• Chairman’s Perspective: Celebrating a Community of Love, Acceptance and Healing

    ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens’ Ecclesiastes 3:1

    A warm and hearty winter greeting to our OHI community. This wonderful verse reminds us that the end of the year is a time for reflection. A time to consider our challenges as well as our accomplishments. As we read further into the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, we learn in verse 3:4 that reflection should be balanced by celebration: ‘a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.’ While reflection works best as a solitary activity, celebration is an activity best shared with your community.
    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. In the Summer newsletter, I touched on the idea that community is so important to human beings because it satisfies needs such as acceptance, feeling supported and understood, as well as how we develop relationships and friendships. Then in the Fall newsletter, I wrote about the powerful need to belong, and how our community at OHI works in fulfilling that need.

    It is the celebration of community at OHI, and how we observe it together, that is the theme of my thoughts for this season.

    Celebration is an Age-Old Tradition of Community

    There is a spiritual discipline of celebration that dates back thousands of years and crosses all cultures. People come together in community to honor and rejoice in their beliefs. Celebration is about strengthening and developing our own personal relationship with God, the universe, or your higher self. Celebration allows us to release the past, have faith in the future, and live in the present. When we get caught up in our day-to-day routines, it is a path back to spiritual growth, and guides us to remember and return to our faith. In its most basic form, celebration is an expression of joy that enables us to look forward to tomorrow with courage and hope.

    In the Christian tradition we celebrate the key moments in the life of Jesus, his birth and the resurrection. Each holiday serves as a reminder of the teachings of Jesus; how we should love and forgive one another. I’ll never forget the feeling I would get as a boy attending candle-light Christmas Eve services. Surrounded by hundreds of tiny flames flickering in the dark, and the resonance of happy voices singing Joy to the World, I felt an enormous sensation of elation. I can still recall the feeling of chills running up my spine and down my arms as I reveled in my faith along with my entire church community. Even the simple ceremonies of communion or baptism heighten our faith when we celebrate as a spiritual community. When we gather as a community and worship together, we sustain our affinity.

    ‘The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.’ Psalm 118:24

    Celebration is About Gratitude and Healing

    When our lives are in alignment and everything seems to be going well, it’s natural for us to celebrate. We are grateful about that which we’ve accomplished or appreciate that something good has happened. A celebration can be as simple as a high five between two friends who just watched their favorite team win, or it could be two large families joining in a formal wedding party.

    There is a healing quality to celebrations. They are occasions that allow us to take a break from work and obligations. Celebrating makes us happy and helps us forget our fears, anxiety, and other discomforts. We are able to relax, release stress, and have fun. Singing, dancing, cheering, laughing, and hugging are all activities that trigger the release of endorphins and serotonin, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well being and can even temporarily relieve pain, while serotonin is a neurotransmitter that will elevate your mood. And, because these activities can decrease stress hormones, they in turn help to boost the immune system.

    Daily Celebration is a Big Part of Our Program at OHI

    Throughout each week here at OHI, we find many opportunities to celebrate. A good example is our You Validation class, where we celebrate each other’s intrinsic human value. Every accomplishment, no matter what, is worthy of celebration. Someone will say, “I saw you smile this morning and it warmed my heart.” Another says, “You were tired, yet you still showed up for class, and I was encouraged and inspired by your strength to carry on.” These are verbal high fives that honor our moments of achievement. And, they all add up to keep us motivated. This reminds me of something Tom Peters, the co-author of the book In Search of Excellence, once said, “Celebrate what you want to see more of.” At OHI, we want to see more people thriving and healing, and we do that by coming together as a community and celebrating.
    Another example of how we celebrate together is during Friday Morning Testimonials. It is so heartwarming to see our guests get up in front of everyone and share their personal revelations, and often their personal miracles, that they experienced over the course of the week. Then there are our Prayer Circles where we celebrate fellowship. And, our Word of the Day which enables to set our intentions. Plus, lots of hugs – which have more benefits than I can list – but as a celebration they allow us to relax, be in the moment, and feel amazing! Our most lively celebration is our Friday Night Live, where we perform and proclaim having made it through the week with hilarious singing, dancing and skits – it’s a glorious time of raucous revelry, laughter, and fun.

