It was melanoma that began on his lip and metastasized to take half of his face that was bringing a 46-year-old man’s life to a painful end. For three decades, he’d worked on the attractions at a famous theme park, and made fast friends with co-workers and park guests alike. He had a knack for making everyone feel special and happy.
In his final months, his friends decided to start a card drive with a very special difference. Each card thanked him for a specific thing he had done for that person. “I’ll always be grateful for how you drove me to work that week my car was in the shop,” one read. “Thank you for covering my shift that day I ended up in the ER with a bee sting,” said another.
He would pour over the dozens of cards for hours at a time, smiling, wiping away a tear and occasionally laughing, reflecting on all the little things he had done for others, and how combined, they made a very big impact. The cards gave him such a sense of peace and grace through the moment he died, surrounded by friends and knowing that he had done what he could to make the world a more loving place.
Living a meaningful life is one of the three major keys to happiness, according to the relatively new science of Positive Psychology. The other two are having faith in something greater than you and having a supportive community of even just one or two other people.
For many, deciding what gives their life meaning may seem a daunting task. The reality, as the dying man learned, is even the seemingly most insignificant thing can mean the world to someone else.
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love,” said Mother Teresa.
Here are some tips for creating more meaning in your own life:
- Model compassion. It’s a proven scientific fact – when you do a kind deed for someone, everyone who sees or hears about it is likewise motivated to similar compassionate action. Caring is truly contagious, and you can be the carrier.
- Volunteer . Whether you help out in a food kitchen during the holidays or foster a kitten from the humane society, even occasional acts of service will give your life richer meaning all year long.
- Donate . Cleaning out that closet, attic or garage means needed donations to Goodwill, and less clutter for you. It’s a win-win.
- Look for the lesson . When something does not go as planned, you have an opportunity to enrich your life by looking for the spiritual lesson in the experience. For instance, in reflection, you could see not getting that promotion at work means you’ll be happier in a less-demanding position that gives you more family time.
- Live in gratitude. When you choose to feel thankful for what you have, you will discover everything continues to just get better and better. Family, friends, career, your spiritual path – everything grows in clarity and meaning when you’re aware of the many blessings in every aspect of your life.
Discover how meaningful a healthy body, mind and spirit are 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.
Back in the early 50’s, a young artist who loved trains and spending time with his family dreamed up a dramatic and out-of-the-box way to combine these two passions. He imagined getting a big piece of land, building a railroad track all the way around it, and creating a variety of exciting activities in the middle to delight kids of all ages.
One by one, family, friends, colleagues and investors tried to talk him out of it. No one would want to come to it; no one’s ever done anything like that before; it would be way too expensive, and it just wouldn’t work. Despite all the logical reasons people assumed it would be impossible, 33 investors eventually threw their support behind the crazy idea, and Disneyland opened to the public July 17, 1955. The rest is history.
An “assumption” is merely an idea that is accepted as true – but there’s no proof of its validity. Throughout history, assumptions have imposed limitations, and served as stumbling blocks to growth. If people disagreed with the medieval Catholic Church’s assumption, ‘the sun revolves around the Earth,’ they could pay with their lives. Other assumptions, like ‘the world is flat,’ ‘people can’t fly,’ ‘alternating electrical current kills’ or ‘women aren’t as smart as men’ were also eventually proven false, and the world changed for the better.
The really tricky thing about most assumptions is, we probably won’t even realize they ARE assumptions until after they’ve been disproven. Usually an assumption is so ingrained into our consciousness that we never think to question it. To start discovering hidden assumptions that might be limiting you, think of something that frustrates you. That emotional response is an alert that something is out of balance. Stop assuming there’s no way to fix it and start to bring more balance into your life with these exercises:
- Pray and Meditate. Prayer is asking for guidance; meditation is listening for answers. Mindfully focus on an area of your life that bothers you, and ask for divine guidance on how to bring balance to the situation.
- Dreams are full of valuable information. Paul McCartney heard the haunting melody for “Yesterday” in a dream. The sewing machine; the Nobel-winning discovery of the chemical transmission of nerve impulses; the idea that launched the first American woman multi-millionaire; Frankenstein, even Jack Nicholas’ winning golf swing – all first appeared in dreams. Keep a journal by your bed to jot down information that comes to you in your sleep.
