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How Do You Know What Meditation Technique is Right for You?

Posted By Will Williams, Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Updated: 6 hours ago

To the great joy of us meditation enthusiasts, in the last few years meditation has truly found its way into the mainstream. Having been viewed for many years as the preserve of dedicated monks and counter-culture hippies (if people thought of it at all), it’s now been embraced as a useful and wellbeing-boosting part of the modern world. 

Yet despite hundreds of articles, the growth of mindfulness apps and increasing numbers of corporate meditation programs, there are probably more meditation techniques out there than most people realize. Mindfulness is perhaps the most well known, but for people interested in meditation there’s lots of others to try —  it’s knowing where to start which can be the challenge. 

This short introduction to the major meditation techniques is here to help you pick what meditation technique most resonates with you, and give (a very short!) overview of each practice. 

There are probably more meditation techniques out there than most people realize.

 

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is arguably the most famous technique.  By teaching students to pay attention to the present moment through simple breathing and meditation practices, Mindfulness increases our awareness of our thoughts and feelings. This is usually achieved through an attempt to notice the things around us, such as the feeling of a breeze in our hair, sounds of distant traffic and shades of green in the trees - all acknowledged without judgement. This is known as “open monitoring” meditation. 

As a simple concept, Mindfulness can be a great way to introduce people to meditation before they move on to a more structured and guided practice. It is a particularly freeform technique with an abundance of different ideas and advice on how best to go about it, so finding a teacher is important for those who want to advance. 

Mindfulness is also a great “gateway” meditation because there’s so many brilliant apps, such as Headspace and Calm, which can help you easily bring meditation into your life. Once they are introduced to the concept, many people embrace mindfulness as a new way of looking at the world, trying to exist more in the present moment and appreciating the small pleasures in life. 

 

Transcendental Meditation 

Transcendental meditation (TM) is best known in its branded form. TM was popularized in the 1970s, with famous practitioners including The Beatles, David Lynch and other enthusiasts bringing this millennium-old practice into the modern world. However, TM does not sum up transcendental meditation in its entirety; it’s simply a consumable version of the technique which was created by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Transcendental meditation is part of the ancient Vedic culture of Northern India, and is a form of “focused attention” meditation. Focused attention requires it’s participants to focus on a particular thing, such as their breath, part of their body or external object. In the case of Transcendental meditation, people focus on a personalized mantra that’s been allocated to them by an experienced guide. This helps act as a vehicle into a physiologically restful and neurologically powerful state, that the ancient sages of India called turiya.

Transcendental (or Vedic) meditation is perhaps most suited to people looking for simplicity. Focused attention meditation techniques are arguably easier than mindfulness, because there is something clear to direct your thoughts to. This technique can also be effortlessly integrated into everyday life, and practiced in all sorts of environments - even the noisy setting of a cafe or commuter train. 

 

Loving Kindness Meditation 

While transcendental meditation has its roots in India and Hinduism, Loving Kindness Meditation is a Buddhist practice that can be sourced to Theravada (which is sometimes known as “Southern Buddhism” and strongest in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Burma) and Tibetan traditions. As is suggested by its name, this is a meditation technique which revolves around developing compassion and cultivating love. 

A person who wants to pursue Loving Kindness Meditation would sit quietly and attempt to generate feelings of kindness and benevolence. You start by focusing on yourself, establishing self-directed altruism, before extending this out to family, friends, strangers , and eventually all of humanity.

For people who want to cultivate their sense of empathy, and nurture positive feelings, Loving Kindness Meditation could be perfect. This meditation technique increases your compassion, both for other people, and for yourself - quieting that inner critic which can be a huge source of low self-esteem and anxiety. 

 

Zen Meditation 

Zen meditation has a long history, originating with Indian monk Bodhidharma in the 6th century CE and becoming established in China and Japan. It’s a simple but strict meditation, where maintaining the correct posture is vital - unlike mindfulness and transcendental meditation, which can be practiced in whatever position is most comfortable. You sit on a “zafu” (a kind of cushion) in the half lotus position, with your knees pushing into the floor, and your head pushing into the sky, with your back as straight as possible. 

This is pretty uncomfortable for beginners, but it is meant to get easier as you become more flexible. Practiced with your eyes open, the meditative state of mind is achieved through the deep concentration required to maintain your posture and focus on your breathing. The Zen master, Taisen Deshimaru said: “By simply sitting, without looking for any goal or any personal benefit, if your posture, your breathing and your state of mind are in harmony, you will understand the true Zen; you will understand the Buddha's nature.”

Rather than offering temporary solutions to life’s problems, Zen and other forms of Buddhist meditation look to address core issues - and delve far deeper than mindfulness apps. This is a good form of meditation for people who are committed to following a spiritual journey, one that goes beyond simply searching for a way to relieve stress. 

 

Yoga

The tradition of yoga is extremely old, going back to at least 1700 BC by most estimations, and has many different lineages and forms. The yoga we recognize in the West can be as spiritual and meditative as you like, or just a form of helpful exercise - it completely depends on your preferences and which teacher you choose. 

Yoga is a way to combine a meditation technique with a form of physical exercise. While meditation in all its forms has health benefits - usually related to reducing stress - yoga can be a way to ease problems like low back pain, and has the additional benefits of building strength, balance and flexibility. 

However, yoga may be a little less immediately accessible than other, less active, forms of meditation (especially for anyone with physical impairments). People facing particular health issues will need to access the services of a yoga therapist in order to ensure the practice is tailored to their needs, and doesn’t exacerbate any problems. 

These are just a few of the many kinds of meditation out there, and with some experimentation you should be able to find the technique (or combination of techniques) which suits you best. 


Will WilliamsWill Williams is one of Europe’s leading Vedic meditation experts, and a wellbeing advisor to the OECD working group on Education. He has worked with the BBC, American Express, Spotify, Uber and many others in implementing corporate wellbeing programs, and his first book, The Effortless Mind, is available on Amazon.
You can contact him at willwilliamsmeditation.co.uk.


