He was angry with the doctors who had refused his requests for testing until it was too late; he was fearful he might be too ill to attend his older daughter’s October wedding, and he was grief-stricken he would never see his younger daughter marry, or his future grandchildren.  He refused to talk to anyone else – he told her he knew she’d been through this type of emotional wringer, and he felt she was the only one who would understand.

    The minister immediately agreed to work with the man, and cobbled together a kind of “spiritual boot-camp” to help him navigate his emotions. She didn’t shy away from discussing the very real possibility of his death – but she also insisted he shift his emotions from fearing the worst, to considering the possibility of the best. She had him make a list of things he had to be grateful for in his life – a loving family, steady income, a future son-in-law he loved and respected — and insisted he continue to add to it daily.  She also encouraged him to write down his “legacy deeds” – things he had accomplished during his six decades on the planet.

    At the end of the marathon session, the man had reached an emotional state of peace and grace. Three weeks later, he got the news his cancer was in complete remission.

    Far from being something western medicine used to downplay or dismiss, neuroscientists have finally recognized our emotions as a positive, powerful force for helping us process information, communicate, and handle stress.

    The signals in our brain that trigger emotions alert us to danger, and have aided our survival as a species. Our emotions let us make compassionate and ethical choices, help us connect with others and let us express moral judgment and empathy.

    While positive emotions – love, joy, optimism – trigger the body’s production of endorphins, the brain’s “feel good” chemicals, negative emotions – fear, anger, grief – cause acidity in the body, upsetting the natural pH and preventing a healthy alkaline state.

    For the executive struggling with a bleak prognosis, shifting his emotional state from negative into positive was exactly what his body needed to come back into a healthy balance, and vanquish the cancer cells.

    Candace Pert, PhD, is a neuroimmunologist who, among her many other scientific achievements so far, has proven the existence of chakras.  She theorizes that our emotions are the essential link between our physical and spiritual selves.

    Her audio book, “Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind,” and several other works are available in the Optimum Health Stores at the OHI missions in both San Diego and Austin, TX.

    Tap into the positive power of your emotions, and learn how they influence your body, mind and spirit with a stay at OHI.  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.