Friday, May 30, 2014

HW420: Creating Wellness Course Summary (Unit 10)

1.  Review your unit 3 personal assessment of your psychological, physical, and spiritual well-being. Reflect on these areas . How did you score yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 in unit 3? How do you score yourself now? Has the score changed? Why or why not?

          This is something I actually talked about in my final project posted previously.  For unit three's assessment I scored myself an 8/10 for physical health, 5/10 for psychological health, and 9/10 for spiritual health.  Now upon reassessment of these areas I would give myself a 6/10 for physical health, 8/10 for psychological health, and 9/10 for spiritual health.  For physical health I decreased my score because my body is experiencing more stress from pregnancy-related symptoms than I was during the previous assessment.  For my psychological health I scored myself a bit higher and it is thanks to this course and the practices we have learned which have helped me increase my capacity for universal loving-kindness greatly.  My spiritual health has basically stayed the same since the previous assessment, again I did not feel it appropriate to increase this score to a 10/10 because I feel that level is unachievable since there is always room for further development.

2.  Review the goals and activities you set for yourself in each area. Have you made progress toward the goals? Explain.

          My goals for further development in unit three were as follows: physically to maintain providing a safe and healthy environment for my baby to grow, psychologically to learn how to act skillfully and with loving-kindness, and spiritually to make more time for meditation and connecting with nature.  For my physical goal I have been successful in continuing to eat a healthy diet and be physically active, go to my regular checkups, and refrain from any habits that could harm my baby.  Continuous positive reports from my prenatal care team have let me know I am succeeding in this aspect.  For my psychological goal I have made an effort to be more careful of how I react in situations by taking a few deep breaths and thinking before I speak or act.  The more I have been doing this the more I see it becoming a habit, which is awesome!  For my spiritual goal I am excited to have recently discovered a practice called grounding (which I talked about in my final project) that has given me the opportunity to embrace the outdoors through my meditations.  This is still new to me, so I am sure there will be more posts on this to come.

3.  Have you implemented the activities you chose for your well-being in each of the three areas? Explain.

           Throughout previous posts I have talked about many different integral practices which could benefit one or all areas of wellness.  These would include breathing exercises, aromatherapy, guided imagery, the universal loving-kindness practice, meditation, and grounding.  All of these I have at least tried out at some point or other.  The ones I use most regular are breathing exercises, meditation, and grounding.  Aromatherapy and guided imagery are practices that I intend to use as pain management during labor and delivery.

4.  Summarize your personal experience throughout this course. Have you developed improved well-being? What has been rewarding? What has been difficult? How will this experience improve your ability to assist others?

           I cannot say enough how much I have enjoyed this course and the interaction with Dr. D and fellow classmates.  Without a doubt I feel like my life has been changed and will continue to change with the knowledge I have gained through the course materials, seminars, sample practices, and textbooks.  I especially enjoyed Dacher's text and look forward to reading more of his publications in the future.  The most rewarding as well as difficult experience for me was on loving-kindness.  The practices were difficult for me at first, but once I found my own way and individualized them I have seen a great deal of improvement in my relationships with others be it family, friends, or strangers.  This has also led to an improvement in myself as I no longer allow others to have such a negative influence on my thoughts and feelings.  Learning to "let it go" has had such a positive impact on my happiness and in turn overall wellness.  
           This course has been quite beneficial to my future as a wellness coach also by learning the concepts of integral health and how to apply them to practice.  I have learned how to use these practices to connect with others and listen to them with an open heart and open mind which will provide me with a greater level of understanding.  I have also realized the importance of individuality when dealing with clients, that their situation and needs may be different than those of anyone else's, which will need to be considered in development of goals and plans.  Lastly, I feel that I have gained a great deal of experience through hands-on practice which is unlike any amount of education gained from reading books and sitting in a classroom.

Thank you all for such great feedback, suggestions, and encouragement along the way as we shared this journey together. Namaste!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Integral Health Assessment (Unit 9-Final Project)

Health and Wellness Professionals

            To truly help our clients along the path towards integral health we must first develop psychologically, spiritually and physically ourselves.  Integral healing is not something that can be learned simply by reading a book or listening to a few seminars; it must be experienced first-hand to fully realize its concepts and benefits.  In this way, realization of our inner resources will enable us to have a stronger connection with those we are trying to serve.  To quote Dacher (2006) “We emanate a healing presence.  Every kind of work and every moment of work that is infused with consciousness can be healing to others and to ourselves.” (pp. 101).  This reminds us of what sets integral healing apart from all other systems; that it aims to treat not only the illness and the patient but the healer as well (Schlitz, Amorok & Micozzi, 2005). 

Personal Wellness Assessment

            Previously in unit three I assessed my physical, psychological, and spiritual wellness on a scale of 1-10.  At that point in time I found my physical health to be an 8/10, my psychological health to be a 5/10, and my spiritual health to be a 9/10.  There have been a lot of changes in my wellness during the past several weeks due to life events and also as I have been applying all that I have learned within this course.  Currently if I were to reassess my wellness I think I would find my physical health to be about a 6/10, my psychological health an 8/10, and my spiritual health to stay at a 9/10.  Physically I am beginning to feel more stressed as my body progresses through pregnancy.  Symptoms of fatigue, loss of energy, body aches, and heart burn all contribute to this decline in health status.  Psychologically I had previously indicated a lack of emotional control that I now feel is improving with my integral practices creating the increase in my mental and emotional health status.  My spiritual health status remains the same.

