Health & Wholeness

You Stubbed Your Toe?  Take an Antibiotic!

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I was brought up to follow a doctor's orders.  My parents believed that doctors knew what was best for us, so I thought the same way.  If a doctor prescribed medication, we took it without question.  If a doctor told us that nothing was wrong with us, we accepted this diagnosis, even if our intuition told us that something was wrong. 

Antibiotics were a normal part of my life.  I took tetracycline for skin breakouts in high school, followed by more antibiotics in college for Urinary Tract Infections, ear infections, and upper respiratory infections.  By the time I was in my early thirties, I had graduated to increasingly potent antibiotics until one day, my body rebelled. 

Overusing antibiotics destroyed my body's natural defenses and causes my immune system to react to antibiotics as a harmful substance. 

I wish that I had been aware when I was younger that I had the right to question those prescriptions.    As tempting as it is to believe that they have all of the answers, we now live in times when we recognize that doctors do not know everything. 

A Near Deadly Shortcut

My body's rebellion against antibiotics compelled me to find a different approach to my healthcare.  In the mid-90s, I was fortunate to meet the late Dr. Jie-Jia Li, a learned acupuncturist who descended from generations of acupuncturists and healers in China.  He was like a magician and successfully treated my skiing injuries and sciatica pain.   

The healing effects of acupuncture typically take time. When I injured my shoulder, I wanted a quick fix, so I saw my orthopedic surgeon.  He prescribed Celebrex, a potent anti-inflammatory, and once again, my body rebelled against a prescription drug.   

This time, I suffered a severe reaction to Celebrex and was hospitalized for days fighting the early stages of Steven Johnson syndrome. 

Thanks to the collaboration between my allergist and dermatologist, I was extremely fortunate that this drug allergy didn't progress to the next level where my skin would have blistered and literally burned off.  I had to take immunosuppressive drugs for months following my release from the hospital.   I never wanted to go through that again. 

PS: Celebrex was eventually taken off the market.  I learned my lesson:  Quick health fixes sometimes come with deadly side effects.

Crisis is a Motivator

Most of us aren't going to be motivated to change until we hit a crisis.  My first health crisis was the "Celebrex Incident."

My second health crisis occurred in 2007 after my husband passed away.   Deep grieving affected my emotional and mental health and also altered my physical health, including my body chemistry, eyesight, and metabolism.

Grieving burns a lot of energy.  I felt constantly drained, and even walking a half block was fatiguing. For months I was ravenous and ate three big meals a day plus snacks – even in the middle of the night.  Yet, I continued to lose weight despite my high-calorie intake. 

My eyes were so severely affected by my constant crying that my corneas changed shape and developed astigmatism. 

The change in my body chemistry was the worst.  Not long after the passing of my husband and dog, I was walloped by a sinus infection that crept into my lungs.  My primary care physician (now my EX-primary care physician) was a good diagnostician, but his go-to solution was his prescription pad. 

He prescribed a steroid called Prednisone to reduce the inflammation.  I was weak and worn out and didn't think to question him - plus, I had taken Prednisone following the Celebrex Incident with no side effects.  But the emotional aspect of deep grieving had altered my body chemistry -  this time, my body countered with a near-psychotic reaction.

Psychosis and a Turning Point

Depression can be a side effect of Prednisone.  But I wasn't just a little depressed.  For days I felt like I was losing my mind.  I veered from hysterical crying to screaming to wanting to crawl out of my skin.  It was what I would imagine a bad acid trip would feel like. 

I returned to my doctor's office and explained my symptoms.  I felt like my mind was slipping out of control, and crazy thoughts scattered through my head as I spoke: "Does he look bored?  He better not be bored.  He has to do something.  He better fix this. He has to fix this." 

I stood up and pounded my fists on the top of his desk and repeatedly yelled in his face, "Make this Stop!  Make this Stop! Make this Stop!" 

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I scared him.  I scared myself.  He told me that I couldn't be alone and asked me for the names and phone numbers of friends who could stay with me.  He called each of them and explained my condition, which he assured would be temporary (let's hope!).

