Wholehearted Healthcare, P.C., Newsletter
December 2016
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December 2016

"Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas."
---Calvin Coolidge
Introducing Wholehearted Healthcare's Newsletter Editor, Tanya R. Cochran
by Tanya R. Cochran, Editor

Well, it's a little awkward to introduce myself, but here goes.

I, Tanya, first started working on Wholehearted Healthcare's newsletter in February of this year after talking with Gena about her dreams for supporting her patients in this way. Picture of Tanya Cochran, Newsletter EditorAs a Professor of English, I enjoy writing, and as a person invested in my health and well-being, I learn as much as I can about how to heal and take care of my mind and body. The newsletter seemed like a perfect fit.

I received my bachelor's degree in English at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, TN, in 1995, my master's degree in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga in 1999, and my doctorate in Rhetoric and Composition at Georgia State University in Atlanta in 2009. I've been teaching writing and other subjects at Union College for eleven years, and my research, presentations, and publications mostly focus on television fandom. In other words, I study media fans. Specifically, I have studied the fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon (also known for his work on the first two installments of Marvel's Avengers franchise) as well as the admirers of television series such as Veronica Mars, Farscape, and Fringe.

So why am I writing about nutrition, self-care, and spirituality? These are topics I spend much time reading about and practicing in my personal life. I believe my health is my responsibility and tending to the mind-body connection is essential. That's why I connected with Gena: I value a holistic approach to wellness. Each month, Gena and I share articles and conversations as we shape the newsletter's content.

When I'm not teaching or reading, I love to travel, take in a film, and prepare healthy meals. My idea of a "good time" is being with loved ones, especially outdoors, and being fully present in the moment—no matter how ordinary those moments are. In fact, I really appreciate what Gena calls "the extraordinary ordinary moments of everyday life."

Over the months, I've been shy about adding a by-line to every article I've written for the newsletter. So I'll confess now that anything "by Staff Writer" in past issues was written by me. From here on out, I'll claim my writing. I hope you've been informed or blessed or both by something you've read here. Like Gena, I wish you love, light, and peace—especially this holiday season.
Nourishing Our Bodies and Souls: Relaxation and Quality
by Tanya R. Cochran, Editor

As we mentioned last month, Marc David's The Slow Down Diet isn't actually a diet at all. Rather, it's an approach to meals that teaches us to eat for pleasure and increasedPicture of Tea Time energy as well as weight loss. It's more about how to eat than what to eat. (Learn more about David's Institute for Eating Psychology.) That how rests on a fundamental principle: slowing down.

If we slow down our hectic lives and rushed meals, claims David, our metabolisms will speed up. Thus, at the core of David's approach are eight universal metabolizers: Relaxation, Quality, Awareness, Rhythm, Pleasure, Thought, Story, and The Sacred. This month, we look closely at the first two.

As David observes, "Eating under stress is not only commonplace, it's socially acceptable and often a prerequisite for managing a job, maintaining a family, or having a life." Sounds familiar, right? At the same time, eating under stress is slowly killing us. When we are in the midst of a stress response, our hearts speed up, our blood pressure rises, we breathe faster and more shallowly, and we release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. In this fight-flight-freeze state, our digestive systems are not meant to work. And they don't. They scale back or even shut down. Even if you're eating the highest quality food, you can't digest it or digest it well if you're stressed and in a hurry.

Being in the ideal state of mind and body is just as important as the nutritional value of your food. According to David, "In medical terms, chronic stress decreases thermic efficiency—your ability to burn calories and metabolize stored fat." The antidote is to relax, and the quickest route to relaxation is conscious breathing, says David: "Oxygen is the most fundamental and necessary metabolic nutrient for the body. The more we breathe, the more we digest, assimilate, and calorie burn."

Changing our rushed habits isn't easy, but see if you can eat one more meal than usual this week in a relaxation state. Here are some tips:
  • Pick any meal and set aside at least 30 minutes to eat.
  • If possible, find a quiet place—indoors or out.
  • With your meal before you, pause for a few minutes, close your eyes, and take three death breaths. Inhale for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for eight counts. Repeat. Open your eyes.
  • Proceed with your meal, eating slowly, savoring each bite, and taking deliberate breaths in between forkfuls.
Relaxing during meals also means removing distractions and focusing only on eating itself. Put away your cell phone, don't read your newspaper or novel, and step away from your computer or television. Just eat and relax.