Personal Wellness Goals

            Goals for my physical and psychological well-being would focus on further development, while those for spiritual well-being would be more so of maintenance.  Physically I would like to set two goals.  My first physical goal is to take all actions necessary to prepare my body for a healthy labor and delivery.   The second physical goal would come afterwards by returning to my pre-pregnancy body.  As I mentioned, I have seen an improvement in my psychological wellness since the previous assessment.  I would like to continue developing this aspect of my life by setting a goal to become skillful in loving-kindness which is the area I think is still in need of work.  While I feel very confident in my spiritual wellness, I also believe that there is always room to grow.  As a spiritual goal I would like to devote more time to my meditations.  

Integral Practices

            To achieve my first physical goal I have been doing plenty of research and attending classes at my hospital so that I can be well informed of what to expect.  I also have been practicing breathing exercises and looking into relaxation techniques such as guided imagery and aromatherapy that may be helpful for me in managing pain during labor.  I plan to achieve my second physical goal through diet and exercise.  As opposed to going on a “diet” per say, I will just be mindful of my eating by making healthy choices and controlling my portions.  Then as soon as I am able to I will gradually begin resuming my regular fitness routine of jogging, strength training, and yoga.

            Practices of loving-kindness will be central to my psychological goal.  I can make a point of regularly practicing the “Universal Loving-Kindness” meditation by Dacher (2006), which I really enjoy and find to be a source of positivity and inspiration.  This concept can also be practiced throughout my everyday life by infusing my words and actions with loving-kindness.

            Meditation has thus far been vital to my spiritual wellness so in order to continue developing spiritually I need to consider what changes I can make to my current meditation practices.  Mindfulness meditation is by far my favorite and I intend to make more time in my day to spend doing this.  Since I enjoy meditation most first thing in the morning I can set my alarm clock for at least fifteen minutes earlier so I have more time to meditate.  Nature is also important to my spirituality.  I have recently been introduced to a practice called grounding which I would like to try.  The basic concept of grounding is to restore the body’s natural balance through direct contact with the Earth (Healthy Living How To, 2014).  This is something that I think could really help me take my spiritual wellness to the next level by incorporating both nature and meditation.  To do this I could find a tranquil spot to sit on the ground and meditate or practice a walking meditation while barefoot. 

My Commitment

            Making changes and sticking to them can be very difficult to do.  I like to keep motivated by writing myself reminders on little sticky notes all over the place.  I also like to keep inspiring quotes and pictures on my computer and phone that say things like “stop and smell the roses”, “life’s too short” and “think happy, be happy”.  Now that I have learned how to assess my physical, psychological and spiritual wellness I can continue to do so periodically in the future.  By keeping a record of my wellness assessments I will be able to compare results and determine any patterns that may indicate further development and opportunities for growth.  The blog we have developed in this course will continue to support my journey as well.  In the past nine weeks I have really discovered how much I enjoy writing about my experiences with health and wellness and plan to continue doing so after the course ends for any like-minded individuals that are interested in following. 


Dacher, E. (2006). Integral health: The path to human flourishing. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc.

Healthy Living How To. (2014). The invisible benefits of grounding. Retrieved from

Hemling, M. (2014). The pursuit of wellness. Retrieved from

Schlitz, M., Amorok, T., & Micozzi. M. (2005). Consciousness and healing: 
         Integral approaches to mind body medicine. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier 
         Churchill Livingstone.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Integral Practices Review (Unit 8)

          Over the past eight weeks I have participated in many practices intended to foster development of the mind, body, and spirit.  From units two through seven there were the "Journey On", "Crime of the Century", "Loving-Kindness", the "Subtle Mind", "Universal Loving-Kindness" and then "Meeting Aesclepius" exercises.  If I had to choose two of these practices as favorites I would start out with the "Journey On" activity in unit two and then it's a toss up between the "Universal Loving-Kindness" and "Meeting Aesclepius" activities of recent study.

         The "Journey On" activity is certainly a favorite because it was my first experience with both guided meditation and visualization.  I had practiced meditation prior to this, but found the guided experience to be remarkable as it took me to a whole other level than I previously experienced.  While this practice left me feeling very relaxed and happy, the most impressive benefit was that the neck pain I had feeling for weeks before hand suddenly disappeared.  I can see myself definitely using this guided activity, or similar ones that focus on directing the blood flow through the body, again when I have issues with muscular tension or pain.