My friends stayed with me for days until my body normalized (one friend was so concerned that she hid my kitchen knives).  The "Prednisone Incident" was a turning point.  Never again would I blindly accept medication without asking for other options or going without. 

The East-West Balance

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The near-deadly Celebrex and near-psychotic Prednisone Incidents propelled me to take a hard look at the soundness of Western healthcare. 

Western Medicine or "Modern Medicine" leans towards diagnosing and prescribing drugs to treat our health symptoms.  There is definitive value to this type of treatment, but medication sometimes only treats the symptoms without addressing the root cause of the issue. 

Eastern medicine trusts the bond between mind, body, and spirit.

I would much rather know what is causing the problem and deal with that instead of covering up the problem with drugs. 

Eastern and Western care are very different, but there are growing numbers of Eastern and Western medicine practitioners who are finding ways for their treatments to complement each other.  To me, that is a perfect balance . . .  and it's up to us to find those practitioners who can integrate traditional Eastern and current Western medicine.

Sprinting on a Hamster Wheel

We all know that stress has an enormously negative effect on our well-being.  Constant stress wrecks our physical health causing high blood pressure, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and heart disease. Constant stress is also a direct line to depression and anxiety.

I was addicted to stress all through my thirties.  Feeling stressed by work made me feel purposeful and was a distraction from feeling my emotions.  My life was a blur of activities between work and socializing while I sprinted on a hamster wheel powered by stress.   Once or twice a year, I would hit the wall with an upper respiratory infection and check out for two weeks.  It was my body's way of yelling "No Mas" and forcing me to slow down. 

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Worry and anxiety defined my life, and I dedicated much effort and money to slow down the hamster wheel:  therapy, cardio workouts, massage, and martinis were pieces of the fix. I experienced the greatest peace and balance once a week when I sat in Meditation and prayer at the Agape Church.  

But one can't spend all of their hours sitting in a Church.  Most of my relief came from the outside, which can only go so far.  The missing component was finding solace on the inside to align both. 

Turban or Pirate Hat?

One day my massage therapist told me about a man named Guru Singh who relieved stress through sound therapy. 

 "I think there might be something to it," said Jonathan. "The sessions are at his house.  When you arrive, you sit in the garden and wait for him. Then this guy who wears a turban takes you to a room where you sit on the floor and talk.  He asks questions about your life and what's going on. After that, he takes you into another room, where you get the sound therapy."

I heard the word "relax," and I didn't need to hear anything more. If this sound therapy really worked, what did I care if this guy wore a turban or a pirate hat?  I got the number for this Guru Singh and made an appointment for the sound therapy.

"I See Your True Nature"

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Weeks later, I sat in that very same garden that Jonathan had described.  I had foolishly gulped down a double espresso an hour earlier, which was not a promising start to my relaxation session. 

Guru Singh eventually stepped into the garden to introduce himself.  His tall, lean frame was outfitted in a thigh-length cotton tunic and matching white pants that looked like leggings. A white turban covered his head. His salt and pepper beard was at least a foot long, and his large blue eyes were kind but penetrating.   Calm radiated from his entire being. 

"Sat Nam," he said. "Thank you for coming, June. I'll meet you in the back room." 

"Sat what?"

Unbeknownst to me, Guru Singh was a renowned Kundalini yoga teacher. I was ignorant of "Sat Nam" as an essential Mantra in the Kundalini yoga tradition: "Sat" meaning Truth and "Nam" meaning Name.  As a greeting, "Sat Nam" is akin to saying, "I see your true nature."

I walked through the garden and sat on the floor of the back room.  Guru Singh arrived a few minutes later and sat cross-legged a few feet in front of me. I was prepared for what was coming next: He would ask me about my life, we would chat, and then I could go to the magical sound room to relax.

Spiritual Therapy & A Time Out

Guru Singh silently stared intently at me for about half a minute.  Instead of feeling uncomfortable, I felt that he was keenly observing me from a different perspective.  I looked back at him and waited. 

