Nikkis Nature

A Place For Sharing Holistic and Healing Insights

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5 Overlooked Indicators of Health

In the current model of health care we normally measure our health in terms of the absence or diminishing of concerning symptoms.  This is, of course, important for function, but there are many people going about their day to day lives who may think all is perfect because they aren’t presenting with medical symptoms, but who could be improving their personal health and levels of thriving in so  many more ways.  Now, the whole act of taking this vantage point is going to depend on how you, yourself define the word health.  See if you can stop and do this for a moment before reading on.  See if you can finalize a sentence or two that sums up what you consider health to be.  My personal definition of this very important term continues to evolve the more I do… but it currently would go something like this:  Health is the ongoing ability of a being to be open to learning, growth and inspiration in life.  Now, I only stand by this definition for the moment, for I expect it to change as I do.  The underlying sentiment behind this definition though, is that even if you have physical disabilities, or medical problems (which most of us will most certainly have at one time or another unless we are the lucky few who suddenly sneak off quietly to death in our sleep) you can find inspiration that gives you a high quality of life, and a sense of awe in learning during your time here.  Now this inspiration can come in as many different forms as there are people-  it might be through enjoying real connections with people, or studying a favorite subject, or connecting to nature, or living through art or music….the list could go on and on.  In any case, the following list includes aspects of life that I feel have been strong indicators of my own connectedness to life and my personal brand of inspiration, and are worth considering for you as well.

  1.  Your ability to recall dreams:  There are actually many studies that link levels of dream recall to many aspects of medical health.  I can often tell when I am in a sluggish or more stressed state simply by noticing that my rate of dream recall seems to dip a bit below its normal trends.  If you are remembering less than you used to, this points to decreased mental clarity which can be resulting from a myriad of different life or health sources.  If you don’t remember dreams at all and you’d like to, there are steps you can take to try to cultivate the return of this ability.  Feel free to contact me if you need help in this area.
  2. How vividly you see the world:  I’m not talking about visual acuity here-  we obviously all have varying levels of eyesight, and I myself am nearsighted.  I am talking about tuning in and noticing how colors strike you, how you take in a scene, and being able to notice how looking at the world affects you at different times.  See if you can take note every now and then and get your own personal opinion on the quality of the scene ahead of you.  Is it sparkly and vibrant?  Does is seem mundane and tiresome?  Your responses to taking in your world can be very telling.  I know firsthand that it is possible to find the world’s shimmer even during typically undesirable life circumstances, so see if you can tap in and see what I mean.
  3. Your ability to listen openly:  Try to notice if you can listen to another person speak without having to respond or relate to it personally in any way.  Can you listen and just be a witness to the amazing life in front of you?  Or does it have to relate back to your story?  Of course when someone speaks to you they usually expect some kind of response, but it is a great practice to pretend, initially, that you won’t respond at all, and that you will form no judgments.  You’ll simply accept all of the words you hear and absorb them.  When it does come time that you have to respond, see if it can be as simple and openly supportive as possible.  Your ability to witness those around you in the world without having to interrupt or jump in with your own story is a wonderful sign of confidence, happiness and receptiveness.  See if you can take note of how you are doing in this area, and then see how you do in listening to yourself, and doing it kindly.
  4. Your level of connectedness to nature:  This is a very difficult thing to measure objectively, but you can personally assess subjectively how connected you feel you are.  This goes well beyond simply being able to notice the beauty of nature, to things like feeling real empathy for other creatures, relating to them on a personal level…especially those that you don’t find cute, or that you might even find scary.  (Think spiders, snakes, poison ivy-  even if you don’t want to touch them….do you GET them?  Can you like them as a friend?) Are you interested by small out of the ordinary occurrences in nature?  Do they provide you with meaning or curiosity?  Are you drawn to be outside no matter the weather conditions?  If you are particularly over sensitive to cold, or heat, or humidity, or scared of insect bites, or sunburn, etc…these are health symptoms to take a strong look at.  They point out your constitutional weaknesses, and can be worked on, even with simple nutritional approaches.  Lowering these sensitivities and getting yourself to be more durable and connected in nature not only improves your constitution but your ability to connect to the world and your life as a whole.  Some of the few moments of pure spiritual bliss that I have experienced in my life so far, of having a sudden feeling of momentarily glimpsing the answer to the big questions, have occurred when out in nature, alone, and finding myself receptive in a rare but incredibly complete way.
  5. Your ability to perceive the emotional energy of others without asking:  There are many people nowadays who have been able to identify themselves as “empaths”.  This is the term used to describe someone who is particularly sensitive to feeling the emotions of others.  It can often be confusing and difficult because you might feel these emotions as if they were your own, and then wonder why you are feeling particularly anxious, or sad, frazzled or apprehensive.  I, however, feel that when identified and worked on properly, this trait is actually a huge talent as well as a sign of increasing connectedness to the world around you.  Obviously if you are able to hone this and know when someone around you is feeling a certain way, you can remain as present and supportive as possible.  This is, in fact, a psychic talent, but all people have the ability to work on developing it.  This does not mean we all have an equal measure of these abilities in the end.  Some people are just more psychically inclined than others, just like some bodies are more athletically inclined than others.  But working on your intuitive levels and honing them to the best of your ability will improve your health just like working out will.  There are many ways of honing empathic, intuitive or psychic abilities that could be the topic of another article!