    ‘So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.’ 1 Corinthians 10:31

    Celebrate OHI by Sharing the Love

    As we approach the holiday season and in the spirit of celebrating and sharing, please consider contributing to the OHI Scholarship Fund to help those in need experience the benefits of the OHI program. As many of you know, over the course of our 42 years, OHI has provided scholarships to many individuals who needed the same benefits you experienced – but could not afford to otherwise attend. In most years, we have been able to fulfill all requests for assistance through the generosity of our community. The results have been heartwarming, to say the least. Join with us in celebrating our healing mission with a tax-deductible year-end gift. Your contribution will help to make our community stronger, healthier, and more vibrant. Thank you so much for your help.

    Yours in prayer,

    Robert P. Nees, Jr.,

    Senior Pastor and Chairman

    Optimum Health Institute of
    San Diego and Austin

     

  • Have a Holistic Holiday of Health and Happiness

    As the winter holiday season approaches, you may begin to think of your favorite movies. Christmas with the Kranks, based on the book Skipping Christmas by John Grisham, humorously captures the stress many of us feel this time of year. The Kranks, who have recently become empty nesters, decide to skip all the festivities and go on a peaceful, relaxing vacation instead. Unfortunately it seems like the entire universe conspires against them, and hilarity ensues as they battle the forces of tradition.

    Luthor and Nora Krank had a good idea, but they were too rigid in their application of it. Of course, if they had found balance in their approach there wouldn’t have been any comedy. We all know that the holidays are a time of mixed emotions that challenge our mindfulness. We are barraged by advertising and heartwarming Hollywood images which can make us wistful for the magical days of our youth. Simultaneously, anticipation and hope can increase our sense of stress. When all we really want is to gather together and experience the love and joy of friends and family.

    Oftentimes, we find ourselves saying, “I’m just not ready for the holidays.” This year when you find that thought surfacing, replace it with one of these: “This holiday season I give myself permission to do that which brings me the greatest pleasure;” or “Divine guidance makes everything around me align perfectly for a pleasant holiday season.” The idea is to take a moment and set your intentions for the holidays now, so that you can relax and enjoy them. That way, you will feel centered, calm, and balanced throughout the weeks ahead.

    It’s okay to feel the feelings we get this time of year as long as they inspire you and bring you joy. But when they create depression or anxiety, it’s time to move back into the present. Remember, you have the power to choose how you spend your holidays. You should feel free to take time for yourself, and reset your system. Allow yourself to fully relax and heal.

    A great way to do that is to take a holistic holiday here. You will enjoy the love and support of your friends and family in the OHI community. You’ll be surrounding yourself with people who treat you well and won’t judge you. You’ll spend your holidays with those who approve of you, and encourage you.

    Thanksgiving is a beautiful holiday because we take the time to appreciate the good in our lives. Too often, however, it is celebrated with meats, gravies, and other heavy unhealthy foods. But, when you join us here for Thanksgiving, you won’t be tempted with meals you’ll regret eating later. Here we’ll ensure that the recipes and beverages you ingest contribute to your vibrant good health. And while you meditate and recharge, take time to feel gratitude for all that you have.

    Whether you observe Christmas, Hanukah, or simply the giving spirit of the season, commemorate it at OHI. Here is the perfect environment to rediscover the place within you that is peaceful and harmonious. Even better, share your experience with a friend. When you give the gift of healing body, mind, and spirit, you show your friends how much you really care.

    Then join us again for New Years week. At OHI, you will create more balance in your life every day. What a wonderful way to kick off the new year. And, if you like to make resolutions, you will find the supportive people who will help you keep them.

    Spend some or all of the holidays at OHI. You’ll create holidays to remember – holistic holidays of health and happiness.

  • Power of Community: How Belonging to Community Helps

    There is great value in belonging to something greater than yourself, no matter whether you define “community” as your friends, your church group, your book club, or your PTA. At OHI, we strive to build a culture of inclusivity and acceptance. We have always believed that a supportive sense of community has tangible health benefits, and now science is validating that theory.

