Saturday, May 28, 2011

Unit 10: Review

In Unit 3, I was struggling with getting acclimated to the new term, so my stress level was up and my balance was down.  I am thankful that by the middle of the term I was able to find equilibrium, which helped to get some balance back.  I had scored myself as an 8 in physical health and a 6 in spiritual health.  Now, though, I would score myself an 8 in physical health and an 8 in spiritual health.  Yay!  Part of this is the fact that the term is over and I get a break from the extra work, but also because I got into the new rhythm of the term and this really helps with my internal balance.  I was able to make progress in my goals of setting aside specific time to work on school work, as well as study and meditate on scripture to help with keeping my mind set on things above.  This really helped me to keep my mind returning to that which is good for me, instead of things that are harmful.  I also was much better with getting up early to get in my workouts, but those have been set aside for the last two weeks while I visited family.  I will be starting again on Monday.

Throughout this course, I have been challenged to look at things with more depth and intensity.  I have been happy that doing so has helped me to really analyze my internal well-being even more, which has helped to foster more inner strength and resolution to keep moving forward at all times.  The most rewarding things for me was just connecting with my faith even more and finding new ways of application and focus for myself.  The most difficult parts was finding ways to word things so that I would actually implement it instead of conflict with it in what I agree with and believe.  This experience has been great in helping me to wrap my head around the importance of developing this spiritual side of health in addition to the others to foster a complete picture of health and wellness.  I am excited to pass on the knowledge I have learned.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Final Project- Posted

I.                        Introduction:
Health and Wellness professionals must be beyond reproach when it comes to living out the lifestyle to which they are working diligently to help people begin to implement in their own lives.  How else would changes be seen as necessary if the teacher has never experienced the lesson he/she wishes to impart upon the student.  It is wise for all health and wellness professionals to practice what they preach.  The areas that I need to develop are mostly psychological in nature, based on my emotional state thus far.  Working on my psychological facets will in fact help benefit my emotional stability by reforming the way I think.
II.                        Assessment:
In order to assess my health in the various areas of wellness, I have looked to the most basic examples of total wellness and compared to that.  For me, this area is found in the guidance of the Bible and the perfect example of Jesus.  I would say that I score my wellness spiritually as an 8, knowing that there are certainly areas where I need to improve.  I score my physical wellness as a 9 because I do take great strides to eat healthfully and exercise regularly.  I score my psychological health as a 7, because going through this class has really opened my eyes to some of the areas of thought that could really use a revamping.
III.                        Goal development:
One goal I have for myself in each area of wellness is: Physical – to continue with regular strength and cardiovascular exercise 4-6 times a week, especially with this new pregnancy; Psychological – to continue to practice asserting myself when I have something that needs to be communicated without fear of what might happen and so be restrained; and Spiritual - implement a time for intentional meditation and prayer without interruption starting with only a small period of time and then gradually increasing.
IV.                        Practices for personal health:
To foster growth in my physical wellness, I will challenge myself with my intensity when I exercise, as well as display greater discipline during times of food temptation.  I will lift heavier weights, push myself harder with cardiovascular activities, and set a limit for myself ahead of time regarding what I will and will not eat at a special event.  To foster growth in my psychological wellness, I will work on not overtasking myself and being careful to only take on those tasks that are the most beneficial for our family.  When asked to help out with additional things, I will answer with “Let me look at my schedule and I will get back to you” and then take the time to pray about it and make sure it would be a wise choice to do it.  This will protect my psychological health by not allowing too much stress.  To foster growth in my spiritual wellness, I will continue on my journey of life with my God each day.  I will be careful to study His Word, to spend time (even if only a few minutes at first) in prayer and meditation on His Word, and be mindful of these things when life becomes difficult.
V.                        Commitment:
The best way for me to assess my progress or lack of progress in the next six months would be to journal my current state of mind and living and then see how it compares to the same at that time.  The strategies I can use to help me maintain my practices would include accountability with others who are working to grow and be challenged, as well as continue to read and study about the importance of such practices so that even when times of difficulty arise, the value of moving forward and not staying stuck will be so ingrained that I will not be able to just give in and stop.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Unit 8