Realize that these are all pretty abstract and subjective aspects of life to consider….but know that tuning in intermittently to see how you are doing in these areas can tell you a lot about your health.  In my holistic practice I have ways of helping people to work on these qualities, and questions along these lines are always welcome.  Also, this is a very small list!  I would like to hear other little known or little discussed indicators of life quality, health, thriving and inspiration that you have discovered to be particularly important.  Maybe together we can grow this list and continue to evolve the ways in which we define, and ultimately experience, true health.  Peace and blessings to you all on this amazing and beautiful day!



Holistic Care: Mind, Body and….Spirit?

In the fields of holistic and alternative health care as well as in new age circles you will frequently hear discussions of the importance of addressing mind , body and spirit in order to attain optimal health.  I agree that this is true… but I feel as though it is rarely done.  We have gotten pretty good at the “body” part:  the fitness industry is booming, folks are aware that they need to keep in shape, improve their nutrition, detoxify chemicals from the body, get enough sleep and so on.  We are not quite as good at the “mind” part, but have shown some improvement recently in this area.  I get a lot of clients coming to me for Reiki to help manage stress, and for hypnosis to help empower the subconscious and bring clarity and strength of mind to personal goal achievement.  I have also noticed that in our current climate it has become much less taboo, if not totally normal to seek counseling or psychiatric help, rather than suffer in silence when mental issues surface.  But the aspect of a truly holistic life approach that I am seeing addressed the least is the “spirit” end of the deal.  Many people have experienced religion, but I don’t think that really counts unless your religious practice has led you to explore your personal spiritual nature.  Many forms of religious worship simply have you listening to someone else’s thoughts or stories, or going through the motions of the rules established by a particular institution.  So how do you work on sensing your spirit on your own?  How do realize what truly lies within the bigger picture of it all for you?  Here are few approaches that I have found very helpful, and very deep:  Ask yourself what you truly believe.  And don’t just ask silently to yourself and then drift off into the next thing you need to think about before finding any answers-  use this as a journal prompt.  Take out a pen and paper and try completing the following sentences, and expand as much as you wish on each.  “I believe that when I die……”, “I believe God is…..”, “I believe my purpose on this Earth is to……”.  This exercise will be hard at first, and you might even find that if you did this on multiple occasions that you would have very different answers from one day to the next.  But the point of this is to begin to build a more concrete structure for your own personal belief system.  Having your beliefs become something more than abstract can be so incredibly helpful when the tough moments in life come up… they will come back to you, remind you of your role, remind you of what is possible.  Another great exercise to partake in is to begin trying to remember more dreams.  Set the intention at night that you will wake up in the morning remembering your dreams… and then when you do remember one, write it down.  They may seem to make no sense at first but if you do this over time you will be surprised at the experiences you are having when your consciousness is not attached to your body.  Experiencing other times and places, other whole groups of friends, other possible realities in which you may simultaneously exist but not live in physically can really help you to further build on the richness of that personal belief system.  The third and final suggestion I will give for today is to work on being authentically  yourself in every situation possible.  This means not feeling like you have to keep quiet about your real opinions, not holding back for fear that some part of your life is not acceptable to someone else.  I did that for way too long, and now that I am making a point to NOT do that, amazing things are happening.  I am much more in touch with my true self-  the spirit of myself-  and I feel that this is a huge source of thriving that went relatively untapped in some of the earlier periods of my life.  I hope that you will feel free to share in the comments here… maybe even some of the endings you found to complete some of the writing prompts above.  You are not alone in the need for personal growth and experiencing something beyond the mundane and the physical, and your sharing could be just the thing that helps another reader to explore as well.  Thank you so much for taking valuable time from your day to pause and read these musings-  love and blessings to all.            Peace, Nikki


