Wholehearted Healthcare, P.C., Newsletter
October 2016
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Nebraska Countryside, Fall 2016

October 2016

"What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action." ---Meister Eckhart
Sowing the Seeds of Peace, Joy, and Love
by Staff Writer

In The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time, UCLA neuroscientist Alex Korb explains what experts know about depression and what studying the Picture of Maple Seedsbrain has revealed about how to halt and slowly heal it. Thankfully, our brains are resilient, and they can change. This ability to change is called neuroplasticity. (Watch a brief video defining neuroplasticity). In his book, Korb outlines small steps we can take to restore ourselves to a healthier and happier mind state. Writer Eric Barker uses the term "rituals" to summarize four of the most important steps Korb addresses in his research. (Read Barker's full article in Business Insider.) Those rituals include the following:
  1. Ask yourself this question: What am I grateful for? We hear about this ritual often. In fact, it's become a cliché and sometimes a simplistic way of responding to people's pain: "If you were more grateful, you wouldn't be so sad." However, research shows that gratitude is healing because it boosts dopamine and serotonin. Still, gratitude doesn't and isn't meant to mask our feelings. It simply makes difficult feelings less powerful. Interestingly, the mental act of searching for something to be grateful for in and of itself can change neural pathways. In other words, even if you can't come up with three items you're thankful for each day, the mere act of trying can support a healthier mindset. Just trying counts.
  2. Learn to precisely name emotions. Why? Because to name feelings with precision, we have to pay attention to what we're actually feeling. The benefit to our brains is less about the act of naming itself and more about being aware enough of our emotions to name them. Put another way, acknowledging rather than suppressing emotions—particularly difficult ones—immediately softens their impact. In mindfulness practice, this ritual is called labeling or noting. The key is to name, label, or note emotions without judgment, to simply recognize and sit with them, knowing they will often pass on their own if we don't cling to them or deny their existence.
  3. Decide. Living in a state of indecision is extremely stressful for the brain. It naturally wants to move toward well-being. When we delay making a decision (of any kind, really) for too long, our brains get stuck in problem-solving mode, another way of saying rumination. In other words, our brains can't rest. Many of us don't make decisions in a timely manner because we want to make "perfect" ones. But researchers say over and over again that the "good enough" decision is almost always just fine. Deciding frees the mind from its worry and anxiety so that it can find equilibrium again.
  4. Give and receive human touchappropriately. We can't give bear hugs to just anyone, but we do need them for brain health. Researchers have shown that our bodies respond to social exclusion in the same way we respond to a broken bone. Being excluded is painful—both emotionally and physically. Oxytocin, the "happiness hormone," can help soothe both kinds of pain. We get oxytocin boosts in a variety of ways: genuine handshakes, pats or rubs on the back, long hugs, holding hands, therapeutic massages. All of these encourage the release of not only oxytocin but also dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Simply put, human touch makes us feel better. And no, a text message doesn't count.
Alex Korb sums up his research this way: "Everything is interconnected. Gratitude improves sleep. Sleep reduces pain. Reduced pain improves your mood. Improved mood reduces anxiety, which improves focus and planning. Focus and planning help with decision making. Decision making further reduces anxiety and improves enjoyment. Enjoyment gives you more to be grateful for, which keeps that loop of the upward spiral going. Enjoyment also makes it more likely you'll exercise and be social, which, in turn, will make you happier." With these rituals, may you sow the seeds of your own peace, joy, and love.
NOTE: These rituals are not a replacement for professional counseling. If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of major depression—feeling depressed or sad most of the day, having little or no interest in what usually brings you pleasure, losing or gaining weight rapidly, sleeping poorly, experiencing near-constant agitation, feeling exhausted, feeling worthless, having trouble concentrating, or having thoughts of death or suicide—seek help immediately. A mental healthcare provider can assess the severity of your depression and help you create a plan of action.
Savoring the Bounty of the Mito Food Plan
by Staff Writer

With fall at our doorstep, now seems like a good time to start talking about pumpkin-flavored delights. The following recipe comes from the Mito Food Plan (Picture of Pumpkinsexplained in detail in this year's March, April, May, June/July, August, and September newsletters) and, thus, is meant to be part of a way of eating that supports the powerhouses of our cells: the mitochondria. When our mitochondria are happy, we have more energy, we feel better, and we age slower. Enjoy this simple, delicious, and healthy recipe on cool, sunny, slow mornings. Relax, savor, and share these pancakes with those you love.
Grain-Free Pumpkin Pancakes
Makes 2 Servings

  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons almond meal
  • ½ cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ tablespoon coconut oil
  1. Mix eggs in a large measuring cup or small bowl. Add almond meal, pumpkin, and vanilla. Stir to combine well. Mix in baking soda, spices, and salt.
  2. Heat a large griddle or pan. Add the coconut oil and allow to melt. Stir the oil into the pancake mixture, leaving just a little to use for cooking the pancakes.
  3. Cook pancakes until bubbles form on top, then flip and cook another minute.
  4. Serve immediately, perhaps with a little honey, agave nectar, or pure maple syrup. Go easy, though. A little goes a long way.
Per serving—Calories: 304; Fat (g): 22; Sat. Fat (g): 12; Chol (mg): 424; Sodium (mg): 568; Carb (g): 10; Fiber (g): 2; Protein (g): 17.
Enjoying the Fruits of Self-Compassion
by Staff Writer
In our very first newsletter, we briefly introduced the concept of self-compassion. We wrote: "Wholehearted wellness grows out of self-compassion, or treating ourselves the same way we treat those we love—a child, an intimate partner, a friend. Self-compassion is not self-pity, self-indulgence, Picture of Woman with Hand on Heartor self-esteem. Instead, it is seeing ourselves through compassionate eyes, understanding that all humans experience joy and pain, and practicing mindful awareness of our internal and external worlds. To live wholeheartedly, we must love and care for ourselves. As Gena likes to say, 'Speak with loving-kindness—first to yourself, then to others.'"

