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By Lucia Thornton 12 Aug, 2016

A new vision for health care is emerging. It is a vision that brings health, healing, compassion, and wellness into the conversation. It is a vision that invites professionals to work together to create a healthy and sustainable society. It puts people, their needs, their dreams, and their lives at the core of its efforts. It holds promise and sets us on a course toward a vital and healthy nation.

Yet bringing this vision into reality is the true grist for the mill. How do we do it? Where do we begin? How can each of us possibly make a difference?

There are many initiatives and programs that can bring us closer to this vision. In the next few newsletters I’ll be talking about new models, legislation, research, practices, and programs that can help create a world that is healthier, more wholesome, and more compassionate . . . a world that we feel good about . . . a world that we cherish . . . a world that is sustainable and insures generations to come the opportunity to be healthy, vital, and happy.

Each of us can make a difference . . . one thought . . . one intention . . . one step at a time. When we act with wisdom and firm resolve, engage our highest intellect and our highest Self, then we can create a healthy and sustainable society. We can make a difference!  

New Vision Emphasizes Wellness, Compassion, Interprofessional Collaboration, Prevention, Accessibility and Affordability

The Institute of Medicine in collaboration with the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation in their epic report “The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health” created this powerful vision:  

We envision a future system that makes quality care accessible to the diverse populations of the United States, intentionally promotes wellness and disease prevention, reliably improves health outcomes, and provides compassionate care across the lifespan.  

In this envisioned future, primary care and prevention are central drivers of the health care system. Interprofessional collaboration and coordination are the norm. Payment for health care services rewards value, not volume of services, and quality care is provided at a price that is affordable for both individuals and society.

The first step in creating a new reality is to envision what that reality might look like. There is an old saying “if you can see, believe it, then you can achieve it.” It is exciting that many promising visions for a new type of health care are emerging. For me, this is a definite sign that we are awakening as a society. The Institute of Medicine, the World Health Organization, the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine, the Integrative Health Policy Consortium, the American Holistic Nurses Association, and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation are just a few of the many organizations that are advocating for a new system that promotes health and wellness. In subsequent newsletters I will be featuring some of the initiatives that these and other organizations have developed. Their stories will inspire you, create hope, and perhaps even provide opportunities for you to get involved in creating a new paradigm.  

Remember, each of us can make a difference . . . one thought . . . one intention . . . one step at a time!    

By Lucia Thornton 12 Aug, 2016

In facilitating a shift toward healing and wellness, it is important to become aware of the underlying dynamics that keep us from changing. Why are some behaviors so hard to change? What keeps us stuck in unhealthy patterns of living?

What I have found is that there is a very deep dynamic at work which keeps us from creating healthier ways of being.  Often, we have a fundamental attitude—either conscious or unconscious—that we are not worthy of treating ourselves well or being loved.

Tara Brach, a clinical psychologist and meditation teacher, developed the phrase “the trance of unworthiness” to describe this perception. This trance is characterized by feelings of inadequacy and insufficiency that can be triggered at any moment by a subtle criticism, an argument, a less-than perfect evaluation—the list is endless.  This underlying attitude of unworthiness frequently keeps us from moving forward in our lives. This lack of compassion toward ourselves can impede our progress and keep us from making self-care a regular part of our lives.

Self-compassion involves opening your heart to yourself. It invites you to be kind, gentle, and loving toward yourself. Self-compassion is not narcissistic, nor does it inflate your ego. It involves treating yourself with tenderness and understanding. This is in contrast to criticizing or harshly judging. How do you respond when you have fallen short of your expectations, overeaten, or had an angry outburst? Do you use harsh language and demean yourself? Do you disassociate and eat the rest of the box of chocolates? Or, do you look upon  yourself through the eyes of a wise grandmother who understands that imperfection is part of the human experience, and who loves and accepts you just as you are?