Holistic Approaches Becoming the Norm? A Glimpse of Hope

A couple of days ago I attended a continuing education lecture at Quinnipiac College regarding approaches to chronic pain when treating patients.  This one evening course was geared specifically toward physical therapists, and was presented by two male physical therapists who were relatively new to the field, and were involved in research because they were continuing to study toward their doctorate degrees.  I left the course feeling refreshed and relieved about the climate of  today’s research and college curriculum for health professionals.  I am going to date myself here, but when I first finished my physical therapy degree at UCONN (wow Huskies!!) almost two full decades ago, we really were released into the field of health care as fixers.  What I mean is that your worth as a PT was measured by your proficiency to manually fix orthopedic problems.  We expected to be able to simply fix people, and in turn, patients simply expected us to be able to fix them.  Well, I can tell you from firsthand experience that this mentality leads to burnout in a matter of a few short years, because a big percentage of the time, it just doesn’t work this way.  Here is the truth that was plainly discussed in the course I attended the other night:  in many, many cases of chronic pain (no matter what the original cause) there is no lingering tissue damage that can actually be “fixed”.  The central nervous system is super adaptable and learns to perpetuate the original protective response of pain to ensure safety of the involved tissues until healing has occurred, but in many cases, this isn’t unlearned even though the original issue has resolved.  We discussed this in detail, and how to begin helping people to deal with their pain story and change their responses to movement, emotions, and expectations.  We dealt with the possibility of people maybe even getting mad about such a pain discussion and retorting “so you think this is all in my head??!!”.  I raised my hand and offered that maybe in such cases we should come right out and be sure to teach that yes, all pain is in our head.  Pain is a signal from the brain to pay attention to, or protect some part of ourselves, but that doesn’t mean that the need to protect that part is still valid.  Helping people to deal with fear and rewire the responses of their nervous system is very holistic-  we are talking about integrating mental and emotional work with physical approaches.  I was ecstatic to see that young guys right out of school today are already thinking about this and incorporating it into their practices!  This was not presented to me in school in any way.  Now, I wouldn’t change any part of my educational history, mind you, for if I had not started burning out in the first five years of my career I would not have started seeking the education in energy healing, meditation and integrative health care that has led me to the unique, rewarding private practice that I am currently running today.  However, I feel happy and hopeful for new graduate physical therapists and also for their patients.  There is the hope that they will have a faster and better understanding of how healing truly happens, and that this will help their work to be rich, long-lived and full of deep and important connections with their clients.  It is this type of work that lets the client-practitioner relationship thrive and feel successful on both ends.  Please feel free to allow this space to be an open and supportive forum for any questions or concerns or insights that you may have regarding chronic pain.  It is a huge and difficult issue, but also one in which no one should be alone.  Thanks for hearing my words today-  have an amazing day!

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The Overlooked Health Factor

At this time we are being bombarded with constant information with regards to health.  There is an overflow of articles, blogs, radio pieces, books and television shows telling us what to eat, how to exercise and which supplements are currently in fashion.  We are worried about GMO’s, BPA, gluten, pesticide, hormones, DEET, vitamin D, calcium absorption, osteoporosis versus rhabdomyolysis and much, much more.  However, we have a shortage of articles circulating on a topic that I consider to be possibly the most important element to real health, and that is inspiration. I think of health as the ability to enjoy the richness of life through learning and inspiration.   I have spoken with at least three people in this week alone who know that what they are missing is true inspiration in their life.  Now, I give these folks a lot of credit for recognizing this.  If I had to grossly over-simplify the current state of things, I would say that the smallest group is comprised of people who have found and recognize true inspiration.  The next rarest group would be those mentioned above:  the people who know they need real inspiration but are searching to figure out what that might be for them.  And then there are all the rest-  masses of people living in varying states of monotony and stress.  Many people constantly seek to fulfill their unmet needs with simple comfort-based pleasures such as food, alcohol, drugs, sex or media.  I’m not saying that these things are at all wrong when enjoyed in a healthy way –  but I recognize an overarching pattern of running to these things  blindly over and over again, without any true pleasure or engaging in real richness, real meaning, or gratification.

So what is inspiration?  I believe inspiration is when some activity or realization adds meaning and connection to life.  I believe this can manifest in as many different ways as there are people and circumstances.  For me, it means being able to use spiritual experiences and explorations to help people.  I have developed a very unique holistic health practice where I am able to provide outlets for any combination of physical, emotional, energetic and spiritual healing and exploration.  I have a big focus on educational experiences and small group sharing regarding metaphysical topics.  Now, because I am constantly enthralled with the possible experiences that can occur on the energetic and spiritual planes, I feel intense gratitude and awe when I am able to share those ideas and outlets with others.  But that is just me-  other people find inspiration through the realization of an amazing creative outlet they never realized they had, or simply by diving into an area of study that they find incredibly stimulating.  There is nothing like longing to learn, and realizing that learning is so fulfilling that it could provide you with a lifetime of gratifying intellectual work.  Some people find inspiration by learning how to work on bettering themselves in new ways.  Many people stumble upon a source of inspiration through a connection to nature… if you are wondering where your own inspiration lies, I suggest taking regular walks alone in a quiet, natural setting.  If you have no access to a place like this, you might consider having  shamanic practitioner or holistic health expert lead you on a guided meditation or journey that allows you access to nature on another level of consciousness.  In any case, it warrants some kind of personal examination.  I would love of any of you reading this would share what really inspires your life-  the sharing you provide could prove to be incredibly helpful to someone else.  As you round out this week and head toward the weekend, I hope you have some personal time to look forward to that includes a source of true inspiration.  Peace and love to you on each of your amazing and unique paths.


