• Happy in Community!

    Affirming Your Life

    “Happiness held is the seed; Happiness shared is the flower.”

    — John Harrigan

    Affirmation: Today in meditation, I will focus with gratitude on how my spiritual community supports and inspires me, and brings me joy.

    When people say they’re happy to come to OHI, there’s solid science behind that statement.

    Back in 1998, Martin Seligman, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, was elected president of the American Psychological Association. It was up to him to determine what the focus of study would be for the organization that year. Dr. Seligman knew that psychologists had spent decades researching exactly what made people fearful, angry and depressed. Wouldn’t It be enlightening, he thought, to study what made people happy?

    So that year, America’s psychologists collected thousands of pieces of data pinpointing exactly what made people feel good. Dr. Seligman’s team sifted through reams of research and were quite surprised at what the detailed study revealed.

    A person’s sense of contentment wasn’t inextricably tied in to their wealth, or their level of education. It wasn’t how attractive they were, or how young, or where they lived. Instead, the level of one’s happiness was revealed to be consistently determined by three key factors: their belief in some kind of benevolent higher power; being a valued part of a community, and having a sense of purpose in their life.

    Dr. Seligman’s pioneering research has given rise to a brand new social science, Positive Psychology, devoted to researching and teaching the tools to help people, communities and societies in their pursuit of happiness. He offers free assessments to help you learn about your values, strengths and general level of optimism at https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/.

    Further evidence of how being in community helps make us happy is in the work of UCLA Professor Matthew Lieberman. In his book, Social: Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect , Dr. Lieberman asserts that our very physiology mandates we seek out our ‘tribe.’ We have evolved to the point, says Dr. Lieberman, where, “…becoming more socially connected is essential to our survival. In a sense, evolution has made bets at each step that the best way to make us more successful is to make us more social.”

    The late neuroimmunologist, author and holistic speaker Dr. Candace Pert, whose work is carried in the Optimum Health Store, also taught about the essential nature of being in like-minded community to be healthy and happy. Strong social networks not only make us feel good — they actually reduce the risk of depression, lower the risk of heart disease, and increase longevity.

    As growing scientific research suggests, the OHI community is a powerful tool for helping guests achieve and maintain not only optimum health, but optimum happiness. In alignment with Positive Psychology’s three essential requirements for being happy — Faith, friends and purpose — the God-centered focus at OHI empowers people with rituals and practices to nurture a belief in a loving, divine source.

    Friendships form quickly in the non-judgmental, supportive environment, where compassion for each other lifts the entire community. And for the “doing something purposeful” element of achieving happiness — everything is geared towards supporting guests in achieving their goals, which usually include being of greater service to their family and friends.

    Come back to OHI for an extended 3-week stay — and feel your happiness level soar! Reconnect with your spiritual community for an extended stay to link up with old friends, and make some wonderful new ones. Call us at (800) 224-2620 to book your reservation. Be sure to ask about our current promotional discounts.

  • Celebrating US

    Affirming Your Life

    “Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.”

    — Helen Keller

    Affirmation: As our nation marks Independence Day, today in meditation I joyfully celebrate my freedom from old, unhealthy behaviors, and the community of family and friends that supports and inspires me.

    Spirituality, the strength of community, and patriotism intertwine in a joyful, star-spangled celebration every 4 th of July.

    While the United States was created in large part to offer immigrants freedom of religion, our founders fervently believed in a divine source. They wove their spiritual convictions into the very document asserting our freedom and independence from British rule.

    John F. Kennedy, only 29 at the time, eloquently shared our spiritual history in a speech he made on the Fourth of July in 1946. “Our government was founded on the essential religious idea of integrity of the individual,” Kennedy said. “It was this religious sense which inspired the authors of the Declaration of Independence: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.’”

    As our nation was founded by a strong community with a shared belief in a benevolent God, 242 years later we continue to celebrate our freedom and independence in the welcoming embrace of community. The 4th of July is a traditional time for reunions of family and friends, and bringing like-minded people together to mark the holiday with fellowship, fun and festivities.

    For many who have experienced the 21-day healthy lifestyle program at Optimum Health Institute, the 4 th of July is a perfect time to rededicate ourselves to independence from old non-beneficial behaviors, and “dead” food. It’s a new opportunity to celebrate the transformative power of the OHI community’s power to support, reinforce and inspire our successes in achieving optimum health physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

    The joyful act of celebration itself is a spiritual discipline. Psalm 100 instructs us to “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord,” and the word ‘joy’ appears in the Bible 214 times. As Richard J. Foster writes in his book, The Celebration of Discipline , “Celebration is central to all the spiritual disciplines. Without a joyful spirit of festivity, the disciplines become dull, death-breathing tools in the hands of modern Pharisees. Every discipline should be characterized by carefree gaiety and a sense of thanksgiving…Joy is the end result of the spiritual disciplines’ functioning in our lives.”

    This July 4 th , take a moment to honor your own progress on your spiritual path, and your freedom to make optimally healthy choices in every aspect of your life. Celebrate the fact that you have the strength of a passionate, God-centered and joyful community cheering you on, walking the talk and juicing the wheatgrass right along with you.

    Make this the Independence Day you celebrate your life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness at OHI Austin or OHI San Diego. Reconnect with your spiritual community for an extended stay to link up with old friends, and make some wonderful new ones. Call us at (800) 224-2620 to book your reservation. Ask about our current promotional discounts.

  • Community Rituals Have Staying Power

    Affirming Your Life

    “There is immense power when a group of people with similar interests gets together to work toward the same goals.”
    Idowu Koyenikan

    Affirmation: Today in meditation, I will express gratitude for how my community’s rituals strengthen my resolve to shift into healthy new habits.

