Radiance Wellness Institute

Wellness is a contemporary worldwide trend, penetrating the collective cultural psyche, the media and our institutions.

Everywhere you look you see wellness centers springing up in hospitals, clinics and fitness centers; medical spas and wellness spas are on the rise; and mind-body-spirit wellbeing is omnipresent in magazines. It is universally accepted that there is an increasingly urgent need for us to take a greater level of responsibility for our wellness if we are ever to get healthcare costs under control.

Wellness extends beyond health–although good health results from wellness–to encompass a process of integration characterized by awareness, education and practicing a wellness lifestyle. Wellness is a lifelong process of moving toward improving your physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual and environmental health and wellbeing. The word wellness carries good energy: feeling good, looking good, vitality. Wellness lifestyle offers a bridge to cross over into new territory to explore possibilities for the state of being well.

There is a desire among people worldwide to be educated and guided to take charge of their wellness, or at least to improve the quality of their life experience. Improving the quality of life is sought for many reasons: to feel good and have increased vitality; to be healthier and to eliminate pain; to be more spiritual–the search for higher connection, meaning and purpose; and for relaxation and overall wellness. People are also intimidated by the words health and risk factor. Health is, at its core, a scary topic: health insurance, disease, pain, suffering, the hospital, maybe even death. Prevention is associated with hard work and perhaps it’s even boring and no fun to talk about or do it. However, the word wellness carries good energy: looking good, feeling good, vitality, vigor, youthfulness, and the spa.


 

Culture of Medicine

The 19th and early 20th centuries were a hot-bed for natural therapies and a more holistic approach to health and wellbeing. Colleges of naturopathy, homeopathy, and chiropractic flourished. Sanitariums, such as the one at Battle Creek, Michigan founded by the natural health pioneer John Harvey Kellogg, helped people to regain or maintain good health through diet, exercise and other lifestyle measures.

Healthcare in America took a radical turn around 1910, however, when the Flexner Report determined that German allopathic medicine was superior to naturopathy, homeopathy, chiropractic and herbalism. “Out” was the whole person, systems-based approach of natural medicine; “In” was the symptom-based, drug-based approach. Most important was the economic consideration, the ability to patent chemically based drugs and mass produce them at huge profits. With our dependence on the quick-fix, magic bullet approach, the importance of lifestyle in maintaining good health continued to erode.

For the last one hundred years in America, we have been engaged in a medical culture war between two seemingly opposing forces. The first is the “Culture of Illness,” represented by the modern medical-pharmaceutical-research complex, which is focused on disease management largely through synthetic, patentable drugs. The second, the “Culture of Wellness,” which focuses on the whole person, this includes lifestyle, self-responsibility, teaching and motivating people to create higher levels of vitality, health and well-being. Wellness is committed to teach people to be well rather than to consider people as patients who have an illness to be treated.

Since 1970, we find ourselves coming full circle. Wellness is a contemporary trend, penetrating the collective cultural psyche, the mainstream media along with our medical and educational institutions. Everywhere you look you see wellness centers rapidly springing up in hospitals, clinics and fitness centers. We see that medical spas and wellness spas are on the rise, wellness coaching is a hot new field and the mind body spirit connection of well-being-ness is omnipresent in women’s magazines. The necessity for wellness is acknowledged worldwide, there is an increasingly urgent need for us to take a greater level of responsibility for our wellness if we are ever to get health care costs under control and to have a lasting impact on our planetary consciousness. When people embrace wellness into their lifestyle, they will experience more joy and peacefulness in their life.


 

Vitality Is the Currency for Wellness

Vitality is not just a state of mind; it’s a physical condition and energetic component necessary for health and well-being. Each of our cells contains hundreds of mitochondria, tiny “power plants” that combine the oxygen we breathe with the food we eat and then burn the combination to create energy. How energetic we feel largely depends on how well our power plants are functioning. To function optimally, your mitochondria need quality fuel, food and oxygen: a wholesome varied diet, restorative sleep (deep relaxation) and plenty of oxygen (exercise). You also need channels to take fuel into the internal environment of your cells. Fortunately, you are a tubular creature. All of your tubes (vasculatures, digestive and breathing tracts) have internal linings, called endothelium and mucosa, and smooth muscle fibers in the wall. Smooth muscle fibers in the walls of tubes and inner lining are under the control of the autonomic nervous system: sympathetic and parasympathetic branches. A balance in the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches is the foundation for radiant wellness. To prevent disease, you first need to start balancing the autonomic nervous system, addressing proper nutrition, appropriate exercise, developing a calm mind and finding a meaning and purpose for life.