    So how is a community created? In a recent NY Times Article titled “We Aren’t Built to Live in the Moment,” authors Martin E.P. Seligman and John Tierney postulate that the one thing that sets humans apart from animals is our ability to contemplate the future. It is that forward thinking that allows us to build communities together. (1) “It is increasingly clear,” write Seligman and Tierney, “that the mind is mainly drawn to the future, not driven by the past. We learn not by storing static records, but by continually retouching memories and imagining future possibilities.” Perhaps the most remarkable supporting evidence of this theory comes from recent brain imaging research. When recalling a past event, the hippocampus (a major brain component) must combine three distinct pieces of information — what happened, when it happened, and where it happened — that are each stored in a different part of the brain. Researchers have found that the same circuitry is activated when people imagine a future possibility. It is this ability to envision a positive community that sets us on a path to create it.

    One central role of OHI’s non-judgmental community is to foster a forward-looking attitude, projecting oneself or visualizing oneself in the future. This is reinforced by the “visualization activity” in our Saturday Vision Boards class, so once you get clarity on what you want out of life, the vision boards help lead you down a path to attain it in the future.

    So how do we choose whom we build our community with? Daniel Levitin, psychology professor at McGill University and author of This is Your Brian on Music, hypothesizes that feelings of belonging and mood elevation are biologically ingrained to surface with a shared communal activity. (2) Levitin focuses on the example of singing in a choir as the ideal communal activity, and points to a wealth of neurological research that suggests our brains release oxytocin when we sing with others. “Oxytocin is believed to give rise to feelings of togetherness and friendship,” Levitin said. In addition, when singing with others the brain sees an uptick in two powerful neurotransmitters — serotonin and dopamine. Dopamine activates the brain’s pleasure center, while serotonin is deployed to ward off depression.

    Of course, this research doesn’t mean everyone should join a choir. At OHI, our Vocal Toning class and Friday Night Live can foster the same sense of community as singing. We’ve been ahead of the curve all along! Now, once you’ve visualized your community and found a shared activity that brings you together, what happens to your community when life deals you a crisis? In a recent NY Times article titled “Women’s Friendships in Sickness and in Health,” author Deborah Tannen theorizes that the silver lining in the dark cloud of serious illness is the help and caring offered by friends. In her book, “You’re the Only One I Can Tell: Inside the Language of Women’s Friendships,” Tannen reminds people that a whole host of cultural influences — ethnicity, geographic region, class and family styles — all affect how we show caring. (3) “When fear of saying or doing the wrong thing tempts you to say or do nothing, it may help to remember that just reaching out can mean the world,” she says.

    OHI’s non-judgmental community helps you let go of fears. Our Emotional Detox class, Focus 2 class, and Release Ceremony allow you to cleanse yourself of ideas, feelings, or worries that are holding you back from living your best life. The supportive OHI community surrounds you when you’re most vulnerable, and says, “Welcome. We’ve been waiting for you!”

    Find your community at OHI. You’ll be a better person for it!

     

    1. The New York Times, Opinion column “We Aren’t Built to Live in the Moment,” by Martin E.P. Seligman and John Tierney, May 19, 2017.
    2. CBC Radio, “The Science Behind Why Choir-Singing is Good For You”, blog by Sarah Claydon, March 29, 2018.
    3. The New York Times, “Women’s Friendships, in Sickness and in Health,” by Deborah Tannen, April 25, 2017.

  • 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!

  • The Emotional Freedom of Saying ‘No’

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    All the passengers have boarded the plane, and the flight attendant takes her place at the head of the aisle. She instructs everyone to adjust and fasten seatbelts, move their trays and chairs to the upright position, and turn off all electronic devices. Then, she holds up a bright yellow oxygen mask. In the event of an emergency, she says, put your own mask on first. After all, you won’t be of any real help to anyone else if you can’t breathe yourself.

    That’s important advice for airline travel, but even more important for daily life.

    Only when we are functioning in a healthy, balanced way that’s in alignment with our values and beliefs can we truly be present, and be of service to others.