- Try “flow journaling.” This is the practice of entering into an Alpha state of heightened awareness to find your answer. Think of something you’d like to do, but you’ve always just assumed you couldn’t. Write a statement that leads you into the “how to” of accomplishing it, for instance: “The best way for me to become a sculptor is…” Now set a timer for 10 minutes. Take a few deep breaths to put yourself into Alpha, start the timer, then write for ten minutes straight, no stopping. At first your statements may be vague, like, “I have no idea where to begin.” As you continue writing, though, breathing deeply to stay in Alpha, you’ll start to tap into your higher consciousness, and get direction.
- Bounce your ideas off of others. Every reason they give you that your idea couldn’t possibly work helps you focus on very specific solutions. By tearing an idea apart, they can actually guide you into thinking how to make each aspect of your project a viable reality.
Never assume that bringing your body, mind and spirit into a healthy balance isn’t possible. Experience 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.
The innovative dishes are out and the rave reviews are in – guests at Optimum Health Institute (OHI) San Diego and Austin are loving the brand new 21-day menu.
“One of our Thursday dinners actually got a round of applause from guests,” reported Chef Amber Santa Cruz. The chilled gazpacho spotlighted all the regular favorite vegetables – vine-ripened organic tomatoes, freshly picked cucumbers, and chopped organic red bell peppers and onions. Now, thanks to the new 21-day menu, the savory soup is enhanced with complex new dimensions of flavor from exotic spices and fresh chopped herbs.
Another big hit, said Amber, is the raw vegan pad Thai featuring fresh zucchini “noodles.” “Guests really enjoy the sauce, which we make from soaked sesame seeds, avocado and ground spices,” she said.
Another standout meal, according to Amber, is Friday breakfast. “Guests break out in the biggest smiles when they pick up their bowls of buckwheat granola with seed milk, topped with mixed berries and sliced apples. The hypo selection (low glycemic alternative) is sliced avocado over a bed of greens, chopped vegetables and sprouts, with guest’s choice of a variety of new dressings.”
While the original idea behind introducing a 21-day menu was to provide a different lunch and dinner selection for all three weeks of the OHI healthy lifestyle program, the OHI kitchens have delivered so much more. After months of chopping, juicing, dehydrating, fermenting and tasting, said Amber, they’ve been able to concentrate delicious flavors while actually decreasing the number of ingredients in each dish. The results are palate pleasing and visually beautiful dishes that satisfy while complying with all of OHI’s strict nutritional guidelines.
Lentil chili with onion “bread,” breakfast applesauce with dehydrated crackers of apple, flax seeds and sunflower seeds, a huge assortment of vibrant new salad dressings to enhance fresh garden greens and chopped vegetables – guests are eager to sample each new kitchen offering.
“Guests tell me they’ve been coming to OHI for decades, and this is the best the food has ever been,” said Amber. “Guests frequently ask for recipes, which we’re happy to share. To me, that means they intend to continue eating nutritiously when they get back home. I’m thrilled to show them that healthy can be delicious, too.”
Come experience what “healthy” tastes like, and learn how to bring your body, mind and spirit into healthy balance at OHI missions in San Diego and Austin, Texas. Our caring team can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.
I Encourage You to Explore
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
— Isaiah 41:10
In continuing with our 2015 theme of laying of solid foundation, we are focused on the rhythm of the OHI program, which is inspiration , encouragement/exploration , reflection and integration.
In our Spring newsletter we talked about inspiration and how it can start as a tiny tug, deep in our heart. We feel we’re being “called” to do something, whether it’s learning a new skill, initiating new friendships, or sharing our gifts and beliefs with others. While this nudge is exciting, it’s also a bit unsettling. That uneasy feeling can easily and quickly discourage one from taking action. Because to act on the excitement that is coupled with apprehension would require us to leave our comfort zone, and invite the judgment of others.