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Identifying Mental Health Issues and Taking Proper Measures for Better Productivity

Posted By Toby Dean, Thursday, September 20, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Mental health as per the definition of World Health Organization is “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. (WHO, 2007).”  Mental health is vital for any workplace around the world to function properly. It is believed as a workplace asset. However, the stressful work environment has been drastically affecting the productivity of the staff all over the world. In the UK one out of four employees are looking to leave their job, and many frequently are bound to take sick days due to stress, anxiety, and depression. Mental health is causing the UK 70 billion pounds per year, so this is not something that can be taken lightly.

This infographic from Maximillions hows the official government statistics that discloses the impact the employees’ mental health has on productivity and the loss that the companies are suffering because of this. These statistics will help you gain knowledge about the importance of proactive team building is for a better workforce mental health. The infographic also provides some important recommendations for managing mental health in the workplace.


Toby Dean works on behalf of Maximillion in content creation and marketing. He creates engaging graphics and content that help businesses stand out from the crowd. Over the past 7 years has worked with dozens of SME's in both an agency and freelance capacity.

With 25 years of event management experience, Maximillion has delivered over 5000 corporate events and hosted more than a quarter of a million guests across the spectrum of Team Building, Event Management, Learning & Development and Challenge Events.


Tags:  Coping  Mental Health  Productivity  stress  workplace wellness 

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Doing Less But Getting More Done. Possible?

Posted By Nicholas Alchin, Thursday, September 13, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2018

 

We’ve been orienting our new and returning colleagues over the last ten days. The mood is optimistic and energetic, as it always is at this time of year, and we’ve been thinking about tackling some issues that just seemed too hard towards the end of last term. It’s going to be a great year ahead! Nothing remarkable there really; we’re all fresher after a break, of course.

But I’ve been wondering how we can maintain not just the positivity, but also the increased capacity that we have now; and not just for staff but for students too. How can we all maintain functioning at our most capable, and be managing to do our best work we are tired?

This is a big issue – if a rather obvious one – because the difference in schools between the start and end of term is vast. And it’s difficult because we also want to excel; to somehow maximize the experiences and learning that we can have in any given term – so we cannot just ever take it easy; we need to squeeze the juice from each minute. For teachers, the pressure is managing 100 students each week, being alive to each individual, responsive to all parents, remaining caring and inspirational, in and out of the classroom. For students it means managing many difficult subjects, each with their own methods, courseworks, pressures as well as College applications, sports, drama, music, dance, and adolescent social life. Small wonder there is weariness, and even burnout as the term goes on.

So what can we do? How do we approach this mid-term, when the break is a long way off and folk are tired? This is not a question unique to schools - all organizations face it, as we increasingly find that working/studying lives are complex and intense - so much so that stress has been called the health epidemic of the 21st century by the World Health Organization.

There’s some truth in the old work smarter not harder mantra – but the trouble is, if we knew how to work smarter, we would surely do it! And even then, this approach seems to me to be a potential band-aid at best; for teachers teaching, and for students learning, there is always more that can be done – so working smarter can simply mean seeking to get more done in a given amount of time, which does not avoid the overload issue (I think that’s what IT has generally done – we are far, far more productive than we ever have been, but we do far, far more with the time - that is to say, we work so much faster, with consequent overload.  Additionally, IT has opened up so many new possibilities that we are in fact even more aware of all the things we could be doing, and feel even worse that we are not doing them).

So with all this in mind it was fascinating to read the World Economic Forum article about a NZ businesses that experimented with a four day week for employees, with no change of pay. It turns out that each employee got through just as much work, with an extra day of leisure each week, and was much happier.  An unmitigated success, no less.  The article notes that it may be a case of Parkinson’s law which states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Or to put that a slightly different way, workers will become more efficient if there is less time to complete a task.

There seem to be many competing and sometimes contradictory answers here; involving balance, boundaries, storytelling.

So can we free up extra time in schools, with no loss of productivity (learning)? I am not sure.   The idea of getting through more material fits a factory metaphor but the factory metaphors may not be the best one: if we think of education as flowering (which seems right for students, at least some of the time), then we know that sometimes, things have to happen at their own pace.  But it is certainly worth looking at simply using less time; could we shorten the deadlines for some assessments with no loss whatsoever?  The notion that giving students less time to complete some tasks would relieve pressure is counter-intuitive, but worth considering. Of course, if we did this, we would need to avoid the temptation to simply fill the space created with other things!

Ultimately, contrary to what I wrote earlier, perhaps we do not need to squeeze the juice from each minute.   And there, perhaps, is the real root of the issue: Are we prepared to be satisfied with less? Are we prepared to forego some experiences and opportunities to enhance the ones we do have? Do we have the courage to do that when others are filling their times with a greater variety of experiences?  When I put it like that, it sounds a bit like the decision to get married (!)  - and I mean that in two ways; firstly, sometimes you have to give up some things to gain others.   Secondly, and more importantly for any organization, there may be a lot of individual variation here - there may be  maybe no universal answer.  So we'll start the year as we always do - seeking to work with individuals; to meet them where they are, and to support them as best we can.  And we will not lose sight of the fact that we may need to ask some hard questions about what we do if we are serious about wellbeing for the community.


Nicholas Alchin is a Sino-Celt who has been working in K-12 International Education for too long to remember. Father of three and wife of one; currently Deputy Head at UWCSEA in Singapore. Avid reader and traveller; keen and competent breadmaker; keen and incompetent uni-cycler. 
https://nickalchinuwcsea.blogspot.com


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The Surprising Reason People Die by Suicide

Posted By Dr. Mark Goulston, Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Surprising Reason People Die by Suicide (and the Seven Words You Can Use to Help Someone Who May Be at Risk)

Reprinted with permission of Dr. Mark Goulston

Suicide is on the rise. But Dr. Mark Goulston says that, surprisingly, depression isn’t the main culprit. Here he delves into “des-pair” and reveals seven powerful words that can help people heal.

