Friday, December 2, 2011

Holiday Wellness

The holidays can represent the most joyous and spiritual time of the year. They can also be the most stressful and unhappy. How can we enjoy the holidays and maintain our balance?

We all have our own expectations of what the holidays should bring. And as that special day draws closer, the excitement builds. So does the stress. Did we buy enough presents? Did we spend enough money? Are the presents we bought good enough? How will we ever get them all wrapped, the cards mailed out, and the decorations put up?

It all seems very overwhelming. But maybe, in truth, we are doing too much. Is it really necessary to spend all our savings on presents? Is it really prudent to run up the credit cards and spend the rest of the year paying them off? The long-term consequences of our holiday actions can be just as stressful as the holiday itself. Sometimes it is better if everyone agrees to celebrate Christmas in a more spiritual way and to forego the abundance of gifts. This can be very liberating for everyone involved, for everyone feels the economic pressure at Christmas.

This year, try to keep things simple. Spend less, do less, and share more of the responsibility with others.

Decorating the Christmas tree, putting up lights, and decorating the house are family events which should provide the opportunity to share special moments with one another. It should be fun -- not an annual chore.

Writing out Christmas cards can be done in quiet moments when the kids are asleep. Sometimes, this is the only communication we have with distant friends and relatives.

Show gratitude for blessings received during the year by donating to charity. Ask other people to make a donation to charity instead of buying a gift. In this way, the gift benefits more people.

Simplify expectations. Don't expect everything to be perfect or to run smoothly. Don't expect to receive the most expensive gifts or the greatest number of gifts. Don't expect anything at all. Go with the flow. Find inner peace rather than outer chaos.

Seek to serve others during the holiday season. Concentrate on family bonding and growing closer to God. Enjoy the peace of Christmas and extend it to others by offering tolerance and forgiveness.

Christmas can be a dreaded stressful event or a wonderful opportunity to bring peace into your life. Simplify. Relax. Enjoy the spirit of the holiday. 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Dawn Pisturino

November 2006
Published in The Bullhead City Bee, December 22, 2006. 
Published on Selfgrowth.com, December 4, 2011.
Find me on Manta.com!
Copyright 2011 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Peace, Serenity with T'ai Chi

by Dawn Pisturino
T'ai Chi is a Chinese system of gentle exercise movements which developed mainly out of Taoist philosophy to promote general good health and a less violent form of self-defense.

Lao Tzu, who developed the philosophy of Taoism in the sixth century B.C., believed that human beings could find peace and serenity by understanding and acting in accordance with the flow of nature. The slow, fluid movements in T'ai Chi reflect the constant ebb and flow of opposing universal energies, called the yin and yang.

T'ai Chi has many benefits. The graceful movements can be easily learned, with practice, by people of all ages. No special equipment is needed, and the exercises can be performed in a relatively small space.

T'ai Chi provides good exercise, lays the foundation for self-defense techniques, increases mental alertness, and improves meditation abilities. As individuals progress, they often develop a more tranquil frame of mind. T'ai Chi incorporates movement meditation along with quiet meditation, based on Taoist meditation and breathing techniques.

T'ai Chi developed as an internal martial art that emphasizes wisdom and development of the mind over body. It allows practitioners to balance internal energy, called ch'i, in order to improve general health and generate new power. The use of vital energy from within becomes a self-healing modality as well as a potent force for self-defense.

T'ai Chi practitioners become highly aware of the benefits of cultivating this energy (ch'i): more rapid recovery from injury and illness, increased energy and libido, greater physical strength and flexibility, better balance and stability, improved stamina, and a stronger immune system.

Many senior citizens have found that the regular practice of T'ai Chi exercises helps them to remain more flexible and active.

February 3, 2007
Published in The Kingman Daily Miner, March 27, 2007
Copyright 2011 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

THE BENEFITS OF MEDITATION

by Dawn Pisturino

Meditation has been used for thousands of years to calm the mind and body and to achieve a greater sense of well-being. Researchers who have studied its effects on people with high blood pressure report that meditation reduces oxygen consumption, respiration and heart rates, and blood pressure.

There are many forms of meditation with varying goals. The simplest to practice is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness means being fully aware of the present moment. It means being completely focused on the task at hand, without any thought about the future or past. This may sound simple, but try it! You will soon discover that your mind is full of "monkey chatter!"

