• Meet Alaina Gallegos – Facilitator OHI San Diego

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    Q: Tell me how you found out about OHI and became involved. My favorite aunt,Evangeline, runs the spa. She is calming to be around, and I noticed that OHI had a peaceful feeling. I got a Masters degree in Public Health, and I worked in clinical settings but it wasn’t satisfying. Then one day I saw an ad for OHI and was attracted to working here. Facilitating across week 1, 2 and 3 is inspiring.

    Q: Tell me about your most memorable experience working at OHI. Each week during testimonials, guests open up, and share their vulnerable side. I see a transformation within them, and a light shining through them that is amazing.

    Q: What does community mean to you? Community to me is a group of people with whom you can be your true genuine self.

    Q: What inspires you? Outside of OHI, what inspires me is traveling, living abroad, living creatively, and not necessarily doing what society tells me. Inside of OHI, I find inspiration every day. People are bold about their health. We have many talented people that have challenged their limits, and created something out of visualization and living intentionally. I’m inspired by the faith that people have; how they are connecting with their spirituality; the trust they put in God, and that God is going to heal them.

    Q: What creates the feeling of belonging among guests at OHI? Guests often state that they feel at home when they are here, which means they are free to be themselves without judgment, to let their guard down. People from all walks of life form bonds with each other.

    Q: Tell me about some of the classes you teach here, and what makes them important. Focus 1 and 2 is a two-part class. What we do is create balance for people when they leave here. How they can make changes in their day. How to prioritize one or two things from the program that they can implement at home. They share their goals with each other, and they feel inspired. It’s an emotional time, and a bond is formed among them because they’re sharing their most intimate desires. Pray Eat Live, is one of our food prep classes. It really brings everything together from our food program. Guests learn recipes for a maintenance lifestyle. This class is like a party,  it’s a celebration of health with lots of laughter and fun.

    Q: How do you see the OHI program becoming integrated across body-mind-spirit?” A lot of guests, before their first time here, mostly think about the physical, but once they are here, they discover the emotional and spiritual blocks that can impede their healing. When feeling connected is not met, we turn to toxic foods and relationships. Here guests have time to reflect and find the root cause which is emotional. They realize they can’t get over these blocks on their own until they connect to spirit. Guests let go of deep anger and past hurt in our Release Ceremony. They realize with God the impossible becomes possible.

    Q: How does the program help people in everyday life?

    People leave here with renewed sense of hope. They have control of their health and life. They know their life is dictated by their decisions. They learn to question their relationships, and how they are spending their time and with whom. It helps with their thoughts, not going down that negative cycle. They have control of their lives. We remind people to pray daily and have gratitude. These tools make a big difference.

    Q: What are your favorite parts of San Diego? I’m a surfer, so my first inclination is to say the beach. There are also amazing hiking trails. Any place I can connect to nature like Cowles Mountain.

  • Belonging to a Community Is What Unites Us All

    Warm autumn greetings to you, our OHI community. I love this verse because it says so much about what we are doing here at OHI. People come here seeking a new healthy and healing lifestyle, and then while here they find a community to which they can belong. They no longer feel alone because they have bonded with others in a way that transcends the week or weeks they spend here.

    You may recall that in our Spring newsletter, I mentioned that the OHI Community is the one place I’ve experienced where people truly work to love their neighbors as themselves. A sacred practice which many major religions espouse. Then in the Summer newsletter, I touched on the idea that community is so important to human beings that it is in our DNA. In his famous hierarchy of human needs, Abraham Maslow put “Belonging” at the third level. It includes needs such as acceptance, feeling supported and understood, having relationships and friendships. When these needs aren’t being met, we feel rejected, neglected, and lonely. It is this need to belong, that I want to expand on here.

    The Need to Belong Is a Primal Force

    For our ancestors, it was the difference between living and dying. Belonging to a community was integral to survival. That hasn’t changed all that much since then. Of course, we are no longer threatened by saber tooth tigers, but our mental health is wholly dependent on belonging. It’s easy in today’s busy society to miss opportunities to connect with our fellow humans. Then, if or when, we run into some difficulty, perhaps we suffer a loss or find ourselves stressed at work, we don’t have that support person we need. Suffering alone seems to make any problem worse, and if it continues it can even be harmful to our health.