Fall is For Honoring the Unseen

For many people that I interact with in person and online, this fall has been an emotional time so far.  The atmosphere has felt somewhat scattered, and people including myself have been having trouble maintaining the normal levels of momentum in their motivation and inspiration.  Things feel difficult, but I think these “things” are only physical.  Just as energy healing can have profound effects on our health, we are also  greatly influenced by the energies that are active and around us at any given time.  This season I’ve found that I have been talking a lot about our need to honor the parts of ourselves as well as the things in our lives that are not physical.  Our culture is currently very focused on the physical:  our bodies, our physical health and capabilities, our material wealth, that which we can see and feel and physically touch, and that which science can prove.  As the trees shed their leaves, it’s a great time for us to shed, to release our attachment to everything we see and physically expect.  If we can loosen our iron grip on our physical lives now and then (preferably now!) we can make space to remember all of the important things about us that are not physical.  The biggest of these is the very essence of ourself-  the part of you that comprises your personality, your uniqueness, your connection to your thoughts and imagination and dreams… your spirit, if you will.  Taking note of who you are regardless of what your body is doing is a very valuable exercise.  It can provide amazing perspective, allowing you to feel a connection to a bigger picture, which lessens the stress we feel about some of our day to day struggles.  Getting in touch with the essence of yourself is a very grand and abstract idea to many, though!  In a smaller, and maybe more approachable way, you could start by taking note of the things that inspire you that are unrelated to your physical capabilities.  What would you do with your day if you suddenly could not walk?  I take pleasure in reminding myself that I love, love love reading, that I love music and philosophy and exploring my dreams and the psychic corners of my mind.  I try to imagine a self that can easily occupy itself in these pursuits and still feel a sense of productivity, value and fulfillment.  Another aspect of identifying the nonphysical in our lives is in noting what might be unseen other than the inner aspects of ourselves.  By this I mean things like the energies and cycles of nature that we sense and feel but can’t fully explain, episodes of thoughts noticeably passing between people without words spoken, or miracles or synchronicities that occur with no scientific explanations.  Taking note of any of these nonphysically explainable things can help us look inward and attune with times and cycles that would otherwise cause us to feel that we are caught in a state of chaos.  It can also help to prepare us for the future, and give us tools that sustain our sense of ourselves through times that are physically trying, such as health issues, or periods of financial loss or instability.  I usually write about health and healing ideas that are more mainstream and familiar to the general public, but I would not be true to my holistic tendencies if I did not also try to shed occasional light on the topic of doing more inner, spiritual work.  The exploration of how one’s essence is connected to the universe, or to something larger that is unseen, is certainly a life’s work.  For me, if I am not doing that, then I am not doing what I know I am here to do.  I feel very comforted knowing that I will always have mysteries to explore, that maybe a key to life is recognizing that we are never meant to know and understand everything, but that life is about experiencing glimpses into a great nonphysical mystery that can never be fully solved.  I hope that this fall that you will be able to feel at least one moment of awe in regarding the mystery that is the beautiful, unseen essence of you.  Once you do, I hope you never want to stop!  Wishing you peace, inspiration, and improved health by connecting to the amazing energies of nature.


Discovering Holistic Physical Therapy

As I set out to build a practice of physical therapy clients in my private office, I realize that I have not really explained to many people what I mean when I say that I practice “holistic physical therapy”.  In fact, as I ponder how to explain it, I wonder if that phrase is an oxymoron in and of itself.  The reason I say this is that the whole point is for this not to be only physical.  My aim in providing holistic physical therapy treatments is to provide physical therapy for a problem that a person would go to any physical therapist for, but to also help them further by incorporating stress management therapies, guided imagery, energy healing, and the teaching of skills that will support the smooth function of the whole being in addition to the painful area in question.  A typical session  includes hands-on work to the area of treatment including some or all of massage, stretching, joint mobilizations, myofascial release, craniosacral work, or positional release to name a few.  Then the client receives a period of energy healing work with guided visualizations for deep relaxation.  This serves to remind and teach the client how to get themselves back into a less stressful physical and mental state to promote their healing process.  The end of the session would be spent advising the client on how to proceed at home with exercises, stretches and life practices that will help them progress.  This may include consultation on diet, natural remedies, stress management approaches, even spiritual work if desired.

The following are the ways in which this type of PT session varies greatly from a session at a typical clinic.  You are the only client in the room.  The therapist does not bounce around between patients, so all of your time at Nikki’s Nature is either hands-on or educational, geared only to you.  You will not do a host of exercises during your session-  you will have hands-on work during your session, and then be given your exercises to do at home.  I would prefer the session be spent on pain management, stress reduction and client education.  If you feel that you need to have the therapist make you go through all of your exercises and you know you won’t do them at home, then you don’t really need PT, because you are not actually in a mindset to allow yourself to heal.  Unless you are going to therapy many times a week, you need to be ready to follow through with recommendations at home on your own if you want actual results.  I will never assess your problem and then say that you should come two times a week for six weeks.  My hope is to make a difference in your pain level during the first session.  If you go home and work on some of the approaches agreed upon, you may need nothing further.  If you go home and do the recommended exercises and approaches and then still feel stuck in the healing process, then we can think about scheduling something to address the shift in challenges.

