• Doing ‘The Work’ for Self-Transformation

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    Usually, it takes a spiritual revelation or a personal crisis for us to stop, reassess a tough situation, and transform our lives into expressions of joy, gratitude, success, and love.

    For author and speaker Byron Katie, it was a bit of both.

    It was 1986, and her multiple diagnoses of paranoia, depression, agoraphobia, and an eating disorder had landed her in a half-way house. She was lying on the floor of her room, marinating in self-loathing. At that lowest point of her life, the final indignity of a cockroach crawling over her foot suddenly shocked her into spiritual consciousness.

    She realized that if she stayed anchored in her dark thoughts, she suffered – but if she stopped believing the dire stories continuously playing in her mind, the suffering immediately stopped.

    From this epiphany Byron Katie developed The Work – a four-question exercise and a ‘turn-around’ to help discern truth from fiction, and to reclaim our self-esteem and self-awareness.

    To do The Work, when someone or something “they” say upsets us, ask yourself these four questions:

    1) Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)

    2) Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)

    3) How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought?

    4) Who would you be without the thought?

    After you’ve responded to each of the four points, you create a statement that is the opposite of what you initially believed, or a “turn-around.” For example, if you said, “My boss is too demanding,” your turn-around statement might be, “I could be more effective at my job.”

    It’s an exercise that forces us to confront our subconscious programming from messages we’ve received since childhood. Answering each question honestly and completely releases us from non-productive emotional patterns, and empowers us to recreate our world from a perspective of empowerment. The “turn-around,” in particular, pushes us way out of our comfort zone to reevaluate the issue from a completely different perspective. Frequently we discover a truth we’d avoided seeing – and this new wisdom can mentally, emotionally and spiritually set us free.

    Individuals and groups around the world quickly adopted the simple, direct and transformational nature of The Work. Schools, universities, corporations, hospitals, churches, prisons, and shelters are sharing this mindful exercise. Byron Katie has created an international organization to offer both weekend intensives and a nine-day School for the Work, where diverse groups of participants enthusiastically tackle this challenging and rewarding “mental yoga.”

    Find a free worksheet to help you do The Work at: http://thework.com/sites/thework/downloads/worksheets/JudgeYourNeighbor_Worksheet.pdf.

    Experience your own transformation and make positive, powerful and lasting changes when you embark on a life-affirming visit to the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego or 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) 993-4325 to make your reservation.

  • Bringing Home Earth Day

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    It was 45 years ago that a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, enlisted bipartisan congressional support to launch the first Earth Day.   He was dismayed by the tragic damages dealt the environment by a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California the previous year, and wanted to focus national attention on the importance of mindful stewardship of the planet.

    Over 20 million people participated in the “teach-in” that April 22nd, and the awareness-raising project took root.  The success of the first Earth Day is credited with sparking the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.

    Just 20 years later more than 200 million people around the globe took part, and this year, an estimated one billion will participate in Earth Day events.

    We can make this 45th anniversary of Earth Day so much more meaningful by bringing it home.  With a little creativity and commitment, we can each be more effective in finding personal ways to be kinder to the environment.

    1.    Reduce: Just taking your own shopping bag to the grocery story every week is a huge step towards helping the planet.  Using refillable containers for beverages you bring from home instead of buying plastic bottles of water is another little step that gets big results. 

    2.    Reuse: Don’t be so quick to toss empty, worn-out or broken items.  An old, torn T-shirt makes several superior dust cloths.  Twist the cap back on an empty liter plastic bottle and cut off the bottom, and you have a great scoop for dog food or bird seeds.  Collect various colors and sizes of broken pottery and make a custom table-top mosaic.  Melt broken crayons and pour the wax into a clean plastic prescription bottle, and make a super crayon!  A broken ladder, firmly attached to the wall on an angle, makes a dramatic and practical set of shelves.  Get crafty and creative, and you’ll come up with clever solutions.

    3.    Recycle glass, plastic, metals, electronics, batteries, mercury light bulbs and cardboard.  Just check with your local waste management facilities for specifics.

    4.    Plant a tree in memory of a loved one or pet, and you’ll be part of the global movement to plant one billion trees.

    5.    Volunteer to help with a river or highway cleanup project in your area.

    6.    Shop consciously, and choose items with a high percentage of recycled material.  Also look for furniture made from reclaimed wood, or harvested through sustainable forest management.

    7.    Choose energy-efficient appliances, electronics and household building materials.  Double-paned windows dramatically cut down on heating and cooling costs.

