Toning at the Optimum Health Institiute


Vocal toning-- an ancient vocal exercise that uses simple sounds to reestablish a natural flow of energy through your body. Use this simple, yet powerful technique for creating harmony from inside out to reach a meditative state. (From the class description at the Optimum Health Institute.)

Weeks ago when Renee was at my house for a mid-journey stopover, we had an interesting conversation. She mentioned to me that from the time she was a baby she would hum whenever she was very sick or in serious pain. Although her mother found this behavior a little eerie, she soon realized that if Renee went into humming mode then it was time to go to the hospital. Renee still does it as an adult even though it seems strange and no one, not even Renee herself, understands why she does this. 

When she told me this I immediately thought of the toning class at The Optimum Health Institute. We learned about healing with sound vibrations and it seems as though Renee had done this instinctively since childhood. (That conversation was the catalyst for us going there together a short time later.)

Toning was the most unusual (new age-y) class for me because I’d never heard of toning before and it sounds a little far-fetched. When I went to the class for the first time I thought it would be a class using weights to tone our muscles. I was way off on that one-there was not a dumbbell in sight! We had a brief introduction on the hows and whys and then we were off and toning. This was a class for everyone at OHI and we had a good-sized group (50-60 people perhaps.) I’ve never tried this at home but I’m guessing it won’t be as powerful with just one or two voices.

There are eight different centers in the body, each one corresponding to different internal organs. When you make a particular sound at a particular vibrational frequency it will actually help improve different parts of your body. For example, the first center is located at the tailbone and affects the adrenal glands, legs, feet, bones and large intestines. We made the sound “ooo” as in the word “tool.” It is associated with the color red and signifies the center of your vitality/life force.

The explanation on the bottom of our handout read: “Each Center governs particular organs of the body. Using sound to resonate each center helps to ‘charge’ those particular organs, increasing circulation, energy and vitality to that area. The eighth center governs the energy field surrounding the body. Quantum physics is suggesting that possibly disease in the body originates with disturbances in the electromagnetic field. Toning 3-5 minutes at each energy center helps “smooth out” the energy fields.”

We went through all eight centers for 4 or 5 minutes with some background music that helped us stay on pitch. Or maybe it was to help us stay relaxed,  I’m not really sure.  (Renee said it was both.) At times I would get distracted from my zen state and think, “what the heck are we doing? This is really weird! Is this really doing anything at all besides making strange noises?” I tried to throw those thoughts out when they came because when my mind was clear I felt transported to a different place. I felt as though I was actually bathing in a soothing sea of sound vibrations. It’s a little hard to explain. You had to be there.

Renee and I both left that class feeling awed at what had happened. We started the class feeling tired and finished it completely calm but totally energized. No caffeine required. Take that Mr. Red Bull!


Walking Off a Craving

In my last post I mentioned how we got through juicing days with relative ease. When I reviewed what I wrote in my journal during that time I remembered struggling a bit one evening. I'm a little embarrassed to write so much of sugar cravings and my seemingly endless preoccupation with food. There are so many other joyous or thought-provoking topics in the world I could focus my attention on. I feel shallow and weak when I worry about it, but honestly, that's where I'm at right now. And it interferes with my life enough that it really needs to be addressed.

Our dinner that night was green juice. Neither of us felt hungry at all and didn’t want more juice, but drank it anyway.  
When we got back to our room I was having some serious cravings and wanted to drive to WalMart to get a treat. I wasn't hungry, I just wanted something sweet. It was a strong craving, the kind that takes over my mind and makes it hard for me to think of anything else. I was restless and discouraged. If I'm going to be honest I was feeling a little sorry for myself. I didn’t want to deal with cravings for the rest of my life. It’s ridiculous how much time and energy they take up and how discouraging I find this whole situation. There are so many other "more serious" struggles out there that I should just be grateful that mine is sugar and not something more destructive, illegal, immoral or expensive. I'm a very functional addict.

