Integrating the Elements for Transformation Into Your Life
“We are each made for goodness, love and compassion. Our lives are transformed as much as the world is when we live with these truths.” — Desmond Tutu
The process required for transformation has specific steps, each guiding you closer and closer to fulfilling your potential as a spiritual being in the human condition. However, just as a process has steps, steps have building blocks or elements that either prepare us for change or allow us to change. In this article I will use change and transformation interchangeably.
When our founders established the Optimum Health Institute (OHI) nearly 40 years ago, they had a vision for those in need of healing achieving optimum health in body, mind and spirit through a program developed in complete alignment with the steps necessary for transformation. The basic elements were built around the two greatest commandments; of loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself. However, unless you love yourself it’s difficult to love others in a healthy way. So recognizing and accepting the goodness of self and others, the healthy loving of one’s self and having compassion for yourself are prerequisites to loving others in a healthy way. But how do we master these basic elements when life has hurt us? Well we have to be inspired and, sadly, this usually occurs only when it hurts too much not to change our destructive behaviors, habits and patterns.
During our editorial planning and discussion for the 2015 OHI newsletter, we realized that the transformational process of OHI could not be addressed in one newsletter. Consequently, we started our discussion of one’s journey towards transforming and achieving optimum health with the concept of “the waterfall of healing” starting with inspiration cascading into a pool of encouragement and exploration and then meandering into a smooth reflecting pool. Each issue delved deeper into each step of the healing journey to make us more self-aware but without the final step of integration, healing is illusive.
In our first issue for 2015, you were inspired to shift from how things are to a healthier, more balanced version of yourself. Then, during the second issue, you were encouraged to explore yourself — values, goals and beliefs — knowing that self-awareness helps you uncover strengths and purpose you might not have known you had. Our third issue covered the next step in transformation – reflection – where you were invited to be an objective observer of your life without judgement of self.
Just as OHI’s healing program follows these steps to transformation, our quarterly newsletters for 2015 have followed a similar rhythm to reinforce and support your progress. You can access past newsletter issues on our website at www.optimumhealth.org .
Our Winter issue focuses on the final step and is a call to action for integration, meaning the process of combining all of the positive things you’ve learned on your journey to becoming whole and achieving optimum health.
“Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world but be transformed by renewing your mind.” — Romans 12:2
With these words, Saint Paul knew all too well from his own transformation that everything begins with a thought which leads to words and then to action. At the time of Paul, people knew what they could experience with their five senses and what was historical. For the most part, knowledge was acquired through experience and was passed down through an oral tradition, as most people could not read or write.
The concept of inner peace was foreign to the common person as peace meant freedom from strife and discord from a very legalistic societal standpoint versus looking inward. Paul’s teaching of “renewing the mind” and setting aside the patterns of the world was really about changing the stories we tell ourselves about the world, other people and our worth.
For this reason, integration starts with changing our thoughts . In conditioning our mind to build new habits there is a verbal model for change and a visual model. The ancients would think it, say it, hear it and do it. Today, with high levels of literacy we are also able to follow a visual model of think it, write it, see it, do it. Both are important to building the basic elements of goodness, love and compassion into your transformation process.
The first step is to think about, verbalize and write positive affirmations about yourself and the outcomes you want to achieve. Do this in your daily journal and then make a daily plan. Saint Benedict called this a Rule of Life. The second step is to think of, say out loud and read your affirmations every day. The third step is to identify one small action and complete it each day for 21 days. Don’t worry about which action to do first or how big the task, for any action that creates change is fine. As you go through the first day, continue to read and verbally affirm yourself and stay focused on the task. At the end of the day write about what you did, how you felt and what you learned. Begin the next day by reading what you wrote on the previous day and continue the process through day 21. At the end of 21 days, you will have created a new habit and behavior, integrated into your life and transformed a small part of you. Just think if you did this throughout the year. Whew, that’s 17 new behaviors and habits in one year! I am both inspired and exhausted just thinking about it. So be mindful and stay encouraged and reflective while remembering the integrated whole of self is greater than the sum of the parts. Each small change results in a life larger and fuller than the change.
In closing, our desire for the basic transforming elements of goodness, love and compassion are never more apparent than during the holiday season. I invite you to experience the holiday season with us at OHI and be involved in a noble cause of helping ourselves and the world transform.
May the promise, joy and holy grace of the holiday season be yours today, and every day.
Robert P. Nees, Jr.
Optimum Health Institute of San Diego and Austin