Sit erect with your legs crossed in a comfortable position and your hands on your knees or lying in your lap. Support yourself with pillows, if necessary, or lie down flat with your legs hip-width apart and your arms at your sides with the palms of your hands facing upward.

Close your eyes. Remain quiet for a few moments, relaxing your whole body, and listen to the sounds around you. Gradually focus your attention on your breathing. In-out. In-out. Breathe naturally in-out. In-out.

As you breathe in, allow your abdomen to expand, forcing the air to the bottom of your lungs. As you breathe out, pull your abdomen in, forcing the air to empty completely from your lungs. Stay focused on breathing, and gradually allow your breathing to become slower and longer.

Notice the pause between breaths. Notice the silence. Feel the peace.

It is normal for thoughts to come into your head and distract you. As soon as you realize this is happening, return your attention to your breathing. 

Practice this simple meditation for at least fifteen minutes. Then lie quietly for a few minutes. Get up and reward yourself with a hot cup of herbal tea such as chamomile or kava kava. Over time, your meditation practice will naturally become longer.

February 6, 2007
Published in The Kingman Daily Miner, March 13, 2007.
Copyright 2011 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

BALANCING BODY, MIND, AND SPIRIT

by Dawn Pisturino

When you look in a mirror, what do you see? Two eyes, a mouth, two shoulders, hands, legs, and feet. But you also have a mind for thinking, planning, creating, remembering, and dreaming. You own emotions such as love, hate, anger, despair; and a spirit which searches for meaning and validation.

Even though you can't see it, you know that your mind exists and is functioning on a day-to-day basis. You are keenly aware of your shifting emotions, even though you can't touch them. In the face of obstacles, you call upon your inner spirit to face those obstacles and overcome them.

If you were just a body, you would function like a robot performing tasks in a mechanical fashion without deviating from the routine. If you were all mind, you wouldn't need a body. If you were all spirit, you wouldn't need this world at all.

Once you recognize that you are made of body, mind, and spirit, you can see yourself as a whole person. You can appreciate the beauty and wonder of yourself. Science has dissected the physical body for centuries and still has not discovered all of its secrets. Psychiatrists have tried to analyze and understand the mind, to no avail. The imagination continues to amaze and delight all of us. The world of the spirit is an infinite frontier yet to be explored. 

When you are living in balance, you are addressing the needs of body, mind, and spirit. You nourish the body with food, the mind with knowledge, and the spirit with faith and hope.

You know when you are feeling out of balance. You know when you are experiencing too much stress. You know when you are not eating right or getting enough sleep. You know when you are feeling lost and empty inside. You know when you are consumed with love or rage. You know when your body craves exercise, your mind seeks quiet, and your spirit needs comfort.

Stop for a moment. Listen to yourself. Your body, mind, and spirit are speaking to you. They are asking to be recognized and nourished. You know already what to do. If in doubt, seek help.

January 22, 2007
Published in The Kingman Daily Miner, March 6, 2007
Copyright 2011 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Dope on Medical Marijuana


I was soaking up the sun in Venice Beach recently when I discovered an obscure little shop called Herbalology.  Located on the Boardwalk in an historic building where 60s rocker Jim Morrison once lived (and whose ghost reportedly remains,) the shop is one of several medical marijuana dispensaries scattered around Venice, California.

It is not a shop for tourists.  Under California law, only California residents who have been evaluated by a qualified California physician and issued a special state I.D. card can possess medical marijuana for personal use.

Physicians are prohibited by federal law to prescribe medical marijuana; they can only recommend or approve it for patients whom they judge are seriously ill and would benefit from its use.  Once approved, patients can legally possess six mature or twelve immature marijuana plants.  In addition, they may possess 1/2 lb. (8 ounces) of processed weed.  Individual cities and counties may authorize higher limits, but never less.  And doctors retain the right to recommend amounts tailored to the needs of their patients. 

Proposition 215 -- The California Compassionate Use Act -- took effect in 1996.  Although still being debated in court [as of 2007], the California State Supreme Court ruled in People vs. Mower that "patients have as much right to marijuana as any prescription drug."

Nonetheless, the sale and possession of marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and the federal government does not recognize any medical use for marijuana.  As a result, police still raid doctors' offices, clinics, dispensaries, and private homes where valid sale and use are in question.  Patients with state I.D. cards must remain current in their medical evaluations and renew their cards annually or risk being arrested for illegal possession and use of marijuana.