I was pacing around and perhaps even whining a bit. Renee offered some helpful suggestions to keep me from driving to Wally World and I ended up going for a walk around campus. It was a beautiful evening. I sat for awhile in the garden, focused on all the good in my life and felt calm. By the time I walked back to the room I felt better and the craving had gone away. Taking that extra bit of time to calm down really made the desperate feeling disappear. Maybe that's something I should try at home. Ya think?

I’m so glad Renee’s here with me. It’s much easier to do this with a friend- except for the lack of sleep part since we can’t seem to stop talking at night! You will all be relieved to know we have solved most of the world's problems by now. Just one more week at OHI...

Juice Days at OHI

Renee's loving her green juice

It's Juice Days at OHI! Eight meals in a row of streamlined, refreshing, green goodness. We tried not to talk about how nice it would be to actually CHEW something. We were both amazed at how "not hungry" we were. The juice is so packed with nutrients that your body really doesn't ask for more. If there were an apple or two thrown in there I may have gone back for seconds and thirds but the plain juice satisfied me. 
The food-addicted cravings are another story altogether, but I was pleasantly surprised at how tame the were after juicing. I felt hopeful that one day my life will be ruled by something more profound than my sweet tooth. 
The ingredients listed for this juice were: cucumber, celery, zucchini, chard, kale and ginger. They must stick to the same recipe because the taste is pretty consistent from meal to meal. Those participants on the regular diet had some beet and carrot thrown in the mix as well. We did the hypo diet for those with sugar issues or cancer (I always do the hypo diet since sugar is a huge issue for me). I've tried the regular juice and you'd think I'd prefer the slightly sweeter juice but I don't. The straight green is so refreshing.
The first weekers juice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until dinner. Second weekers, third weekers and returnees juice one day only. I was shooting for the entire fast since I've never actually succeeded before.
We were plowing straight through this juice fast (feast), feeling smugly proud of ourselves when the kitchen made the mistake of serving a yam soup for Wednesday's non-juicing lunch. We caved and had a bowl in addition to our juice and it was sooooooo good! I'm going to blame them because they really should know better than to serve deliciousness during juicing days. There are limits to my self control. (Way too many limits, actually. In fact, so many limits it may not even count as self control to begin with.  Debatable.) The soup portion was actually only about a half a cup so it's all good!
The kitchen is staffed with accommodating angels who filled my heart with gratitude on many occasions. They're very good at special requests or extra servings and will even email all their recipes to participants.
The juice did have a pronounced celery flavor which did not bode well with Renee. After Thursday's breakfast juice we asked the kitchen if they could make some without the celery. They said no problem and made us a special batch for lunch. It was heavenly. It never occurred to me how much better it would taste without the celery! I'm so glad Renee had that brilliant stroke of genius. We were both happily guzzling our new and improved juice and wishing we had thought of it seven juice meals earlier!

By Thursday's dinner most of our detox symptoms had diminished and we were feeling pretty good. It was so lovely to be able to walk up the hill from our townhouse without wanting to stop and rest. Simple pleasures.

Thank you, Anne Giacinto, for sending me these recipes. You're the best! (The soup we had was wonderfully spiced, almost like a pumpkin pie.)

Yam Soup
(10 servings)

6 – 8                 Yams
2 pints                 Sesame milk
1 Teaspoon            Cinnamon
1                     Avocado

Combine above ingredients in food processor or blender until smooth

You can add seasonings:

Pine nuts (ground finely)


Monday at The Optimum Health Institute

Getting ready to down my shot of wheatgrass juice. (I'm pretty excited about it.)

Licking the cinnamon from my hand afterwards to cut the green taste. 

