• Spiritual Awakening

    Sometimes, when we reach rock bottom, we discover our spiritual awakening was waiting there for us to embrace it.

    She was 43, bedridden, with three kids and an unhappy second marriage. Her destructive addictions to food, alcohol, and codeine sent her spiraling downward. As a last-ditch effort to heal her body, mind, emotions, and spirit, she asked for help and was admitted to a rehabilitation facility in Los Angeles.

    Deeply depressed, full of rage and feeling completely disconnected from her life, she lay on the floor of the attic, staring at the ceiling. Suddenly she felt a faint tickle on her bare foot. A cockroach was brazenly making its way across her toes.

    At that very moment, in the most vulnerable, desperate situation she had ever experienced, Byron Katie had a spiritual epiphany. She could either surrender to the bottomless pit of fear and loathing and give up on her life, or she could completely change the meaning she gave to basically everything.

    In that moment of spiritual clarity, she realized that old beliefs and judgments had kept her stuck in a place of pain. By simply giving herself permission to release those beliefs, and substitute positive, hopeful new thoughts, she could immediately and permanently transform her life into one of joy, purpose, and love.

    As she shared her new revelation with others, she began to realize the way she shifted the meaning of things in her own life could be a powerful tool for transformation for anyone else, too. That’s when Byron created “The Work,” a series of four questions designed to help people separate myth from truth, and reclaim their lives:

    1. Is it true?
    2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
    3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
    4. Who would you be without the thought?

    Sharing The Work became Byron’s new spiritual purpose, and she has authored numerous best-selling books on the subject, lectured, created an international institute, and been dubbed, “a spiritual innovator for the 21 st century” by Time magazine. She has touched millions as The Work is being taught at prisons, hospitals, universities, corporations, workshops, and retreats across the globe.

    Had she not confronted her own desperation, though, Byron never would have experienced the spiritual awakening that has transformed so many lives.

    Find a sacred space of empowerment, serenity, and encouragement to nurture your own spiritual awakening with an extended stay at OHI San Diego or OHI Austin. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation. Call today to find out about special money-saving offers for November.

  • Our Secrets to Strengthening the Spirit Through Prayer

    Prayer is the most important spiritual discipline we at Optimum Health Institute (OHI) practice to create and nurture our connection to God, and renew our spirit. Simply put, prayer is talking to God. Meditation is listening for God’s answer. Because we’ve been given the divine gift of free will, prayer is actually our first step in reaching out to God, and affirming the existence of a Higher Source.

    There are thousands of ways to communicate with God. Some people get out in nature; others use music, a candle or incense to silence mental chatter. There are others who can pray anywhere, any time. When we connect to God on a heart level, we can stay mindfully in the moment without mentally over analyzing the experience.

    When you learn how to quiet the mind, you become more aware of God’s healing presence and your direct connection to Him. It can be particularly powerful to open all your prayers with an expression of gratitude for God’s many blessings.

    While we encourage individual prayer at OHI in the manner that’s most comfortable for each guest, we also cherish our tradition of prayer circles before meals and ceremonies. There’s great symbolism in prayer circles. When two or more are gathered together in the name of the divine, their prayers generate powerful, purposeful energy and there’s a deep spiritual fellowship. While a group prayer may be more general, there is an undeniable healing energy that enfolds everyone. A circle symbolizes eternity, the perfection of creation without beginning or end. We hold hands and appreciate our community of caring, mutual respect for individual differences, and fellowship in our love for and surrender to God.

    Another OHI group prayer tradition is our Friday morning testimonials, where guests and adherents share their experiences. I remember when a young woman told how God had answered her prayers, but not as she anticipated. She endured a tough childhood, and was raised by her grandmother. The girl fell in with a bad crowd and got involved in drugs and destructive relationships. Each time she began to straighten up, she sabotaged herself.

    She prayed for help, and found a substance abuse recovery center. When she still didn’t feel whole, she kept praying for assistance and met a person who suggested she come to OHI. Her first few days she was sick as a dog while her body released years of toxins. By the middle of the week she turned the corner, and was transformed in time for Friday morning testimonials. She developed a personal connection to God, and resumed her spiritual path with clarity and joy. What made the difference? She had to just trust that God really WAS answering her prayers, even through those tough first days at OHI.

    Sometimes God responds to our prayers in ways we didn’t anticipate. Other times He responds so much more magnificently than we could have possibly imagined. The bottom line is this – the only true prayer is the sincere desire of the heart. And all true prayers are answered.

    Strengthen your relationship with God through prayer, and discover a clarity that can’t be achieved through your works alone. Find the perfect setting for deep prayer and contemplation with an extended stay at OHI San Diego or OHI Austin. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation. Mention the code “October” to find out about special money-saving offers.

  • How Generosity Transforms the Spirit

    In the anxious hours as Hurricane Irma was nearing Florida this fall, a powerful act of compassion was playing out that grabbed the nation’s attention.