I have learned such a great variety of things in this class that it is hard to settle my mind on only two being the most beneficial, but, since I have to, I am going to say that the Subtle Mind exercise and the Human Flourishing one (found on page 145-146 of Integral Health) are my choices.  The Subtle Mind exercise was a significant challenge for me because it called me to begin practicing the taming of the mind...not such an easy task, but a worthy goal.  I am still not great at this, but I am definitely much better than I was when this class first began.  At least now I have a tool for getting the mind to be still.  The Human Flourishing exercise held some great value because it helped me to remember some key times in my life where I have really experienced this heightened state of being, where everything seems perfect with a balance of complete wholeness, happiness, and health.  As I mentioned in my discussion post, the best experience I had that really brought all of these together was my first home birth experience.  It was such a healing experience after a very unsatisfying first birth, hospital birth experience.  I was able to really experience the entire event, which brought such an amazing empowerment, knowing that I was capable of something so amazing, even though difficult.  I felt complete and fulfilled and in such awe of my form.  It was one of the most blissful experiences of my life.  When I recall how I felt after that birth, I have a tangible goal to attain and seek in my every day encounters.  This is certainly not easy or natural, but it is definitely valuable and I look forward to the challenge and the benefits of character I will receive.  I will continue to use this exercises and their guiding principles in my daily quiet time to help foster the renewing of my mind, which is essential to growth.  I can be still and quiet internally through the daily practice of this discipline.  I loved the concept of letting the thoughts come and go without giving them and food to grow.  The first time I did this, I was blown away at how little emotional reaction I had to such a serious thought.  Right then I could see the benefits of this discipline.  Also, just recalling and re-experiencing the times in my life where I felt whole, happy, and healthy help me to bring it into my present reality.  Whenever I am struggling, I can refer to these memories and remember my intentions to experience that state all the time.  Between these two exercises, I know that I will be very blessed.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Unit 7

The most obvious wise person I know of who was the epitome of all the definitions given for the person we were to visualize was Jesus.  Picturing myself standing with Him and being with Him is not something that is new for me, but I really enjoyed this time of just focusing on doing it.  I especially enjoyed the reminder of seeing myself becoming more like Him in His mannerisms and speech, which I constantly think about as I interact with various people on a regular basis.  The best part about my faith being applied to this exercise was that I was not just "visualizing" something that I did not truly believe to be happening, but this is something that I know to be happening inside of me throughout the course of my life.  I AM becoming more like Christ through each and every day's struggle and transforming experience that kneads out the lumpy spots of my character and replaces them with a smoothness that is found only in Him.  I loved this exercise.  Spending time with Him is always refreshing.  Being involved in this class and in these exercises has been very helpful though in helping me to intentionally consider my ways and assess whether or not they were what I wanted them to be.  I am very thankful for the reminder.

The saying "One cannot lead another where one has not gone himself" is an absolutely applicable statement.  As a healthcare professional (or in my case wellness protector of the family), my personal experience with growth is an imperative if I want to teach my children to do the things I know to be good for them.  The concept "Do what I say, not what I do" should never come out of the mouth of any leader, so it is essential that I, as the parent and leader, exemplifies what is right in life, and how my beliefs influence my behaviors.  Without a change or connection between my beliefs and my behaviors, I will not be able to effectively teach and help to mold the well-being of my children.  I know that if I want to lead them in the way that they should go, I must be on that journey with them, leading through my own personal walk and example.  There is no difference to my situation and what should be in place for a typical healthcare professional.  We must walk the walk before we can talk the talk =0)

I can continue to implement spiritual and psychological growth in my personal life through continuing to develop my relationship with God by the reading of His Word, its application in my life, and centering myself through prayer and meditation that is in agreement with what He says to be true.  This is what I have experienced and know to be true and my truth is continued to be stretched and further developed as I continue on my journey and walk with Him.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Unit 6

The Loving-Kindness exercise continues to be a beneficial, open-ended guide of opening my heart, which is relaxing and calming to such a significant degree.  The Integral Assessment was helpful, but not surprising.  Although I do not regularly do such specific meditations as prescribed in the exercises for this class, I do regularly review my life and assess the different areas that are going well and not going as well as I would like.  The biggest area of struggle in my life is a mix between interpersonal and psychospiritual (I think).  I have been finding it difficult to remain calm in the face of my semi-rebellious almost 6 year old, who is incredibly strong-willed.  I tend to engage in the battle with her, instead of allowing her to learn that Mommy is an adult, and adults do not get wrapped into child-like behavior.  It is a lesson I have failed many times, but am THANKFUL that I am finally able to remain calm and assertive with her.  Several things had to come into place to allow this to happen, but one of those things did include all the beneficial information and mental training I have been receiving in this class.  The other things that had to come together, though, was remembering how beneficial it is for my daughter to receive some discipline when acting inappropriately, remembering that I do not have to lose control in order to enforce rules, and then having a good system for rule enforcement.  A good friend of mine was super beneficial in helping me to start an excellent system for rewarding appropriate behavior and gently redirecting negative behaviors.  It has worked wonderfully already!  Some of the specific exercises I can do to help continue to work on this area is the loving-kindness exercise, which is helpful just to remember the importance of these two attributes.  Other practices can be to take deep breaths when feeling my emotions come to surface, speak very quietly when I really want to yell, and if all else fails just send my daughter to her room for a time-out before I lose my patience and things go really south.  The biggest thing is for me to prepare myself mentally throughout the day for the likely challenges ahead, and then planning a course of action to protect all of us from a loss of control.  All-in-all, great stuff!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Subtle Mind