    According to the July 2012 Journal of the American Medical Association, living alone increases your risk of heart disease by 24%. (1) This is true because people who lack a social support group are more susceptible to the effects of stress. And, being alone can lead to loneliness which in turn can lead to depression. Belonging can defeat depression. A study in 2009 at Colorado State University found that mild to moderate depression can be alleviated more effectively by social interaction than by a prescription antidepressant. (2)

    Making Genuine Connections Is the First Step in Belonging

    What we need is more one-on-one, in-person communication. When I was young, a wise older man told me, “You need to have a belly-tobelly conversation if you want true talk.” At the time, I thought he was just trying to be funny, but it turns out that science supports his approach. It’s called the Belly Button Rule. According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian, professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA, when you are engaged in a conversation with someone and the two of you are genuinely interested in the topic and each other, you will point your navels at each other. Observe people talking in public sometime, and you’ll see that this is true. You’ll see people facing each other, even making eye contact, but their hips will be turned away from each other. Those people are not really interested in the other person or what they are saying. Here at OHI, I see lot people leaning in to each other having genuine conversations.

     ‘Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.’ Romans 15:7

    Belonging begins with acceptance. Accepting others, as well as, being accepted. According to Karyn Hall, PhD in Psychology Today, “One of the best ways to communicate acceptance is through validation. Validation builds a sense of belonging and strengthens relationships.”

    How Belonging to the OHI Community Begins

    Guests who have gone through our program many times described to me how the belonging process occurs. They say that it’s a learning journey of coming into wellness and wholeness. You start out on a path that is both a collective effort but with individualized objectives. It begins with detoxing, fasting and following a strict diet, with a wonderfully supportive group around you.

    You find yourself sharing things that are more intimate than anything you’ve ever shared before. I’ve told complete strangers here at OHI more about myself than I’ve told my loved ones.

    People even say, “I can’t believe I’m telling you this.” It’s an emotional outlet that enables people to feel and share their emotions.

    Everyone is exuding this positive energy. This release of energy helps you transform. You feel, “I don’t want to leave this place” because there is a sense of safety while at OHI. And, the people you meet – many will become lifelong friends. You build friendships that last for years because you let your guard down and felt free to share your most intimate concerns. The next time you feel stressed, you might want to pick up the phone and call one of your OHI friends. A study conducted at UCLA in May of 2000 by Shelley Taylor (3) uncovered a third response to stress (after fight or flight). The researchers called this response Tending and Befriending. Tending is any nurturing activity that protects someone and makes them feel safe. The act of sharing what’s going on with you will have a calming effect.

    Belonging to OHI’s Community Helps You Persist and Succeed

    Renowned psychologist, Albert Ellis said, “The art of love is largely the art of persistence.” Persistence is one of OHI’s 5 Ps to Optimum Health, and having the love and support of belonging to community makes it easier to stay the course and persist until you reach your goal.

    There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ Galatians 3:28

    Each week when people attend our program there is a great balance in the community as some people return for a second, third, or fourth week. These returning guests help the newer up-and-comers by sharing helpful tips and how-to’s that enable them to quickly assimilate into the OHI culture and community. Veteran guests understand – physically and emotionally – what the first weekers are experiencing and, by giving them a hand up, help them achieve their goals and their sense of belonging even faster.

    I have found that when you have a sense of belonging, you want to give back or pay it forward. It’s not only lending a helping hand but also a sharing of wealth. So, as you enjoy your Autumn, and refine your sense of community and belonging, we ask that you remember us when you plan your year-end donations.

    Yours in prayer,

    Robert P. Nees, Jr., Senior Pastor and Chairman Optimum Health Institute of San Diego and Austin

  • Celebrating the Divine in Everything

    Affirming Your Life

    “It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up.”

