• Mindful Eating, Part 1


    When we’re stressed, it’s easy to reach for food to help comfort our emotions. During these times of self-quarantine, we hope our Mindful Eating blog can help bring awareness and tips on how to turn Mindless Eating into Mindful Eating. Here is part 1 of our 2-part series

    Mindful eating is about establishing full attention to your experiences, cravings, and physical cues when eating.  It makes you watchful about what you eat, and it aims to transform your relationship with food by focusing on the how and why of eating.  Mindful eating helps you have a better understanding of what foods nourish you and help you stay healthy while also encouraging a deeper appreciation of every mouthful.

    Here are six guidelines to help you understand the difference between mindless and mindful eating:

    Mindless Eating Versus Mindful Eating

    • Eating past full and ignoring your body’s signals vs. Listening to your body and stopping when full
    • Eating when emotions tell us to eat (ie: sad, bored, lonely) vs. Eating when our body tells us to eat (ie: stomach growling, energy low)
    • Eating alone, at random times and places vs. Eating with others, at set times and places
    • Eating foods that are emotionally comforting vs. Eating foods that are nutritionally healthy
    • Eating and multi-tasking vs. When eating, just eating
    • Considering a meal an end product vs. Considering where food comes from

    How to Eat Mindfully

    Mindfulness means focusing on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.  Here are some techniques and practices to make you more aware and mindful while you eat:

    • Begin with your shopping list: Consider the health value of every item you add to your list, and stick to it to avoid impulse buying when you’re shopping.
    • Come to the table with an appetite, but not when ravenously hungry: If you skip meals, you may be so eager to get anything in your stomach that your first priority is filling the void instead of enjoying your food.
    • Start with a small portion: It may be helpful to limit the size of your plate to 9” or less.
    • Appreciate your food: Pause for a minute or two before you begin eating to contemplate everything and everyone it took to bring the meal to your table.  Express your gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy delicious food and the companions you’re enjoying it with.
    • Bring all your senses to the meal: While you’re cooking, serving, and eating your food, be attentive to color, texture, aroma, and even the sounds different foods make as you prepare them.  The sight and smell of tempting food gets your mouth salivating.  The secretion of saliva and its digestive enzymes are the first step in digestion.  When you smell food, it also triggers your hunger sensation, which increases your craving for food.
    • Take small bites: It’s easier to taste food completely when your mouth isn’t full.  Put down your utensil between bites.
    • Chew thoroughly: Chew well until you can taste the essence of the food.  You may have to chew each mouthful 20 to 40 times, depending on the food.  You may be surprised at all the flavors that are released.
    • Eat more slowly, and don’t rush your meals: As you chew your food, try identifying all of the ingredients.
    • Eliminate distractions by turning off the TV and putting down your phone: Your focus should be on your food and the company you are sharing that food with.
    • Eat in silence: If you are eating alone, enjoy the silence.  Stay in the moment with your food.  Don’t let your mind wander.
    • Focus on how the food makes you feel: Do you feel energized or sluggish?  Happy or guilty?  Pay attention to your physical feelings as well as your emotional feelings.
    • Stop eating when you’re full: Through mindful eating, you can tune into your body and become more aware of the sensations that precede the “fullness recognition” in the brain, and better gauge when you are satiated.  It takes your brain 20 minutes before it gets the message that you’re full.  Eating more slowly gives your brain a chance to catch up with your body.  Overeating happens during that 20-minute window.
    • Ask yourself WHY you’re eating: Whether you’re truly hungry, and whether the food you chose is healthy.

    Join us next week for the second part of this article…

    In these uncertain times, look to OHI as your safe haven.  As we celebrate 43 years of holistic healing, we can teach you how mindful eating can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual goals for optimal health.  Stay safe, and be well.  Above all, embrace positivity!

    Mindful Eating is just one of the practices you will learn during a visit to OHI San Diego or OHI Austin.  We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. For more information, visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org or call us at (800) 588-0809.