Give me a moment as I return to reality....  I just completed the Subtle Mind practice and I found it far more challenging than the loving-kindness practice.  For the loving-kindness practice we were given things on which to focus our minds, but for the Subtle mind practice we had to let our minds flow and learn to tame them.  Such a different beast, no pun intended.  I thought the concepts brought up in the audio though were very interesting and gave me a lot of food for thought, such as witnessing the thoughts but not getting attached to them.  I had never heard it put quite this way before and it is clarifying for me on applying such broad concepts as "go with the flow" and the like.  What I am finding is that I am much more aware of my mental state throughout the day, even if not yet at a position of yet being capable of changing it.  I know, though, that awareness is the first hurtle, so I am happy to be experiencing even this.

Another thing that got my attention in this practice was how different it is to flow in loving-kindness as opposed to intentionally remaining in that mentality.  In the loving-kindness practice, we had to intentionally move into that mindset and stay there, but in the subtle mind practice we are left to begin battling the waves of the mind with its ups and downs in emotions and reason.  It is far more difficult for me to get to a place of loving-kindness when I am not intentionally in a stance to do it, because my mind becomes attached to the thoughts or feelings brought up in the instant.  I think these practices, though, will help me to become better as having a stance of peace and "being still", which is talked about in Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God."  The stillness intended here is not just a physical stillness but one of internal anxiety and disruption.  I am looking forward to experiencing this profound scripture and its implications in my life through the practicing of exercises like these.

Spiritual wellness plays such a large part in the physical wellness we experience or miss in this life.  I have met so many people who are burdened by stress, anxiety, a victim-mentality, etc and their lives reflect this lack of confidence and position of peace, especially their physical bodies.  Many are overweight significantly, battling with a cancer or heart disease, or just frazzled internally, which manifests in their attitudes toward life.  Who wants to live that way?  Spiritual wellness helps to set the foundation for all other things.  Before I dove into better understanding and securing my spiritual health, the rest of my life was all over the place, but when my spiritual health became my top priority, all other aspects of health flowed evenly from it.  What comes to mind for me are scriptures like 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body," and 1 Corinthians 9:27, "I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified."  Both of these scriptures remind me that I am to take care of my physical form in light of my spiritual position in Christ.  If I did not matter in the big scheme of things, than it would not matter what I ate or did with my physical body, but because I matter and because this is the only body I will receive, it is my responsibility to take care of it to the best of my ability and treat it lovingly.  It is out of my spiritual fitness that my body is physically trained because my mentality is in a position to respect and honor the importance of that activity.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Loving-Kindness Practice

Finally, a successful meditation exercise!  I found the exercise to be very beneficial for my mind.  I enjoyed taking the time to really rest in the concept of loving-kindness and reflect upon its value and application.  In the beginning portion that said to think about someone who I love, I thought about my Savior, Jesus, and was brought to tears remembering His greatness, significant love for me and everyone, and the sacrifice He made to show that love.  He is the epitome of loving-kindness.  I was also overcome with emotion at the thought of the difficulties of a good friend, who is suffering greatly financially since the economic crash.  My deep-breathing and well-wishing turned into intercessory prayer for her and her peace.  I know this time is very difficult for her.  At the end, I was struck by the mentioning of enemies in context of "suffering."  It is so, so, so important to always remember that we are all people who are suffering and hurt.  It is out of our suffering that we respond in negativity and disrespect to others.  When we keep this in mind, and see people for who they really are (people who are hurt, scared, and lonely) we can express loving-kindness towards them no matter what they do.  It reminds me of Jesus' words on the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).  It was a great exercise.

A "Mental Workout" is the process of intentionally training the mind to grow and become more capable, just as we would if we were intending to train our physical body through physical exercise (Dacher, 2006, p 64).  An athlete does not just sit idly and expect that their body would become physically capable of great feats of strength or efforts of endurance, but diligently works to persistently challenge their body to test and challenge its limits, reconfiguring them regularly as they are redefined.  Research indicates that the practice of the contemplation helps to move our minds to an "expanded consciousness and...healing capacities" (Dacher, 2006, p 65), which has been proven empirically through the millenia of Eastern medicine practice.  Implementing these mental workouts on a regular basis, whether through utilizing audio recordings such as the one provided in the class, which walk the listener through a guided contemplation, or engaging in a personalized time of contemplation and focus, would be highly beneficial for training my mind to act in loving-kindness and with wisdom.  This is the follow-through, or application, of "As a man thinketh, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7).  The more I meditate on and feed my mind with the intention and practice of living in a way of loving-kindness and wisdom, the more naturally those behaviors will flow out of me.  If I focus my mind on frivilous, selfish, or anxious thoughts, I will react to situations instead of intentionally responding as needed.  These practices are definitely a workout for the mind to get ready for the daily battlefield.  I don't just want to win the battle; I want to win the war.