In the state of Connecticut you do not need a doctor’s prescription to visit a physical therapist.  You will need one if you plan to submit a bill to your insurance company, but you don’t need one to have the visit.  This means that if you would just like to have a good, personalized consultation and treatment session to address your pain, you can skip a step and just go right to the therapist.  Nikki’s Nature does not take insurance due to the unconventional treatment approach and the holistic modalities offered, but payment options and other options such as lowering session time to lower cost are available as well.  To find out more about holistic PT sessions at Nikki’s Nature, or other sessions available there such as hypnosis for weight loss or pain management, visit  I am committed to creating a healthy and peaceful approach to client care in the Collinsville area.    Thanks for considering a fresh approach to health-

Sincerely, Nikki Sleath MA, PT, RMT, Cht


Starting a Holistic Treatment Office

My intentions were to finish my thesis and relax for a while.  My regular job as a physical therapist has been going well and I was looking forward to reading some fiction, having plenty of free time to spend gardening, working on the house and hanging with the family.  Well, I did finish my thesis and that went very well… but I noticed a vacancy opening up in a nice storefront location in Collinsville where I live.  I had no intentions of opening a business at this time.  I hadn’t saved enough money yet, I thought, and I hadn’t had that period of time to enjoy where there was nothing in particular to accomplish.  I guess I just need to admit that I am a very motivated person.  Well, maybe not motivated in general for everything, but extremely motivated when it comes to pursuing ideals related to my passions and my perceived role in the growth of the world.  Anyway, I felt I had to inquire about the open space, just to see what the rent would be, to prepare myself for my future business venture.  It turns out it was quite expensive for what it was, and I realized that I would have to save quite a bit of money to feel ready to open a retail shop front such as that one.  However, in the midst of inquiring about that space, I stumbled upon another open space that was very different, but ended up calling to me.  This space was not a retail shop front, but an office space in a quiet building.  The rent was super affordable, and it just seemed to be mine.  The office building is a homey house in a very convenient, easy-to-get-to location in Collinsville.  Most of the other tenants leasing offices in the building are women with health and wellness skills and services-  a psychotherapist, a holistic nurse, a reflexologist, a massage therapist, and a few others.  The building is quiet, welcoming and perfect for the atmosphere I need to lend to people looking for private sessions with me.  Also, the tenants work together to help each other with marketing and promoting holistic care.  How could I not be a part of this team?  It felt like a perfect fit… so I took it.

Needless to say, this started a nonstop stream of work for me-  setting up the space, marketing, planning an LLC, designing client forms and procedures, working evenings to build up a decent inventory of my homemade candles and soaps… and the list goes on.  The more I become immersed in creating my own personal role in the world of healing, the more  opportunities seem to continue to present themselves.  I’ve been scheduling personal sessions at the office for hypnosis, Reiki, and holistic physical therapy, and traveling to people’s homes to provide physical therapy to hospice clients who need a therapist with a compassionate, holistic touch.  I’m also scheduling classes to make sampling holistic and meditative healing work available to small groups of people at an affordable price.  Why do I work so hard on setting up my practice?  I often ask myself that, as I don’t feel I’ll be making much money at it for some time.  I don’t really fully  know why in a way that can be put into words.  I do know that I am meant to promote two important principles that need lots of education and exposure in today’s society.  One is that our connection to nature is a key facet in our health, and the other is that looking inward, and doing inner work of various sorts is crucial to our health as well.  These concepts are still on the fringe for the general population, and though they are being talked about more, the act of putting them into practice is still relatively rare.

So, I opened a holistic healing office space almost as an impulsive action.  I guess I am a poster child for going with your intuition.  The bottom line is that as much work as it is, it feels fantastic to be doing this.  I think it is important for people not to overlook that creative impulse that sometimes shows itself as the opportunity in which their unique brand of goodness may be offered to others.  This applies to people in every vocation.  Don’t feel like you are settling on something that doesn’t challenge you in a good way just because you have to.  I’m not saying we should all drop everything and live out of the backseats of our cars to pursue our dreams.  Not everyone can do that-  especially people like me with families and other obligations.  I continue to work at my established job so that I can afford to do the things I’m doing.  It uses up most of my time, but I know it’s worth it.  If you’ve read this far-  thank you for listening!  Usually I write semi-educational articles about interesting health concepts I’ve discovered, but today is a relaxing Saturday morning for me where I’ve already had two cups of coffee, and am sitting here contemplating the new twist life has taken for me lately.  I’ll stop my stream of consciousness introspective morning rant and sign off now, as I have advertising deadlines to address.  I wish you all a wonderful weekend and an amazing spring.  Follow your intuition and your higher purpose-  I think you’ll be glad you did!  Love and peace.

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Creating My Vision of a Healthcare System

Recently for a school assignment as part of my Master’s work I was asked to write a paper outlining my design for a plausible and improved health care system.  The idea of this confounded me because my ideas of how things should be are so far off from what is actually in place, that “plausible” seemed light years away.   My husband said I should just write “Canada” and be done with it.  When I see the prompt “Design and describe a model of a plausible healthcare system” it makes me think of what our government seems perpetually unable to do with any degree of effectiveness.  I’m going to try not to think of it that way, but to start simple and small, with my basic ideas and go from there.  I’ll start with the consideration of my own personal model of health as suggested, and then hopefully be able to build on that.  For me personally, my priority currently resides in preventative care.  I feel that the most important thing is to build a great base of immune system support through:

1.  A whole foods, nutrient rich diet

2.  Proper supplementation based on where the diet is lacking and individual constitutional tendencies

3.  Regular detoxification to ward off the effects of continual bombardment with environmental toxins

4.  Regular exposure to sunlight, fresh air and clean water

5.  Daily exercise

6.  Meditation and spiritual practice time.

7.  Fostering a continually evolving connection to nature.

8.  Restful sleep.

It seems as though immune system breakdown is the cause of almost every recurrent medical issue that I hear about, aside from traumas.  Even traumas are much more easily recovered from if the base immune system is as strong as possible.  I am very frustrated by the current medical model where we focus treatment on symptoms and never seem to get to the cause of the initial immune breakdown.  In treating symptoms we create other syndromes and symptoms and create a fragile system that is expensive to maintain and drug-dependent.  The eight health areas I listed above cover my current plan for bolstering optimal immune stability as the foundation for vibrant living.  For me to carry out the above eight core facets of my health plan, I need to have the right naturopathic practitioner helping me to keep an eye on nutrient balance, assisting in recommending the proper supplements and detox methods.  Numbers two and three are currently the areas where I could use more information.  My current supplementation is currently pretty generalized and not based on actual bloodwork.  Also, my detoxification is limited to a monthly routine of senna tea, but I would like to explore options for other types of detoxification as well.  (in addition to exercise and yoga, which I already do)  I really don’t feel that I would need to have any other doctors routinely enlisted for my care.  I would consult with specialists only as needed, but even then I would have all consultation reports copied to the naturopath as well, so that there would always be that one set of eyes that sees the whole picture.  The aim in my personal approach to healthcare would ideally always focus on immune support, and minimizing drug use, especially for symptomatic things.  As far as how this actually works for me, I am lucky in that I have good health insurance that does have naturopathic coverage.  I have learned over a number of years how to shop for and afford organic, whole foods for my family, and how to maintain a relatively regulated daily routine that includes exercise, time outdoors, spiritual practice and set sleeping hours.  I intend to work on the detoxification and supplement aspects to better finesse them to my optimal benefit at this time.

As I consider my optimal personal approach and try to translate those concepts into a model for a healthcare system, things become much more complicated.  My husband and I spend more money than the average family on organic and whole foods, and we are still not perfect in our nutritional intake.  In my ideal health system, nutrition would be the primary concern.  Obviously the middle and lower class portions of the country can’t currently afford to eat this way or don’t know how.  Education would have to be available to everyone on this as part of their routine visit with a primary provider.  This would not be enough, though.  In order for the general public to be able to have some degree of follow-through with nutrition recommendations, there would have to be government programs that allowed local and fresh foods to be affordable and accessible to all as part of their health plan.  If they gave tax breaks to grocers for providing cheaper organic food to more people they would likely see returns on this expenditure on the medical spending end.  As nutritionist Joan Palmer likes to say “You can pay the grocer now, or the doctor later!”.

Another thing that would have to change in addition to the major inclusion of in-depth nutritional support as routine medical care would be the use of routine labs to probe deeply into each person’s potential vitamin or mineral deficits or overages.  This should be an intricate panel, similar to what a good naturopath would look at.  This doesn’t mean that it would have to be provided by a naturopath per se, but it should be part of your regular checkup so that appropriate natural supplementation can be prescribed to best support immune health from the start.  I say prescribed, because I feel that if someone requires an herbal iron supplement two weeks per month for example, that this should be covered by insurance.  Also, it would not suffice to have only generic items covered- the doctor should be allowed to choose natural remedies instead of medications and have them covered.  The discussion of detoxification methods that are right for the patient should also be a regular part of a routine checkup, and any necessary equipment or substances should be covered or discounted as well.

Sadly, in order for my other health ideals to be supported in this utopian health system that I am creating, society’s outlook on the whole would have to change entirely.  There would need to be a widely supported value of nature, and our oneness within it.  There would need to be acceptance and workplace support of the need for outdoor time and allotted time for personal silence.  Work hours would have to stay reasonable for all so that there would be enough time in the day for preparing whole foods, reducing stress through exercise, outdoor time or meditation, and for adequate sleep.  In order for our work lives to support this type of living, our whole way of looking at life would have to be less geared toward materialism, capitalism and economic growth, and more geared toward creating meaningful work by taking care of the earth, its people, and its myriad plants and creatures.  As I hear daily reports of the current presidential campaign and the public’s primary concern with economic growth, my heart sinks a little as I fear we are continuing to miss the mark.  In order to have a more natural and vibrant health care system, people would need to be allowed to act upon what is truly important, and to be respected for going against the grain and living for their highest moral goals.  When we are rewarded and supported in pondering “Why am I here?”, “How can I do my part in caring for the Earth?”, “What is my greater purpose?”, and so forth, we will start to create human success of a different kind.  Perhaps this is the kind of success that prior cultures had that eventually led us to where we are now.  It is only natural to continue to evolve and grow our abilities and our technologies, but not at the ultimate expense of Mother Nature herself.  Our group ego has allowed us to view ourselves as somehow separate from nature, when this is just not and never will be true.  I know that this was a big aside about philosophy, but it would be a crucial shift in thinking that would be needed in order for my model of health care to work, since healthy outdoor time, connection to nature and spiritual practice are some of my presumed foundations for underlying health.