Letting go of perfection and unrealistic expectations that we have held for a lifetime is not easy. Being understanding with ourselves rather than being harsh and judgmental are habits that take time to alter. A daily meditative practice that can help bring self-compassion into your life is the lovingkindness meditation. There are many variations of the loving-kindness meditation. With any interior practice, the important thing is to do what is comfortable for you and what resonates with your heart and soul. Take time to explore and create a practice that works for you.

This meditation is a 2,500-year-old practice that uses repeated phrases, images, and feelings to create loving kindness and compassion toward oneself and others. You can begin by repeating the phrase for 10 to 20 minutes each day. There are many variations of the verses. Feel free to modify the meditation in any way that resonates more deeply with you. The verse below is taught by meditation teacher Jack Kornfield (Kornfield, 1993):

  1. Sit quietly in a comfortable position. Scan your entire body for any areas that might be carrying tension and gently stretch and move your body in ways that release that tension.
  2. Set aside any concerns or worries—you can pick them up at the end of the meditation.
  3. Bring to mind a person, place, or thing that evokes a loving feeling within you. It may be holding a newborn baby, hugging a loved one, cuddling your pet, or being caressed by the sun on a sandy beach.
  4. Let your consciousness rest in that feeling of love, and with each inhalation imagine that you are infusing your body with a golden light that feels warm and loving. With each exhalation, imagine that you are ridding yourself of any negative thoughts or feelings. Continue this process for several breaths or until you feel relaxed.
  5. Inwardly recite the following verses to yourself. Pause and experience the “feeling” of each sentence before proceeding to the next.

May I be filled with loving kindness.

  May I be well.

  May I be peaceful and at ease.

  May I be happy.

Repeat the phrases over and over, allowing the feelings to permeate your body, mind, and emotional being. Observe and acknowledge any thoughts that are distracting or irritating and simply return to repeating the verse.

Continue this practice for several weeks, and when you feel ready you can expand the focus of your loving kindness to include others.

Source: Thornton, 2011, p. 45; 2013, p. 36.

 

By Lucia Thornton 12 Aug, 2016

A new vision for health care is emerging. It is a vision that brings health, healing, compassion, and wellness into the conversation. It is a vision that invites professionals to work together to create a healthy and sustainable society. It puts people, their needs, their dreams, and their lives at the core of its efforts. It holds promise and sets us on a course toward a vital and healthy nation.

Yet bringing this vision into reality is the true grist for the mill. How do we do it? Where do we begin? How can each of us possibly make a difference?

There are many initiatives and programs that can bring us closer to this vision. In the next few newsletters I’ll be talking about new models, legislation, research, practices, and programs that can help create a world that is healthier, more wholesome, and more compassionate . . . a world that we feel good about . . . a world that we cherish . . . a world that is sustainable and insures generations to come the opportunity to be healthy, vital, and happy.

Each of us can make a difference . . . one thought . . . one intention . . . one step at a time. When we act with wisdom and firm resolve, engage our highest intellect and our highest Self, then we can create a healthy and sustainable society. We can make a difference!  

New Vision Emphasizes Wellness, Compassion, Interprofessional Collaboration, Prevention, Accessibility and Affordability

The Institute of Medicine in collaboration with the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation in their epic report “The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health” created this powerful vision:  

We envision a future system that makes quality care accessible to the diverse populations of the United States, intentionally promotes wellness and disease prevention, reliably improves health outcomes, and provides compassionate care across the lifespan.  

In this envisioned future, primary care and prevention are central drivers of the health care system. Interprofessional collaboration and coordination are the norm. Payment for health care services rewards value, not volume of services, and quality care is provided at a price that is affordable for both individuals and society.