Of course, the quality of our meals matters as well. And David makes this topic simple with a very general guideline: "Elevate the quality of your food." He doesn't use guilt or shame to move us in this direction, though he does promote a fresh, organic, whole-foods diet as much as possible. Still, the keyword here is elevate.

Trying to radically alter the quality of your food can be just as challenging as trying to find time to eat in a relaxed state. So don't be harsh with yourself or attempt too many changes at once. Look at your diet (with kindness and compassion) as it already exists. What small changes can you make this week to elevate the quality of your diet by just one notch? Here are just a few ideas:
  • Try brown rice instead of white rice.
  • Try almond milk instead of dairy milk.
  • Try real butter instead of margarine.
  • Try raw honey or stevia instead of table sugar.
  • Try grilled or baked chicken instead of fried.
  • Try fruit instead of cookies, cakes, or donuts.
Small changes accumulate over time, and slowly forging new habits encourages them to take hold.

The aspect of quality least talked about has to do with the care or consciousness of our food. What story does our food tell? This question might seem odd at first, but David explains why he asks it.

One aspect of the question has to do with production. From field to table, what has your food been through? Was it raised locally, with care, with as few pesticides as possible? Did the workers who tended and harvested the food earn a living wage? Another aspect of the question is about preparation. David insists that food prepared with love tastes better and is more nutritious. Most of us can probably attest to this fundamental truth. There is a reason you can prepare your mother's or grandmother's (or father's or grandfather's) recipe in the exact same way they do but still not achieve the flavor you are used to. Food prepared with love and gratitude is food that has a beautiful story to tell, and our bodies respond with happiness to that story.

In the coming months, we'll continue to explore the eight universal metabolizers. Next up, Awareness and Rhythm. Again, feel free to read The Slow Down Diet for yourself. There is much, much more insight in each chapter than what we can cover in this small space.
NOTE: Interested in knowing more about how the psychology of eating could benefit your health journey? Registered Dietitian Amy Harshman is also a Certified Eating Psychology Coach. Learn more about nutritional support and counseling on her website True Nourishment.
Seek Joy over 'Shoulding' on Yourself This Holiday Season*
by Tanya R. Cochran, Editor

The holidays can easily become a season of emotional breakdowns. And why wouldn't they? We often set ourselves up for a fall—or two or three—when we should on ourselves. Just Picture of Joy Ornament on Christmas Treelooking over a typical list of shoulds (and shouldn'ts) is itself an overwhelming feat:
  • I should get more exercise during the holidays.
  • I should go to all the parties. Don't want to seem unsociable or ungrateful for invitations.
  • I should eat the fruitcake or drink the eggnog. Wouldn't want to hurt the host's feelings.
  • I should get gifts for every family member and pet, every good friend, and every co-worker. Oh, and I shouldn't forget my hairdresser, massage therapist, dental hygienist, and garbage collector.
  • And I should make sure all of my gifts are handmade . . . or fair-trade . . . or designer.
The list could go on and on. Add your own. You've probably already thought of a few more shoulds.

Shoulding on ourselves often leads to unhappiness because the list of things we think we should or shouldn't do creates a gap—sometimes small, sometimes large—between what our lives are actually like and what we imagine they're supposed to be like. This gap, if we aren't aware of it, becomes the slippery slope to unhappiness. And the problem isn't feeling unhappy. As John Teasdale, Mark Williams, and Zindel Segal explain in The Mindful Way Workbook: An 8-Week Program to Free Yourself from Depression and Emotional Distress (a companion to The Mindful Way through Depression), "Unhappiness is part of the normal human condition. It is a natural response to certain situations"—many of those situations associated with the holidays: traveling stresses, family and social pressures, and gift-giving, among others. One of the challenges of unhappy or low moods is that they can dredge up "negative thinking patterns, feelings, and memories from the past," note Teasdale, Williams, and Segal. Of course, if feeling unhappy right now also brings up past experiences of being unhappy, we are suddenly far more unhappy than we were just a moment ago. What happens next is crucial.