    A woman had driven 30 miles to a home improvement store in Orlando to purchase a generator. Strong winds would surely knock out power for hours, if not days, and the woman’s father depended on his electric oxygen concentrator to breathe. When the man in line in front of her received the very last generator the store had in stock, the woman dissolved into mournful sobs.

    Without even knowing why the generator was so crucially important to the woman, the stranger gave his to her, and hugged her. She clung to him, crying and thanking him for his kindness. The single act of compassion reverberated throughout the country, inspiring others to also help neighbors in need.

    The generosity of spirit provokes an open-hearted response. Moving stories of previously mind-mannered people suddenly stepping forth and putting others first serves a dual purpose. It not only confirms the innate goodness of others; it kindles an urge in all who learn of their deeds to likewise be of service. The generosity of spirit, it’s been scientifically proven, is catching. Even if we feel we ourselves don’t have enough, when we see others being generous, we’re willing to go the extra mile to help someone else, too.

    This desire to come together and share with others transcends boundaries of religion, nationality, race, age, and gender. It’s a spiritual energy of open-heartedness, charity, and optimism that sweeps everyone into its embrace.

    As we head towards the season of gathering for the holidays and celebrating our blessings, it’s an ideal time to think about new ways we can share our own spirit of generosity, without waiting for a crisis to trigger a desire to help.

    Identify a cause you feel passionate about, and go online to find local opportunities to share your time and get involved. Everyone probably has at least a few books you’re not going to read again. See if your local library or school could use them. Buy an extra bag of dog food and donate one to an animal shelter. When you let your friends know what you’re doing, they’ll be motivated to get involved, too.

    If the OHI healthy lifestyle program has enriched your own body, mind, and spirit, you might want to consider sharing that gift with someone else through a donation to the OHI Scholarship fund. Every dollar you share goes directly into a scholarship, and every donation is 100% tax deductible.

    Enrich your spirit with an extended stay at OHI San Diego or OHI Austin. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation. Mention the code “October” to find out about special money-saving offers.

  • Overcoming Suffering Via Post-Traumatic Growth

    Benjamin Franklin’s family didn’t have the money to keep him in school after he turned 10. Jewish Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl was interred in a Nazi death camp during WW II. Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was 3. Bill Gates’ first business, a data processing company, failed miserably. Stephen Spielberg was rejected – twice – by USC, the nation’s top film school. Bethany Hamilton was just 13 and starting to surf competitively when a shark bit off her left arm.

    The one thing all of these people have in common was their refusal to give up when faced with horrific odds. Being able to tap into deep emotional resources in challenging times and not only survive the obstacle, but actually thrive, is such an important trait that psychologists have even coined a name for it – “post-traumatic growth.”

    It’s something deeper than “resilience,” the ability to rebound from setbacks and resume your life. Of course, resilience is a positive reaction to negative situations, and represents a healthy ability to stay mindful in the present moment, and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

    The difference, though, is people who exhibit the quality of post-traumatic growth actually end up using the major setback – personal injury, betrayal by a trusted acquaintance, losing everything in a devastating storm or fire, the tragic death of a loved one – as a stepping stone to redefining ‘normal,’ and creating a more purposeful life path.

    Frequently, too, the person will re-dedicate themselves to being of service to others in a similar situation. For instance, Dr. Frankl counseled other prisoners in the concentration camps, and saw proof that those who had deep meaning in their lives – something purposeful left to do – survived. He created the equation, “Suffering without Meaning equals Despair,” and after his release wrote the ground-breaking book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Bethany not only resumed an award-winning surfing career – she is at the heart of the non-profit foundation, Friends of Bethany, that offers spiritual support to those in need. Franklin, Einstein, Gates and Spielberg all helped elevate and change the nation, and the world despite their early bleak experiences.

    If you find yourself emotionally overwhelmed after an unexpected challenge, there are ways to cultivate the powerful and positive road to post-traumatic growth.

    1) Remind yourself, “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” Acknowledge the hurt, but also know you have the power to gradually move through it, into a space of acceptance, and then growth.

    2) Don’t define yourself by the challenge. You endured something intense, but that doesn’t detract from who you are.

    3) Realize healing, and growth, take some time. Even if the incident was instantaneous, coming back into optimum balance isn’t. Be gentle with yourself.

    4) Rely on spiritual disciplines. Meditating, prayer, journaling – all are essential for helping you process your emotions, and guide you in a positive new direction.

    5) Consciously choose foods and beverages that nourish, replenish and fuel you. A healthy, positive, balanced mind and spirit require a healthy body.

    Find the emotional, nutritional and spiritual support you need to grow past old hurts and embrace positive new experiences with an extended stay at OHI San Diego or OHI Austin. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation. Mention the code “October” to find out about special money-saving offers.