We also noted that the practice of self-compassion can be challenging at first because by nature, nurture, or both, our inner-critics have been harsh with us for many, many years. Maybe even for most of our lives. Yet taking on the challenge, soothing and healing the inner-critic by practicing self-compassion, over time, reaps many fruits that our experiences and research confirm:
  • Highly self-compassionate people acknowledge their pain and, thus, are able to begin healing.
  • They are able to accept compassion from others.
  • They feel their emotions rather than denying or ignoring them.
  • They have greater self-awareness than those who are highly self-critical.
  • They forgive themselves more readily than self-critical people which, again, allows for their healing and growth.
  • They learn to be deeply kind to themselves and, in turn, to others.
  • They create nurturing inner voices.
  • They have a great capacity to face rather than turn away from painful experiences.
  • They are resilient.
  • They experience reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, shame, and feelings of inferiority.
  • They connect with others rather than isolate themselves.
  • They orient themselves toward that which gives them joy.
As therapist Beverly Engel reiterates, "self-compassion is the ability to feel and connect with one's own suffering. . . . the act of extending compassion to one's self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering." To be compassionate toward ourselves (and others) means not only to recognize but also to alleviate suffering. "When we give ourselves compassion," writes research psychologist Kristin Neff, "the tight knot of negative self-judgment starts to dissolve, replaced by a feeling of peaceful, connected acceptance." In other words, the greatest fruit of self-compassion is love.
NOTE: The list above is compiled from Beverly Engel's It Wasn't Your Fault: Freeing Yourself from the Shame of Childhood Abuse with the Power of Self-Compassion and from Kristin Neff's Self Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. Test your level of self-compassion using Kristin Neff's questionnaire. Listen to singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson's "Be Kind to Yourself," a good reminder that we're often own own worst enemies. But we can learn. We can learn to love the internal enemy too.
Reaping the Harvest of Our Soul's Garden
by Staff Writer

In his introduction to the following poem by Marge Piercy, Quaker elder, educator, and activist Parker J. Palmer notes, "Our culture favors a 'manufacturing model' of life. We 'make' money, we 'make' friends, we 'make' time, we even 'make' love! But we are Picture of Gardener Tending Plantplants, not products, and we need to treat ourselves and each other the way a good gardener treats green and growing things." With gentleness, kindness, and love. It's only in watering a garden that it's able to grow. Thus, the poem is both about tending a garden and tending a life, about watering ourselves so that we can grow, heal, thrive, and live. The first soul garden we must water is our own. Contemplate the layers of meaning as you read.
"The Seven of Pentacles"
by Marge Piercy

Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the lady bugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.

Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half a tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.

Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.

Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.
Journal Your Thoughts: The poem's narrator urges us to live our lives as if we liked ourselves, to water our own souls. Perhaps you already do. If so, write down the ways you demonstrate that. Perhaps you don't live as if you liked yourself. Imagine what that might be like. What could one day of your life look like if you lived it truly liking yourself, if you nurtured yourself first? What would you do? Where would you go? Who would you be with? What would you eat? How would you love? Let your imagination run free. Be creative. Write your answers down. See if you can begin living as if you like yourself, as if you deserve to be tended to (because you do), before you even put your pen down or lift your fingers from your keyboard.
All events take place at Wholehearted Healthcare's healing space, 4701 Bancroft Ave., Lincoln, 68506. Note that cancellations and updates are posted to the clinic's Facebook page.

Mindful Mondays
Monday, October 3, 10, and 24, 7:00-8:00 a.m.

Bring your yoga mat, sitting cushion, or meditation mat, and join Gena for a mindful start to the week. The morning will begin with a grounding exercise, a bit of inspiration, some conversation on mindfulness, and a sitting, walking, or lying meditation—depending on the day. This will be an ongoing event, free and open to all. Come as you are. No RSVP required.

Celestial Sounds Meditation
Wednesday, October 5 and 12, 7:30-8:30 p.m.

A spiritual immersion in the therapeutic vibrations of singing bowls, tuning forks, bells, gongs, koshi chimes, and more led by VJ Herbert. 

Space is limited for these final two sessions before VJ moves east. RSVP to or (402) 730-9819.

You will want to bring your own mat, pillow, or other articles of comfort to support you while you are bathed in this healing experience. Free will donation at the close.

VJ is a musician, composer, conductor, spiritual teacher, and vibrational sound practitioner. In 2012, he 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.

Meditation and Movement
Wednesday, October 19, 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Using 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.

Space is limited for this month's only session. RSVP to or (402) 730-9819.

You will want to wear comfortable clothing. Meditation mats and cushions will be provided. 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.

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
Wednesday, October 26, 8:00-9:00 p.m.
Picture of Gena and Her DaughterA group to support women who are mothers along their journeys. Led by Gena and Annie Nienhueser. Nursing infants are welcome.

Join us this month for hot tea, supportive conversation, and coloring (supplies provided). RSVP via, or (402) 730-9819.

Originally from Sioux City, IA, Annie has been a Lincolnite for eight years now. She and her husband Jeff have three girls. Among other interests, Annie is passionate about her family and holistic health. As a Certified Health Coach and a mom, she gets especially excited when she can support other moms and families on the path of healthy living.
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  68506
(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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