    — Eckhart Tolle

    Affirmation: Today I will mindfully celebrate all my blessings, knowing that each positive thing is more proof of God’s presence and love.

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    A butterfly lands on your hand for a fleeting moment.  You just finished reading Louise Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life.  Your best friend comments on how healthy you’re looking now that you’ve shifted to a primarily raw, plant-based diet.

    All of these little things are — quite literally — a cause for celebration.

    Reveling in the moment when positive things happen is an on-going opportunity to acknowledge the infinite good, and the infinite God, in our lives.

    “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth; make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise,” commands Psalms 98:4.   Throughout the Bible, we’re told of celebrations marking everything from baptisms and weddings to feasts, dedicating the wall at Jerusalem, and Jesus’ birth.

    “Celebration is central to all the Spiritual Disciplines,” writes Richard Foster in his book, Celebration of Discipline.

    Celebrating the small things helps us stay in the moment; we become more mindful of seeking out the positive.  And that which we seek, we find.  Our joy is contagious; those around us, too, will start to discover delightful reasons to celebrate throughout their day.  We strengthen the bonds within our spiritual community through celebrating together, honoring each other’s successes and growth.

    There’s still another benefit to choosing to celebrate just about everything.  The spiritual discipline of celebration itself is a form of thanksgiving.  Science shows us that shifting into an attitude of gratitude actually prompts positive chemical changes in our brains and bodies.  We can more easily release stress, boost heart health and lower blood pressure.  We feel fewer aches and pains, heal more quickly and can enjoy deeper, more restful sleep.

    When we expect to see the divine in everything, we will find it.  That’s when we truly begin to live our lives in constant celebration, doing all things with great love.

    Show yourself great love with an extended stay at Optimum Health Institute missions in San Diego and Austin.  Celebrate with your spiritual community 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 the Divine in Everything

    Affirming Your Life

    “Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love.”

    — Mother Teresa

    Affirmation: Today I will mindfully put love in everything I think, say and do.

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    A four-year-old girl’s parents returned home from the hospital, proudly carrying her baby brother.  She stared at her new sibling for a very, very long time, then told her mom and dad she wanted to speak to her brother — alone.

    Her parents were a bit hesitant, but knew the baby monitor was right by his crib, and they would be waiting just outside the door.

    As soon as she and the infant were alone, the girl approached the crib with purpose.  She rested her hands on the railings, leaned in close to her brother, and said wistfully, “Tell me what God looks like.  I’m starting to forget.”

    The late author, speaker and spiritual philosopher Dr. Wayne Dyer shared that true story to illustrate what too many of us experience daily.  When we seek it out, we can see God’s grace and love in everyone, and everything.  When we start to forget, a little piece of our heart goes into a kind of suspended animation.

    Dr. Dyer wrote prolifically on the concept that things will have the emotional meaning we give to them.  If we’re passed over for a promotion, it can mean we’re in a dead-end job; or it can mean we have more time to develop our skills, and fine-tune our aspirations for our future.  When our last child leaves the nest, it can mean our life no longer has any purpose; or it can mean we are now free to focus on those spiritual and creative pursuits we put on hold for years.

    If each day becomes something to endure rather than celebrate, it’s time to shift gears.

    Always searching for the deeper meaning in things, and choosing our response from a place of love and compassion, will enrich every aspect of our lives.

    When we put God on “speed dial,” constantly checking in for a more enlightened way of understanding and being, we start to come into a place of balance and contentment.  We can quickly access an Alpha state, which means releasing stress, bolstering our immune system, and experiencing more mental clarity and emotional stability.

    From that mindful place of deeper spiritual connection, it’s easy to stay in a heart-centered space.  We automatically begin to say and do the things that matter, and are steeped in love.

    When we expect to see the divine in everything, we will find it.  That’s when we truly begin to live our lives in constant celebration, doing all things with great love.

    Show yourself great love with an extended stay at Optimum Health Institute missions in San Diego and Austin.  Celebrate with your spiritual community 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.