He closed his eyes.  When his eyes opened, he looked directly into mine and asked in a level voice. "Do you like what you do?"

The question was simple but multi-layered. I sensed that he was not merely asking about my work, but about the nature of my life.  It was not the question itself, but the meaning behind the question that was unsettling. 

I needed and wanted to answer thoughtfully and sincerely.  My scripted responses wilted in the small room. 

Thus began my journey of "Spiritual Therapy" that I didn't know I needed.  I have sat cross-legged across from Guru Singh nearly every month for over 20 years.  He has guided me through countless homework assignments, raising my Awareness, balancing my life, and growing into a compassionate warrior. 

By the way, when I settled into the sound room for my "relaxation therapy," I completely passed out into a Theta State of relaxation despite the double espresso. That's how badly my body, mind, and spirit needed a time out. 

Tweezers & Tiny Seeds

 

Guru Singh often says that he carries a key ring with a thousand keys – meaning each person/student he works with requires a unique key to unlock themselves.  In my case, I think that he replaced the key with tweezers to plant the tiny seeds that would take years to mature. 

Take Meditation. He must have known that this espresso guzzling stress case wasn't the best candidate to dive into the deep end of the meditation pool.   I had meditated in group settings, but I had never meditated on my own – and remember, this was in the days before iPhones and Apps, so meditation resources were limited. 

Guru Singh never suggested that I meditate.  Instead, he gave me a CD (remember those?!) of him leading a 12-minute guided Meditation for relaxation.

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At that time, I didn't understand the value of Meditation, but I had a combo alarm clock and CD player next to my bed and often fell asleep to his guided Meditation and woke to it in the mornings. This was the planting of the first tiny seed, and unbeknownst to me, the start of the cumulative effects of Meditation. 

Living My Life in the Sound Room  

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These days, Meditation is mainstream and there is Awareness that Meditation is a good thing.   Meditation reduces stress.  That in itself is the #1 benefit because stress affects our well-being in every area of our lives. 

As for that Theta State of relaxation in Guru Singh's Sound Room . . . there are simply no words to describe this level of supreme tranquility for the mind, body, and psyche.  

 

Some people meditate for hours to exist in this pure calm, and Guru Singh created a way to experience this without putting in those hours. 

I wanted that relaxed state for my mind, my being, but I couldn't spend my life in Guru Singh's sound room.  So I had to discover other meditative techniques to calm my mind.

So why aren't more of us consistently meditating?  

Because it seems difficult.  And it takes time.  And there are no immediate results.  And how do we know if we are doing it correctly?

We all want change, but we always want it on our terms.  Most of us (myself included) are impatient and want quick results.  The words "quick results" and "meditation" don't belong in the same sentence. 

My life wasn't enhanced after one day of Meditation.  But, with consistency, incremental changes did happen, and the cumulative effects have grown more powerful over time.  

These days, I have a well of calm that I can dip into when faced with a high-octane situation – especially at work.  

Meditation also sparks my creativity.  My most creative ideas are gifted to me while meditating. 

It all sounds good . . . but who has time to devote to hours of Meditation, or even thirty minutes of Meditation a day?  Most of us are barely treading water with juggling our everyday responsibilities and commitments. 

Plus, at the end of the day, guess which sounds better: relaxing with a glass of wine and Netflix or an hour of Meditation?  Yep, I agree.  Wine and Netflix sound way better.

I also know that wine and Netflix might be great for short-term relaxation, but they won't provide the cumulative, long-term effects of Meditation or help me evolve. 

A Glass of Wine or Meditation? 

Meditation Micro-Shifts

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I've found that integrating mini-steps, or what I call a "Micro-Shift," can make all the difference in creating that cumulative effect to retrain our minds and bodies. 

Meditation is about relaxing our minds while being present.  Repeating an affirmation with my mind fully engaged is a mini-meditation.  I do this in the shower.  I do this when I'm washing my face. I'm cleansing my face and showering anyway, so why not put some of that time to good use?