Woman feeling des-pairLos Angeles, CA (September 2018)—After a recent string of high-profile suicides in America, death by suicide is a topic that’s on everybody’s mind. We all speculate about what could cause a person to take their own life (and since September is Suicide Prevention Month, this is a good time to seek understanding about these tragic experiences). Was it financial problems? Marital problems? Health problems? Depression? Bipolar depression? Alcoholism? And of course, suicide doesn’t affect only the rich and famous. Most of us are likely to know or love somebody who has been affected by a suicide. So, it’s no wonder that these statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently revealed the prevalence of this disturbing trend:

  • Nearly 45,000 lives were lost to suicide in 2016.
  • Suicide rates went up more than 30 percent in half of states in the U.S. since 1999.
  • Suicide rates increased in nearly every state from 1999 through 2016.
  • More than half of the people who died by suicide (54 percent) did not have a known mental health condition.

“It’s a common misconception that depression is the culprit behind suicides,” says suicide and violence prevention expert Dr. Mark Goulston. “While depression is a contributor, it’s not the main reason people kill themselves. The real reason is des-pair.”

That’s right, des-pair—not despair. Goulston describes des-pair as feeling unpaired with the reasons a person wants to live:

  1. Hopeless— unpaired with a future that is worth living because all efforts to lessen pain (medications, therapy, etc.) have not worked
  2. Helpless— unpaired with the ability to pull themselves out of it
  3. Powerless— more of #2 above
  4. Useless— unpaired with any solution or treatment that works or alternatively feeling that you contribute nothing to anyone and are only a burden (even if those people protest the opposite)
  5. Worthless— ahh yes, unpaired with one of the key reasons we exist
  6. Purposeless — unpaired with a mission for you to focus on and that gives you a source of pride, without which one can feel aimless and ashamed, as in, “My life has no purpose.”
  7. Meaningless— unpaired with what Viktor Frankl was able to discover in a concentration camp and what one can feel when they have no purpose
  8. Pointless— unpaired with any reason to not pull the trigger, put the noose around your neck, jump from that building, take those pills, step onto those train tracks

Man searching for meaning“When you engage someone in any of the eight ‘-lesses,’ it can lead to a more dynamic, engaging, and expressive conversation,” says Goulston. “When that occurs, and the des-pairing person begins to express and describe what any of those words mean to them, they will begin to experience those feelings versus experiencing nothing and feel relief as they ‘pair’ with the empathic person who is listening to them.”

The Seven Words That Can Help Someone Who Is Suffering

If you believe a loved one is in an acute suicidal crisis, get help immediately by calling 911. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24/7 by calling 1-800-273-TALK or visiting https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. But if someone you love is struggling more and more with the “-lesses” mentioned above, Goulston says to reach out to them now. He recommends using interventional empathy to lessen their des-pair and prevent destructive behavior. The protocol helps you pair with that person and ease the unbearable pain and loneliness they feel.

Here’s how to practice interventional empathy and pair with your suffering loved one by using seven simple words:

STEP ONE: When someone you know is in a very dark place—or if it’s you, you can speak to someone about it or journal about it—and after you have been speaking to them enough to make a connection say, “Seven words.”

This causes them to stop and be temporarily confused—which will temporarily break their vice grip hold on feeling suicidal—and they will often respond with, “What?”

STEP TWO: Then say, “Seven words. Hurt, afraid, angry, ashamed, alone, lonely, tired. Pick one and start telling me about it.”

Presenting the seven words in such an “assertive” manner will often cause people to spontaneously begin expressing those feelings, feeling less alone, crying, feeling relief, and becoming more open to a conversation that may cause them to consider other options.

“In an age where suicide is becoming more and more commonplace, we have a chance to stop des-pair in its tracks before a person becomes suicidal,” concludes Goulston. “Say the seven words to someone who is in the depths of suffering, and give them the chance they need to feel less alone and reclaim the hope they have lost. Your empathy costs you nothing, but it could end up saving a life.”

Click here to download this article as a PDF.

If you or someone you love needs help, call 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.


Dr. Mark GoulstonDr. Mark Goulston is a former UCLA professor of psychiatry, FBI hostage negotiation trainer, suicide and violence prevention expert, and one of the world’s foremost experts on listening. He is the author of “Just Listen”: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone. For more information, contact Dr. Goulston at: mgoulston@gmail.com or visit his website at: www.markgoulston.com.

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National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Posted By Rechá Bullock, Friday, September 7, 2018
Updated: Friday, September 7, 2018

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness month.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s. Data from a study conducted by the CDC from 2015-2016 show that nearly 1 in 5 school-age children and young people 6 to 19 years of age in the United States are obese (CDC, 2018). Obesity is an excess proportion of body fat, technically defined in terms of a body mass index (BMI) of at least 30 or above. BMI is calculated in a different way for children and teens 2-to 19-years of age. BMI must be age and sex-specific because the amount of body fat changes with age for children and adolescents. Growth charts are used to verify BMI as a percentile ranking for children. A child is considered medically obese if their BMI is at or above the 95th percentile of children of the same age, height, and sex (CDC, 2017). 

Children who are overweight or obese are at an increased risk for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and depression. Also, children who are overweight or obese are bullied and teased more than their normal weight peers, which can cause children to act out, suffer from depression, and have low self-esteem. These chronic health conditions can significantly set a child back and interfere with their ability to thrive and be successful in a school setting. Moreover, obese children are at a higher risk of chronic health problems into adulthood, which can include hypertension, heart disease, renal failure, stroke, sleep apnea, hypercholesterolemia, death, and even some types of cancers (colon, breast, and endometrial) (Turner et. al., 2012).