  • Difficult Emotions, Part 2


    Here’s the 2nd part of our blog post on how to handle challenging emotions during challenging times. We hope it’s helpful to you…

    There are 6 steps to mindfully deal with difficult emotions…

    Step 1:  Turn toward your emotions with ACCEPTANCE.

    First, identify where you sense a tension in your body.  You may feel it as a stomach ache, a tightening of your throat, or the pounding of your heart.  Next, try to name the emotion you are feeling that is connected with this tension.  Don’t push the emotion away.  Stuffing it down will only cause it to bubble up and explode in different ways later.  Listen to your body, and the difficult emotions it is trying to make you aware of.  It is trying to help you wake up to what is going on before a major crisis occurs.

    Step 2:  IDENTIFY AND LABEL the emotion.

    Try to acknowledge the presence of the emotion, but remain detached from it.  Calmly say to yourself, “This is anger” or “This is anxiety”.  Try to “just be” with that emotion to take the pain out of what you’re feeling.  Stay in the present instead of catapulting yourself into the future or trapping yourself in the past.  There’s no need to blame yourself for choices you made that brought you to this moment.  Just identify the emotion for what it is.

    Step 3:  ACCEPT your emotions.

    Acknowledge and accept that an emotion is there.  If a friend or loved one was having a hard time, you wouldn’t shame them about it.  You need to show that same kindness to yourself, and say “I did the best I could.”  You are not your anger, fear, grief, or any other difficult emotion you are feeling, and it will not last forever.  Once you accept the emotion and treat yourself with compassion, you should feel some of the tension leave your body as you calm and soothe yourself.

    Step 4:  Realize the IMPERMANENCE of your emotions.

    Even if the emotion feels overwhelming, remember that it will pass.  Opening yourself up to your emotions allows you permission to work through them, and makes them more fleeting/less permanent.  The reality is that every emotion is impermanent, but that’s easy to forget when you’re in the midst of a crisis.

    Step 5:  Inquire and INVESTIGATE.

    After you have soothed yourself from the impact of your emotion, take a moment to explore what happened.  Perhaps you had a hard day at work or difficulty dealing with your family.  Maybe you feel unappreciated, lonely, or disconnected.  Investigating the root cause of your difficult emotions will help you gain insight into what you are experiencing.  To begin the investigation, ask yourself these questions:

    • What triggered me?
    • Why do I feel this way?
    • Was this emotion a result of my critical mind, or is it in reaction to something
    • What were your expectations surrounding the situation?
    • What reactions or judgments caused you to become angry or anxious?
    • Is this a pattern that keeps repeating itself?

    Step 6:  LET GO of the need to control your emotions.

    The key to mindfully dealing with your difficult emotions is to let go of your need to control them.  Step outside yourself, and really listen to what your heart has to say about the situation.

    Mindfully dealing with your emotions takes time.  Be patient with yourself as you explore your emotions.  OHI shares many transformative classes and tools with guests to help them manage and process difficult emotions, including:

    • Journaling: Journaling about the reason for your emotions for 15-20 minutes a day, over 4 consecutive days, can help relieve stress and lessen the emotional charge of the incident, making way for serenity and peace.  Multiple studies have shown that the practice has measurable results in providing benefits for the body, too.
    • Emotional Detox: Forgive yourself for the things you cannot change or control, and move on from your past mistakes.  Accept yourself for who you are, and work diligently to grow into the person you want to become.
    • Alpha Practice: Alpha meditation is anything that lets you quiet your mind through contemplation and reflection, and is a valuable tool for defusing tensions.  The Alpha method to enter a meditative state starts by sitting straight with your feet firmly on the floor.  Place your thumb, index finger, and middle finger together, and rest your hands, palms up, on your legs.  Close your eyes, and focus on your breath.  You can repeat a word or phrase that has meaning for you, like “peace” or “love.”  Imagine a relaxing sensation, like a wave of water, start at the crown of your head and gently flow through your entire body, exiting at your feet.  Slowly repeat your phrase, or just count, as you drift into a state of complete relaxation.  At this point of deep receptivity, you can focus on a specific intent — resolving a conflict, emotional investigation, or forgiveness — or simply continue conscious breathing and heightened awareness.  When you have completed your meditation, take a deep breath, and affirm, “Every day in every way I am getting better, healthier, and happier.”  Slowly count from 1-5, becoming more alert with each number.  Take a moment to reflect on insights you may have received in the Alpha state.

