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Wholehearted Healthcare, P.C., Newsletter
February 2017
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February 2017

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
 
---Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Feature
Living Love Out Loud
by Tanya R. Cochran, Editor

Be love.

Two little words—yet so mighty. Be love. Inspired by these words, last fall Gena felt moved to organize Love, Light, and Peace: A Community Vigil. On November 13, 2016, over fifty people gathered in Wholehearted Healthcare's backyard as the evening sun began to set. Picture of intention that reads: My intention now and always is for healing to take place, in this space, and in this heart and mind!They came because the invitation resonated with them, an invitation that seems just as relevant today as it was several months ago:
 
Wholehearted Healthcare is committed to the values of empathy, compassion, and loving kindness. These are human values, not political ones.

Because of this week's events, we've listened to and shared collective fears and concerns. Now let's come together as a community to recommit ourselves to being love, light, and peace in the world and to sheltering each other from hate and darkness.


[Gena's intention is pictured above: "My intention now and always is for healing to take place in this place, in this space, and in this heart and mind!" See the full collection of intentions and commitments on the clinic's Facebook page. And add your own.]

Children, women, and men followed candlelit sidewalks to the event. Just before the stairs leading to the back lawn, Gena placed a small table. On the table was yet another invitation:

In the beginning was the Word . . . and the Word became flesh.

The start of action is intention, commitment. With our words, we create reality.

What are your intentions and commitments to love, light, and peace in your home, community, country, and world?

Write your intention or commitment on a piece of paper and tie it to the tree branches. Together, we will write and become the change for good we wish to see.


The evening included readings, sharing, meditation, prayer, and music. In particular, Gena requested the following passage from Pema Chödrön's Start Where You Are be read aloud:

When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it's bottomless, that it doesn't have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space.

What is the state of your heart?

To love well, we must first love ourselves—in both word and deed. Do we speak with loving kindness and act in loving ways toward ourselves? When we love ourselves, then we can love others—in both word and deed. Do we speak with loving kindness and act in loving ways toward others?

In the end, this is what it means to live love out loud: to not only say the words, but also be love.
Nutrition
Nourishing Our Bodies and Souls: Pleasure and Thought
by Tanya R. Cochran, Editor

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 increased 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.) The 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: Picture of ice cream coneRelaxation, Quality, Awareness, Rhythm, Pleasure, Thought, Story, and The Sacred. Last month, we considered Awareness and Rhythm. This month, we look closely at the next two.

Pleasure
"Vitamin P—pleasure—is a vital element that makes our meals nutritionally complete and makes life worth living," declares David. Our bodies are made to experience joy. When we're excited about our food and can't wait to dig in, our metabolisms respond. David cites a study conducted at the University of Texas in which participants with extremely high cholesterol were given low-fat diets but were allowed to splurge every other day. Considering that their splurge included a ham and cheese sandwich and a milkshake, you'd think their cholesterol would have been impacted. But it wasn't! David exclaims, "It isn't hard to imagine that the splurges were the only relaxed and celebrated moments in an otherwise bland and stressful diet."

David isn't suggesting that we eat ham and cheese sandwiches and drink milkshakes several times a week. Instead, he argues that pleasure helps us relax, and when we eat in a relaxed state, our metabolisms work as they're supposed to: well. Consider that when we eat protein and fat, our bodies release the chemical cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK stimulates the major organs needed for digestion, turns off our appetite, and "stimulates the sensation of pleasure in the cerebral cortex." If, however, we eat a quick and tasteless (low-calorie, low-fat) meal while stressed, our bodies will release neuropeptide Y, which sends us looking for more food. Neuropeptide Y is elevated in the morning after a long night's fast, when we skip meals, and after dieting. It basically won't let us "escape the biological imperative to party and enjoy."

If we deny ourselves a tasty balance of healthy proteins, fats, and carbohydrates—if our meals are "fun-free," says David, "the body responds by chemically demanding pleasure and satisfaction." Thank you, body! Ultimately, "the way we experience pleasure with food is a mirror of how we experience pleasure in life." So have fun, everyone. Healthy fun.

Thought
At the core of this chapter is our relationship with food—specifically, how we talk to ourselves about what we put in our mouths. According to David, "What we think is electrochemically transduced into physiological responses." In other words, our brains and bodies are intimately connected.

David suggests "negative thoughts about food can directly inhibit digestion through nerve pathways, hormones, neuropeptides, and other bio-substances." On the other hand, positive thoughts create the opposite effect via those same pathways. He uses ice cream as an example. "By loving and respecting your ice cream cone," explains David, our pleasant and pleasurable thoughts initiate the appropriate chemical reactions in our brains and bodies. Thyroid hormones are released, ones that trigger digestive hormones that stimulate the digestive tract that jumpstarts the metabolism. If we have anxiety about eating our ice cream cone and berate ourselves for "cheating" or making a poor decision, the opposite happens: thyroid hormones are inhibited and throw off the rest of the chain of reactions. Our digestion and metabolism slow, and we store fat rather than burn it.