          For the sake of the assignment I am going to go with the "Universal Loving-Kindness" activity as my second favorite.  There are several reasons I enjoyed this activity...first of all it was rather short so it is easier to fit into a hectic day, and also because it seemed really beneficial in reframing a negative mind.  My favorite part of the meditation was stating the words "may I assist..." and how inspiring it was to say these phrases out loud.  As an aspiring wellness coach I can see myself practicing this activity regularly to help motivate me in the pursuit of my career goals.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Meeting Aesclepius Activity (Unit 7)

          For this week's guided meditation activity I chose to visualize my great-grandmother, Isabel, who was the picture of health and happiness up until her passing at the age of 102.   I chose her as my focal point because she was such a strong woman whom I always looked up to and admired.  Throughout the activity I felt very connected to the image of her and became so involved in the visualization that the speaker actually startled me at one point as she began to talk again.  As the guided meditation came to an end I felt like my mind and body were both calm and at peace.

          Meditation has a very strong influence on my psychological, spiritual and physical wellness.  I have been practicing different forms of meditation over the past three or four months (mindfulness being my favorite) and the effects are quite noticeable.  I find that I am better able to control my emotions, more focused, am more connected spiritually, and am more relaxed in general.  There has also been a significant improvement in my relationships with not only myself but others as, friends, and strangers alike.  Now that I am beginning to experience the benefits of practicing meditation and mindfulness regularly it seems quite absurd to stop now.  I intend on continuing my journey with meditation indefinitely and am looking forward to see what lies ahead.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

As the saying goes...(Unit 7)

"One cannot lead another where one has not gone him or herself"
-Schlitz, Amorok, and Micozzi (2005)

          For me this brings to mind another saying that we all probably heard growing up..."practice what you preach".  I think this concept is essentially important for any type of professional in the health and wellness field.  As various health care personnel, wellness coaches, personal trainers, and nutrition counselors our success is based on our ability to motivate and inspire our clients.  How can this be done if we ourselves are not setting an example?  In order for our clients to trust us with their well-being they need to be able to see the evidence for change in us.  Likewise, as professionals we need to be able to truly know what we are talking about and the best way to do so is not by reading a few books and taking a test, but by actually practicing the concepts ourselves.  Just as people would generally not take diet or exercise advice from a visibly unhealthy instructor...they are unlikely to take mental and spiritual guidance from a stressed out and seemingly unhappy individual either.  

Schlitz, M., Amorok, T., and Micozzi, M. (2005). Consciousness and healing: 
          Integral approaches to mind-body medicine. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Churchill 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Integral Assessment (Unit 6)

          The primary goal of an integral assessment is to identify our most significant sources of distress and opportunities for growth.  In order to do this effectively one must be very honest with themselves as hard as that may be.  I have spent a great deal of time this past week thinking about the different aspects of the human experience and as a result have come up with the following conclusions.

Emotionally I feel very unbalanced these days, which I know is mostly because I am pregnant.  When I am feeling overwhelmed it is important that I keep this fact in mind along with the realization that it is only temporary.  Meditating has been very beneficial in helping me to control my emotions and calm myself.  I also find it helpful to make myself get up and go out on days that I am feeling gloomy and nine times out of ten I am glad I did.

Currently I feel very confident in all aspects of my biological health.  As I pointed out in previous assessments, taking care of my body is more important now than ever before.  I will continue to eat well, be as active as possible, go to all necessary doctor's appointments, and practice the mind/body exercises that I enjoy.

This aspect is very split for me...One of my causes of stress comes from the absent relationship with the father of my baby, while on the other hand my relationships with family and friends are flourishing.  Their support has been essential in my ability to cope with the pain he has caused me.  At this point in time I am working through my hurt with exercises in forgiveness, being grateful for this blessing, and focusing on being the best mom I can be.  I feel that I am coming along very well in this aspect.

Herein lies the biggest cause of distress to me that I have been dealing with for the past year or more at work.  Very often I come home stressed to the max from trying to deal with situations with customers and coworkers alike.  The concepts of loving-kindness have been helpful in dealing with people at work, as well as acceptance of the things I can change as opposed to the things that I can not.  I feel that this course has come along at just the right time for me and helping me discover the resources I have at my disposal to improve this aspect of my life.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Universal Loving-Kindness Practice (Unit 6)

          This was a very short activity that only lasted about 10-12 minutes.  Once I was seated in a comfortable position I spent a couple of minutes focusing on my breathing and preparing for the exercise.  Then as instructed by Dacher (2006) I mentally repeated the following phrases for the remaining ten minutes:

"May all individuals gain freedom from suffering.
May all individuals find sustained health, happiness and wholeness.
May I assist all individuals in gaining freedom from suffering.
May I assist all individuals in finding health, happiness and wholeness."
-Dacher (2006)
         I was surprised how much I enjoyed this exercise considering my experiences with the first loving-kindness activity we did in unit 4.  I think this might have been because the given phrases gave me something to focus on as opposed to conjuring up visualizations as in the previous activity.  Throughout the practice and afterwards I felt energized, optimistic, and inspired.  These feelings were strongest when I would say the words "may I assist".  This activity was very motivating!  At the time I performed this exercise I was not feeling any negative emotions, such as anger or hatred, but I can see how this practice would be effective in changing my attitude if I had been.

Dacher, E. (2006). Integral health: The path to human flourishing. Laguna Beach,
      CA: Basic Health Publications Inc.