Another practice that I use to place myself in the present moment is through gratitude. Every morning I think of something for which to be grateful.  I type that sentence into my iPhone and make it a reoccurring reminder for that day.  Every time it pops up, I take a few seconds to acknowledge my gratitude and anchor myself in the present moment. 

Putting yourself in a state of grace a few times a day is a Micro-Shift with a huge payoff. It might be only 15-20 seconds at a time, but I've received the collective benefits from these Mini-Meditations.  

There's Always a But . . .

The benefits of the Mini-Meditations do add up . . . but, and there's always a BUT, the key is to be in a state of complete Awareness in the moment. 

I can immediately tell the difference between when I'm fully engaged or not.  If I'm repeating an affirmation and thinking of something else, I may as well be repeating anything – the alphabet - because it won't make a difference.  But if I'm repeating an affirmation or acknowledging gratitude with my full attention and letting the intention of those words fill me up – just for fifteen seconds - then I've given myself the gift of a Mini-Meditation.

Going through the motions on autopilot isn't worth the effort.  Better to drink wine and watch Netflix. 

Crisis Meditation #1:  Financial Desperation

I never set out to make daily Meditation a part of my life.  My first experience with consistent daily Meditation was borne of financial desperation. 

A few years into our marriage, my late husband and I experienced a financial breakdown caused by our choices to remodel our home and remap our careers:  we both took substantial pay cuts when he started an advertising agency, and I joined a startup technology consulting firm.  The math didn't add up when it came to affording our lifestyle. 

I juggled our finances and logged into our banking accounts multiple times a day, transferring bits of money from one account to another to cover our debts.  We borrowed money to pay for our monthly expenses, and our downward financial trajectory had us close to no longer affording our home.  Conversations about our finances usually left both of us feeling bad and took a significant toll on our marriage. 

I felt like my head was going to explode, and one day I broke down and shared our financial situation with Guru Singh.  He recommended a book by John Randolph Price titled "The Abundance Book'.

The book was all about changing our relationship with money and included committing to a 40-day meditation.  Miss one day, and you reset and start all over again.  Jim and I had nothing to lose (except our house!), so we enthusiastically jumped in. 

The Abundance Meditation detached me from my fear of loss and gave Jim the courage to resign from his Agency.  By the end of the 40-day Meditation, he had signed up his own clients and was making more money than he had in years. 

This experience made me a believer in the power of Meditation.  I graduated to meditating for periods of time, but not every day. 

Crisis Meditation #2:  The Covid-19 Pandemic

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Financial Crisis led to the 40-day Abundance Meditation.  Emotional crisis following the deaths of my husband and dog led to a daily yoga practice that incorporated short meditations, and I also had my evening meditation ritual with the seven random stones.

But it wasn't until the Covid-19 Pandemic that I seriously committed to everyday Meditation.  The world experienced an overpowering crisis that permeated every part of our lives.  As blessed as I was to be healthy, fully employed, and sheltered in a beautiful home with my fiancé Stephen and our dog Beau, I felt the crush of anxiety and fear that closed in on all of us.

During this time, Stephen and I began a disciplined daily meditation to dissolve the anxiety that relentlessly gnawed at us.  The daily meditations made a huge difference in our lives, and now, neither of us can imagine missing a day of this valuable ritual.

The Goldilocks of Meditation

The variety of platforms for meditation -  books, apps, videos, podcasts, retreats, meditation centers – can be overwhelming and mind-numbing (the opposite effect of Meditation). 

I had to try out several different programs and teachers before hitting the Goldilocks of Meditation – the one that is "just right" for me. 

Trying out different platforms helped me pinpoint what worked and what didn't.  Over time I discovered that I am sensitive to higher-pitched voices and sounds, so I lean more towards deeper male voices and low vibrating music.   I also like meditations where I can learn and manifest positive thoughts and energy. 