    8.    Conserve electricity by turning off lights, TVs and computers when you’re not in the room.  Wait until the dishwasher is full to run it.  Keep the thermostat a little lower in the winter, and higher during warmer months.

    9.    Start a windowsill or potted garden to grow fresh herbs.  If you have the space, start composting kitchen waste to create nutrient-rich soil.

    10. Since Earth Day was initiated as a “teaching moment,” take your kids or friends for a hike in the woods.  Being in the beauty and grace of nature reinforces our responsibility to care for our planet, as God directed.

    Help make this 45th Earth Day the most effective one yet by being an active participant.

    Be an active participant in your health, too, when you learn how to make positive, powerful and lasting changes to your lifestyle choices.  Make a life-affirming visit to the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego or 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) 993-4325 to make your reservation.

  • Little Steps for Big Progress

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    You’re starting to think you look so haggard you want another mirror for a second opinion. Your dryer shrank your pants – again.  Bending is such a challenge that when you tie your shoes, you look around to see if there’s anything else you could do while you’re down there.  THIS time, you tell yourself, after getting winded coming up one flight of stairs, you’re going to get healthy.

    That’s certainly a worthy goal.  But it’s also daunting.  How in the WORLD will you get from where you are, to where you want to be?  It’s just too easy to decide to wait and start tomorrow…and then tomorrow….and then tomorrow. 

    The simple truth is, you’re going to get more positive results, and lasting behavioral changes for the better, when you release the idea of making immediate sweeping lifestyle changes in favor of taking tiny steps.

    1.    The first step should be making sure you want to make changes for you.  Tune out all the external chatter, and check in with yourself to see if you are trying to please someone else, or if this is truly something you personally want to accomplish for your own well-being. Focus on the values, virtues and strengths that nourish your body, mind and spirit.  You can’t live someone else’s life. 

    2.    That being said, what you do deserve to get from others is encouragement.  Is someone subtly – or not-so-subtly – trying to sabotage you?  Surround yourself with others who support you in your efforts.  Sure, you want friends and family to give you a reality check, but you also deserve their encouragement.

    3.    Now that you’ve created a strong foundation for change, and your support team is in place, break your goals down into manageable steps.  Running a marathon next month when you rarely even go for a walk isn’t realistic.  Starting to walk half an hour a day, and over the course of a year gradually increasing your time, distance and speed, certainly is.  Check with your doctor before embarking on this challenging but doable goal.

    4.    Successfully making any changes will require some mental “rewiring.” When we repeat a thought or behavior, it literally creates a groove in our brain, similar to the grooves on a record.  Any messages we’ve received through our life, good or bad, we unconsciously “replay” and repeat the habituated behavior.  “You’ll always be fat,” “you’ll never be good at math” or “you’re just not cut out to be athletic” are some of the judgments from others that can resonate throughout our lives, limiting our abilities to reach goals, get healthy or be truly happy.  That’s why starting out with small, realistic and achievable objectives is so smart.  Early successes immediately increase our self-confidence and self-esteem, helping us stay with the program.  By changing the messages we tell ourselves, even slightly, we begin creating new neural pathways, those “grooves” in our brain.

    5.    So now that you’re sure you’re making changes for your own personal satisfaction, you have a support team to encourage you, you’ve started taking small steps and you’re successfully changing the messages you’re telling yourself, it’s time to celebrate your progress.  Congratulating yourself reinforces your commitment to positive change, and is essential to staying on track.  Before too long, you’ll experience for yourself how those small steps will lead to achieving big goals for optimum health in body, mind and spirit.

    Learn how to make positive, powerful and lasting changes when you embark on a life-affirming visit to the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego or 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) 993-4325 to make your reservation.

  • Setting Yourself Up for Success by Marking Milestones

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    OK, it’s been over three months since you started the New Year full of optimism and good intentions to really follow through with those resolutions this time.   How’s that working for you?

    If just about everything you resolved to accomplish has fallen by the wayside, spring, the season of growth and renewal, is the perfect time to tackle your goals the right way.

    First of all, you have to feel a passionate connection to your objective.  Pick a specific goal that’s in alignment with your values, and you’re much more likely to see it through.  Write down that goal – the act of putting it on paper, or keying it into your electronic device, affirms and focuses your intention.

    The most effective goals are SMART S pecific, M easurable, A ttainable, R elevant and T ime Bound.

    If your goal is, “Get Healthier,” be very specific with what you desire to achieve.  Lock in specific action steps, like, “Get up 20 minutes earlier to meditate every morning,” and, “Exercise at least 30 minutes every day.”  The more specific you are, the easier it will be to stay on track.