Dispensaries, which act as non-profit caregivers for patients, are especially vulnerable to legal closure.  Since the sale of marijuana is illegal, dispensaries are not protected under the law.  Their existence depends largely on local community acceptance and tolerance by local law enforcement.  Inevitably, they operate under a cloud of secrecy and suspicion.  Clients are accepted based on referrals and verification  by local physicians.

Dr. Allen Frankel has been practicing internal medicine for thirty years.  A leading proponent of medical marijuana, he evaluates patients in his office at Green Bridge Medical Services in Marina Del Rey, California [as of 2007.]  His desire is to see "more dedicated chemists out there working on super potent extractions of THC into elixirs, oils, sprays, patches, suppositories, you name it, be an angel, go out there and perfect it!  Dying patients can't effectively smoke, and muffins and brownies just don't cut it for them."

Dr. Frankel recommends medical marijuana use for patients with chronic pain, depression, anxiety, arthritis, insomnia, migraines, eating disorders, cancer, AIDS, chemotherapy, and other chronic conditions.

"I would like to see doctors, all doctors in every capacity, stand up for this recently released 5,000-year-old medication.  I encourage patients to seek alternate medical practices in conjunction with western medicine."

[Medical marijuana, recently approved by voters in Arizona, will be dispensed according to the California model.]
Dawn Pisturino, RN
Original article published in The Kingman Daily Miner, September 25, 2007.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Your Own Best Friend

Once we have made the commitment to achieve a higher level of wellness, there are a few things we need to consider.

First off, making that kind of commitment could be interpreted as selfishness by the people around us.  Our spouses may not want us to go out jogging while they lay on the couch watching TV.  After all, this is an activity that has been shared for many years, and now that situation has suddenly changed.  They may feel abandoned.  They may feel threatened or afraid.  Hopefully, they will get the message and get up and join us.

Our kids may not be ready to give up mom or dad to activities that take us away from them.  They may become more demanding or attention-seeking.  On the other hand, there are many activities in which they can participate.  They, too, can achieve a higher level of wellness.

People who do not understand may try to discourage us.  Since they do not see anything wrong with themselves, they may tell us we are wasting our time.

Secondly, wellness can be costly.  Fitness center memberships and work-out gyms can cost a lot of money, especially if they go unused.  If choosing to buy organic foods, be prepared for a higher grocery bill.  Vitamins and other supplements can also lighten your wallet.

So what is the answer?

Take a moment to consider, "Who is my best friend?"

If you did not name yourself, then you need to reconsider your commitment to wellness.  In order to win on the path to wellness, you must first be your own best friend.  You must first be your own best nurse, doctor, partner, fitness coach, mother, spiritual adviser, and cheerleader.  You must believe in yourself, your efforts, and your ability to succeed.

Make the choice.  Make the commitment.  Have faith in yourself.  Stay focused on what you are trying to achieve and stick with it.  This is not a commitment to last a day, a month, or a year.  This is a commitment to last a lifetime.

Dawn Pisturino, RN
November 2, 2006

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Beans: The Healthy Art of Legumes




"Beans, beans, the musical art,
The more you eat, the more you fart."

We've all laughed at that childhood rhyme, not understanding just how healthy beans are for our bodies (farting included.)

If you regularly eat aduki beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, great northerns, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, mung beans, navy beans, peanuts, green peas, pinto beans, and soybeans, you're engaging in a good nutritional practice that provides your body with both protein and starch.

Beans (and peas) are surprisingly low in calories and fat.  They are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and fiber.  (Good for the ol' cholesterol levels!)  Cost-wise, beans and peas are relatively inexpensive.  They have often been called "the poor person's meat," but you can't put a price on good nutrition and good health.

If you are looking for complete proteins, soybeans and peanuts come the closest.

The downside of eating legumes is the gas they produce.  Combining beans with a grain such as rice can reduce this problem.

Many beans can be sprouted, which increases the protein content by 15-30 per cent.  Most beans contain adequate amounts of iron, B vitamins, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.

So, if you like chili with beans, get cooking!  Or serve up a mess of tofu and greens.  Baked beans sound delicious right about now.  How about a chilled dilled green pea salad?

You get the idea.

