Wholehearted Healthcare, P.C., Newsletter
June/July 2016
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Morning Run by Sue Dobson

June/July 2016

Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul. ---Oscar Wilde
The Healing Sound of Singing Bowls
by Staff Writer
“The human body is wired to be exquisitely sensitive to sound,” notes Eileen McKusick, M.A. in Integrative Education. The water our bodies Picture of VJ Herbertare largely composed of, our bones, and the cilium (antenna-like structures) of our cells all conduct sound or, more technically speaking, conduct vibrations. In other words, even if we cannot hear, we experience sound through vibrations at various frequencies. Of course, humans have always known the power of the human voice and musical instruments to elicit emotions. But sound is also a powerful means of healing and therapy used in both alternative and conventional medicine. Those healing properties are what attracted VJ Herbert (pictured) to singing bowls, tuning forks, and other instruments used for body and soul work.

For the last six months, VJ has been leading singing bowls meditations at Wholehearted Healthcare. A musician, composer, conductor, and spiritual teacher, he has 16 years of professional experience in choral composition and has directed many choirs. Also, VJ has studied vocal music, theory, and choral composition at the secondary and collegiate levels. Currently, he directs Xion, a group he describes as a “small, vocal harmonizing group with a message of love, light, and healing.” (Get a taste of Xion's sound.)

VJ first encountered crystal bowls at Bodhi Imports in Lincoln, and he was “fascinated by their tone and quality of tone.” As someone who loves music and is intrigued by the metaphysical properties of stones and gems, the quartz bowls were particularly attractive to him as “a modality of healing.” VJ explains, “Crystal singing bowls produce a crystal pure tone and vibration that are not only heard by the ear, but are also felt within the body. This allows energy centers or chakras to be cleansed, balanced, and energized. Just like any instrument, the body needs to be tuned to the solfeggio scale, for everything in the Universe is vibration and harmonics.” Recently, VJ completed his Singing Bowl Sound Relaxation Certification through the Vibrational Sound Association.

“I’ve always been drawn to healing work,” shares VJ. “I believe in the best of humanity and see our potential.” It’s difficult not to be moved by his sincerity and the joy in his voice. He continues, “The best way to create the world we want to see is to heal, change, grow, and mature. To make a difference, I have to do that work in myself and find ways to serve the community with any tool, any modality I can, including sound.”
NOTE: Four singing bowls sessions are scheduled for June and July at Wholehearted Healthcare. See the Events section below for more details. If you are interested in a personal session, VJ can be contacted directly via email: He will discuss further details with you, including time and location. Suggested donation for a private, hour-long session is $35.
Cheers! Enjoy a Sip of Wellness
by Staff Writer

Over the last three months, we've looked closely at high-quality fats, proteins, and carbohydrates as the core elements of the Institute for Functional Medicine's (IFM) Mito Food Plan, a plan that incorporates foods known "to support healthy mitochondrial function while maintaining blood sugar and inflammatory balance." In other words, this plan helps prevent chronic illness, boosts energy, and enhances vitality. In addition to the food categories we've considered, there are beverages that encourage healthy mitochondria, the powerhouses of our cells.

As you know, our bodies are composed mostly of water. Consequently, we need to drink water not only to survive, but also to thrive. IFM recommends a daily intake of six to eight, 8-ounce glasses of pure, filtered water. Unsweetened coconut water, rich in minerals and electrolytes, can be counted as part of those six to eight glasses. Cocount water can be added to smoothies, mixed with green tea, or combined with fresh vegetable juice as well. Additionally, IFM suggests considering drinking up to two, 8-ounce servings of green tea daily because of its benefits to brain health.

Picture of Tea SetHaving a cup of tea can be just as therapeutic for your body as for your mind and heart. If you don't already do so, try preparing and enjoying your tea as a meditative practice. Claim the beauty of these few moments. Engage all of your senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. As Thích Nhất Hạnh encourages, "Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves—slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life."

Herbal teas are also encouraged on the Mito Food Plan, "especially those prepared from adaptogenic herbs like cordyceps, schizandra, ginseng, astragalus, and licorice." Adaptogenic herbs are ones that can "adapt" to various conditions in the body. Put another way, they "help the body to cope more effectively with stress by recharging the adrenal glands," notes IFM. Asian ginseng tops the list of herbs that support brain function and long-term health because of its antioxidant properties. Other herbs not listed above that can be made into teas include American and Siberian ginseng, reishi, and schizandra berries. Another benefit of ginseng is that it can help manage blood sugar levels. 