Therefore, the next logical steps are encouragement and exploration . Sometimes, all it takes is knowing that God has our back and will “uphold us” to encourage us to take that leap of faith. God works through us, inspiring us to encourage each other. In fact it was Barnabas’ support of a transformed critic of Jesus that changed the course of Christianity forever.
Connecting the Optimum Health Institute Community Summer 2015
The New Testament Book of Acts teaches us when Saul first approached the disciples, wanting to join them, they held back. They were afraid that this man who had so stridently opposed Christ’s teachings hadn’t truly converted.
That’s when Barnabas, whose name literally means, “Son of Encouragement,” stepped up for Saul. He had seen him passionately preaching the gospel in Damascus, and urged the disciples to believe that Saul’s transformation was genuine. The disciples accepted him into the fold, “Saul” became “Paul,” and he went on to be the first to preach the Gospel to non-Jews. Many of the books in the New Testament are attributed to Paul. Yet Paul’s inspirational deeds and works would never have happened without the support and encouragement of another.
This summer, I’m encouraging you to explore those deepest desires of your heart, those whispers from God that steer you in the right direction on your spiritual path.
Too often, it seems, we can get so engrossed in the day-to-day demands of our personal and professional lives that we forget to notice God’s presence in each moment. Every sunrise and sunset paint a masterpiece across the sky. A baby’s laughter melts the coldest heart. Every random act of kindness creates a ripple effect of spiritual connection and compassion.
Whether from being in a rut, or fear, or lack of self-confidence, how many times have we failed to notice divine synchronicities manifesting right in front of us? How many fascinating opportunities have we missed because we stopped looking at the world with the insatiable curiosity and wonder of a child?
Alison Gopnik, a psychology and philosophy professor at University of California, Berkeley and a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, said it beautifully: “Successful creative adults seem to combine the wide-ranging exploration and openness we see in children with the focus and discipline we see in adults.”
It’s when we combine that child-like drive to explore with worlds of joy, fulfillment and love. Spiritual disciplines, like meditation, prayer and journaling, are keys to opening up our hearts and minds to magnificent new things.
“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”
— E.L. Doctorow
In this newsletter, we’re encouraging you to explore and expand your consciousness to tune into yourself, your dreams, your fears and your goals. We’re holding up a mirror, and taking a look at how centered and balanced we all feel in our lives, our relationships, and our spirituality.
We’ll share how to create Affirmations that truly support your desire to grow and transform non-beneficial behaviors. We’ll tell you how your anger can actually be a good thing when you learn how to direct it. Small changes can lead to major progress –we’ll tell you why. And we’ll show how being able to discern the truth from assumptions can completely change your life by putting you back in the driver’s seat.
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”
— 1 John 5:14
It takes courage to change and grow, and we’re there with you, every step of the way. With just a little encouragement and support, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish.
May you and yours experience the wonder of discovery. Together, we can make this a magnificent summer of transformation.
Yours in Prayer,
Robert P. Nees, Jr.
Senior Pastor and Chairman
Optimum Health Institute of San Diego and Austin
In the summer of 2012, a lovely young woman arrived at OHI San Diego on a mission. She’d been diagnosed with a grapefruit- sized tumor on her ovary, and the picture the medical establishment was painting wasn’t what she wanted to hear. She did not want to have surgery to remove the tumor and the ovary, and she didn’t want to freeze her eggs.
Jenny Emblom was always interested in holistic healing, and felt if she could bring her physical, mental and spiritual health into balance, she could beat the tumor. She also desired to have a healthy baby at some point in the future without the risks and expense of in vitro fertilization.
Jenny was able to pull together the money for the first week of the program, and by the third day, she was already feeling a transformative shift. She met with Pam Nees, one of the OHI founders and spiritual directors. Pam supported Jenny with prayer, encouragement and frank talk about the very real life-threatening health opportunity the tumor posed. Jenny appreciated Pam’s council, and rededicated herself to following OHI’s healing program to the letter.
Jenny was overwhelmed and grateful when we were able to present her with an OHI scholarship for the other two weeks of the program. When she returned to her oncologist after her stay, Jenny was thrilled to discover the tumor was half its original size. The doctor asked her to return in two months for another assessment.
