• Working with Grief

    Let it hurt. Let it heal. Let it go.

    –Buddha

    Without exception, each and every one of us is going to experience deep sorrow at some point.   The death of a loved one, a job loss, divorce, financial or medical hardships – whatever the circumstances, we will grieve for what was, and what might have been.

    No matter what triggered the pain, one thing is certain – keeping it bottled up is going to eventually take a toll physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

    Repressed grief not only compromises our immune system – it can literally lead to death.  The late neuroimmunologist Dr. Candace Pert scientifically proved the human body has seven major centers of consciousness, or chakras, each corresponding to an endocrine gland.  The heart chakra is the center of our emotions, and it corresponds to the thymus, which is the master controller of our immune system.  Any emotional trauma weakens our immune system, and our ability to fight off illness.

    Besides the physical consequences of holding in sorrow, the death of a loved one might cause the grieving spouse or family member to retreat into self-imposed isolation.  The combination of seclusion, depression and failure to acknowledge their loss results in a shockingly high rate of suicide.

    Thankfully there are many positive, effective ways to navigate painful life passages, and truly experience “good grief.”

    The first actually comes from the phrase, “good grief.”  It’s a version of “Good God” or “Good Lord,” which is the beginning of the litany, “Good Lord, deliver us” from hardship.  Asking for God’s help in getting through your sorrow is a powerful, effective way to start to heal.

    A psychiatrist described another grieving process as “paradoxical.”  He suggested encouraging the bereaved to go through photos and belongings of the loved one, sharing rich memories along with the tears.

    “It’s both letting go and holding on, “ he explained.  “It’s a way of integrating all those happy memories into yourself, permanently making the departed loved one a part of you.”  He also cautioned against expecting a mourning period to last a specific amount of time, or be expressed in a precise way.

    “People have been criticized for either remarrying too quickly, or holding on to their grief for too long,” he said.  “Each of us handles grief differently.  There is no single standard.”

    “If you stay stuck in the trauma that might have surrounded a person’s death,” counseled a certified funeral celebrant, “you can more easily stay stuck in your grief.  Grab hold of that grief – feel it, go through it, know it’s OK to be sad.  Then recognize the gift that they were here.

    “It’s important to remember how your loved one lived, not just how they died.  Remember the happy things — all the people they touched, all the things they did, and how they left a beautiful legacy.”

    If you feel you or someone you care about is getting stuck and isolated in their grieving process, here are some positive steps to take:

    1. 1. Give your grief to God, and ask for His help in healing your broken heart.  If you have a minister, rabbi or counselor, share your sorrow with them.  They’re trained in how to help you navigate the hurt.
    2. 2. Take a daily walk outside.  The combination of gentle exercise with being in nature is quite healing.
    3. 3. Do something nice for someone else in your loved one’s name.  Donate some of their possessions to Goodwill.  See if a local school might be interested in their books or musical instruments.
    4. 4. Bring beauty back into your life.  Visit an art gallery. Stroll through a botanical garden. Have fresh cut flowers on your dining room table.  Listen to classical music.
    5. 5. Open your heart and your mind to new experiences.  Take a class.  Join a community choir or theater group.  Volunteer with an organization that’s close to your heart.
    6. 6. Journal your feelings.  Remember to make lists of all the things you are grateful for during the time you shared together.

    The important thing to remember is your grief is a passage, not a new way of life.  Be gentle with yourself, honor your feelings of sorrow, but gradually bring your attention back to being actively engaged in the present.  You are blessed that you experienced deep love.

    Look to OHI as a safe haven. As we celebrate 43 years of holistic healing, we can teach you how to move through the spiritual, emotional, and mental aspects of the grieving process.

    Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, or call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.

  • Stories about Father

    From a minister: “My father was a very positive person and moved mountains to create his dreams. He used to tell me, ‘You can do anything you put your mind to!’

    When I was about to graduate from college, I still had no idea what kind of work I wanted to do but knew I wanted to work with ‘helping people’ in some way. Just a month away from my graduation I frantically told my father – ‘I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up,’ knowing that Dad would have just the right sage advice. Dad responded, ‘I don’t either!’

    At the time it was not reassuring that even Dad, so grown-up and a respected businessman, did not know what he wanted to be. However, he laughed and told me that most people don’t know at the tender age of 21. He reassured me that if I could just trust that LIFE would show me through experience – and following my heart – the opportunities that were right for me would appear. He also said it was OK to change my mind along the way! I felt so relieved as this seemed to make so much sense to me. And 37 years later…I would still agree. Thanks Dad!!!”

    From an executive with a national nursing association: “My Dad has always been an amazing example across the board. He taught me to respect all people and set an example that integrity extends from the CEO to the roughnecks working on the rigs. As we leaned this, we also saw how to give of ourselves, knowing it would come back even bigger, and when we most needed it.

    He also instilled in us that there is always more than one way to do just about anything. This gave me my knack for outside the box thinking and problem solving. Even what seem like YES/NO questions often have more than the two obvious answers/solutions.

    But what has always stood out is that through example and practice, my Dad raised my brother and me to be self-sufficient. Once we made it on our own, he stood back and let us fly. Even times when we might be headed for disaster, he allowed us to live our own lives, knowing we had the skills to thrive. He never said ‘I TOLD YOU SO!’ Each time we fall he is there to help us learn the lesson, regroup and keep going. He believes in us!”

    From a yoga teacher: “My father passed away when I was little, but I remember he always did things he didn’t want to do to make me happy. There are pictures of this rough ‘manly man’ carrying these naked dolls for me at the lake….”