Autonomic Nervous System To promote health and wellbeing—and prevent inflammation–it helps to understand how your neurovascular system functions. Basically, your autonomic nervous system controls the muscle fibers in your tubes with two sets of nerve-fiber cables. Picture these nerve-fiber cables as blue and red in color. Imagine the blue cable as the brake and the red cable as the accelerator of an automobile. The foundation of your health is in the balance between the blue and red nerve-fiber cables, just as it is with the proper application of the accelerator and the brake as you drive your car.

Disease develops when there’s an imbalance between your accelerator and your brake. Health and wellbeing results when you maintain a balance between the two branches of your autonomic nervous system: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. You take charge of your health and wellbeing by practicing serenity to bring about a balance in your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.

The Importance of the Endothelium in Health and Well-Being The endothelium, or inner lining, of our vasculatures is a very active and important component for our health and wellbeing. Dysfunction of the endothelium is the major cause of blockage of arteries that increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Healthy endothelium maintains uninterrupted circulation by allowing blood to flow smoothly to every part of the body and by participating in blood pressure control. One of the most important functions of healthy endothelium is the release of nitric oxide, which then signals the surrounding smooth muscles of the arteries to relax and dilate, increasing healthy blood flow. Endothelial dysfunction takes place through inactivation of nitric oxide by harmful oxidative stress, which occurs in stressful situations, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes and smoking. 

Stress damages the endothelium’s structural integrity, compromising the interior wall of the arteries, until it is no longer able to protect the arterial walls against the infiltration of cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides. Thus, endothelial dysfunction is one of the first steps in the creation of atherosclerosis–the build up of arterial plaques that elevates the risk for heart attack and stroke. With increasing age, your body loses continually optimal endothelial function. Endothelial dysfunction is the beginning of inflammation. 


De-Stressing for Wellness

Stress is a physiological (fight or flight) and psychological (tension, not at ease, anxiety) reaction to an event that arouses us. Stress is not something that happens to us; it is how we react to what happens. When we can’t avoid stressful situations and/or don’t have adequate coping mechanisms to deal with stress, our natural response is fight or flight. Fight or flight is the body’s primitive and automatic response–fueled by adrenaline and cortisol–to either fight or run to survive a perceived threat. Adrenaline works in the short term, causing increased blood pressure, rapid breathing and diversion of blood flow to the limbs. Cortisol production follows, working to raise glucose (sugar) levels in the blood for extra energy. Other hormones work to shut down any functions that are not immediately necessary for survival such as growth, reproduction, digestion and blood flow to the skin.

Stress disrupts life and emotions show up in the form of tension, fatigue, low energy, poor sleep, unease – you lack inner serenity. When stress is triggered intensively or for too long a time, it can result in inflammation and chronic lifestyle diseases (heart disease, Alzheimer’s, obesity). Inflammation partly is regulated by the stress hormone cortisol. When cortisol is overused, tissue sensitivity to this hormone is reduced; it no longer regulates inflammation, which allows inflammation to get out of control. This, in large part, is how stress predisposes you to getting sick in the first place. If you feel stress is affecting your health, then it’s time to take stress relief very seriously.

Many people have been habitually tense for most of their lives. They are unaware of it and carry tension with them day and night. A tense state is all they know—they have nothing to compare it with. They refuse to try relaxation techniques, saying they have no time. Most stress is self-manufactured based on how you react to stressors. “It is estimated that only 5% of our worries have a realistic basis and the remaining 95% are unfounded fears.”

To calm down and relax deeply, you need to understand how your brain functions. The brain is the substantive part of human thought, experience and emotions. The mind is generally considered to be the thoughts and feelings themselves. The mind is the product of the functioning of the brain. All that you are is the result of what you have thought.