As far as emergency care goes, a lot of that could stay relatively the same.  It would naturally reform itself if my ideals were being supported, because there would be less use of urgent care for general sickness since preventative care is the primary focus.  People would still need to get emergency care for traumas and acute illnesses of course, but while there, there would also be access to spiritual support and alternative supporting therapies.  These would continue to be available throughout the hospitalization process, should that become necessary.  It would be fine to continue to use some of our advanced diagnostic tests when needed to pinpoint a patient’s illness process and recommend the most appropriate treatment, but this should always be accompanied by the nutritional labs and immune survey, or else we would be continuing to treat symptoms and not remedy the root cause of the illness.

The area where I have a big ethical bone to pick is in how we view and treat aging and end of life care.  I hope that I don’t change my mind about this when I am old myself, but with the current expanding perspective I have on this, I don’t think I will.  We spend so much money on medical care for people in their eighties and nineties when a good majority of the time it is not enhancing their quality of life.  We march on, assuming that full treatment of every condition should continue to be given even at these advanced ages, acting as though medical issues related to the aging process are not natural or acceptable.  In my ideal health care system, our connection to nature would remind us to be active teachers for natural end of life care.  We need to be allowed to age and allowed to die.  We need to be allowed to let the “bugs” come and return us to the earth the same way they do for a dying tree.  It is okay to see a loved one’s death as natural and needed, and the same goes for oneself.  If we started spending money on spiritual support, energy healing work and quality of life practices instead of endless tests and procedures and medications in advanced age, we would spend much less on end of life and it would be more dignified, fast and comfortable.  We would have more money to be spent on the things I spoke of earlier, such as coverage for supplements, naturopathic-style care and labwork, and ongoing nutritional support and education.  Also, the government would not feel such strain from the Medicare system, and would have more freedom to invest money in ecological projects that would also create jobs.

In summary, I see the road to better societal health as being through a huge change in how we see ourselves and our role on the earth.  We will have to accept our oneness, our mortality, and the idea that everything we do will always affect nature, which in turn, will affect our individual and societal health.  I know that I have focused a bit more on the ethical and philosophical here and less on the specific treatments, but that is because my ideal model cannot first exist without this major shift.  If this shift were to occur, then natural modes of treatment would flow easily into routine use, and healing modalities that are currently labeled “alternative” would be commonplace personal practices for stress reduction and spiritual connection.  In doing my part to help foster a growing community thought process along these lines, I intend to share this paper in my blog and on facebook.  I sincerely feel that every person that begins to open up to a shift of earth-centered oneness is a huge step in the right direction, and if I can help to facilitate that in even a few people, then I am starting to do my part.  Therefore, I can’t just limit this conversation to the already open-minded TGI staff who will be reading my portfolio, but I feel compelled to share with anyone who is willing to read, ponder and discuss.  As always, thank you for the opportunities that have led me to this phase of contemplation and personal evolution.  Above all, I am completely grateful for my current state of health and my connection to nature, which are inseparable.  Peace.


Focusing Too Much on Health is Bad for Your Health

I find myself spending a lot of time thinking about what goes into the food I eat-  not just the ingredients, but the process, the shipping, the cost to the environment.  On top of that I spend a lot of time planning and doing exercise, studying integrative medicine for school, and focusing on inner work for satisfying self evolution through meditation, dream work and mindfulness.  I got a bit of a reminder the other day, though, that a big part of overall health is the ability to really be present and enjoy life as it unfolds.  I was sitting in my cute little town deli having a bowl of chili and reading my book (which happens to currently be “Lucid Dreaming” by Robert Waggoner-  fascinating!) , when I notice that I am being constantly distracted by the conversation of the woman at the table behind me.  This table  had two women sitting together having lunch.  One of the women was talking nonstop, very loudly, and completely dominating the conversation-  for a full hour.  The other sat quietly listening, with a relaxed smile on her face and a  compassionate way about her.  The woman who talked was wearing a hat indoors, and did say a few things to indicate that she had been ill.  She talked for the entire hour about food.  She talked about her need to be wheat free, and dairy free, and vegetarian only.  She talked about vegan dishes she had made at home from suitable ingredients that were “out of this world” or “so heavenly you wouldn’t believe it”.  She talked about food substitutions-  there were ten whole minutes on the amazing find of Bragg’s liquid aminos to replace soy or tamari… and it went on and on.  It wasn’t only the obsessiveness about food that stood out, but the tension in the voice, and the desperate need for her food compulsions to be validated.  She just seemed completely overtaken by the act of using food to create her state of health-  so overtaken, in fact, that she failed to appreciate the beautiful person sitting across from her.  There was no exchange of conversation, and no mutual engagement in each other’s company.  It made me realize that focusing too much on health can also be a trap that negatively affects the health itself.  We all will have to deal with illness and changes in our bodies when they occur, but I think health is in the ability to appreciate life, and to maintain awareness of life as art and inspiration in as many moments as possible.  I am in no way downplaying the role of eating whole foods, or of healing oneself with diet.  What I am saying is that I think the point is missed if you stabilize your health only to obsess upon that and miss out on life.  Why do we want to be “healthy”?  Because we want to enjoy life-  we want to do things, we want to exchange experiences with other people, we want to see ourselves and the world evolve.  We want to appreciate sunshine, and humor and intellectual stimulation, and cute kittens.  I hope that the deli lady continues to evolve nicely along her personal path of exploration, moving from this stage of thought process into one that is more experiential and not so focused on self.  I am sure that she will.  I hope that I can remember this feeling and bring it to conscious awareness at times when my worries about health or anything else for that matter are obstructing my appreciation of the world and of others.  Thanks for listening-  stay posted for another piece on dreams and meditation.  Peace!

