Yesterday I visited the Hippocrates Health Institute (HHI) in West Palm Beach, Florida. I signed up for a spa package, which included a body wrap and massage, use of pools, sauna, steam, and lunch. But what I enjoyed most was attending a graduation, where people spoke about their experiences at HHI. Most of the people I listened to had attended the three-week Life Transformation Program. Two things struck me about these testimonials. The first was that people had travelled from all over the world to attend. Men and women from Egypt, Switzerland, Russia, Canada, the United States, and elsewhere spoke about their commitment to take healing into their own hands. In many cases traditional medical doctors had offered treatment (drugs), but little, if any, hope for healing. The second thing that amazed me was that even though people spoke about diverse illnesses—colitis, multiple sclerosis, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and lupus to name a few—everyone had healed or was reversing their dis-ease by adopting a raw, vegan diet in conjunction with other holistic practices. Not everyone in the program was struggling with disease. Some had come to lose weight, others to detoxify their bodies, relax their minds, and rejuvenate their spirits.
Dr. Brian Clement, who co-directs the institute with his wife, Dr. Anna Maria Gahns-Clement, spoke about the importance of focusing on, committing to, and following through on what matters. “You have to create your new world,” he said, “You have to be a walking, talking, living example of what a human being can be.” He talked about personal health, evolution, and transformation as being the norm, not pain and disease.
As I lay in a poolside hammock gazing at palm trees and blue sky, while awaiting what I knew would be a delicious Hippocrates dinner (after the fabulous lunch, I knew I had to stay for more), I repeated the words I’d seen printed on T-shirts and canvas bags throughout the day: “It’s not the food in your life, it’s the life in your food.”
Hippocrates, a Greek physician born in 460 B.C., and known as the father of modern medicine, said, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” At HHI, this is absolutely the case. Never before have I seen such abundant bowls of organic greens, varieties of sprouts, and water coolers filled with green juice (cucumber, celery, and sprouts). The meals are served buffet style, and eating there brings new meaning to the words salad bar. You won’t find any mayonnaise-drenched potatoes here, no hard-boiled eggs or bacon bits. But you will find walnut tacos, avocado sushi rolls, veggie wraps, raw hummus, pad Thai noodles, and other vegan delicacies.
Hippocrates believed we all have a doctor living inside us, and that the natural healing force within is the greatest force in getting well. I am sure he understood that miracles happen and that there are as many ways to heal as ways to move through life. I imagine too that this wise healer knew that love also heals. Another T-shirt the Institute sells says, “The Number One Silent Healer LOVE.” This is consistent with what I learned while pursuing my masters degree in spiritual psychology, where my professors often repeated “Healing is the application of love to what hurts.”
I am a living example of the power of Dr. Clement’s words to “create your new world.” Only I had the power to do this for myself. I probably wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t developed chronic stomach problems. My illness was a blessing, a gift, and an invitation to focus on, commit to, and follow through on what mattered in my life. These seven years have been a healing journey. The fear, discomfort, and dis-ease that once dominated my days are distant memories. It was wonderful to see during my HHI visit that nourishing myself with raw food and love has not only transformed my life, but the lives of countless others worldwide.
Recently, in a phone conversation with a friend, I confessed to being anxious and impatient while agents read my book proposal. My friend said, “You’re the essence of what a writer is. I see nothing but blue skies and green lights for you. You’ve demonstrated mastery in terms of manifestation.”
“What?” I asked, struggling to take this in.
“Look at what you’ve accomplished this year—you’ve clearly demonstrated an ability to manifest your heart’s desires and make your dreams come true.”
My gremlins squirmed, and then muttered that my good fortune had all been a stroke of luck that couldn’t possibly last. But my Wise Self knew better. Deep down I understood that what I’d created had nothing to do with luck, that my external gains were a result of inner growth. This growth came from activities such as meditation, journal writing, affirmations, inspirational reading, and other soul-nurturing practices, including Living Visions.
Living Visions are tools to help people manifest what they want in their lives. I was introduced to this technique at the University of Santa Monica and have used it for over five years. This simple but powerful exercise helped me write my poetry book, design my website, plan, pitch, and implement my Scripps College residency, start this blog, and complete my Raw Years book proposal. It has also helped me expand my writing classes, which have tripled in size over the past two years, and build a thriving coaching practice.
Here’s how Living Visions work: Think of something you want. Now imagine whatever you want is unfolding exactly the way you’d like it to. Write somebody you love a letter. Make sure this person is someone who believes in you and in your dreams. Someone who genuinely wants the best for you. Tell them what’s happening. Talk best-case scenarios. You are getting exactly what you want. Describe your joyful situation in the present tense with as much detail as possible. Make it at least 50 percent believable, but also really stretch into it. Explore what you want. Be specific.
When you’re done, cut the salutation (dear so-and-so) and put this statement at the beginning and end of what you’ve written: “This or something better for the highest good of all concerned.” I write this because I realize I’m not God and cannot see the big picture of my life. Perhaps the Universe has something different—or even larger—in mind for me. I don’t want to limit myself in terms of what I manifest. Also, these words remind me to trust my spiritual source. Knowing I am not alone—that I’m co-creating with a divine partner—empowers me. It also takes the pressure off. I do my part and Spirit does its part.
You may be, as I once was, skeptical of this process. But try it and you’ll see more of what you want (and less of what you don’t want) show up in your life. This is a co-creative process and it’s fun, especially if you enjoy writing.