It can be very difficult for parent(s) to manage the weight of an overweight or obese child. This is especially true if the parent(s) are also overweight and have poor eating habits. To make matters worse, some health care providers do not feel comfortable discussing weight issues with parents due to the fear of alienating or embarrassing both the parent and child. In fact, in a study provided in the International Journal of Obesity, of the 8,639 overweight or obese children aged 2-18 years of age, who visited a health care provider annually, from 1999 through 2014, only 22.12% in 1999 and 34.43% of parents in 2014 were notified by their child’s health care provider their children were overweight or obese. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) were provided to parents for this study from 1999 through 2014. The study found health care providers increased notifying parents that their child’s weight was unhealthy between 1999 and 2014. However, the opportunity for health care providers to provide clinical interventions to address or reduce childhood obesity is substantially under-utilized (Hansen et al., 2016).

 

So, What’s Causing Childhood Obesity?

The answer to finding the sole causation of childhood obesity is not as clear as eating too much food and not exercising enough. A number of health care providers and researchers alike believe one of the most significant problems for the spike in childhood obesity rates is directly related to the number of foods that have significant amounts of sugar. In fact, Dr. Mark Hyman from the Center for Functional Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic thinks sugar is just as addictive as a drug. In the film documentary Fed Up, Dr. Hyman revealed that added sugars and sweeteners are causing diseases in children that were once only seen in adults. 

Some key risk factors for childhood obesity include genetics, having a family history of obesity, cultural norms, limited or no physical activity, and having a low-income. It can be difficult to buy healthy foods such as fruits and green vegetables if families have a low income and live in a food dessert, where there is limited or no access to healthy foods. Some additional risk factors and challenges that are contributing to childhood obesity is unhealthy school cafeteria food which can be high in sugar, fat, and carbohydrates. Children who do not get enough physical activity at home and at school are at an increased risk for being overweight or obese. And, some children are unable to participate in physical activity where they live if their neighborhood is unsafe. 

Childhood obesity prevention initiatives must be put into place for children who are overweight. If not, children will begin to experience shorter life expectancies than their parents. As children head back to school, September is the perfect month to make changes that include more physical activity at school and swapping unhealthy meals for healthier alternatives. According to the CDC, children and adolescents should participate in 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day (CDC, 2017). One of the best strategies to address childhood obesity is to take a population health-based approach, which involves spreading the word about prevention strategies that will help inform and educate parents, clinicians, and schools. We also need the federal government to support this complex health problem by implementing social media marketing campaigns that promotes healthy eating and weight reduction strategies. The government can also help by implementing legislation and policies that restrict companies from marketing unhealthy and sugary foods and beverages to children. 

In honor of National Childhood Obesity Awareness month, here are some prevention strategies and tips to decrease weight and promote healthy growth for children: 

  • Parents should talk to their child’s health care provider for clinical interventions to address obesity
  • Parents should learn how to read food labels 
  • Cook and eat healthy meals
  • Watch food portions and avoid second helpings
  • Avoid eating at fast food restaurants 
  • Limit or remove sugary drinks and junk foods from meals
  • Teach kids the importance of eating healthy by allowing them to help cook healthy meals
  • Use app-based programs to monitor physical activity like Kurbo Health or Fitbit Ace™ for kids
  • Make exercise a family activity
  • Parents should discuss school menus with their child’s teacher to determine if fruits and vegetables are on the menu. If not, parents should opt to make their child’s lunch and include healthy food and snack options. 
  • Schools can ensure children get regular recess that includes at least 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity

There are a number of great resources available online to learn how to read labels as well as healthy recipes that parents can cook for their families. Here’s a great resource of healthy recipes provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Deliciously, Healthy Family Meals (PDF). Let’s all do our part to reduce childhood obesity. Spread the word and share this article. Be Well!

Sources: 

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2018, January). Childhood Obesity Facts.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2017, August). What is BMI?
  • Couric, K. and David, L. (Producers), Soechtig, S. (Director). (2014). Fed Up. [Documentary]. United States: Radius-TWC
  • Hansen, A R., Duncan, D. T.,  Woo Baidal, J. A., Hill, A., Turner, S. C., and Zhang. J. (2016). An increasing trend in health-care professionals notifying children of unhealthy weight status: NHANES 1999–2014. International Journal of Obesity volume 40, 1480–1485.
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2010, December). Keep the Beat.
  • Turner, M., Burns, S. M., Knight, L., Ward, K., Garo, A., Morris, T., and Conaway, M. (2012). Weight management practices among heart and vascular health care providers in an ambulatory setting MEDSURG Nursing, 21(4), 222-232.

Rechà Bullock is a Certified Wellness Practitioner, Certified Worksite Wellness Specialist, Health Coach, Yoga Teacher (200-RYT), public health professional, and plant-based foodie. Her passion for health and wellness comes from a lifelong love of fitness, health, nutrition, yoga, and a desire to help people transform their health by eating foods that are nutrient rich.

Rechà's goal is to provide information to help people make food choices that are healthier for them and their families. "We cannot afford to continue to purchase and consume foods that are at odds with our health, such as genetically modified foods, steroids, antibiotics, artificial ingredients, and processed sugars." 


Tags:  Children  health  Nutrition  Obesity 

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Coaches, Let’s Get These Wheels Rolling!!​

Posted By Ellen Kocher, Friday, September 7, 2018

Breaking down wheels of life to get to the hub of coaching with a client-centered approach to rolling toward goals and beyond!


 

“There are many spokes on the wheel of life. First, we're here to explore new possibilities.” - Ray Charles

Some claim that the “Wheel of Life” has been around for over a thousand years. In modern day coaching and personal development, the “Wheel of Life” is a visual tool frequently used to identify the dimensions or aspects of one’s life arranged in a circle around a center like spokes of a wheel. The full circle defined this way, or the wheel, represents the whole of one’s life or one’s self.