    In these uncertain times, look to OHI as your safe haven.  As we celebrate 43 years of holistic healing, we can teach you how to process difficult emotions just as we can teach you how to achieve your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual goals for optimal health.  Stay safe, and be well.  Above all, embrace positivity!

    Emotional Detox is just one of the classes you will take during a visit to OHI San Diego or OHI Austin.  We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. For more information, visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org or call us at (800) 588-0809.

  • Difficult Emotions, Part 1


    We hope you’re keeping safe and sanitized! Our latest blog post offers ideas to help you do just that as you navigate today’s uncertainties—by recognizing and accepting the emotions you’re feeling amid the current pandemic. Here’s part 1 of our 2-part series on processing emotions in a way that’s healthy…

    What to do with difficult emotions? Anger is the bugaboo we all struggle with…

    We set the topic for this blog post weeks ago, well before the current pandemic panic, but it certainly seems timely as we deal with quarantine worries, working from home stress, distance learning challenges for our kids, and just overall social isolation sadness.  What do we do with difficult emotions, and how can we work through them in a way that is healthy and productive?

    No matter what emotion you’re feeling — anger, depression, confusion, sadness, etc. — EVERY emotion is valid.  Anger is a tough one for women because we’re taught that anger is unbecoming on a woman, and we should just “be nice”.  Author/Catholic/Buddhist Practitioner/Psychotherapist, David Richo, clearly lists the differences between anger and abuse:

    True Anger ———————————————— Abuse, the Shadow of Anger

    • Authentic self-expression —————————– • Theatrical display
    • Is mindful (conscious) ——————————– • Is ego-driven (unconscious)
    • Is a form of assertiveness that shows respect——- • Is aggressive, an attack
    • Arises from displeasure at an injustice————– • Arises from the sense of an affront to an ego
    • Is meant to communicate—————————– • Is meant to silence, intimidate, or put down
    • Asks for accountability and amends—————– • Blames the other and takes revenge
    • Is about this present issue—————————- • Is often a build-up of past unresolved issues
    • Is in control (manages temper) ———————- • Is hostile, out of control (loses temper)
    • Treats the other as a peer—————————– • Treats the other as a target
    • Coexists with and empowers love——————– • Cancels love in favor of fear

    Whether you feel anything from anger to grief, you are entitled to your emotions.  Don’t just stuff it down, or allow yourself to be overwhelmed by your feelings.  You need to work through them, and come out the other side feeling positive and affirmed.  The key to working through difficult emotions is non-reactivity and mindfulness.

    Join us next week for the second part of this article…



    David Richo, PhD. (2007). Human Becoming: Practical Steps to Self-Respect and Compassionate Relationships. Human Development Books


    In these uncertain times, look to OHI as your safe haven.  As we celebrate 43 years of holistic healing, we can teach you how to process difficult emotions just as we can teach you how to achieve your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual goals for optimal health.  Stay safe, and be well.  Above all, embrace positivity!

    Emotional Detox is just one of the classes you will take during a visit to OHI San Diego or OHI Austin.  We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. For more information, visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org or call us at (800) 588-0809.

  • Lymphatic Exercise

    At OHI, we pay A LOT of attention to the lymphatic system.  A peak functioning lymphatic system is the very foundation of good health, but this critically important part of the body is one that most people don’t know much about.