    From a financial manager: “So many wonderful things my dad did for me! Giving me an allowance and making me abide by it so I could learn to manage money. Encouraging me to go to college and making it possible. But one piece of advice he gave me will always stick with me. When I’m stressing about something, he told me to pick a date on the calendar a week or two ahead. Until that date I picked comes, I’m not allowed to think about the problem. Ninety-nine percent of the time the problem won’t nearly seem as big when you’ve taken a break away from it, the answer will become obvious, or the problem will have resolved itself. And he was right!”

    From a college professor: “I took a math test in first grade and should have gotten a 100. Instead, the nun gave me a 94%. I tried to tell her, but she wouldn’t listen. I cried the whole six-block walk home. I told my mother. She told me I still had an A. That made me cry even more.

    I took my wet crumpled paper to the porch to wait for my dad. I knew he would understand. He drove up right at 5pm as always. I was crying and pointing at the paper because I couldn’t speak the words to explain. He understood…and drove me straight to the convent. He explained what happened to the nun. She apologized directly to me and changed the grade on the spot! I will always remember that!”

    To all the dads, and the parents or guardians fulfilling that role, we at Optimum Health Institute (OHI) salute you.

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

    Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, or call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.

  • The Healing Power of Nature

    In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, people are spending more time indoors, losing a valuable connection with nature. This shift to an indoor routine can have negative effects for your health and your mental wellness, because people are meant to be in touch with the world around them through direct interaction with it. Below is a closer look at the reasons to spend more time in nature in your daily life and the ways to achieve this goal.

    Healing powers of nature

    Studies dating back to 1984 have shown that there is health benefits connected to nature. Psychologist Roger Ulrich found that patients in hospitals who gazed out into a garden tended to heal faster and with fewer complications than those patients with no view outdoors.

    Empowering stress relief

    More recent studies have suggested that immersion in nature can significantly reduce stress and promote relaxation. This change is marked by the reduction in stress hormones that cause the fight or flight reaction in the body. Because of the physiological change that occurs when people are interacting with nature, nature therapy is a promising tool in holistic medicine that may benefit a wide range of patients.

    Where to explore nature

    You do not have to travel far to be part of nature. Even if you live in a big city, you can create your own nature retreat with a rooftop garden or local park. If you are in a more secluded area, you might simply take a walk outside each day to breathe in fresh air and enjoy the majestic views that Mother Earth has to offer. Longer weekend hikes through nature trails can allow you to tap even deeper into the meditative qualities of natural surroundings.

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

    Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, or call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.

  • Stay Calm Using Alpha Practice

    There’s something that boosts your creativity, helps you de-stress, actually builds a better brain, enhances your immune system, and sends you into that strong, focused athletic “zone.” You can get as much as you want – for free.

    OK, calm down! No, literally – calm down.

    When you pause from the stressful demands of daily living to close your eyes and take some deep breaths, you’re not really letting your mind wander. Instead, you’re giving your mind, and your entire being, a deeply healing dose of Alpha, a specific level of brainwave activity.

    We spend most of our waking moments at the Beta level. Functioning at that speed, the brain solves problems, makes judgment calls and decisions, and keeps us engaged and attentive. Staying in this demanding state of alertness takes a lot of energy, and can be exhausting physically and mentally.

    Learning how to slow those brainwaves down immediately shifts us into the more balanced and healing Alpha state. We become mindfully present and peaceful as body, mind and spirit begin to effectively integrate.

    This is the optimum mental state for opening up your creativity, visualizing, programming your mind for success, improving your memory and learning. Achieving Alpha level on a regular basis also profoundly hones your intuition.

    Switching from the more frenetic Beta state into the deep relaxation and receptivity of Alpha is easy. Sit straight, with your feet flat on the floor, or in a cross-legged position. Gently rest your hands on your legs, palms up, and bring your thumb, index finger and middle fingers together. Close your eyes, and start to follow your breath.

    It’s frequently helpful to silently repeat a world or phrase that has special meaning to you. “God is love,” “Shalom,” or “Om” are popular choices to get you into a peaceful state. You can start at your toes and just imagine all the tension and stress of the day slowly flowing out of your feet and into the earth. The relaxation continues to wash over your body, taking you deeper and deeper into a place of complete contentment.

    As you bask in the peacefulness of the Alpha state, inspiration, creativity and sudden insights can just float into your awareness. People frequently find a solution for an issue they’ve been dealing with, or discover a completely new way to look at a situation.

    When you feel you’ve spent enough time basking in Alpha, you can gently bring yourself back into consciousness. It’s helpful to silently say a positive affirmation, like “Every day in every way I am getting better and better, healthier and healthier, happier and happier.” Count from one to five, bringing yourself back into a state of refreshed alertness. One – feel the chair beneath you – two, three – wiggle your fingers and toes – four – you’re back in the room and five – open your eyes. Take a moment to stretch and mentally review your experience. Do any images, thoughts or insights stand out? Journal them.

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

    Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, or call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.

  • Dehydrated Pumpkin Seed Crackers

    Yield: 12 1-ounce servings

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup soaked pumpkin seeds, rinsed
    • ½ cup soaked sesame seeds, rinsed
    • ½ chopped red bell pepper
    • ½ cup chopped yellow onion
    • ½ chopped firm tomato
    • ¾ cup chopped zucchini
    • ¼ sprig fresh basil
    • ¼ tbsp. dried oregano
    • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
    • ¼ tbsp. tomato powder

    Place half of the pumpkin seeds and half of the sesame seeds in mixing bowl. Blend remaining seeds in Vitamix with vegetables, herbs and spices until mixture is smooth. Add mixture to mixing bowl with whole seeds and stir well with spatula. Spoon onto dehydrator trays in ½ inch tall clumps; do not flatten. Dehydrate at 105 degrees for two days, turning crackers over after the first day.

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

    Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, or call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.