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Intuition in Health, Healing and Reiki

The weather here is cold, wet and dark today.  It is not all that characteristic of a mid-August day, and in fact feels a lot more like fall.  I was just looking out the window and thinking how pretty it all looks-  all of the greens look more lush, thick and shiny, and everything feels calm and hushed by the sound of the rain falling gently but continuously.  The feel of this scene and of the atmosphere today made me think that we need to remember to listen to the messages that nature gives us.  Our connection with nature is vital to our health and well-being.  Some might argue with me on this, but we just can’t be separated from nature.  In order to listen to nature’s messages, you have to use intuition.  Sometimes what you need will be easy to see, and other times your deeper intuitive senses might be needed to gain a more philosophical change.  I’ll give you examples of this.  One way to listen to nature is simply through your body-  today the coldness prompted me to wear fleece, eat soup and tea, and engage in studious and thoughtful indoor activities.  Well that’s just common sense, you might say!  Yes, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t listen to their bodies, and then of those who do listen there are even fewer who act upon the sensations they notice.  This listening to the body is one of the best forms of preventive medicine there is.  I mean really listen, though.  I don’t mean to hide under the covers and sleep the day away because it is rainy (unless you are just that hung over-  you know who you are!), or to eat a package of devil dogs every time you get hungry just because that is what you feel like doing.  I mean listen to your body for ideas of how to nourish yourself.  Noticing your temperature, energy level and mood can help you make smart food and activity choices.  For example, today I will probably choose restorative exercise like yoga instead of my usual running or cardio workout.  Now, in addition to intuiting what to do for yourself physically, I also encourage using your intuition to explore your mental and emotional state.  We tend to function on automatic pilot a lot of the time due to the responsibilities and expectations of our culture and our busy schedules.  Take a moment to ask yourself how today  makes you feel.  If this concept feels blurry or burdensome or too complicated to explore, just find one word that can describe your mood at the moment.  Take a deep breath, look out the window, and give yourself one word.  Right now mine is introspective.  Yours might be “bored”, “antsy”, “apathetic”, “excited”, “thankful”, or almost anything.  Once you have a word, think about what led you to that state.  Why do you feel that way?  Just like the cold day prompting me to eat soup (that tasted so great, by the way) what does your emotional state potentially prompt you to do?  The answer shouldn’t be “nothing”.  Even if there is nothing you can do physically to act on your feelings right now, there is always internal work that can be done.  Remember that your thoughts have energy, and this energy affects you at all times.  You have the ability to change the vibrational quality of that energy and transform it into something that is useful to you.  If this doesn’t make sense, I encourage you to email me for ideas that are specific to you.

I wanted to say a bit about Reiki today, too, now that we are talking about thoughts, vibrations and energy.  As Reiki practitioners we are given the task of balancing our use of intention against our use of intuition.  I wanted to talk about this for a minute, because on first glance that seems to bring up some contradictory ideas.  If one is acting with intention, that implies purpose, focus and accuracy.  If one is acting with intuition that implies spontaneity, faith and flexibility.  What I will say about this with respect to Reiki (and this actually applies to all aspects of health and healing as well) is that you need to guide your thoughts with intention, while allowing the physical workings of the treatment to be guided by intuition.  In other words, your intention for the enhanced flow of energy and the greatest good of yourself or your client should remain clearly in your thoughts, as well as other potential intentions such as expressing gratitude for the experience, or focusing in on the image of yourself or the client as perfect beings (which you are).   Those are all things you can intend and concentrate on to enhance the healing.  Now, the intuitive part is more in where you are spontaneously guided to place the hands, when and what types of symbols to use, when to use pressure, light tough, or hovering, when to use crystals, aromatherapy,music and a myriad of other options.  Those physical activities are what makes a session so personalized from one client to the next, after all.  I never choose my music, for example, until the last moment, because I like to see how the energy in the room feels with the person in it, and so I then use intuition to choose what might best suit their needs at that moment.  The same goes for any crystals or essential oils I might choose to use.  You could even go so far with intuition as to say to yourself that your actual intention is to be optimally guided by your intuition throughout the session.  Now there is a way to get over the dissonance of the two notions.  Anyway, these concepts are very useful and instantly applicable for Reiki practitioners, but what about the rest of us?  The same idea applies:  go through your day setting a clear intention of your higher purpose and what you hope the outcome will be, while allowing intuition to actually take you there.  I would love for some of you as individuals to share any examples of real life that pertain to this idea of use of intuition.  Also, I again encourage you to contact me if reading any of my work causes questions to come up for you.  Have an inspiringly intuitive day, and as always… Peace.