Here’s a Living Vision I wrote recently as an example. This Living Vision has to do with my book proposal, The Raw Years: A Midlife Healing Memoir, which, as I mentioned, is being read by agents right now. This vision is more than 50 percent believable. Writing this not only helped me clarify what I want, but when I read it I feel as though I already have it. These feelings are magnetic attractors. My living vision is a prayer, a wish, and a genuine declaration to the universe about what I want and how I’d like to see it unfold--if it’s for the highest good of all concerned.
Living Vision: Agent
THIS OR SOMETHING BETTER
FOR THE HIGHEST GOOD OF ALL CONCERNED
My agent is impressed with and excited by my proposal and envisions the book and its success clearly. She calls me to offer representation, and we hit it off. We both have strong, positive vibes. My agent has great ideas about where to send the proposal. She is also a good listener, and values my suggestions. My agent is connected with the perfect publishing people, has great relationships with the right editors, and realizes that the timing for this project couldn’t be better. Her enthusiasm for my books is infectious. She negotiates a fast and fabulous deal. My agent is a savvy businesswoman, but is also warm and charming. She is the perfect representative of my work and of me. She resonates with my writing and helps me stretch beyond what I think possible. She maps out new avenues for career expansion and assists me in unexpected ways; she helps me get writing assignments for magazines, points out teaching opportunities, and hooks me up with a terrific publicist. She goes above and beyond the call of duty. My agent thinks about the big picture of my writing and my career. She’s one of my biggest advocates and cheerleaders. She’s loyal, dedicated, responsible, and trustworthy. She represents me with knowledge, grace, and heart, and speaks truth with kindness. My agent is a wonderful advisor, career guide, and friend. We respect and admire each other and work well together.
THIS OR SOMETHING BETTER
FOR THE HIGHEST GOOD OF ALL CONCERNED
What are you longing for? What are you creating? Even if you don’t write a Living Vision, writing about your dreams will bring them into focus, and if you act upon them, little-by-little and one step at a time, chances are good you’ll make your dreams come true. If not, at least you’ll know you’ve tried. And trying is all any of us can do. Trying is within our control. The rest—the part to which we must surrender—is mysterious and divine.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on manifesting what you want and making your dreams come true. And of course, I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.
March 5th was my birthday. Ten minutes into my morning meditation I felt like moving, so I gave myself the gift of a birthday dance. I cleared space in my living room, turned on my iPod, and let myself go, giving full attention to my body. I listened to how it wanted to move and followed.
Soon, my heart felt huge. I opened my arms, lifted my palms, gazed at the mountains outside my window, took in their strength, and felt as wide as the valley that stretched before me. I was exuberant, joyous, and grateful. For this dance, yes, but for much more.
Days before, I had given myself an even greater gift: I’d completed my book proposal for The Raw Years: A Midlife Healing Memoir, which I’d spent six months crafting. The whole process felt divinely inspired. I’ve never written with such grace and ease before. So my gratitude was also for this flow I’m living. The gods are grinning and filling my sails with wind. Gratitude was—and still is—the order of the day, and when March 5th rolled around, my body, at first, could not sit still—even during morning meditation. It had to express its gratitude and joy in leaps and turns, in sways and swirls, hugs and curls—and after that, stillness.
How easy it is to cram myself into a chair and ignore my body while I write, but my body longs to expand, wander, and soar as much as my mind. It seeks spaces between its smallest bones. It has its own stories to tell.
While dancing, I spotted family photos, bowed, and said a silent thank you to my in-laws for all they’ve given me—especially for their son, my husband, Jim. I looked at his photo, and then at my daughter Helen’s. I held my heart and deepened my bow.
The last song on my playlist was Nadine Risha’s chant: I Am The Holy One. It goes like this:
I am the holy one
walking the perfect journey
I am awake and holy
my heart is full
my mind is free.
The chant lasted several minutes. I sat on a blanket repeating these words and felt them reverberate through my core. Katie, our dog, walked into the room, nails clicking against the hard wood floor. She eyed me as she climbed into her bed beneath the fireplace. I turned to her and said, “Would you like to join me?” She came right over and crawled into my lap. I petted her while singing, and after Katie’s wild, wagging tail quieted, and the chant ended, we sat together in a blissful birthday silence.
How do you celebrate your accomplishments and your life? I’d love to hear from you.
Want more energy? Want to give up sugar and caffeine, two of the most common toxic substances people put into their bodies? Try upping your consumption of fresh, leafy greens. If you don’t want to munch salad all day long, check out the wonderful world of green smoothies, pioneered by Victoria Boutenko, whose book, Green For Life, published in 2004, has helped many people improve vitality and health. Not only will green smoothies eliminate sugar cravings, they’ll boost your immune system, cleanse your liver and pancreas, and add vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to your diet.
Drinking green smoothies is a great way to start the day, and there are infinite recipes that not only nourish the body, but also taste great. To make a green smoothie, blend 60% fruit (by volume) in a blender with 40% greens and filtered water. Use soft fruits, such as bananas, mangoes, berries, and kiwis. Keep your recipes simple, and rotate your greens to maximize health benefits.
Lately, I’ve been enjoying health coach Steve Factor’s green smoothie recipe, which, in truth, is brown—but don’t let the color prevent you from enjoying this tasty treat.
Steve’s Green (Brown) Smoothie Recipe
2 very ripe bananas
11/2 cups fresh blue berries
2-3 kale leaves
filtered water to taste
Want to read what others are saying about green smoothies?
Check out these testimonials on Robyn Openshaw’s website.
Feel free to experiment with your green smoothies, and let me know when you make a delicious new discovery!