"Our reactions to unhappiness can transform what might otherwise be a brief, passing sadness into persistent dissatisfaction and unhappiness," say the experts. Unfortunately, most of us weren't taught how to shift mental gears; we operate out of the only gear we're used to: doing mode. This is the mode of mind that helps us achieve goals in our physical worlds: from cleaning the house and running errands to earning a degree and applying for a promotion. Doing mode works by assessing the current state of affairs (where we are at the moment) compared to the destination or desired outcome (where we want to end up) and contrasted with the nondestination or undesired outcome (where we don't want to end up). Can you see why this mode works terribly when applied to our emotional lives?

Let's say your goal is to produce handmade gifts for thirty-plus people. Actually, not a problem if the goal were only an external one. But if you weave into your goal your self-worth, self-judgement is soon to follow when you find that you might not make your deadline. You just aren't working fast enough. What's wrong with you? (Never mind that you're successfully juggling everything else going on in your life!) How hard is it to make thirty-plus gifts from scratch?! The harsh self-critic steps in. You stink at this. Suddenly, you remember every other time—especially those times around the holidays—you didn't achieve a goal and felt like a failure. Doing mode applied to emotions nearly always leads to driven-doing, "the mode of mind where we feel we just cannot let go of trying to get what we want or get rid of what we don't want." The next thing you know you're ruminating. And ruminating is a one-way street to depression and anxiety—and a really miserable holiday. Thankfully, doing mode isn't our mind's only gear, and we can learn to shift.

The alternative gear is being mode. In contrast to doing mode, being mode is deliberate, works through our physical senses, focuses on the present, seeks and savors pleasurable experiences, accepts things as they are, recognizes thoughts as ephemeral, and focuses on what is with compassion. Sounds freeing, doesn't it? But if we weren't taught about this mode or how to shift into this gear, where do we begin?  Research confirms that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is the path to emotional health—for everyone, not just for those who struggle with depression and anxiety. And "the heart of MBCT is gentle, systematic training in mindfulness." Being mindful simply means "gently learning how to pay attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to things as they are," explain Teasdale, Williams, and Segal. The beauty of mindfulness is that whereas it doesn't eradicate difficult feelings, it helps us accept our feelings and our reality with kindness.

The kinder we are to ourselves, the greater ability we have to experience joy. And that's at least part of what the holidays are about. Joy to the world!
* The idea for this article grew out of many conversations I, Tanya, had with my dear friend and colleague Beth as we were going through graduate school, a time in our lives that felt overshadowed by "shoulds." Since that time, we've made major progress living lives driven by "I want to" rather than "I should."
Have Yourself a Merry—and Mindful—Little Christmas
by Tanya R. Cochran, Editor

If, as Calvin Coolidge once said, "Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind," what better time of year than this one to practice Image of Fruit and Nuts in Bowlmindfulness? According to John Teasdale, Mark Williams, and Zindel Segal (as mentioned above in Self-Care), being mindful simply means "gently learning how to pay attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to things as they are" (see The Mindful Way Workbook). What does that look like in real life?

In the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program developed by John Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, participants are first introduced to mindfulness through a simple yet profound exercise using a raisin. In The Mindful Way through Depression, Kabat-Zinn and colleagues outline the exercise like this (follow along with your own raisin—or any dried fruit—to get your own taste of mindfulness):
  • Holding—First, take a raisin and hold it in the palm of your hand or between your finger and thumb. Focusing on it, imagine that you’ve just dropped in from Mars and have never seen an object like this before in your life.
  • Seeing—Take time to really see it; gaze at the raisin with care and full attention. Let your eyes explore every part of it, examining the highlights where the light shines, the darker hollows, the folds and ridges, and any asymmetries or unique features.
  • Touching—Turn the raisin over between your fingers, exploring its texture, maybe with your eyes closed if that enhances your sense of touch.
  • Smelling—Holding the raisin beneath your nose, with each inhalation drink in any smell, aroma, or fragrance that may arise, noticing as you do this anything interesting that may be happening in your mouth or stomach.
  • Placing—Now slowly bring the raisin up to your lips, noticing how your hand and arm know exactly how and where to position it. Gently place the object in the mouth, without chewing, noticing how it gets into the mouth in the first place. Spend a few moments exploring the sensations of having it in your mouth, exploring it with your tongue.
  • Tasting—When you are ready, prepare to chew the raisin, noticing how and where it needs to be for chewing. Then, very consciously, take one or two bites into it and notice what happens in the aftermath, experiencing any waves of taste that emanate from it as you continue chewing. Without swallowing yet, notice the bare sensations of taste and texture in the mouth and how these may change over time, moment by moment, as well as any changes in the object itself.
  • Swallowing—When you feel ready to swallow the raisin, see if you can first detect the intention to swallow as it comes up, so that even this is experienced consciously before you actually swallow the raisin.
  • Following—Finally, see if you can feel what is left of the raisin moving down into your stomach, and sense how the body as a whole is feeling after completing this exercise in mindful eating.
Imagine a holiday season filled with mindful moments! Be mindful of what you're eating. You may wish to avoid fruit cake and eggnog and savor other delicacies because you actually check in with your taste buds when eating mindfully. Be mindful of what you're doing. You may discover that caroling in the cold just doesn't give you joy and sitting around a fire with your family does when living mindfully. Be mindful of those around you. You may learn that you need far less time with friends who have nothing better to talk about than the flaws of others and much more time with friends who just love being in the same space with you—conversing or not—when being together mindfully.