    Rituals are mindful behaviors that deepen both spiritual and emotional connections. When done in the loving embrace of a supportive, God-centered, like-minded community, those rituals can become the path to positive, lasting transformation.

    Community rituals have been an important part of every culture since recorded history. Ceremonies to welcome the change of seasons, a child’s entry into adulthood, the planting and harvesting of crops, and weddings, births and deaths are universal, and essential for binding people together.

    Science is showing that these rituals have a profound and lasting impact on a person’s behavior, says University of Texas cognitive scientist Art Markman, PhD. Particularly when the ritual is observed within a group of spiritually connected people, participants feel an enhanced sense of closeness. Other positive results of repetitive ritual include entering into a mindful, meditative state more easily, and also being able to exercise more self-control. People are more likely to choose a healthier option that has lasting benefits — like going for a walk, or drinking more water — than a short-term pleasure like eating a burger.

    Using the positive power of community to build a strong foundation for transformation has always been at the core of Optimum Health Institute’s vision. Interwoven with the 21-day healthy lifestyle program roster of classes are numerous rituals that draw the OHI community closer, while also supporting positive long-term behavior changes.

    Prayer circles before each meal reinforce the idea that nourishing the body likewise nurtures the mind and spirit.

    The ritual of the Release ceremony on Wednesdays shows how easy and beautiful it can be to let go of old hurts and limiting thoughts. The safe and sacred space created by the group facilitates authenticity in confronting one’s own pain, and beginning deep healing of body, mind, emotions and spirit.

    A more informal but just as beneficial ritual is juicing wheatgrass. By sharing their own stories as they’re snipping and pressing the tender green blades of grass, long-time guests encourage new community members to embrace this unique adventure, and focus on the benefits they’re setting in motion with each sip of the bright green juice.

    One transformational ritual everyone shares before the start of each class is the guided minute of Alpha meditation. Together, each person enters into a highly aware and receptive state, empowering them to more quickly understand, process and integrate important classroom information. The relatively new tradition has quickly become a favorite shared community experience.

    Treasured OHI community rituals can withstand the test of time AND temperature, says OHI Austin Program Director Cheryl Green. Even during 100+ degree days at the Texas mission, guests continue to choose to dine as a group at the outdoor table. The feeling of connection, shared laughter and support during meals is just another beautiful way the community members consistently empower and inspire each other.

    Celebrate and strengthen your OHI community ties through our facebook pages, Optimum Health Institute of San Diego and Austin , and OHI Austin Community. Reinforce that sense of belonging through our blogs on our website at optimumhealth.org. Or the best option — come back to your spiritual community for an extended stay to reconnect with old friends, and make some wonderful new ones. Call us at (800) 224-2620 to book your reservation. Mention code June Get Away to take advantage of our current promotional discounts.

  • The Positive Power of Community

    Affirming Your Life

    “The need for connection and community is primal, as fundamental as the need for air, water, and food.”

    — Dean Ornish

    Affirmation: Today in meditation, and throughout the day, I will stay in gratitude for the support, compassion and inspiration of my spiritual community.

    There is a wonderful story about an anthropologist who was studying the culture and social interactions of a remote African village. It appeared to him that there was a complete absence of competition, and he was curious to see what would happen if he introduced one. He placed a basket of delicious fruit under a tree, lined the children up, and told them whoever got to the basket first got all the fruit.

    To his amazement, the laughing youngsters joined hands and ran, together, to arrive at the tree at exactly the same time.

    “One of you could have had ALL the fruit,” the confused man said, as the children sat together enjoying the treat.

    “But how can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?” asked a little girl.

    This sense of a heartfelt community, where each member selflessly supports all the others, has a term — Ubuntu. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu explains it roughly translates to mean, “I am because we are.”

    “(It)…speaks of the very essence of being human,” said Tutu. “Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate…It is to say, ‘My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.’ We belong in a bundle of life. We say, ‘A person is a person through other persons.’”

    The idea that we can only truly discover ourselves through the healing power of community is at the heart of what makes Optimum Health Institute such a positive, transformational experience. Surrounded by like-minded, compassionate people, even apprehensive first-time guests soon begin to feel they ‘belong.’

    Together they take on the same challenges — booting burgers for seed cheese and kale salads; chugging shots of wheatgrass juice; learning that at OHI, “Es and Is” are NOT new classes of luxury sedans.

    Throughout the 21-day holistic healing program, the community itself becomes a motivating and driving force. When someone is having a tough day, others immediately move in to lend a helping hand, or a strong shoulder to lean on. The first week You Validation class is a profoundly moving session, as each person shares their appreciation of all the others. And during the Friday morning testimonials, everyone celebrates each other’s successes. One person’s progress in choosing a healthier, happier new way to live their life becomes everyone’s victory.

    It is through this love in action that miracles become commonplace, and body-mind-spirit transformation blooms into being. Our deep connection to the growing OHI community becomes a mantle of divine grace and strength that continues to uplift us long after we return home.

    It is to experience on all levels the truth of the concept that, “I am because we are.”

    Celebrate and strengthen your OHI community ties through our Facebook pages, Optimum Health Institute of San Diego and Austin , and OHI Austin Community. Reinforce that sense of belonging through our blogs on our website at optimumhealth.org. Or the best option — come back to your spiritual community for an extended stay to reconnect with old friends, and make some wonderful new ones. Call us at (800) 224-2620 to book your reservation. Mention code June Get Away to take advantage of our current promotional discounts.