Dacher, E. (2006). Psychospiritual Flourishing. In Integral Health The Path to Human Flourishing (p 64-65). Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc.

Friday, April 8, 2011

My Wellness Factor

What is my wellness factor?  Well, currently, I would say that my physical and psychological well-being are at about an 8, while my spiritual well-being is about a 6.  This term in school is pushing my mental capacity for the workload and I am finding it difficult to optimally function in all of my different wellness areas.  My energy has decreased because I am up later in the evening trying to finish reading assignments, so my morning workouts have fallen to the wayside as I am too tired in the mornings to wake up early enough to get them done.  My mind seems to not have time to shut off and just be still, since there are so many various tasks that need to be accomplished during this time, such as school with the kids, watching the kids, taking care of the home, homework, planting the garden, laundry, make food, prepare for government shut down, etc.  I am finding it difficult to just sit still and not HAVE to do anything else.  Because these other elements of myself are out of whack, I know my spiritual wellness is suffering too.  I just feel burdened and pressed, which results in a shorter temper, less focus, and increased emotions, none of which is beneficial for me or my family.  This is one area though that I have continued to focus on by diligently having my bible study in the morning to ensure I get some important things to focus on throughout the day.  It helps.

My goal is to go to bed by 10p each night so I get enough sleep to wake up by 5:30a to workout, which will boost my energy throughout the day.  I also have a goal to secure time to get schoolwork done without interruption, which will assist in releasing some workload stress.  Spiritually, my goal is to meditate on scriptures that speak to these areas of stress and worry and continue to turn them away from myself so that they are not my burden any longer.

I completed "The Crime of the Century" exercise, which was very nice in fact that I fell asleep about 10 minutes into it.  This is what happens when even just sitting down is a welcome relief to the go-go mentality of the day.  Prior to falling asleep, though, I was very happy that I could feel myself relaxing and the tension reducing, but sadly, the other thing going through my mind here and there was that I needed to be doing other things, not sitting still "doing nothing" for 20 minutes.   I think this is going to be a process....

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Relaxation Attempt....

So, it has become incredibly obvious to me in my experience as a student/mother that the law of Murphy is always in effect.  Why is it that as soon as one tries to go through a relaxation experience all the noisiest and least relaxing sounds in the world become ever more apparent, if not increasingly loud and obnoxious?  Such was the case with my relaxation attempt this week.  As I sat down to listen to the directions of the audio, I soon heard the dog barking, kids talking and then yelling, and my baby crying.  As much as I tried to get through the rest of the audio, my time essentially became ironically more frustrating than usual, causing more stress and even a stress headache.  Apparently, trying to take "sit still" relaxation during the midst of chaos for me actually creates more of a stressful situation than not doing it at all.  Since I was unable to actually relax physically, I did not experience the heaviness symptoms described on the audio, but one thing I did glean from it was to intentionally slow my breathing and go through focused relaxation during stressful times, even if while standing and only for a moment or two in between managing children fighting or babies crying.  Maybe next time will be a better report!  =0)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Introduction: Who is Julie Filter?

Hello, hello!  I am happy to be participating in the class and I hope to get a lot out of everything that is taught in here and discussed between our classmates.  So, to tell you a bit about myself, I am a Navy wife to my wonderful husband who is up for Chief this year.  We have been married just over 7 years now and are enjoying to much of our marriage journey together.  My career is as a homemaker and mother to our four (and possibly more to come) children who are 5, 4, 2, and 10 months so far.  We are in the early stages of home schooling, which is exciting and scary at the same time.  Thankfully, I will be finishing up my degree right around the time that my oldest daughter starts 1st grade officially, so I will have much more time to devote to teaching all of our kids in a more purposeful manner.  Right now, my primary focus is the 3 Rs, i.e. Reading, Writing, and 'Rithmetic =0)  This keeps things simple and purposeful in the young years, while allowing us ample room for learning and exploring through reading and living.  We are reading through the Chronicles of Narnia series now, which is exhilarating.  I never read the entire series before, so I am enjoying the stories immensely.  I love learning right along with the kids, which is one of the most attractive things to me about this whole process.

My passion for and interest in health and wellness has developed over the past almost 6 years, starting with learning about what was in the chemical cleaners that lurked under my kitchen sink, and now into the homeopathic and herbal treatments for illness that we so regularly use when feeling under the weather.  Although I do not plan to use my degree in any professional capacity, I am excited to gain this knowledge for application in our home, as well as information which I can pass onto our children for their well-being.  I am excited for this degree and the interesting things I will undoubtedly learn in the process of obtaining it.  It had already been quite a journey of learning and the journey still continues.