Finally, some research suggests that small amounts of caffeine are beneficial to brain health, so yerba mate, gingko biloba, black and white tea, and coffee are additional beverages suitable for those following the Mito Food Plan. However, some have sensitivity to caffeine and can experience unpleasant side effects such as "the jitters," difficulty sleeping, and acid reflux, among others. It's best to talk with your healthcare provider about the use of caffeinated beverages or simply to listen to your body when it tells you to stick to other therapeutic options.
NOTE: Gena is currently working toward her certification in Functional Medicine through IFM. Why functional medicine? Read more on Wholehearted Healthcare's website. Have more questions about the Mito Food Plan and how it might enhance your wellness journey? Gena welcomes meeting with you to discuss the plan further. Contact or (402) 730-9819 to schedule an appointment.
Breathing, the Aroma of Peace and Calm
by Staff Writer

Just as we know we need water to survive and thrive, we also need to breathe. Yet many of us don't breathe in ways that support our wellness. Why? Because for one reason or another, we're stressed. Something as simple as rush-hour traffic can produce a stress response. But just as often, we have something much heavier on our minds and hearts. Perhaps we have recently lost a loved one. Perhaps our jobs demand more of us than we feel capable of giving. Perhaps we are caring for our growing children or our aging parents. In any stressful situation, minor or major, we often forget to breathe properly. We take short breaths in and hold onto them, filling only the tops of our lungs. The results of our shallow or disordered breathing can range from poor digestion, increased heart rate, and elevated blood pressure to short nights of restless sleep, headaches, and a nervous system that is constantly on alert (i.e., high cortisol levels). None of these results, of course, is healthy.

Dementia care and education specialist Teepa Snow explains that the caregivers of people with dementia and Alzheimer's are much more likely than those not caring for such patients to develop dementia and Alzheimer's themselves, a consequence of the physical and mental stress caregivers experience. Teepa explains that one of the easiest ways caregivers can do self-care is to breathe. It seems simple and obvious advice, but it's surprisingly difficult to remember to do in the midst of a stressful encounter with a loved one. Most interesting is that caregivers who master the discipline of deliberate, paced breathing have a significant impact on the health of those they are caring for. In other words, putting your own oxygen mask on first allows you to better assist others. As caregivers calm themselves in the presence of those receiving care, both experience the health benefits of deep breathing. (Learn more.)

This practice of deep breathing is like a scrub brush for your mind, allowing for clear, calm, and rational thought. In turn, it also benefits the body. While there are many types of healthful breathing exercises, one recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil and other healthcare professionals is the 4-7-8 method. Here's how to do it:
  • Place the tip of your tongue on the ridge of skin behind your front teeth, leaving your tongue in this position throughout the practice.
  • Breathe in through your nose for a count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • With lips pursed and making a whooshing sound, exhale through your mouth for a count of eight.
  • Repeat four times. With practice, repeat up to but no more than eight times. (Watch Dr. Weil demonstrate.)
Research shows that over time the 4-7-8 method of breathing improves digestion, lowers heart rate, reduces blood pressure, assuages anxiety, improves sleep, and calms the fight or flight response (i.e., lowers cortisol levels, as Teepa Snow also notes).

Take a self-care break today. Take it right now. Pay attention to the breath of life coursing through you and welcome the peace and calm it offers.
Becoming Visible, Staying Awake
by Tanya R. Cochran

"Stop! I hate having my picture taken. I'm so not photogenic" This is my response nearly every time someone points a camera or cell phone in my direction. In my defense, I have a genetic aversion to being photographed. I inherited this trait from my mother who avoids cameras as if they will extinguish her life with a click of the shutter. But several summers ago, I had an experience that I recently realized I need to revisit. Sometimes, we have to remind ourselves of lessons we once learned but have since faded from memory. This is one of those lessons.

In the summer of 2011, I had the opportunity to attend and co-present a workshop at the Women's Worlds congress in Ottawa-Gatineau, Canada. Like most conferences, this one included vendors and exhibitors. One of those exhibitors was Finnish art and social educator Miina Savolainen (pictured*), the innovator of "empowering photography" and the curator of The Loveliest Girl in the World. My encounter with her and her work continues to teach me how to see myself—as well as others—as beautiful and worthy simply for being human.

Over the course of ten years, Miina worked with girls at Hyvönen Children’s Home, what in the United States would be called a shelter or group home. In such a place, explains Miina, “the distress caused by maltreatment and rejection can be seen in every child. . . . They have lost things that cannot be replaced.” One of those losses is their childhood, their “right to be the center of love and attention.” And talking about their wounds isn’t always therapeutic. In fact, sometimes talking further deepens the cuts. So Miina began to wonder if photography could help them see themselves in a different light, if art could offer them healing.

For most of us, becoming visible first to ourselves and then to others is a frightening feat because it requires trust and vulnerability. For a young person who has been abused and abandoned, that feat may seem impossible. To create empowering photography, as Miina calls it, the girls have to feel completely safe so that they let down their defenses and reveal their true selves. "I must listen to them with my senses, understand their Picture by Miina Savolainenemotional needs, and communicate with my eyes, using my lens to reflect the value of what I see.” In turn, the sessions provide the young women with what they need: “an invitation to trust another person and look into their eyes without hiding.” The images empower because they allow the girls “to look themselves in the eye at that significant moment when they step into the light.” This happens, stresses Miina, only because she and the girls already have close relationships and because the young women play an active role in choosing their clothing, their poses, and the few photos among hundreds that they believe capture their authentic selves.**
As I listened to Miina tell the story of The Loveliest Girl in the World at the exhibit's opening in Canada, I was deeply moved. I didn’t grow up in a group home, but I’ve had my share of loss, rejection, and abandonment. Many of us have. To the core of my being I understood then—and still understand now—how scary it is to be fully visible, to be truly seen. Yet are we alive and awake while we remain invisible?