I checked out guided meditation apps like Headspace, Calm, Aura, and Insight Timer, but none stuck for long.  The app that did stick is the  Meditation Timer, and mainly for the resonating gong of the Tibetan singing bowls to begin and end my meditations. 

At the start of the Lockdown in March 2020, I stumbled across the Oprah and Deepak "Hope in Uncertain Times" 21-day Meditation.  At that time, the Meditation was free, and I'm grateful to Mr. Chopra and Ms. Winfrey for sharing this gift with the world.  Their Meditation was the single most calming part of my day.  After finishing the 21-day Meditation, I continued to access the other free meditations on the Chopra app.

The Meditation Mixtape 

The Chopra app is my Goldilocks for many reasons:  I resonate with a deep male voice, and I like meditations with a message that I can incorporate into my life.  But I think there is value to mixing up different types of meditations and platforms. 

I believe that whatever works to focus our attention, calm our minds, and create a feeling of peace to our being is the right way to meditate. 

Sometimes I turn to a Walking Meditation that I learned through Kundalini yoga.  The simple Mantra of "Sa-Ta-Na-Ma," or Kirtan Kriya, is one of the most powerful that you can learn.

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As I walk and repeat the Mantra, I touch my thumb to a different finger on my hand:  my index finger and thumb are touching when I say "Sa," my thumb touches my middle finger when I say "Ta," I say "Na" when my thumb and ring finger touch, and finally "Ma" when my thumb and pinky finger connect.

This Meditation is intended to bring total mental balance by clearing the subconscious mind of traumas and negative, unnecessary emotions.  And it's so simple! 

I am eagerly anticipating the day when Guru Singh launches his own meditation app, and I can add that to my Meditation Mixtape!

Kintsugi Meditation

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When my dear little dog, Beau, passed away recently, I created my personal Meditation to ease my sadness and pain.  You might recall from my Home Page that Kintsugi (Keen - Tsoo - Ghee) is the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by joining the cracks with gold lacquer. 

Beau was my constant companion for thirteen years and gave me purpose and joy during the darkest time of my life.  I am mending my broken heart with Kintsugi Meditation. 

Every morning, I lay down on my yoga mat and set my Meditation Timer for fifteen minutes.  When the gong sounds, I close my eyes and visualize my sad heart with its crack and breaks.   I watch the cracks continually being filled with liquid gold lacquer and envision my heart growing stronger and more beautiful. 

When the gong sounds at the end of the Meditation, my heart is at ease, and I feel the deep sense of Beau's unconditional love for me.  I know that the cumulative effect of my Kintsugi Meditation will heal my heart. 

We don't have to sit cross-legged with our backs straight and eyes closed to meditate.  We are free to create our own meditations. 

My Body is a Deli

Just as we are free to create our own meditations, we are also free to create a healthy ecosystem for our bodies. But it's hard!

Our bodies are our friends, and I wouldn't treat any of my friends the way that I have treated my body over the years.  Overexposure to sun, alcohol, drugs, processed foods, sugar . . . my body has a right to be pissed off at me. 

These days, I am more mindful of the way that I treat my body. I'm aware of what I eat, of movement, and rest.  Part of it comes from my fiancé, Stephen, who has an iron will and treats his body like a Temple.  I am catching up with him so that I don't continue to treat my body like a Deli. 

The Deli Menu

What's on the Deli menu?  Lots of carbs, and I love carbs!  I wouldn't care so much if sugar fell off of the face of the Earth.  But chips, french fries, and onion rings?  I have often said that when I turn eighty, I will begin eating anything that I want: mainly onion rings, chips, rice, and pizza.  But as I get closer to that age, I'm pretty sure that I'll have more respect for my body. 

A few years ago, I hit a tipping point when my blood test indicated that my blood sugar level had crept upwards to the pre-diabetic level.  My Primary Physician, Dr. Ruth Sorotzkin, was concerned about my hereditary predisposition and sent me to a nutritionist at the hospital.  I was surprised that my insurance covered seeing a nutritionist, which I thought only happened at spa resorts. 

