Living Well Blog: Saratoga's Holistic Health Forum

January 2009 Archives

Firing Line

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I had an unnerving experience this afternoon and was sadly reminded of how much anger people harbor without an appropriate vent.

It all began when I went to make an ATM deposit. My bank has installed a new type of ATM; it accepts and counts cash, and it accepts checks one at a time. Unfortunately, as has been the case in the past, I had quite a few checks to deposit. This can be a lengthy process. It's not my favorite thing to do, but I wanted to deposit my money and the bank wasn't open.

So, I pulled up to the window and began making my transactions. The next thing I know, the people behind me have rolled down their window and are shouting at me: "You are RUDE! Why don't you take your transactions INSIDE the bank!" They said more, but this covers it. The driver began to maneuver out from the lane and he and two cars behind him pulled out from the line.

Now, it's no different if I went into the bank and used the ATM. An ATM is an ATM. I've done this before INSIDE the bank; it takes just as long and people seem to get just as aggravated and leave.

Is it my fault if the bank has instituted a new banking machine? Should I not deposit my money because it will inconvenience someone? Honestly, standing at a machine inputting one check at a time isn't exactly my favorite thing to do either.

Jarred, I finished my transactions and shook my head. The pent up anger in this society is frightening. Sometimes, we have to wait in line. You can't have everything the moment that you want it.

I did an energy exercise (Thank you, Dr. Sarah!) and moved on, glad to be someone who doesn't have to express myself in rage for something that is not my fault nor the fault of the person in front of me. Phew!

Thoughts on Winter

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I don't think of myself as a cold weather enthusiast. I'll mourn the lack of light for so many days on end; I'll scurry from car to work and back, I don't ski - or skate (not well, anyways); I tiptoe through messy slush and pick my way across icy streets. I'll chime into the lament of others about the cold temperatures, or the nasty driving conditions.

But then, I'll step out to take my dogs for a walk on a cold, clear night when the diamond-like snowflakes are floating, and the air is fresh and rejuvenating to my skin. Or, I notice the stark, yet hauntingly beautiful shapes of trees without their leafy clothing, and I'm magically uplifted. I'll snuggle with a book by the dancing fire with a whipped cream hat on my soothing hot chocolate, or marvel at how different everything looks in the winter. You can see houses and rocks that are otherwise obscured in our greener months.

It's at these times, I realize the value of winter and how much I enjoy it. I love the seasons and the way they dress our world in different costumes. Winter isn't such a bad thing after all. Too often, I think that we get caught up in extremes: too hot, too cold, too this or too that, when instead, we're focusing on the fleeting moments of discomfort rather than the beauty that we are so fortunate to experience.

Time for Valentines!

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Chocolates, jewelry, flowers and cards; cherubs, hearts and the color red. These are the hallmarks of, and what comes to mind when we think of Valentine's Day. Although we know that we should do special things for our loved ones on each and every day of the year, it's nice to have a day set aside when this becomes our focus.

Of course traditional flowers and chocolates are wonderful - we'd never turn those away! and Valentine's wouldn't be complete without them; but we all enjoy finding ways to express our feelings in an original manner. So, I thought. What's new? What's different? What says "I love you," best?, and began to list the most important things.

First, the list contained tangible items, but then, it began to change. Suddenly, I realized there were underlying ideas behind the material gifts - such as: Thoughtfulness. Without a doubt, thoughtfulness is one of the most valuable things when it comes to gift giving. It says that we care enough to think ahead, plan and execute. It requires our attention and our time. And then it hit me: Our time. Today, time has to be one of the most precious offerings a person can give, since time seems to be that thing that's often hardest to find! Now, I had it: A precious offering so valuable that it cannot be found in any store, cannot be quantified in numbers and has no form to which a price tag could be affixed, and yet, it is something that is within our power to give - to others and to ourselves.

When we take time to care for ourselves, we find that we create a greater sense of well being and we feel healthier. When we take time to care for our loved ones, we create lasting memories that enrich our lives and this also creates health and well being. Both of these things are invaluable contributions to our quality of life. So, how can we use this precious gift of time in a unique way that says, "I love you" and has lasting impact?

Couples' massage or spa treatments are a great way to spend relaxing, romantic time together and they can be followed by a quiet lunch or dinner. This makes for a terrific time to reconnect - since we are more open and renewed after a massage, facial or pedicure. These kinds of gifts are great because they so have an enduring effect.