  • Ordinary Guests Doing Extraordinary Things

    Introducing OHI guest, Kristi Overgaard. She is Chief Brand, Culture, and Awesomeness Officer at Switch Ltd. Switch designs, builds, and operates the most technologically advanced and highest-rated colocation data centers in the world. Kristi champions the initiative to ensure that the world’s extraordinary, beneficial technology advances will always serve a beautifully, humancentric and planet-friendly world.

    Kristi enjoys her roles in making a difference for her immediate community as well as the community beyond Las Vegas. She is on the steering committee and serves as the marketing chair for the Downtown Las Vegas Alliance, an organization that is integral in the redevelopment of the downtown area. She is a Board Trustee and vice chair for Nevada State College. She revels in her role on the Board of Trustees for the Nevada Museum of Art located in Reno, Nevada. Finally, she is a Champion Advisor for Dazzle Africa, a nonprofit focused on wildlife conservation and education in Zambia.

    Q. How did you hear about OHI?

    I have an amazing life coach that recommended OHI based on some of her other clients’ experiences. I let her know that nothing was more important than my health, and it was time for a complete reset. Her response was, “OHI.”

    Q. How did you feel both before and after your first visit?

    Before: I felt overweight, stressed, lethargic, and exhausted. I had joint pains, and I started avoiding stairs and standing for long periods of time. I felt double my age. After: I felt light, rested, cleansed, grateful, energized, alive, and healthy. People said I looked like I was glowing. That’s because I was!

    Q. What is the biggest change you’ve noticed in yourself since OHI?

    I think I’ve changed in four ways: 1. I pay even closer attention to the purity of food, products, and people in my life. 2. I remember now to actually take downtime for me. 3. I dropped 18 pounds, and intend to keep it off. 4. I learned the benefit of taking a completely technology break. It is beautiful!

    Q. What OHI class has had the most impact on you?

    Vocal Toning was the greatest gift. The classes in Focus 1 and 2 were life changing as well. I also incorporated the daily workouts into my life outside of OHI.

    Q. Did you find it difficult to open up and be vulnerable the first time you came to OHI?

    No. I found it to be very freeing and engaging.

    Q. How has your diet changed since you first came to OHI?

    I became a vegan again, and focused on a 70% raw diet. I really love the water and raw apple cider vinegar that replaced my coffee routine. I enjoy live, fresher food, and I am mindful of combinations.

    Q. What keeps you balanced and centered in a demanding job where you’re required to always be “on?”

    I start every day with meditation, and connect with my purpose regularly to keep on track. I also really believe in the mission.

    Q. What are your thoughts on “belonging to community,” and what positive aspects do they add to your life?

    How does your sense of “belonging” change with the different communities that you belong to? I think being a part of a community is central to being a healthy human. My communities vary greatly, and provide unique values to my life. My occupational community gives me mission, acknowledgment, results, and resources. Dazzle Africa feeds my spirit, and allows me to make a difference on the planet. That means more to me than anything else. The arts and education are the two items that I want to see walk hand-inhand to change the way we view work force development and life
    long learning. Our communities are where we design ourselves and feed ourselves. Belonging and tribal centers are cures in themselves.

    Q. Did your OHI re-set take your work-related creativity to a new level?

    My reset was about work-life balance, and ensuring that no matter how much I make a difference in my role at work, I still need downtime for me.

    Q. Once you’ve put in the hard work to re-set at OHI, does that provide you with a clarity and a confidence back in the working world?

    There was a clarity and a calm that centered me for any and all external interactions that I experienced even in the airport on the way home. The real world was not the same as our cozy OHI bubble, but I was able to navigate confidently in my new Zen swagger!

    Q. What was the thing that most surprised you about OHI?

    The most surprising thing was the people. I fell in love with the people, made life-long relationships, experienced deep and immediate connections, recognized soul relations. What surprised me most about myself was how ready and committed I was to be there. I was never scared or uncomfortable. I was small and silent, but open and attentive. I didn’t look at emails or texts the entire time, and I absolutely loved that part!