Our magnificent brain has evolved to teach us how to survive, how to relate, how to dream and how to find success and happiness in our life. To survive in the early period of human existence, we evolved the old brain of fight or flight; to experience feelings and family connections, we evolved the emotional and mammalian (limbic) part of the brain; to create and imagine a new world, we evolved the new brain; and, finally, we evolved the prefrontal lobes, which integrate these functions and offer the possibility of compassion, success and creation of a positive future for ourselves. Breathing and other serenity practices elevate us from the level of the old survival brain of fight or flight to the thriving level of prefrontal cortex where you create compassion and happiness.


 

Creating wellness by calming your mind

Being aware of your reactions to stressful situations and learning techniques to neutralize them is an ongoing commitment, the same as preparing healthy meals and exercising. Unfortunately, many fall into a trap where their strategies for dealing with stress center on unhealthy activities such as watching TV, drinking alcohol or eating junk food, which undermines their wellness. Whichever relaxation technique you practice, it must have meaning for you. Having a daily ritual helps you to decompress and stay grounded.

How to ritualize your de-stressing techniques Decide that you want to calm your mind and make de-stressing a priority for your wellness and you are halfway to your goal. Take time to listen to your breathing and gradually learn to regulate it, which will calm your mind chatter. It’s like giving your brain a daily vacation from thinking. Do whatever it takes to establish a routine: sit in a certain position and find a private spot in your home to practice your ritual.

 


 

Serenity

What is it that all individuals desire? A calm mind, balance and tranquility; we call it serenity. Serenity is the opposite of stress. If we don’t experience serenity in some form, we will experience disease at some level. In a serene state, our minds are alert, yet calm and peaceful. Our body produces nitric oxide to neutralize the negative effects of excessive cortisol, the stress hormone. Learning and practicing serenity is the most important step toward neutralizing stress response. Serenity practices provide many wellness benefits: feeling good, having vitality, relaxation, staying well and preventing lifestyle diseases. First, we must have serenity as the antidote to stress. When our mind is calm and clear and we feel good, our attitude is more open and we are inspired to consider lifestyle modification to create wellness–eating mindfully, exercising and finding meaning and purpose in what we are doing. Serenity is not a luxury; it is essential to the wellness of our body, mind, and soul. People use a number of techniques to de-stress for staying well. One of these is an ancient technique called laughter therapy. It has been proven by researchers all over the world that laughter is a simpler, easier and more enjoyable form of deep relaxation and wellness promotion than any of the more sophisticated and expensive methods.

Serenity Practices: Learning and practicing serenity exercises to activate relaxation response and achieve tranquility is the most important step toward de-stressing for wellness. You can learn to activate the relaxation response in many ways:

1. Breathing: Your breath is your first line of defense in stress neutralization and can create almost instant calm and relaxation. Any moment you attempt to clear and calm the mind, you create the intention of healing. The very best way to clear and calm the mind is to put your attention on your breath.

2. Laughter: In laughter, we are lifted above our feelings of fear, discouragement and despair. When you are engaged in a good hearty laugh, the energy system in your body gets a workout (inner jogging). Hearty laughter stimulates practically all the large organs, boosts immunity, increases vitality, makes you stress-hardy and increases your resiliency against lifestyle diseases. Laugh to feel good now naturally, and stay well forever.

3. Yawning is an overlooked and powerful wellness tool. It is believed that yawning probably evolved as a way to cool down the overly active brain, especially in the area of the frontal lobes. So, if you want to maintain your radiant wellness, it’s essential that you yawn and reap the following seven benefits: lowers stress response, relaxes every part of your body, stimulates alertness and concentration, increases memory recall, enhances pleasure and sensuality, fine-tunes your sense of time, increases empathy and social awareness.

4. Meditation: Meditation is training your mind in how to get to the now right now where you are OK. Being in the moment is home base. Your mind will continue to create thoughts; that is what minds do. Meditation is not about trying to empty your mind; instead you are noticing what is going on in your mind. Meditation gives you a seat in the theater of awareness. Meditation is about training your mind to remove negative thoughts about yourself and to help bring your body into natural balance. Think of meditation as an everyday task, like brushing your teeth. It is all about habituation—getting used to the practice. Meditating for 3 minutes 5 times a day is as beneficial as doing it in a single 20-minute practice.

5. Gratitude is accepting what you have. Grateful individuals have more energy, less physical complaints and higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm and optimism. Keeping a gratitude journal is useful to achieve a more balanced perspective.