The Wholehearted Healthcare team hopes you really experience the holiday season this year by having yourself a merry and mindful one.
NOTE: Interested in knowing more about how to live mindfully? Join Gena on an intimate journey of exploring what mindfulness can do for your emotional, physical, and spiritual wellness. More information about the small group workshop "A Mindful Way through Life," which begins Tuesday, January 10 at 6:30 p.m., is provided in the Events section below as well as on Facebook.
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, December 5, 12, and 19, 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 Sound Meditation
Wednesday, December 7, 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Picture of VJ HerbertA spiritual immersion in the therapeutic vibrations of singing bowls, tuning forks, bells, gongs, koshi chimes, and more led by VJ Herbert with Angela Barber.

Space is limited for this month's only session. To reserve your spot, 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, December 14, 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. To reserve your spot, 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.

A Mindful Way through Life: Small Group Workshop
Tuesdays, 6:30-7:30 p.m., January 10–February 21

Picture of Wooded PathJoin Gena on an intimate journey of exploring what mindfulness can do for your emotional, physical, and spiritual wellness. This workshop is for anyone who wants to live with more intention and joy in life. If you experience SAD, depression, anxiety disorders, developmental or other traumas—or if you are a human being—you will wholeheartedly benefit from this workshop. Each person who attends will bring different gifts to this private group; thoughts, feelings, emotions expressed and shared by group members will be kept between those present. Members will create a safe space for everyone to share and support each other as they delve into the powerful, healing concept of mindfulness.

The group will read The Mindful Way through Depression by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn. In this book, four uniquely-qualified experts explain why our usual attempts to “think” our way out of bad moods or just “snap out of it” lead us deeper into a downward spiral—“down the rabbit hole.” Through insightful lessons drawn from both Eastern meditative traditions and cognitive behavioral therapy, the authors demonstrate how to sidestep the mental habits that lead to despair, including rumination and self-shaming, so we can face life’s challenges with greater emotional resilience.

Throughout the book there are activities and personal growth exercises each member will complete before or during the course of the evening assigned to the given chapters. We will share personal responses, thoughts, or experiences—as members feel comfortable. Gena will also incorporate findings on self-compassion, mindfulness, boundaries, and self-care from additional sources.

  • January 10—Part One, Chapters 1 & 2
  • January 17 and January 24—Part Two, Chapters 3, 4 & 5
  • January 31 and February 7—Part Three, Chapters 6, 7, 8 & 9
  • February 21—Part Four, Chapters 10 & 11
  • Presence and intention for healing to take place
  • Five-minute guided meditation for gathering of self
  • Opening thoughts by Gena followed by open discussion from group members
  • Five minutes of self-compassion journaling
  • Open discussion from group members
  • Sharing of exercises completed from the reading—as members feel comfortable
  • Closing thoughts by Gena
  • The Mindful Way through Depression by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn (included in the cost of the workshop)
  • Your own special journal, a pen or pencil, and an open heart
  • $250, check or cash to be paid in full by January 6, 2017. Mail or deliver to Wholehearted Healthcare, P.C., 4701 Bancroft Avenue, Lincoln, NE 68506. Again, The Mindful Way through Depression is provided as part of the workshop fee.
Space is limited for this special event. Call the clinic at (402) 730-9819 to reserve your spot.
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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