    Too frequently we can find ourselves sacrificing things that are important to us just to attempt to please someone else. We’ve been diligent about adhering to a primarily live, raw, plant-based diet, but cave when mom insists we eat her famous homemade cinnamon rolls with extra icing.

    We’ve been looking forward to a spiritual retreat weekend, but feel obligated to abandon our plans when a close friend decides to throw a huge party. We might even ethically disagree with a new policy at work, but stay silent to keep from ‘rocking the boat.’

    Any time we fail to maintain good emotional boundaries, even thought we might think we’re keeping the peace, our actions will actually have the opposite effect. Over time, repeatedly suppressing our true feelings will inevitably lead to deep resentment.

    The stress of denying what we feel is the better, more authentic choice can actually have physical repercussions. Stomach churning, sweaty palms, rapid breathing and elevated blood pressure are frequent results of swallowing our emotions. Negative emotions create an acidic body chemistry that robs minerals from our bones, organs, tissues and cells.

    When we’ve fallen into a habit of people-pleasing, it can be challenging to start saying ‘No’ and take back our power. We can begin with first getting in touch with what we truly feel.

    1. Imagine yourself taking the time to do something you know is good for you, like meditating, exercising or journaling. Do you feel any hesitancy or guilt? If so, say an empowering statement, like, “I release all guilt to the light.”
    2. Affirmations are an excellent way to embrace your emotions and start to set good boundaries. “I give myself the gift of time to nourish my spirit” is a powerful start.
    3. After years of saying ‘Yes’ when you didn’t want to, it might be hard to distinguish between what you think others expect from you, and what you truly desire. Tap directly into your higher self by thinking of a specific question, like, “Do I want to go to that event?” Then immediately, imagine that you’re seeing a traffic light in your mind’s eye. What color light is lit? If it’s red, your answer is ‘No.’ Green means go for it! Yellow suggests that you proceed, but cautiously.

    With a little practice, we can change old patterns of going along with something into the emotionally freeing option of just saying, unapologetically, “No!” It’s definitely a positive new behavior that will have us breathing easier.

    Experience the emotional freedom of nurturing yourself first with an extended stay at OHI San Diego or OHI Austin. Join us as we celebrate 40 years of holistic healing. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.

  • Understanding the Benefits of a Raw Food Diet

    Fruits and vegetables lose a considerable amount of their nutrients when they are heated above 105 Fahrenheit. Eating foods that are raw allows you to take advantage of all the vital nutrients within food, many of which are necessary for your health and wellbeing. At Optimum Health Institute, we prepare raw meals using dehydrated, fermented, and fresh foods that are combined to provide optimum nutrition.

    Improved Digestion

    Your body utilizes enzymes to help digest food. Raw fruits and vegetables naturally contain enzymes that are destroyed when the food is cooked. By consuming a raw diet, you can provide your body with additional enzymes, allowing for better digestion and absorption of foods and nutrients.

    Benefits of Juice Fasting

    One benefit of a juice fast are that the food is easily digested with minimal energy by the body.  With a juice fast you can take advantage of the vital nutrients in food without the taxing digestion.  Also, another benefit is that a juice fast is alkalizing to the body pH.  Eating an alkalizing diet, as opposed to an acidic diet, can help with a myriad of physical complaints and illnesses.

    Reduced Risk of Diseases

    There are a number of chemicals and nutrients found naturally in raw foods that can help prevent diseases. For example, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and kale contain high amounts of isothiocyanates, a group of chemicals that have been shown to help fight cancer. Cooking these vegetables eliminates the isothiocyanates within them. A raw diet has also been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower overall cholesterol levels.

    Healthier Weight

    A raw food diet promotes a healthy body weight. The consumption of high amounts of raw food and vegetables eliminates excess fat and sugars from the diet. In addition, better digestion may result in higher energy levels which can make regular exercise easier to accomplish.

    At  Optimum Health Institute , we serve a variety of raw-live foods, juice fasting, and wheatgrass to promote restoring your body to its natural balance. Our meals do not contain nuts or oils, which can hinder the detoxification process. To learn more about the raw food diet from Optimum Health Institute of San Diego and Austin, call us today at (800) 993-4325.