A typical “Wheel of Life” exercise used in coaching entails assessing, with the client, the strength of each spoke to see how balanced the wheel as a whole feels at a given moment in time. Since unbalanced wheels are more likely to wobble and crash, this exercise is useful to help identify potential source areas of imbalance. Though such wheels are commonly used to initiate the focus for coaching work, I believe that they can be further developed, refined, and then utilized throughout the entire coaching process to support both client clarity of direction and optimal growth. In addition, this succession gives coaches a simple means for putting into practice many of the core competencies established by the International Coaching Federation and other global coaching organizations. 

In this article I illustrate this process with a “Wellness Wheel” because I believe that anyone can easily relate to personal health and wellbeing and, consequently, the method will be easy to follow. Though such “Wellness Wheels” are commonly used by health and wellness coaches, this Wheeling approach can be applied to any type of coaching. Ready to roll?

 

The Wellness Wheel(s)


Figure 1: The Six Dimensions of Wellness

A Wellness Wheel typically includes all dimensions or areas of an individual's life that constitute overall health and wellness. One recognized and reputed Wellness Wheel, is called the “Six Dimensions of Wellness”, developed by Dr. Bill Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute. Hettler’s Wheel divides wellness into the following six dimensions: Occupational, Physical, Social, Intellectual, Spiritual and Emotional (Figure 1).

Any coach can imagine working through each of these dimensions using open-ended questions, inquiry, and listening skills to guide clients toward their current priorities. Most coaches can also easily imagine using the Wheel as a visual tool for raising awareness, in our clients’ minds, of the inter-connectedness of each spoke as questions and answers in each area overlap and blur perfect boundaries between sections. Typically, a coach would then assist the client in breaking down the spoke of a chosen focus to drive momentum for behavior change in that area, using the wheel as a visual tool for upcoming sessions. Here’s another approach I propose: What if, at this point, instead of just coaching, we made another wheel?


Figure 2: Four Dimensions of Physical Wellness

Let’s just say, for example, that our client chose “Physical Wellness” as the priority area of focus. The coach could then work with the client to create a second wheel representing the client’s vision of personalized “Dimensions of Physical Wellness”. An example of the way this second wheel might be broken down is shown in Figure 2. The client’s chosen dimensions might be: Nutrition, Physical Activity, Sleep and Mindfulness. Some clients, or coaches, might nudge the conversation toward other dimensions depending on how both define and explore Physical Wellness. 

Working with a client and this personalized Physical Wellness Wheel, balance can be explored again, and it becomes easy for both client and coach to visualize where behavioral change might begin. As a result, the coaching process has more specific direction in perfect synchronicity with the client’s understanding of wellness and desired focus. 


Figure 3: Eight Dimensions of Nutrition

At this point, it is possible to continue with traditional coaching around the client-identified area of focus. Alternately, one could “roll” out yet another wheel! For example, based on the prior wheel, perhaps the client discovers a readiness and willingness to prioritize nutrition. How about a “Nutrition Wellness Wheel”? This wheel might include segments such as:: Fruit, Vegetables, Carbohydrates, Protein, Fats, Water, Drinks, Mindful Eating and Micronutrients (Figure 3). Again, the client can be in charge of identifying the wheel’s spokes, perhaps adding fast-food, snacking, alcohol, or other pertinent segments.to their personalized wheel. 

 

Ready to Roll!

With the degree of specificity achieved using a succession of wheels, the coach and client can work through the third (Nutrition) Wheel spoke-by-spoke, with the coach eliciting the client’s understanding, information requirements, values and challenges in relation to each area. The coach might also provide education or resources, as requested and appropriate, to raise awareness about current and optimal states, thus driving momentum for change to the point at which the client has sufficient understanding and clarity to create SMART objectives.


Figure 4: Carbohydrates Smart Goals

So why not another wheel at this point? The client is accustomed to the approach by now, and this is where the “rubber meets the road”! Let’s assume this client chose to focus behavior change action steps on carbohydrates. The coach and client can now “roll out” goals, breaking down the focus (Carbohydrate) topic into client-identified SMART objectives, which might be, for example, those identified in Figure 4: switch to whole wheat bread, use my fist to determine my carbohydrate portion size, increase complex carbohydrate intake to twice weekly, and replace white carbs with pulses/legumes twice weekly. Now this fourth wheel has also become a clear guide to action steps as well as a monitoring/accountability mechanism for the client to work with until next session. The client has been engaged by the process of creating the wheel that then “rolls into action” as both a visual reminder of how to “steer” toward goals and as a “compass” or “GPS” to check on direction at any given moment. For the coach, this wheel can be referred to in the following session(s) when discussing progress and exploring further forward movement.

In the example I have created in this article, the client is always at the center of the coaching process – the driver “at the wheel,” empowered to steer a personalized route. By co-developing a series of wheels throughout the coaching process, exploration stays simple, focused, clear, and rolling full circle in the client’s chosen direction. At any time, the coach and client can roll backward to drive the coaching toward another spoke or even toward another wheel. Using such a creative succession of wheels in collaboration with our clients allows us to put into practice many of the core competencies established by the International Coaching Federation including Co-creating the Relationship, Communicating Effectively, Facilitating Learning and Results, Creating Awareness, Designing Actions, Planning and Goal Setting and Managing Progress and Accountability. So, are we on a roll here? I would love your thoughts!

A sincere acknowledgement for her encouragement and editing support to Elizabeth Ahmann, ScD, RN, PCC, NBC-HWC, Health and Wellness Coaching Department, Maryland University of Integrative Health


Ellen Koche is an American-Swiss Certified Health Coach. After 10 demanding years in the Finance Industry, Ellen lost 20 kilos through nutrition and lifestyle change and has dedicated the past 15 years to health coaching and to workplace wellness. Through her company, Whealthness, she has coached individuals and groups in over 20 worldwide organizations to go from “knowing what to do to actually doing it!” with their self-care.

ekocher@whealthness.ch
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Tags:  Coaching  Nutrition  Six Dimensions  Wellness Wheel 

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NWI Member Spotlight — September 2018

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Craig Becker PhD, CWD

Department of Health Education & Promotion
East Carolina University

Dr. Craig Becker is a Professor at East Carolina University in Health Education & Promotion. He earned his Ph.D. from Arizona State University in 2001 and his MS in Wellness from Ball State's Institute for Wellness. Dr Becker earned a BS in Business from Purdue University in 1989; and has an active research agenda with over 100 national and international papers and presentations and consults with industry. His research focus is on positive health and it’s precursors. 