Unique and romantic Valentine's Day gift ideas can be as simple as taking a bath together at home, or by visiting one of the local, mineral baths or spas and taking a few hours in the afternoon or evening to enjoy the peace. Aroma therapeutic bath salts and essential oils make a wonderful addition to any bath and can be a nice add-on as a thoughtful prelude to the shared experience. High quality mineral salts combined with essential oils can be purchased at any number of local gift shops, spas, health food or department stores and are excellent for your skin as well as your psyche.

Whether it's trying something that you've never done before, or enjoying something that is a perennial favorite, enjoy the moments you spend on Valentines with your loved ones! Remember that time can be the most precious thing to give! So, when I say, "Time for Valentines," it's truly "Time for Valentines"!

Living Well is:

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A. Walking on the beach at Montauk.
B. Feeling healthy and abundantly alive.
C. Realizing that you have what you want from life.
D. A holistic healing arts center.
E. All of the above.

What's your definition of Living Well?

For months, the forecast for our country's -- our world's -- financial climate has become bleaker and bleaker. Job layoffs, price increases, bank crises: these have been the headlines. It can be frightening and depressing, so how do we cope?

The first thing that strikes me is this: Regardless of the current crises that are being focused upon, we never know what the future will bring. Not tomorrow, not next week, next month, not even later today.

This realization can be very helpful and empowering when we realize that we can change the things we can control, and make a difference in our own lives and the lives of those that we touch. The sense of autonomy can be a source of calm in the storm. Today is not so different than last week. For example, the sudden announcement of our recession - just a week or so before Christmas - didn't really change anyone's situation in that moment, other than creating a sense of fear.

Of course, we are concerned and we can take steps to curtail spending and make wise choices, but realizing that what's most important is that we are only alive in this particular moment called "now." This can help maintain a positive perspective. Do we want to live the time we have here in fear? Experiencing worry? Or do we make the choice to live each moment in the best way that we can.

It has already been proven that we are what we believe, and that stress is an underlying cause of illness. So, when we take measures to allay the stress and feel like we are in control of our own cosmos, we are dealing with circumstances in the most positive way we can. When we support ourselves in this way, we are able to support the ones we love in this way too. Similarly, they are then able to do the same.

As the Director of Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa, I see people - clients and practitioners -- working to make their worlds a better place each day. Here's some of their expert opinions on how to deal with our current situation.

Sarah Lobisco, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine replied, "It may seem like an oxymoron, but the more stressed we are, the more imperative it is to take time out and BREATHE. Your body is your companion -- your best, most irreplaceable friend on this life journey, so it's good idea to treat it with respect. It will do and does do everything it can to keep you healthy and functioning. It may even communicate in harsh measures: a sort of "tough love" response to missed opportunities. For example, if you missed the message of fatigue and that inner nudging to get more sleep for weeks, your body may respond with cold and flu symptoms, in order to get the rest it needs to rejuvenate and re-establish equilibrium.

In this economic environment, many may find it difficult to keep from worrying or running around like a chicken without a head. However, that need not be the case. We can support our body and therefore, our stress response, by practicing relaxation, deep breathing techniques, and mind-body modalities. We can take the time to prepare healthy meals, which nourish our systems and provide quality fuel to our blood cells and brain. This helps us to maintain clarity, which, in turn will help us to make sound, practical decisions such as cutting costs or supplementing income. We may even decide to make a wise choice to visit a good Naturopathic Doctor, [ ;) ] who can suggest supplemental nutrients or herbs which support the body's nervous system to keep you grounded and calm.

In all, we can use this time as an opportunity to soul-search our priorities and then plan and implement proactive and reasonable strategies to achieve our goals. What a nice perspective shift from fear!"

Dave Ostrowski, a master Acupuncturist and Tui Na practitioner, added, "We can begin with one word: simplify. Identify what it is that you love to do and do it in a reasonable and practical manner. Through this simplification process, we draw inwards and that allows us to realize what we're all about, what we love to do or be and what's important to us.

In doing what we love, there's a single-mindedness of purpose that becomes a form of meditation, which decreases stress. When we shut down the clutter and live in the present, we are helping ourselves to be well. We have to realize that the mind will continually point out the "shoulds" and the "what ifs," but if we strive for focus, we find that we are moving forward in this thing called "living."

It's really important for us to put our perceived obligations and expectations aside and realize it can be mind clutter that will always be there. So, when we find the quiet spaces in between that stuff to just be present - for even a few moments every day - we're on the path to living well."

At Living Well, we help people deal with the day to day stresses of our lives and work to find positive measures to enhance the quality of our lives, whether that be stress management, pain management or other important concerns that we share as human beings. We are readily available to answer questions and support the community in any way that we can, so please feel free to use our resources!