    By taking the time to set measurable goals right from the start, you’ll be able to monitor your progress in very real and tangible ways. 

    One tendency we have is to set completely unrealistic goals that are impossible to achieve.  If you love to sink you teeth into a giant burger daily, chances are your desire to “Go Vegetarian Starting Today” is not going to happen.  Instead, starting with one meatless day the first week, and gradually increasing the number of days every few weeks, gives you the opportunity to realistically and permanently change your behavior.

    So now, let’s say you’ve strategically set SMART goals, you wrote down specific action steps, and you’re starting to see results.  It’s time to celebrate!

    While stopping to congratulate yourself on your progress might seem unnecessary or immature, it’s actually one of the best motivators.  In her book, The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement and Creativity at Work , Harvard Professor Teresa Amabile, PhD, shares her research proving that marking minor achievements is the most effective way to inspire people to continue on track for achieving other objectives, both large and small.

    Besides making business sense, celebration is also a spiritual discipline.  Enjoying the fellowship of like-minded people, expressing gratitude for your achievements and sharing the fruits of your labors enrich your spiritual connections to everyone and everything in your life, and to God.

    Learn how to set SMART goals for transforming your body, mind and spirit when you embark on a life-affirming visit to the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego or 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) 993-4325 to make your reservation.

  • PS – I Love Me

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    Virginia Samdahl, the first Occidental Reiki Master, frequently inspired her students by reminding them, “The only difference between Christ and us is that He was born knowing He was divine, and we go to the grave denying that we are.”

    Stop for a moment and breathe in that thought.  How different would every moment of your life be if you truly believed you were a spiritual being of divine grace and love?  What could you accomplish if you thought you could not fail?  How deeply and powerfully could you love yourself, and your life?

    The reality is, loving ourselves can be an illusive pursuit until we’re able to make peace with our past and present, and find our spiritual center.

    Every second of every day we’re bombarded with thousands of external messages.  We’re shown how to look, how to act, how much “stuff” we should have, and what we should care about.  It’s too easy to give away our power and bow to social pressure.  In the process, our self-esteem and confidence take a bad hit.  Fortunately, there are healthy habits we can adopt to start to come back into balance, and truly see ourselves as lovable spiritual beings helping to make the world a happier, healthier, more loving place.

    Try these tips to fall in love with yourself:

    1)    Be grateful.  Even before you set one foot out of bed in the morning, take a moment to express gratitude for this new day, and this new opportunity.  This will start your day on a positive, loving note.

    2)    Forgive.  The God-given gift of “free will” means we each make our own choices.  A huge step towards loving ourselves means acknowledging not every single choice we’ve made has been ideal, and letting go of harsh self-judgment.  Instead of hanging onto guilt or regret, figure out what valuable lesson you learned in the process, even if the lesson was, “I’ll never try THAT again!”  Then, forgive yourself, and just let it go. 

    3)    Check in with yourself.  Monitor your thoughts by examining your feelings.  If you want to feel happy, you must first have a happy thought.  Think about something positive you’ve done, or you’re going to do.  By cultivating happy, positive, self-loving thoughts, you’re rewiring your brain to produce happy, positive, self-loving feelings.  You get to choose your thoughts, and your thoughts will determine how you feel. 

    4)    Learn something new. The science of epigenetics shows us that when we’re doing something we haven’t done before – whether it’s learning another language, taking a raw food prep class, parasailing or going on a first date, we’re rewiring our brains.  We’re literally getting out of a neural rut.  When we’re tackling something new that also fascinates us, we’re producing some very happy connections and chemicals that make loving ourselves that much easier.

    5)    Reflect.  Before you go to bed, take a moment to think of the three most positive things that happened to you that day, and what your role was in making them happen.  Pretty soon, you’re going to see the pattern of how you constantly set good things in motion.  You’ll find it’s much easier to appreciate your efforts, and start to love yourself.

    6)    Go within.  Carve out a special time daily to meditate and pray.  As you sit in sacred silence, and gently enter into the Alpha state, you draw closer to God consciousness.  In that divine space of expansion and connection, you will awaken to the truth that God is within you.  You are divine.  God is love.  You are love.

    “Namaste” isn’t just a trendy yoga class greeting.  It literally means, “The God in me bows to the God in you.”  It’s affirming your heavenly perfection and grace.  The next time someone says it to you, breathe the truth of the statement into your heart, then return the blessing.  Know that you, too, are divine.  Feel the love. 

    Come feel the love and connection during a transformational visit to the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego or 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) 993-4325 to make your reservation.