Dr. Craig Becker teaches the Public Health capstone class “Applied Principles of Health Promotion” and research classes at East Carolina University to undergraduate and graduate health majors. Dr. Becker’s contribution to the field of wellness is impressive and expansive. He has developed programs, conducts presentations, and consults about health programs with Fortune 500 companies and is published regularly in health journals. His online videos are watched by many and range in subject from “Exceeding Expectations” to “Selfish, Selfless, Synergy.”

In 2013 (in collaboration with William McPeck, MSW,CWPC,WLCP, CWW) he co-authored “Creating Positive Health: It’s More Than Risk Reduction.”

“My focus has been on developing positive health and more than the absence of disease. I am part of a working health professional movement that is tired of focusing on risk reduction and disease prevention or avoidance alone. We believe in a concept called Positive Health Leadership which offers a way for leaders to focus on a greater purpose, that of well-being.” Positive Health Leadership provides health professionals with the knowledge and tools they need to lead positive well-being efforts which can result in significant positive influences on individual and organizational health.

Honors, Awards, and Grants 

  • 2008: East Carolina University. East Carolina University Scholar-Teacher in College of Health & Human Performance for 2008-2009
  • 2008: Service & Leadership Circle: National Wellness Association: Earned membership for significant contributions to National Wellness Institute and the profession
  • 2007: College of Health & Human Performance. Outstanding Researcher
  • 2006: Career Center Faculty Award. Award presented to faculty who have shown above and beyond support of the Career Center.
  • 2006: Judy B. Baker Service Learning Faculty Fellowship. Awarded to faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding involvement and participation in service learning activities that promote student academic goals.
  • Currently serving on the NWI Heart 2 Heart committee. 

On top of all this, may we add—he is genuine—a really nice guy!   

Craig lives in Greenville, NC with his wife Camilla and daughters Amanda and Annika.

Dr. Becker can be contacted at: 
Department of Health Education & Promotion
East Carolina University
3201 Carol Belk Building, 
Mailstop 529
Greenville, NC 27858

252-328-5312
beckerc@ecu.edu

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Why Seniors Should Look Forward to Community Living

Posted By Cindy Greenfield, Friday, August 31, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Many aspects of life become increasingly important when you are growing older. These include not just the ones associated with cognitive health. There is no doubt isolation and inactivity can pose a significant health risk when it comes to senior living. Trending research shows how isolation, poor connection with family, inactivity, and lack of socialization can lead to numerous health complications. These conditions include diabetes, cardiovascular decline and other life-limiting diseases.

Senior Health – Why Social Retirees and Seniors are Healthier and Happier

As per a 2010 research study in the New England Journal of Medicine, frequent socialization with friends and family with physical and mental exercises keep seniors healthy and young at both mind and heart.  Exploring new activities, working on your hobbies, spending time outdoors, joining a charitable cause, and embracing life’s new obstacles are activities that stimulate a senior's mind and body.

 

Just Consider the Following Activities:

  • Playing chess or other board games with your friends or peers
  • Going out for a bike ride, dancing, jogging or light aerobic exercises such as yoga
  • Playing your favorite musical instrument and dances in a social group
  • Engaging in mentally stimulating debates or discussion concerning current affairs, events and technological advances

Senior living is all about taking life to a newer level, but with a healthy mind and body. And you will be surprised to hear that a healthy brain can steer you clear of a number of debilitating ailments such as depression and chronic inflammation. 

 

The Reasons Why Seniors Drop Out of Sight and Disconnect With the World

Senior citizens have to encounter a slew of challenging obstacles while embracing their will to stay connected with their family and community - and the bulk of those challenges, which become too difficult to overcome for many retirees and seniors include:

  • No or lack or transportation
  • Health problems that affect their mobility
  • Friends that live really far away – or are moving to a new place
  • The trauma of surviving the loss of close friends, family, peers, pets

These harrowing problems can really break the heart of a senior, affecting his health and his determination. Hence, they begin to isolate themselves, becoming bleaker with age, and falling prey to depression and anxiety.

 

All the Magnificent Reasons Retirees and Senior Should Embrace Community Living

One of the most fantastic benefits of being a part of a community in senior living is the fact that you will never ever have to let go of your independence – you will always be in safe and clean environment that will offer all levels of comfortability that you desire. The community will become your new home.

 

You Will Feel More Empowered Realizing Your Options

As you mature, you will start to realize the advantages of decluttering your life. Downsizing will become a more viable and feasible option. Hence, community living will start to appeal more to you. Senior health and living communities offer a plethora of tailor-made apartments and living spaces with all the latest in amenities and features. Moreover, there are pleasant common areas where you can meet your peer on a regular basis. In addition, you can schedule to meet your close friends and family members.

However, transitioning from a place where you have a lived a good majority of your live can be an emotional rollercoaster ride, there is no question the experience is bittersweet and getting used to the idea that you won’t be living there anymore is something you will have to overcome to start a new life.

Another reason why seniors choose to switch to community living is the fact that the staff makes lives so much easier and pleasant and as maintenance-free as they can. Community living eases the burden of maintaining your old house. Moreover, you can rest assured that the community will address your future medical requirements effectively and efficiently.

 

Healthier Diet and Eating Options

When you think about cooking every day it will begin to feel as it is a chore that you must do. If you can’t you’ll have to eat out every day and isn’t a good option considering your overall well-being. Community homes for senior living offer restaurant-standard meals and nutritious eating options every day. Hence, you can stay healthy and in shape, as you will eat right. Moreover, everything you eat will be according to your own specifications.