The nutritionist was quite impressed with my daily diet, with the exception of my favorite treat and habit:  every afternoon, I ate an entire (smallish) bag of Osembe (Oh-Sem-Bay) - Japanese rice crackers.  It was my way of treating myself.  I loved the crunch, the salt, and the taste.  Just writing about it makes me want to eat a bag.  Or two.   

I felt like I knew quite a bit about nutrition, but I learned a lot about how our bodies metabolize sugar - especially carbohydrates! 

The nutritionist explained how my single daily Osembe addiction was like eating a bag of sugar.  Continuing down this path would most likely lead to diabetes.  Really?  I sadly removed this favorite from my kitchen cabinet and daily diet. I'll still eat a few Osembe but not every day. 

The Special Language of Women

Finding the right gynecologist can be life-changing and perhaps the most essential healthcare decision that a woman can make for herself.  Why?

Women's healthcare is severely underserved and under-researched, especially regarding hormonal problems associated with perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause.  A woman needs a doctor who understands the full cycle of women's health. 

Finding this doctor is way more difficult than finding the Goldilocks of Meditation. 

Remember my reference to the  East-West Balance and finding a physician who can integrate traditional Eastern and current Western medicine?  That is my gynecologist, Dr. Nadini Verma.  She is life-changing and has kept me healthy and active through every period of my "maturing" female body.

Dr. Verma has often recommended non-prescriptive treatments to keep me healthy – including a plant-based therapy to manage my blood sugar.  And, when I was in a pinch, she referred me to my trusted Primary Physician, Dr. Sorotzkin. 

I would happily give up carbs forever to keep Dr. Verma in my life. 

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Beyond the Deli, Beyond Meditation . . . there's

Exercise.  Just like with Meditation, we all know about the benefits of exercise.  But the word itself is kind of a turnoff and reminds me of gym class which was not my favorite. I'm not athletic. I'm not a good runner or swimmer.  I don't play tennis, and I was lucky that I ever became an intermediate-level skier. 

I like the word Movement instead of Exercise. 

I incorporate the same Micro-Shifts with Movement that I do with my Mini-Meditations.  I fit pockets of movement into the activities that are already part of my daily routine. 

Drying my hair?  I do squats and standing lunges.   Standing in front of the refrigerator filling my cup with water?  I do balance exercises.  Brushing my teeth?  More squats.  I even do stability and balance exercises when I'm standing in line at the grocery store.  Why not?  What else am I going to do except scroll through my Instagram account? 

On those days when I've mostly sat glued to my laptop on Zoom calls and creating Excel spreadsheets, my Micro-Shifts make me feel better to know that I did something to care for myself.

But  . . .  and there's that "but," just like with those Mini-Meditations and Affirmations, the key is to be fully present.   When I'm absent-mindedly doing squats while drying my hair, my form is sloppy and off.  But when I'm engaged and attentive, I can feel my muscles moving and feel my body saying, "thank you!". 

The Doctor is In! 

In 2018 I ran across a Podcast interview with Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, a U.K.-based doctor who advocates a 360-degree approach to health and focuses on the entire person and not just the symptoms.   

I rarely purchase books on health, but his humility and openness to new ideas prompted me to buy his book "The 4 Pillar Plan", which consists of four elements:  Relax – Eat – Move- Sleep. 

It was an easy read and I liked the way the practical and elegant format of his recommendations. 

And guess what?  He is a huge proponent of lifestyle Micro-Changes AND taking control of our health.  His book validated for me the positive aspects of daily gratitude journaling and practicing daily stillness.  He even created a 5-Minute Kitchen Workout!

This book inspired me to get creative with my Micro-Adjustments and treat my body like the valuable friend it is. 

Embrace Your Health Insurance 

I am grateful to have health insurance coverage, and I am absolutely guilty of not reading the details of my policy.   Sure, I know the main components – deductibles, in-network coverage, but it wasn't until 2020 when we had to Shelter in  Place, that I experienced the true benefits of my health insurance plan.