New Year, New You

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With January, the first month of the New Year, comes fresh beginnings. It's a wonderful time to assess where we are and where we want to be; a wonderful time to focus and take time for your self. The New Year inspires us to move forward and make changes to the status quo, motivated to address and take on those things about ourselves that we'd like to adjust.

One goal that seems to be on everyone's mind is better health. These days, "health" has evolved into "Wellness.". Incorporating more than just our physical body's state of being, "wellness" encompasses body, mind, and spirit and suggests the traditional concept of a healthy body joined with happiness, contentment, peace, soundness of mind and an over-all sense of well being. Wellness is about quality of life. Able to live longer, we want to live better. It's not only about living, it's about living well. So, how do we move towards this state of wellness?

Perhaps, first we need to choose what we want to work on, and then we can move on to how we can work on it. Do you live with chronic pain? Back problems? Migraines? Do you have skin concerns? Would you like to create a new regimen? Exercise? Diet? Once you have honed in on your target, then you can initiate a course of action. Yoga. Pilates. Acupuncture. Skincare. Sound easy? Need a little impetus? Here are some keys that will help you progress smoothly and avoid pitfalls:

Pick a goal that's do-able. Start small. This way, you will enjoy a sense of accomplishment early on. If goals are too lofty, the great impetus crusher, disappointment, can set in, disturb the "force" and cause us to stall from a lack of motivation.

Be honest with yourself. If you set reasonable goals, you will be more apt to finish what you've set out to do. Pick something you enjoy, that resonates with you. It will make the doing easier and the ability to talk yourself out of it, harder.
Stick to your guns and don't make excuses. Get out there and do it! Act first, rationalize later. However, it's important to ...

Be gentle with yourself! Sometimes, we're our own worst critics. Go easy, be encouraging. If you haven't taken care of your skin for years, it's going to take time to get it looking healthy. If you're too critical too early on and looking for great strides, then you're going to be more apt to fail. By recognizing small achievements and progress, the sense of forward movement will perpetuate your motivation. Notice the little miraculous changes and reward yourself for doing whatever it is: having regular facials, exercising, trying a new treatment like acupuncture or myofascial release.

Remember that sometimes a little goes a long way. A good way to try something new without making a great commitment is to check it out in a small dose. Take a class, attend a talk, try a sample. For example, at Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa, we recommend the Spectacular Spa Sampler, for people who want to try new services, but aren't sure what they'd like. This choice allows you to pick two treatments for the cost of one.

Fortunately for us all, the initial steps of dislodging inertia and subduing the fear of trying something new are often two of the most difficult obstacles to overcome. But when we do, we are rewarded with newfound vitality and a sense of accomplishment. Plus, it's just plain fun to become excited and immersed in a fresh pursuit. While you're walking the path, you're laying in new seeds. The great thing is that practice can, when watered and tended, take hold and grow into a strong plant named habit. Then, we have something that has taken root in our lives. This positive pattern not only makes us feel better in general, but also, it gives our self esteem the big boost of accomplishment.

So go ahead and stick your toe in the water before diving in head first. The important thing is to allow yourself to move out of your comfort zone and discover a vital new you. Remember that the second step is always easier than the first. You are what you do. By taking care of yourself, you are creating good health. With practice, and gentle patience, you will feel renewed. So, with whatever new challenge you pursue, just get out there and try something new. Take on wellness and wellness will take you over.

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Reisa Mehlman

As a New York State Licensed Aesthetician, New York State Licensed Nail Specialist, and the Director of Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa, Reisa combines her love of spa services and healing arts to achieve optimum skin and nail health, create greater overall wellness and bring forth our optimal, individual beauty.

"I believe that the day spa should be an instant getaway; a place that is quiet without being stuffy, relaxed, elegant and yet entirely comfy. You should feel warm and welcome, surrounded by people who care about you and what they are doing. This is the environment we strive to create at Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa. Here, you are never just the "next" number; we allow ample time for your services, offer a flexible schedule and can be reached after hours. After all, to me, spa craft is not really a business, it's a lifestyle." Read more...


Dr. Sarah Lobisco

Whether the goal is to lessen pain, find an alternative to pharmaceuticals, or improve your quality of life, Dr. LoBisco's Naturopathic Medicine lets you get the best of both worlds conventional medicine, combined with safe and proven complementary therapies.

Dr. Sarah LoBisco has been involved in wellness for over 8 years. Her experience includes mentoring with holistic practices throughout New York, Vermont, and Connecticut. Read more...