The first step in creating a new reality is to envision what that reality might look like. There is an old saying “if you can see, believe it, then you can achieve it.” It is exciting that many promising visions for a new type of health care are emerging. For me, this is a definite sign that we are awakening as a society. The Institute of Medicine, the World Health Organization, the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine, the Integrative Health Policy Consortium, the American Holistic Nurses Association, and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation are just a few of the many organizations that are advocating for a new system that promotes health and wellness. In subsequent newsletters I will be featuring some of the initiatives that these and other organizations have developed. Their stories will inspire you, create hope, and perhaps even provide opportunities for you to get involved in creating a new paradigm.  

Remember, each of us can make a difference . . . one thought . . . one intention . . . one step at a time!    

By Lucia Thornton 12 Aug, 2016

In facilitating a shift toward healing and wellness, it is important to become aware of the underlying dynamics that keep us from changing. Why are some behaviors so hard to change? What keeps us stuck in unhealthy patterns of living?

What I have found is that there is a very deep dynamic at work which keeps us from creating healthier ways of being.  Often, we have a fundamental attitude—either conscious or unconscious—that we are not worthy of treating ourselves well or being loved.

Tara Brach, a clinical psychologist and meditation teacher, developed the phrase “the trance of unworthiness” to describe this perception. This trance is characterized by feelings of inadequacy and insufficiency that can be triggered at any moment by a subtle criticism, an argument, a less-than perfect evaluation—the list is endless.  This underlying attitude of unworthiness frequently keeps us from moving forward in our lives. This lack of compassion toward ourselves can impede our progress and keep us from making self-care a regular part of our lives.

Self-compassion involves opening your heart to yourself. It invites you to be kind, gentle, and loving toward yourself. Self-compassion is not narcissistic, nor does it inflate your ego. It involves treating yourself with tenderness and understanding. This is in contrast to criticizing or harshly judging. How do you respond when you have fallen short of your expectations, overeaten, or had an angry outburst? Do you use harsh language and demean yourself? Do you disassociate and eat the rest of the box of chocolates? Or, do you look upon  yourself through the eyes of a wise grandmother who understands that imperfection is part of the human experience, and who loves and accepts you just as you are?

Letting go of perfection and unrealistic expectations that we have held for a lifetime is not easy. Being understanding with ourselves rather than being harsh and judgmental are habits that take time to alter. A daily meditative practice that can help bring self-compassion into your life is the lovingkindness meditation. There are many variations of the loving-kindness meditation. With any interior practice, the important thing is to do what is comfortable for you and what resonates with your heart and soul. Take time to explore and create a practice that works for you.

This meditation is a 2,500-year-old practice that uses repeated phrases, images, and feelings to create loving kindness and compassion toward oneself and others. You can begin by repeating the phrase for 10 to 20 minutes each day. There are many variations of the verses. Feel free to modify the meditation in any way that resonates more deeply with you. The verse below is taught by meditation teacher Jack Kornfield (Kornfield, 1993):

  1. Sit quietly in a comfortable position. Scan your entire body for any areas that might be carrying tension and gently stretch and move your body in ways that release that tension.
  2. Set aside any concerns or worries—you can pick them up at the end of the meditation.
  3. Bring to mind a person, place, or thing that evokes a loving feeling within you. It may be holding a newborn baby, hugging a loved one, cuddling your pet, or being caressed by the sun on a sandy beach.
  4. Let your consciousness rest in that feeling of love, and with each inhalation imagine that you are infusing your body with a golden light that feels warm and loving. With each exhalation, imagine that you are ridding yourself of any negative thoughts or feelings. Continue this process for several breaths or until you feel relaxed.
  5. Inwardly recite the following verses to yourself. Pause and experience the “feeling” of each sentence before proceeding to the next.

May I be filled with loving kindness.

  May I be well.

  May I be peaceful and at ease.

  May I be happy.

Repeat the phrases over and over, allowing the feelings to permeate your body, mind, and emotional being. Observe and acknowledge any thoughts that are distracting or irritating and simply return to repeating the verse.

Continue this practice for several weeks, and when you feel ready you can expand the focus of your loving kindness to include others.

Source: Thornton, 2011, p. 45; 2013, p. 36.

 

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