A few months later Jenny was accepted into OHI’s Missionary program, where she excelled in compassionately helping others with challenging health opportunities. I’ve seen how people who have navigated their own journey through such a situation makes them particularly effective as Missionaries and counselors.
On her next visit to the oncologist, the doctor declared the tumor “resolved and gone.” We were just as happy as Jenny was! She soon married a man she’d met years before, and they welcomed their daughter Gabriella Seren Castro into the world October 5, 2014.
Jenny has adhered to the OHI program ever since. She loves to share her OHI experience, and she continues to support people seeking to reverse disease, or simply live a healthier lifestyle.
It was the combination of Jenny’s passionate commitment to regain her health, and the kindness of donors to the OHI Scholarship Fund, that not only saved a young woman’s life but also made it possible to create a loving family.
There is no limit to the good that can happen when we share compassion and generosity.
Executive Director OHI San Diego
Imagine that you’re holding a perfect, bright yellow lemon in your hand. Feel the cool, smooth skin of the fruit, then sniff it, and inhale the tangy aroma. Now imagine taking a huge bite. Chances are you puckered up and triggered a saliva flow just thinking about the overwhelmingly sour taste of that lemon.
You just experienced a very physical example of how the brain can’t easily distinguish between what’s real, and what’s imagined.
To a great extent, that’s exactly why thoughtfully worded affirmations can be so effective in helping us change nonproductive behaviors, and achieve important goals.
It’s essential to understand that for an affirmation to work, we need to feel an authentic connection to what we desire to bring into our life. The same way that we visualized holding, sniffing and biting into that imaginary lemon, whatever we’re affirming needs to be grounded in authenticity. For instance, declaring, “I will create symphonic masterpieces that are more respected and loved than Beethoven’s” isn’t an affirmation – it’s a lie. You consciously realize it’s not true, and there’s little to no chance it could ever become reality.
If music is your passion, gently build on what you can already do. “I love practicing the piano, and I’m starting to hear beautiful songs in my head that I can write down and play” speaks to a strength you already have – practicing – and elevates you to the next level – composing – in a logical and credible progression.
Acknowledging any challenges in your affirmations also keeps you rooted in reality and sets you up for progress and new success. “While I’m nervous about starting to date again, I’m also excited about sharing quality time with like-minded people, and enjoying new adventures” honestly confronts your initial hesitation, but gently guides you towards creating positive new connections.
When you’re writing your affirmations, be mindful of the words you choose. Empowering, positive statements “stick.” For example, instead of the tentative, “I’ll try,” use the more assertive, “I WILL.” Instead of “I want,” which implies a lack, substitute “I create,” which implies specific action. Instead of “I should,” use “I choose to.”
Visualize yourself actually doing the action spelled out in the affirmation, and feel the emotional excitement and connection to that image. Repetition is also key to keep your affirmation achievable.
Keep in mind that affirmations aren’t about what’s ‘wrong’ with you. Trash-talking yourself, say psychologists, is not a good motivator. Rather, affirmations that have the power to encourage you to embrace new possibilities are rooted in celebrating the best parts of who you are. Acknowledging past achievements, and visualizing exciting new possibilities creates the fertile environment for growth and realizing your dreams.
Realize 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.
A woman becomes furious at her cancer diagnosis. Suddenly, she is in remission. Neuroimmunologist Dr. Candace Pert shared that story to illustrate the connection between our physical and mental selves, or our “bodymind.”
Our emotions link our bodies to our minds and spirits, she said. All emotions, including anger, convey messages to our conscious selves.
“Anger” is an emotional or behavioral reaction to an unmet expectation. A friend is an hour late for dinner. Someone takes a parking space we were waiting for. We don’t get that promotion. We get angry because each outcome we desired is not going to happen.
Suppressing anger can lead to cardiovascular issues and depression. The trick is rewiring our brains to process anger appropriately instead of acting out in potentially harmful ways. Accept that anger is a signal something is out of balance. Tell your tardy friend how her actions impact you. “When you’re late, I feel angry because it feeds into the belief that you don’t respect our friendship.” This is a way to vent your anger without lashing out.