I've experienced sciatic nerve pain for years.  Physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, or acupuncture usually provided long-term relief.  When chronic sciatic pain returned during the 2020 shutdown, I was in pain most of the day and night.  Dr. Sorotzkin approved physical therapy as a treatment, and I selected a clinic near my house. 

After a thorough evaluation, my physical therapist at Matrix Physical Therapy identified the cause of my pain, which was different from that of the past.  It was the summer of 2020, and I vowed to be pain-free by the end of the year.  I met that goal not only because of the stellar skills of my PT (who sadly moved from Los Angeles) but because I committed to doing everything that I was taught, no matter how boring and repetitive. 

Years earlier, when I met with a nutritionist, I was surprised to discover that my health insurance covered those sessions.  I was surprised to find out that my insurance covered my physical therapy with nearly unlimited sessions.  And the big plus?  Matrix has a Pilates reformer, so not only was I receiving top-notch therapy, but I was also getting a great Pilates workout during the Pandemic.

You might think you can't afford a personal trainer at the gym or meet with a nutritionist.  Talk to your doctor . . . knowing and working your plan can pay off in great dividends. 

We are Complete in Ourselves

There was a time when I lumped Health into separate buckets of Physical Health, Mental Health, and Emotional Health.  It took decades for me to appreciate the interconnection of all types of Health . . . including Spiritual Health, Social Health, Intellectual Health, and Financial Health. 

We have a choice and a right to manage our lives. 

It's taken a long time and some hard lessons, but I've grown to embrace the Wholeness of my Health and take responsibility for managing my well-being. 

The word "Health" originates from an Old English word related to "whole" - a thing that is complete in itself.   What a perfect definition of our Health:  We are complete in ourselves. 

Our Health is a web of interconnections between every aspect of our lives – what happens inside flows outward, and our outward experiences ripple through our hearts and souls. 

Our bodies are a gift.  Our bodies are our friends.  Our awareness will guide us to be complete and whole in ourselves. 

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1.  Doctors don't know everything.

We have a choice and a right to manage our well-being.  There is nothing wrong and everything right with questioning a treatment.  Physicians are people too.  They can have a bad day, an argument with their spouse, or drink too much the night before and have skewed judgment.  Or they can be stuck on autopiloting their prescription pad.  Ask questions.  The quick fix might not be the healthiest option. 

2.  Well-being starts from within. 

There was a time when I thought that I could de-stress by getting massage treatments, doing lots of cardio, buying stuff, and drinking alcohol to relax.  I learned that true healing lies within and flows outward.  The work on the inside begins with my conscious intention.  It takes effort, for sure, but the payoff is hugely rewarding.  I wouldn't go back to the "before" time for anything.  Not even for Jeff Bezos-level money.  

3.  Strength in small steps

It's not easy to stop and calm the mind. That's why I fit pockets of gratitude or movement into the activities that are already part of my daily routine.  The fifteen seconds of calm is a source of strength.  And the fifteen squats that I did while brushing my teeth are definitely a source of strength.  But  . . .  and there's that "but," the key is to be fully present.  Otherwise, it's back to wine and Netflix.

4.  Not required:  robes, chanting, and crystals

We are free to build a healthy ecosystem for our bodies, including creating our own meditations.  There are highly effective meditation techniques that we can learn, and we can also create whatever works to focus our attention, calm our minds, and reach a place of peace.  Maybe it's meditating on a passage from a poem or the Bible or visualizing a broken heart being repaired with gold lacquer. It's OK to create our own Meditation Mixtape.   

5.  Tweezers and tiny seeds

One small change can be life-changing.  Guru Singh took his tweezers and planted the seeds of change when he gave me his relaxation meditation CD back in the nineties.  One never knows what will spark a change and lead to a whole different direction of well-being.  The spark might even be borne from a financial or emotional crisis.  What crosses our path and what we choose to do in the face of crisis might heal us in ways that we can't imagine.  

Health & Wholeness:  Lessons Learned – Filling the Cracks with Gold