On the last day of the conference I decided to purchase a copy of the book. I needed a tangible reminder of this truth. Miina sat alone behind her exhibitor table, and I shyly approached. I complimented her on her work and then nervously blurted out, “I hate having my photo taken. I always have.” She asked, “Have you ever been photographed by someone who knows you intimately?” I shook my head. She motioned for me to come around the table and sit beside her as she personalized the inscription. Thinking she would simply ask for my name and then sign hers, I was surprised as she filled a page just inside the cover, taking several minutes to compose.

Turning to face me, Miina said, “I'd like to read it to you.” I nodded, my eyes already beginning to fill with tears. She held my gaze for several seconds before she read: “To Tanya—The Loveliest Girl in the World. Tell your own unique story through pictures and words. Tell it with your own language, with your own voice. Make visible and true your own rich inner world—all the colors of your life—the pain and beauty in you. Always remember to look at yourself and the little sweet girl in you with loving and tender eyes. Give this world the story only you can write. Make magical and beautiful the face of this world!” She held my gaze again and smiled softly before closing the book and handing it to me.

This is what becoming visible must feel like, I thought. A painful and exquisite metamorphosis. A perpetual awakening. How easy it is to get drowsy, to fall back asleep, to slip out of view.
* Source: "Verletzte Engel" by Franziska Shubert
** Photo Credit: Miina Savolainen
All events take place at Wholehearted Healthcare's healing space, 4701 Bancroft Ave., Lincoln, 68506.
Singing Bowls Meditation
Wednesdays, June 1 & 22, July 6 & 20, 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Picture of VJ HerbertA spiritual immersion in the therapeutic vibrations of the singing bowls led by VJ Herbert. 

Some meditation mats and cushions are available at the clinic, but feel free to bring your own mat, pillow, or other articles of comfort to support you while you are bathed in this healing experience. Space is limited. RSVP to or (402) 730-9819. Free will donation at the close.

VJ is a musician, composer, conductor, and spiritual teacher with 16 years of professional experience in choral composition. He has directed six choirs from in New York, Chicago, and Lincoln during that time. He has studied vocal music, theory, and choral composition at Garden State Academy in Tranquility, NJ, and Doane College in Crete, NE. In 2012, VJ began his work with music and sound as an instrument for healing through meditation, using crystal bowls, tuning forks, and solfeggio frequencies as methods for self-mastery. VJ currently lives in Lincoln where he continues his work and education in sound healing and directs his new and upcoming vocal music group Xion.
Self-Compassion Workshop
Tuesday, June 7, 7:00-8:00 p.m.

Picture of Book Self-CompassionBecause the group had such a lovely time together, one final session is needed to wrap up the workshop. If you've been attending from its beginning, join Gena as she brings the workshop—like any good book or film—to a satisfying close.

For those interested in a future event, stay tuned to the newsletter and Facebook. Soon Gena plans to offer more workshops for adult women as well as for girls and their moms.
Meditation and Movement
Wednesdays, June 15 & 29, July 13 & 27, 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Picture of WaterliliesUsing the body to help us center back to ourselves through movement in addition to the practice of quieting the mind can help to release stagnant energy and increase the flow of positive energy through our body while enhancing our sense of well-being. This easy, gentle practice requires no previous experience and is led by Joyce Schmeeckle.

You will want to wear comfortable clothing. Meditation mats and cushions will be provided. Space is limited. RSVP to or (402) 730-9819. Free will donation at the close to support Pan American Health Services and sponsor a child's education at a bilingual school in Peña Blanca, Honduras, the area Gena and her family served with medical care in March.

A practitioner of Zen Meditation and T’ai Chi Chih (TCC), Joyce combines the practices with other guided or body movement for a full spiritual practice of connecting inward and outward. Joyce has engaged in spiritual practices for almost ten years. She has led groups in meditation and TCC for over six years.
Mothers' Connection
On Summer Break, Returning Fall 2016

Picture of Gena Foster and Her DaughterLed by Gena and Annie Nienhueser, a group to support women who are mothers along their journeys.

With summer comes camps, vacations, and holiday events. We'll resume our gatherings after school is back in session in the fall. Watch Facebook for our next invite. In the meantime, enjoy family time together!
Love, light, and peace to your soul,

Gena Foster
Copyright © 2016 Wholehearted Healthcare, P.C., All rights reserved. Edited by Tanya R. Cochran.

Our mailing address and phone number are:
4701 Bancroft Ave., Lincoln, NE  68056
(402) 730-9819

Disclaimer. The information in this newsletter is provided as a resource only and should not replace professional diagnosis and treatment. Please consult your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.

Advice from Gena. Personalized medicine is always the best type of medicine.

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Wholehearted Healthcare, P.C. · 4701 Bancroft Ave. · Lincoln, NE 68506 · USA

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