 

Zero Transportation Problems

There is nothing better than to know that you can go anywhere you want, anytime you want and the fact that you won’t have to drive. Many senior living communities provide scheduled transportation or locations around your town. Have a doctor’s appointment – no problem, you will make it on time and with comfortability.

Not only do senior living communities offer all of the above, they also offer:

  • Top-Notch Services: Along with landscaping and cooking, senior health and living communities offer exterior home maintenance and industry-standard housekeeping services. Moreover, they have barbershops, dry-cleaning and grocery stores on-site! Talk about convenience and a homely feeling.  
  • Access to Healthcare and Add-on Services: Another reason you should consider senior living in a community is the fact that you will have access to on-site rehab therapy. Moreover, you can opt for assisted living in case your health needs change in the long run.
  • Great Opportunity to Make New Friends and Bonds: Nothing is more important than like-minded, fresh and optimistic company. Socializing is great for retirees and senior. In a community setting, you can impart your knowledge, make new friends and enhance your mood. This is likely when you participate in community events and activities.
  • Health and Wellness Programs: Senior health and wellness activities and programs promote cognitive and physical health. These programs uplift your heart and soul. Senior living setting offers on-site gyms, fitness centers, and aerobic classes tailored to your mobility.  Moreover, you can also constantly engage your mind as you participate in on-site seminars and skill building classes.

 

Conclusion

It’s tough to see many reasons why a senior community living space wouldn’t be a great fit for a lot of folks with all of the excellent opportunities and assistance they offer, but we all know it can be daunting to enter a new living situation. That’s precisely why these communities are perfect though, as they are aware the transition can be scary, but they are there every step of the way to ensure that living in a senior community is the best and right decision for you. If you or someone you know are interested in senior living communities, I strongly recommend doing some research on some communities close to you, as they will bring a sense of ease to your mind and to your life.


Cindy Greenfield writes about Senior Health, Wellness and Life-Minded fulfillment. She facilitates and blogs for Cascade Group's Assisted Living Communities. She is an expert in the field of senior care and senior living communities, working with seniors for about 35 years now and having lived and learned from her experiences to develop an immense knowledge of this content area. cindy.greenfield.wa@gmail.com


Tags:  Life-Minded  Senior Care  Senior Health 

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The Language of the Microbiome

Posted By Heather Holmes, Thursday, August 23, 2018

We have been conditioned to be afraid of bacteria (microbes).  Countless news clips and articles scare us with pictures of harmful bacteria that has been found on dirty surfaces; companies that make bleach and disinfectants have been conditioning us with advertising for over fifty years – telling us to disinfect, sterilize, and wipe away what we cannot see.  Some people obsess over these small creatures, yet others are able to push them out of their minds. But, no matter how you view bacteria, the simple truth is, they’re always there. 

Our ancient ancestors were resourceful enough to figure out ways to heal wounds and eat in healthy ways, working with nature and the bacterial world around them. With the invention of antibiotics and our extensive overuse of them, we have turned our bacterial world upside down, creating complete imbalance in us, on us and around us. In fact, we are at the point where the bacteria are so resistant that we have few to no antibiotics left to treat us anymore, even for a simple wound. www.cdc.gov

Bacteria will always dictate whether things are clean or dirty, healthy or sick.  Microbes always have the last word no matter what products you use. This means that you cannot kill or clean away enough bacteria on any surface to make it clean (including, skin, teeth, nasal passages and the air). When you kill bacteria, you just allow it to take revenge on you. 

How it is then that microbes get to determine what beneficially lives on a surface or what makes us sick?  They do this through language.  Microbes actually communicate with other microbes through something called quorum sensing. They speak their own language to attract groups just like themselves, and they speak a universal language that allows them to communicate with different species in any given environment.  This ability to communicate is what allows bacteria to increase their numbers and send a message of balance and order (clean and healthy) or chaos (dirty and unhealthy). 

When the number of bad bacteria outweigh the good bacteria, the bad bacteria will form a microscopic substance called biofilm. This biofilm is actually on your counters, on your skin, on your teeth and even up your nose. It protects bad bacteria and makes it impenetrable and impervious to any product you currently have under your sink or in your medicine cabinet. E.coli can multiply in a biofilm at such a rapid rate that you could stack it to the sun and back 100 million times in 24 hours. According to the NIH, biofilm is the source of 65-80% of all infection and disease! 

To make bacteria work in your favor, you need 10 good bacteria for every 1 bad bacteria. This will help you create a balanced bacterial environment – a balanced microbiome. it is imperative to introduce beneficial microbes (probiotics) into an environment.  These probiotics, when applied in the right combinations and the right amounts, give you the exact microbial communicators you need to keep any surface truly clean, healthy and free of biofilm.  In other words, probiotics are nature’s way of keeping all 100 trillion microbes in us and on us balanced. By incorporating them into your daily home cleaning, shower or bath, teeth cleaning, air purification or pet’s drinking water, you create a naturally healthy and protected environment against germy invaders. 

It is important to note that all probiotics are not created equally. Lactobacillus and acidophilus some of the most commonly know probiotic bacteria. These plant-based strains are not ideal outside the digestive track, and there is more evidence to show that the amount plant-based probiotics you need in order to make it past the bile system is so exponential that no one could consume enough of them. This leads to the discussion on spore-based probiotics, commonly referred to as the Bacillus strains.

When thinking about the internal microbiome, it’s important to consider the external microbiome, as well. Collectively they both impact our health. 

 

Internal Probiotics

For digestive probiotics (plant-based), it’s important to have live cultures; products such as, kefir, kombucha and kimchi, and even some yogurt, with numerous strains, are beneficial.  Probiotic supplements containing plant-based probiotics are traditionally heated, which destroys the efficacy of the probiotics. Therefore, the probiotic supplements lining retails shelves and sold on line are not ideal. You need billions of many different strains for plant-based probiotics to have effect. Additionally, a prebiotic should be consumed when taking a digestive probiotic, as prebiotics act as a delivery mechanism to help the probiotics survive the bile system. 