The most intriguing point David makes is that whether we're eating healthy or unhealthy foods, "any guilt about food, shame about the body, or judgment about health are considered stressors by the brain." Stress leads to hormonal and chemical imbalances that disrupt digestion and lead to weight gain. Of course, David isn't saying we can consume anything we want as long as we think positive thoughts. He's saying that our thoughts have a significant impact on how our bodies metabolize the foods we eat. Happy thoughts = happy body = happy metabolism.

Next month, we'll conclude our exploration of the eight universal metabolizers with Story and The Sacred. 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.
Self-Care
Keeping the Brain-Gut Romance Alive
by Tanya R. Cochran, Editor

"I felt punched in the gut," we exclaim when retelling the story of betrayal. "I have butterflies in my stomach," we giggle when we feel excited and nervous on a first date. We use these and similar phrases when we experience some of our strongest emotions: fear, shame, bliss, and more. Picture of brain and GI tractThough these emotions originate in the brain, we sense them in our core. We have a "gut reaction." That's because the brain and the gut—or gastrointestinal (GI) tract—share an until-death-do-us-part relationship, and it turns out that "for better, for worse, . . . in sickness and in health" applies just as much to their marriage as any other.

Our mind and gut share a long-term committment. When one suffers so does the other. In a Healthbeat article for Harvard Medical School, we learn that the "connection goes both ways. A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person's stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. . . . This is especially true in cases where a person experiences gastrointestinal upset with no obvious physical cause. For such functional GI disorders, it is difficult to try to heal a distressed gut without considering the role of stress and emotion." In the same article, common symptoms that can indicate stress could be the cause of GI troubles are divided into three major categories:
  • Physical symptoms—stiff or tense muscles, especially in the neck and shoulders; headaches; sleep problems; shakiness or tremors; recent loss of interest in sex; weight loss or gain; restlessness
  • Behavioral symptoms—procrastination; grinding teeth; difficulty completing work assignments; changes in the amount of alcohol or food you consume; taking up smoking, or smoking more than usual; increased desire to be with or withdraw from others; rumination (frequent talking or brooding about stressful situations)
  • Emotional symptoms—crying; overwhelming sense of tension or pressure; trouble relaxing; nervousness; quick temper; depression; poor concentration; trouble remembering things; loss of sense of humor; indecisiveness
If these symptoms sound familiar, bring them to your healthcare provider's attention. Further conversation, examination, and testing may be necessary—all of which Gena provides at Wholehearted Healthcare.

At the same time, we can begin healing ourselves by making choices known to help restore and maintain a happy relationship between our brain and gut. On her blog, author of Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Recailm Their Lives, Kelly Brogan, M.D., outlines some of those choices:
  • Address inflammation. Brogan suggests greatly reducing or, if possible, eliminating substances that inflame our bodies, including sugar (especially fructose and sucrose—i.e., fruit and table sugar), chemicals (from certain plastics to additives in cosmetics), and pathogens (e.g., gluten, fungus, genetically modified foods, etc.).
  • Improve diet and exercise. "Burst" or interval exercise three times a week is especially helpful, says Brogan. (Here are seven burst exercises you can do at home.) She also "recommend[s] a diet that controls for glycemic fluctuations through elimination of refined carbs and grains, and through high levels of natural fats to push the body to relearn how to use fats for fuel. This is the brain’s preferred source." The Mito Food Plan that Gena promotes (explained in detail in last year's March, April, May, June/July, August, and September newsletters) fits Brogan's recommendation.
  • Reduce stress. In addition to regular exercise, Brogan and many other experts encourage meditation as a form of stress reduction. The benefits are bountiful—from lower blood pressure to greater concentration, from an enhanced immune system to improved sleep. (There are many online resources for those just getting started. Try the guided meditations on UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center webpage or UC San Diego's Center for Mindfulness webpage. Also try YouTube and experiment with videos until you find some you like. Or join us at Wholehearted Healthcare for Mindful Mondays, Celestial Sound Meditation, and Meditation and Movement. See the Events section below for this month's dates and times and follow us on Facebook for event notifications.)
Brogan also recommends supplementation, which is best discussed with a healthcare provider, such as Gena, who practices holistic or functional medicine. Other sources add two important pieces of advice to Brogan's list:
  • Eat more fermented foods. Tuft University's Health & Nutrition Letter notes that fermented foods such as kefir, unsweetened yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh and others contain "friendly" bacteria that promote gut health. (You can find all of these products at local health food stores and at many supermarkets.) Check labels to be sure these foods and beverages have "live cultures." For instance, sauerkraut from a can has been processed at high temperatures and no longer contains live, health-promoting bacteria.
  • Get eight or more hours of sleep. Simply put, our bodies cannot repair themselves or operate as they are meant to operate if we don't get enough sleep. If you aren't sleeping well, tell you healthcare provider so you can discuss remedies.
These are just a few ways to have a happy mind and body, brain and gut. Considering their intimate relationship, you want them to celebrate many happy anniversaries together over the course of your lifetime. So start keeping the romance alive now.
Spirituality
Becoming a Love Warrior
by Tanya R. Cochran, Editor

Around Valentine's Day, we're more likely to turn our thoughts toward a lover, a child, or a friend than toward ourselves. But we mustn't forget that love for others grows out of love for self. Not an arrogant or selfish love. A nurturing and nourishing love. A love that, before asking another, asks oneself, "What is the state of my heart?"Detail of a bodhisattva statute

In her book The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times, Pema Chödrön relates, "When I was about six years old I received the essential bodhichitta teaching from an old woman sitting in the sun. I was walking by her house one day feeling lonely, unloved, and mad, kicking anything I could find. Laughing, she said to me, 'Little girl, don't you go letting life harden your heart.'" This is the core of the matter, says Chödrön: "we can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice."