Monday 5/13/13
Down to business. Following the program takes organization and planning. We have to drink half of our body weight in ounces of water plus 32 ounces of rejuvelac every day. There is a reason you probably haven't heard of rejuvelac: you probably wouldn't like it. It's a fermented grain drink full of probiotics and enzymes. My sister, Audrey, calls it tart lemonade and actually likes it but she is a strange and rare creature. It tastes a lot like bile to me. Renee discovered if you plug your nose while drinking it you won't think you're dry heaving. If you've calculated the total number of ounces of liquid we are to consume daily you may have already figured out we have to plan for a lot of potty breaks.

We are also expected to juice and drink two ounces of wheatgrass juice in the morning and then again in the afternoon. I find it hard to get down but it’s doable with a cinnamon chaser. The smell of the juicing room can be a bit strong but we toughed it out because around here wheatgrass juice is the magic elixir. It's easier to drink after you discover how powerful and nutritious it is. 

Renee went to the morning class to learn all the ins and outs of the program while I meditated on the massage table. I felt like a bowl of jello afterwords-it was kinda wonderful.

For lunch we had a plate of greens, sauerkraut and a flax seed cracker. I was feeling strong and craving-free so I drove to WalMart to purchase a forgotten item. My strength crumbled and I stumbled around the store struggling with the inner voices screaming for junk food. I hurried back to the safety of OHI, vowing not to leave campus again until I check out Sunday morning.
The afternoon, “Mind Body Connection” class was really interesting. At 3:30 we went to the exercise class and then stayed for the 4:30 stretch class. It was wonderful and we both felt much better afterwards. 

We are both feeling the some detox symptoms. We're tired and I tend to feel a little nauseous now and then. Experience tells me I will feel worse before I feel better. I also remember how great the better feels, and not just in relation to the worse!

Tonight was our last dinner of solid food for three days. I’ve never been able to juice before because I would get dizzy and weak and hungry. Mostly just weak in the discipline area. I came here with the goal of getting through the juicing days without resorting to solid food. It should be interesting.

The Optimum Health Institute

                              Mother’s Day 5/12/13

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting with my dear friend, Renee. (You can read her guest blog here.) I was feeling desperately helpless in the wake of her increasingly serious health issues. The world simply could not go on without her lovely song. 

I suggested she try to attend the Optimum Health Institute, OHI, to heal. We decided to get more information about it and I opened my laptop. Waiting for me in the inbox was an email from OHI with a special offer to return and bring a friend. It felt like a sign. We decided to go. We got really excited, despite my warning of the “crying days". Before we knew it, schedules had been rearranged and we were booked to attend one week, starting Mother's Day.
This will be my fifth visit in about 13 years. I always vow to go every year for my annual detox/oil change, but life has gotten in the way. I average about once every two years instead.

On May 12th, I was up by six am, excited to get there to start my detox and transformation. My morning weight was 162-ouch! I gave the offspring an extra week to make their Mother's Day gifts/cards/loving affirmations even better than planned. By 7am, I was on the road, driving to San Diego with St George and my sugar addiction in the rear view mirror (or so I thought).
I had brought fresh green juice and fruit to keep me occupied and full while driving. It didn’t prevent me from buying and eating a candy bar at a gas stop but it keep me feeling good otherwise.
I arrived and checked in just in time for lunch, which was my plan. I wanted to get in as many OHI meals as possible. I told myself I wasn’t going to fall into the “last supper” mentality that I usually do but old habits die hard. I drove off campus after lunch and ended up eating a fresh baked donut from the bakery (it tasted better than it should have due to the last supper mentality.) I also got a one-serving size container of chocolate brownie ice-cream from the WalMart run, which I ate as soon as I got back into my car. It’s a little on the pathetic side but hopefully this trip to OHI will be my starting point to a new way of eating.

I meandered around campus, enjoying the tranquility, and then unpacked and settled in. Dinner was similar to lunch- salad greens, cherry tomatoes, celery, sauerkraut, and lots of sprouts and sunflower greens. It took me 40 minutes to chew it all.

The day was complete when Renee arrived and although I knew I should get to bed early and we could visit later, it didn’t go down that way. Friendships add such a sweetness to life.