Dawn Pisturino, RN
April 19, 2010
Facebook article

Thursday, July 7, 2011

THE PATH TO WELLNESS


Wellness, from a holistic point of view, means wholeness.  We achieve wholeness when all the parts of our lives come into balance.  But how do we do this?

First, we make a choice.  Making the choice may or may not be easy.  We may genuinely enjoy smoking.  We may really like going out for Sunday dinner at the local steak house.  We may really believe that one more cup of coffee won't hurt us.  But what is the end result that we want to achieve?

Do we want to breathe easy in our old age or be hooked up to an oxygen tank?  Do we want to maintain healthy arteries through our diet or to undergo surgical procedures to clean them out?  How many medications do we want to take -- and who's going to pay for them?  Do we really like the feeling of jitteriness that coffee brings? And oh, the heartburn!

Once we make the choice, it is all a matter of sticking with it.  Making a commitment to ourselves and our well-being goes a long way to achieving wellness.  After all, nobody else can do it for us.  The family doctor can prescribe drugs and suggest lifestyle changes, but he cannot do the exercise for us.  Neither is he going to give up his steak and ice cream for us.  He will, however, be more than happy to take care of us when we end up in the hospital.  Is that the outcome we want to achieve?

Frankly, it's hard.  It's hard to give up the things we love and which give us a sense of comfort when we are under stress or bored.  It's hard to give up those little pleasures which make life worth living.  After all, isn't that what life is all about? 

And who really wants to go out and jog five miles a day?  Who has the time?  And does it really matter whether we live to be 76 or 78?

Wellness means wholeness.  Wholeness means integration and quality of life.  It is not so much the number of years that we are trying to reach but the quality of life that we are trying to achieve.  A person may live to be 100, but if they are dragging around an oxygen tank, live in a nursing home, and have no family or friends, is that wellness?  Is that wholeness?  Is that the quality of life that we are striving to achieve?

Think about it.  Examine your life now and your possible life in the future.  What do you see?  Do you like what you see?  If not, then make a commitment to yourself to achieve a greater level of wellness in your life.
Dawn Pisturino, RN
November 2, 2006
Published in The Kingman Daily Miner, February 27, 2007

Saturday, July 2, 2011

THE MEANING OF WELLNESS


The term "wellness" means many things to many people but, generally speaking, it refers to a feeling of wholeness.  While many people may regard wellness as an absence of disease, it goes far beyond physical health.

When we view ourselves from the holistic point of view, we see that we are much more than a collection of flesh and bones meandering aimlessly through life.  We have physical needs that must be met such as food, warmth, shelter, sex, etc.  Most people do well meeting these basic needs.  But once these basic needs are met, we find that we need more.  Instead of just physical gratification, we long for love and affection.  Our bodies crave healthy, wholesome foods, not just whatever junk we find in the cupboard.  We want to create an environment of peace and comfort that we can go home to at night after a long day at work.  We seek relationships and environments that are nourishing and contribute to our fulfillment in life.

Wellness begins with our physical health.  We can choose to be healthier by making better food choices, exercising more, watching our weight, and getting more rest.  We can do what we can to prevent illness, rather than trusting to luck and treating the illness after the fact, when it is more difficult and more expensive -- or may be too late.

For example, we can stop smoking if we are concerned about future lung disease.  We can cut back on red meat and consume more fruits and vegetables if we are concerned about heart disease.  We can lose weight, exercise more, and cut back on starches and processed foods if we are afraid of developing Type II diabetes.  This control is in OUR hands.

Taking this a step further, then, we can also find wellness in other areas of our lives.  We can end an abusive relationship and associate with people who treat us with love and compassion.  We can quit a dead-end job, go back to school, and follow a new career.  We can cut up the credit cards and avoid incurring more debt.  We can express our creativity through hobbies, loving relationships, service to others, and spiritual practices.

Wellness, from a holistic point of view, is wholeness.  We achieve wholeness when all the parts of our lives come into balance.  It is a feeling of being fully integrated and connected with the world.  It is living a quality of life which brings us inner peace and a sense of well-being.

Examine your life.  Are there areas which you could improve?  Look at your options.  Are there new or better ways that you could live?  Make a choice and go with it.  You can always choose new paths later on.

Dawn Pisturino, RN
November 2, 2006
Published in The Kingman Daily Miner, February 13, 2007
       and The Standard, week of February 12, 2007