Spore probiotic supplements have been around for several years, but they are difficult to stabilize in products. This is why very few companies have entered into the spore probiotic space; however, this is changing. Spore supplements are preferred for the following reasons: 

  1. They make it through the bile system.
  2. They build the number of probiotics already in the gut.
  3. They reduce systemic inflammation and repair leaky gut.
  4. They are immune to antibiotics and can act as antibiotics when needed.
  5. They lay dormant when not needed and can come alive when they need to help your gut/body.

 

External Probiotics

There are even fewer companies in the environmental probiotic space. Some companies have produced probiotic cleaners, odor control products and pet products that contain plant-based probiotics – these probiotics require sugar to stay alive, so you commonly see molasses on the label. Do you really want to clean your counters with sugar or put sugar into your pet? Additionally, the probiotics used in these cleaners cannot clean away biofilm, which is paramount for a truly clean, balanced and protected surface.

You will also find plant-based probiotics in skin care products. Again, these products do not contain probiotics strong enough to eliminate biofilm, but it is a good marketing gimmick. One company, in fact, is making erroneous claims about curing all sorts of disease and on the probiotic bandwagon with less than infection states. This is concerning for many reasons, but the point here is that the probiotic market is set to explode. Thus, an understanding of probiotics is important, especially as less than efficacious products with great marketing flood the marketplace and create confusion. 

As previously stated the external microbiome is equally as important as your internal microbiome, and it can actually have a direct effect on your gut microbiome. Fortunately, there are spore based environmental probiotic products that help you properly clean, balance and protect all of the surfaces and air in your home or office, as well as coat your skin and your teeth – and even help you pet’s digestion, teeth and skin. These are the probiotic products that will make a difference in your client’s/patient’s life and truly impact their health because they remove biofilm and are able to control the bacterial environment wherever they are applied. This means you stay healthy!

Stay tuned for more information about biofilm and probiotics…


Heather Holmes is the President and CEO of P2 Probiotic Power. She passionately embraces the full product line in her daily life and demands the highest quality products for her customers that assure protection of surfaces, barriers to harmful bacteria and healthier lifestyles. She has served in leadership roles in both large, multinational companies, like Medtronic and STERIS, as well as in many early stage companies. Heather’s years of experience working in medical devices and with hospitals, with seven of those years focused on infection control, have prepared her to make her company a leader in lifestyle, health and wellness products. Heather has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Ohio Wesleyan University with a major in International Business and a minor in Economics and has studied in Geneva, Switzerland and American University. 


Tags:  antibiotic  microbiome  prebiotic  probiotic 

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Self-Care As Self-Love and Transformation

Posted By Krissy Mulpeter, Friday, August 17, 2018
Updated: Thursday, August 16, 2018

We have so many ways of fooling ourselves—of disconnecting our inner needs/desires from the thoughts that we tell ourselves or the words that come out of our mouths.

Women especially, but all people, are conditioned in so many ways to set aside what we want, what we need, in order to meet the demands that are placed upon us. For some this starts in early childhood when family dynamics encourage us as kids to set a need aside in order to cope with the situation, whatever it is. For others it is later when the "shoulds" start to set in. The expectations that society places upon us i.e. who we should be attracted to and date, what we should study, what job we should have, the list goes on and on. And everyone living in a capitalist economy and political system has demands placed upon us as people in order to survive, to work, to pay bills. Somewhere in there, some of us get tied up, blocked, stuck. Some of us get SO used to this position of external accommodation that we never really learn how to make ourselves happy or how to fulfill our own needs. And for some, it is almost uncomfortable to do something so far outside of our "normal" like an act of self-love.

With all of these pressures upon us, whether just from the demands of being human, from our relationships, or the pressure we put on ourselves, acts of self-care can be transformative, however small. Sure, as a therapist, I could dive into the therapeutic benefits of self-care, the way certain self-care activities can take ourselves from a place of trauma and stress to a place of processing, slowly allowing a reconstruction of sorts to occur. But in its most simple form, self care allows us to be whole. It is a reminder of what we are worth and that we are literally perfect just the way we are in that very moment.

It is easy to forget that taking care of ourselves is primarily our job as adults, not primarily the jobs of the people around us, our parents, our friends, or partners, etc. Sometimes the need for self-care can sneak in and disguise itself for:

1. Irritability
You are just generally pissed off. You aren't sure quite why, but all of a sudden every little thing your partner, boss, or grocery store clerk does is just not ok.

2. Blaming
The stressors you are faced with are only other people's fault right now and you are having trouble accessing your own power in coping with the situation.

3. Turning negativity onto yourself
Whether this shows up as low mood, worry, or self-destructive thoughts, you are carrying more than you need to and it is getting you down, and possibly keeping you from doing the things you normally do.

Sometimes when these things are happening, it can be so easy to dive into the specifics; to focus on what your partner did that made you mad, what isn't fair right now, or ruminate on your anxious thoughts that are seemingly unrelenting. It is so easy to let these things fools us, letting us believe that they ARE us. What I am suggesting, because it works for me, is instead of letting these things fool us into thinking they are an opportunity to exacerbate the negativity in your body and mind, use them as indicators that it is time for some self-care, whether it is gardening, painting, or going on walks (my three faves), or calling a friend, taking a bath, doing your dishes/laundry, or just putting on sunscreen.

 

Acts of self-love, however small, are transformative.

 


Krissy Mulpeter is an individual, couples & family therapist, yogini, and seeker of stories. She writes to explore topics in wellness, whole-hearted living, and healthy relationships to self and the ones we love. Krissy graduated from the University of Oregon with her M.S. program in Couples and Family Therapy and is early in her career as a therapist. When she is not doing therapy or writing, Krissy enjoys caring for her plants, cooking, going for walks, and practicing yoga.
https://krissymulp.wixsite.com/reflectionsonhealing


Tags:  Self-Care  Self-Love  Transformation 

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