What is bodhichitta? Chödrön admits that simply translating the term—"bodhi means 'awake,' 'enlightened,' or 'completely open' . . . chitta means 'mind' and also 'heart' or attitude'"—doesn't fully explain the meaning. Rather, bodhichitta is best understood through living, living with a completely open heart and mind. Another word for bodhichitta is "the soft spot." The soft spot of the heart and mind is as vulnerable as the soft spot on top of a newborn's head. It's as tender as a fresh, deep wound. And it's connected to "our ability to love," says Chödrön. We all have this spot, even the cruelest among us.

Bodhichitta is also connected to compassion, "our ability to feel the pain that we share with others." In the most literal sense, compassion means to suffer together. But we don't like to suffer. In fact, we're very good at protecting ourselves from pain—our own and that of others. Pain terrifies us. We wall ourselves off (and in) with the bricks and mortar of personal opinions, deep-held prejudices, blanket judgments, and chosen ignorance. We use anything we can get our hands on to build that wall. Then we fortify it, adds Chödrön, with "emotions of all kinds: anger, craving, indifference, jealousy and envy, arrogance and pride." But we're fortunate, she insists. We're fortunate because our spot soft is innate. We're born with it. We're fortunate because the soft spot is the opening, the crack in the wall, the fracture that can bring the wall down.

The Persian poet Rumi writes, "The wound is the place where Light enters you." Christian singer-songwriter Jason Gray explains that this idea inspired his song "The Wound Is Where the Light Gets In." In his telling of the story behind the song, Gray says he believes Rumi's wisdom comes from God, a Being who has made our hearts in such a way so that all of our pain, our suffering, our messiness can be transformed. As this transformation takes place, we're molded into God's image, an image of love and compassion, of mercy. Gray puts it this way in one stanza of his song:

I have stood there like a hostage with a knife held to my vein
Captive to the poison that I took to numb the pain
'Cause everybody wishes they were born with thicker skin
But the wound is where the light, the wound is where the light
The wound is where the light gets in


So no matter how the pain arises—through failure, addiction, abuse, neglect, loss—and no matter by whose hand it arises—our own or another's, we can choose to let the light in, and the light cleanses and binds up the wound. Gray says he believes that God "heals us by making us healers." This is what Chödrön means by bohdichitta: feeling and treating our own pain with compassion allows us to live wholeheartedly, and living wholeheartedly allows us to understand and treat with compassion the pain of others. Then we become what Gray calls healers and what Chödrön calls bodhisattvas or love warriors.

In the words of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, "The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."

As we ponder this season of love, consider your own heart. Find your soft spot. Let the light in. Become a love warrior.
Events
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.

Celestial Sound Meditation
Wednesday, February 1 and 8, 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 sessions. To reserve your spot, RSVP to wholeheartedreceptionist@gmail.com 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. Suggested donation: $10.

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.

Follow Celestial Sound Ministry on Facebook for additional events.

Mindful Mondays
Monday, February 6, 13, 20, and 27, 7:00-8:00 a.m.

Join Gena, Joyce, or Tanya—depending on the day—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 as the spirit moves. This will be an ongoing event, free and open to all. Come as you are. Meditation mats and cushions provided.

Meditation and Movement
Wednesday, February 15, 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 session. To reserve your spot, RSVP to wholeheartedreceptionist@gmail.com 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, February 22, 8:00-9:00 p.m.
 

Picture of Gena and Her DaughterA group to support women who are mothers along their journeys. Nursing infants are welcome. Join us this month for hot tea, supportive conversation, and a creative activity. RSVP via Facebookwholeheartedreceptionist@gmail.com, or (402) 730-9819.
Announcements

Ortho Molecular Products
Upon patient request, Wholehearted Healthcare is pleased to announce that we've started carrying Ortho Molecular Products.

If you're looking for a good multivitamin, you might want to try out Mitocore.

If you have MTHFR and your body struggles to methylate B vitamins and therefore struggles to balance inflammation in your body as well as to produce the appropriate amount of neurotransmitters your body needs, then you might want to look at the Methyl B Complex we carry or ask about our methylcobalamin (methylated B-12) injections.

Other commonly purchased products include prenatal vitamins with DHA, Orth Biotic (our probiotic), Omega-3 capsules, and—this time of year with cold season upon us—Viracid.

We're glad we can serve you in this new way!
 
Love, light, and peace to your soul,

Gena Foster
MSN, APRN, FNP-BC
Copyright © 2017 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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