    The lymphatic system is the largest circulatory system in the body, and is your built-in sanitation center that carries away and filters out poisonous waste products from every cell, tissue, and organ.  It is a complex network of vessels that branch through all parts of the body, able to collect extra lymph fluid from body tissues and return it to the blood.  It is also an essential part of the immune system that maintains fluid levels, fights infection, and produces disease-fighting white blood cells.  It is the first line of defense against disease, where the network of vessels and nodes transports and filters lymph fluid containing antibodies and lymphocytes (good) and bacteria (bad).

    With lymphatic congestion the lymph is not flowing well, cells are poisoned from their own waste, and the lymph fluid becomes a toxic cesspool, resulting in fatigue, swelling, infection, inflammation, disease, and more.

    The lymphatic system needs your help to move the fluid through the body because it doesn’t have an automatic pump like the heart.  The lymphatic system is stimulated by gravity and muscle contraction (exercise).  Moving your body is the key to moving fluid through the lymphatic system.

    How to move the lymphatic system:

    • Move around whenever you can. The lymphatic system depends largely on large muscle activity in the body for its circulation.  Stagnation from sitting all day is a major problem.  The good news is, any exercise helps – move around for a minute or two every 15-20 minutes, do knee bends, stretch throughout the day, etc.  Gentle exercise like stretching and swimming are great for moving the lymph.
    • Go for a walk. One of the best ways to activate lymphatic flow is to take a brisk walk.  Walking is a weight-bearing activity that creates gravitational pulls on the lymphatic system each time you take a step.  Try to take a 15-30 minute brisk walk each day.  Swing your arms and power walk for the best results.
    • Stretch or practice yoga daily. Stretching and yoga poses are especially effective for moving lymph.  Holding stretches combined with conscious deep breathing can help direct lymph through the deep channels of the chest.
    • Deep breathing. Although the lymphatic system has no pump like the heart in the circulatory system, the movement from the act of breathing is a lymphatic pump in itself, and can help direct lymph through the chest.  Deep, slow diaphragmatic breathing for even just 5-10 repetitions (up to 10 minutes a day) will circulate the lymph especially around the liver:  Breathe in slowly through your nose, deeply pushing the stomach out.  Slowly let your breath go out through your mouth.
    • Hydrate daily with water. Dehydration is a common cause of lymph congestion.  Lymph becomes thicker and less mobile when you are dehydrated, but flows well when hydrated.  DRINK!  DRINK!  DRINK!

    OHI puts all of these ideas into practice to help move your lymphatic system.  Our Gentle Exercise Class and Stretch Class stimulate the lymphatic system to eliminate toxins, boost the immune system, and contribute to the healing process.  We don’t do aerobic exercises at OHI because they are too hard on the body when you’re only eating limited calories, and we don’t want anyone feeling lightheaded or risking a fall.  Our guided meditation classes incorporate vocal toning and breathwork, which also increases circulation in the lymphatic system, as does our emphasis on drinking fluids and colon cleansing.

    Stay safe, and be well.  And above all, keep your lymphatic system MOVING!

    Lymph exercise is just one of the transformative things you will learn during a visit to OHI San Diego or OHI Austin.  We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. For more information, visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org or call us at (800) 588-0809.

  • Spring Newsletter, Sleep Article, Part 2


    Don’t just live your life—optimize it with sleep! Sleep is so important to your health that we published a “Science Behind the OHI Program” article on it in our Spring Newsletter. We’re also posting it online so you can share it with friends and family. Part 1 last week covered scientific ways that sleep revives your body, mind and spirit—and this week’s installment reveals 4 recommendations for getting more Zs…

    Sleep – What is it? Why is it so important? How do we get more of it? (Part 2 of 2)

    Here are the 4 recommendations you should strive for:

    1. 1. You fall asleep in 30 minutes or less. If it takes you longer than half an hour to fall asleep, either you’re going to bed too early for your internal clock so you’re not physically and mentally ready for sleep, or you’re engaging in activities that are too stimulating before bed. First, try reserving the hour before bed for relaxing activities that do not include screen time. If that doesn’t help you fall asleep faster, try changing up your sleep schedule so you go to bed later when you actually feel tired.
    2. 2. You wake up for 5+ minutes no more than once a night. (For adults 65+, waking up twice a night is age-appropriate.) If you wake up a few times a night, roll over, and go right back to sleep, that’s fine. If you lie awake for more than five minutes several times in a night, there could be a medical issue behind it — acid reflux, sleep apnea, etc.
    3. 3. You fall back asleep within 20 minutes. (Adults 65+ may take up to 30 minutes to fall back asleep.) Once you hit the 20-minute mark without falling back asleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing like reading a book, listening to a podcast, or coloring. DO NOT engage with a phone or TV screen. It may seem counterintuitive, but the relaxing activity could be what your brain needs to finally fall back asleep.
    4. 4. You’re asleep 85% of the time you spend in bed. Try to use your bed only for sleep or sex. If you don’t use your bed for watching TV, scrolling through your phone, or checking email on your laptop, your brain and body will naturally relax into sleep when you climb into bed.

    Now that you know what the tenets of good sleep are, and how vital it is to your body, mind and spirit, let’s find out how to get good sleep. First, understand that you have to put the time in. Adults ages 18-64 require 7-9 hours of sleep per night. That means you have to back up your bedtime to accommodate time to fall asleep, and the possibility that you may wake up in the night. If you’re not setting aside 10 hours, then you’re not giving yourself the opportunity to let sleep work it’s healing magic on you.

    There are additional ways to help establish a healthy sleep schedule:

    • Limit daytime naps (or avoid them altogether)
    • Refrain from caffeine past noon
    • Go to bed at the same time each night
    • Wake up at the same time every morning
    • Stick to your sleep schedule during weekends and holidays
    • Spend an hour before bed doing relaxing activities such as reading, meditating, or taking a bath
    • Avoid heavy meals two hours before bedtime
    • Refrain from using electronic devices right before bed
    • Exercise regularly, but not in the evening hours close to bedtime

    At OHI, our program focus is to cleanse the body and quiet the mind so that we can build a connection to our spirituality and to God. We do this by practicing 24 ancient spiritual disciplines, such as fasting, prayer and meditation. Our program follows a daily rhythm from the monastic tradition where we practice disciplines throughout the day (prayer, study, contemplation, etc.). The idea is that we become disciplined around our daily practice so when we go home we can continue to practice good habits for body, mind and spirit. Establishing a healthy sleep schedule is another daily practice that is essential to having a balanced, productive day. Overall, when we aren’t consuming caffeine, sugar, processed foods, TV/news, digital devices, alcohol, shopping, or toxic thinking, our bodies and minds are calmer and more clear, and sleep comes naturally. A calm body, mind and spirit leaves us in an alkaline state (vs. acidic). It’s the underlying foundation for good health and wellness.

    So seek out sleep just as you would seek out a clean diet and a meditative state. They are all interlocking parts of the puzzle to achieving optimum health so we can transform into whole beings. Wishing you a good night’s sleep tonight and always!

    OHI’s Recommended Books:

    • Sleep Away the Pounds: Optimize Your Sleep and Reset Your Metabolism for Maximum Weight Loss, by Cherie Calbom
    • Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, by Matthew Walker, PhD
    • The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep is Broken and How to Fix It, by W. Chris Winter, MD



    “People Who Get the Best Sleep Have These 4 Things in Common” by Amanda MacMillan, health. com, January 23, 2017

    “10 Reasons Why Good Sleep is Important” by Joe Leech, MS, healthline.com, June 29, 2018

    “The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body” by Stephanie Watson and Kristeen Cherney, healthline. com, April 18, 2019

    National Institutes of Health, “Study finds  irregular sleep patterns double the risk of cardiovascular disease in older adults”, 3/2/2020, <https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/study-finds-irregular-sleep-patterns-double-risk-cardiovascular-disease-older-adults>

    To learn more about our holistic healing program in San Diego or Austin, visit Optimum Health Institute.  We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. To make your reservation, call us at (800) 588-0809.