Anger at work might mean you’re in a job you don’t really like. Could this frustration be an opportunity to find a position you love?
Pay attention to thoughts you’re experiencing around whatever triggered your anger response, take a deep breath, and observe your emotions from a different perspective. Is anger protecting you from feeling vulnerable or threatened? Are you replaying an old tape from your past?
Rather than suppressing your anger, remember it’s our body’s way of signaling something’s out of balance. Honestly assessing the situation can help transform anger into taking action for a positive, healing outcome.
The journey into healing at the Optimum Health Institute (OHI) can be very simple, yet full of challenges that take guests out of their comfort zone. It is a time of discovering how the body works, how thoughts impact our overall wellbeing and what happens when we let the world slow down, let go of expectations, and seek silence. To support and encourage guests, OHI San Diego and OHI Austin create a safe space for the healing to happen.
During first week classes, guests are encouraged to follow OHI’s 5 Ps and have a positive mental attitude , clarify their purpose for doing the cleansing program, be patient with self and others and persist in their efforts toward reaching their healing goals. They can also pray to our Creator for strength, comfort, and healing.
New guests are assigned an OHI “buddy,” a staff member or missionary, to help them navigate the program and offer an understanding ear. The first week can be challenging. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
The process of cleansing and healing can be an adventure, exploring new ideas and new ways of seeing one’s life. It can be a celebration of personal power. I offer my presence to guests to listen, to share ideas and encouragement. I always suggest there is a power, a love that is greater than we can imagine. I encourage guests to be open to that connection to Mystery. This is perhaps the greatest encouragement available, an inner energy from Source with limitless resources.
I offer prayers that your life is full of meaning and blessings.
Lou Ann King
Senior Pastor and Executive Director
Optimum Health Institute of Austin
Back in the 1980s, a small southeastern town was being overrun with abandoned, injured and feral dogs and cats. “Animal Shelter” had become a euphemism for “gas chamber,” and hundreds of perfectly healthy and loveable animals were dispatched weekly. While many in the community were heartbroken about the situation, no one knew exactly what to do.
It wasn’t until two women initiated a forum to solicit ideas that things began to change for the better. People from all walks of life started to come together to share concerns, offer opinions and gather information about what other cities around the country were doing about the unwanted animal population.
As various options were researched and discussed, a plan emerged. The initial focus would be spaying and neutering to help bring down the overwhelming numbers of homeless pets. Next would be creating no-kill shelters, and educating the public about spaying, neutering and animal adoption. The final step was to generate on-going awareness in the community to help animals find forever homes, and generate funding necessary to sustain the spaying and neutering, adoption and education program. Veterinarians, benefactors, businesses and volunteers pledged their support.
It took many years and a lot of meetings, but what began as a community think tank culminated in an aggressive and efficient spaying and neutering program that other regions around the country are now imitating. A huge state-of-the-art animal shelter and humane society officially opened recently, and is also a national model for compassionate and effective animal care.
Whatever issues a community, business or school is facing, initiating a think-tank might be the first step towards healing the situation.
- A group will be able to generate many different points of view. Each perspective can be helpful in fully identifying both the issue, and possible solutions.
- Even though people will have different opinions, they’re united by a common cause. This is important for staying on track, and also supplies a built-in support system.
- When we’re answering to a group, we tend to be more accountable. Something we might let slide on our own becomes an important responsibility when others are counting on us to come through.
- Think tanks, by their very nature, can be inclusive. From the younger members of the community to retired senior citizens, everyone benefits from sharing their divergent views, and implementing a sustainable solution that will work for the greatest number of people for the long term.
- Truly visionary think tanks that generate actionable solutions consistently insist on defining a specific issue or goal; respectful dialogue; the ability to raise questions or play devil’s advocate without personal attack; clear communication and inclusiveness.
Is there a lingering or new development in your community that could benefit from a spirited and focused analysis? Consider gathering the wisdom of your “tribe” to bring the situation back into a positive balance.
Come balance your own life in the supportive atmosphere of the Optimum Health Institute missions 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.