(1) The Healing Process –

Presentation from the first Getting Golden Healing & Wellness Support Group

Hi I’m Tarryn – Group Creator and Facilitator, although this has been a group effort and we wouldn’t be here today without the support and encouragement of many in my life.  Trying to heal or live a healthy lifestyle isn’t exactly conducive to our current culture. Many of the behaviors and habits of our lives are unhealthy and even knowing this it is easy to fall back into old actions and thoughts.  When we’re surrounded by people who don’t understand or can’t understand it makes these changes even more difficult.

That’s one of the driving reasons behind this group to give us connection with other people who often struggle in similar ways.  There is a saying, “it takes a village” and I think that applies to everything. I’ve been building a village and I’d like to invite you to be a part of it.  I think we can help each other. Healing or transitioning to a healthy lifestyle isn’t generally easy, if it were we’d live in a very different world.

Here are a few guidelines for this group.  They help ensure we are on the same page.

This is a support group with the purpose of sharing, listening, learning from and being supportive of each other. A support group is not a therapy group. We’re not here to solve your problems, we’re here to support you as you solve your problems.  

  1. Please put your cell phone on vibrate.
  2. What is shared in this group stays in this group.
  3. Sharing is a choice and not a requirement.
  4. All feelings are okay. Feelings are neither right nor wrong, good nor bad. We do not need to rescue people from their feelings. When feelings are heard with respect and empathy, people can begin to resolve these feelings. Remembering these things about feelings will help this group to be emotionally safe. Feelings do not need to be interpreted, analyzed, or judged.
  5. Respect people’s physical boundaries. Ask permission to hug or touch. Listen while people are sharing.
  6. Only one person speaks at a time–please do not interrupt or talk over others. Respect people’s opinions. Ask permission to comment on something someone else has shared or to ask them a question. It is fine to let others know that you would rather that they did not comment on what you shared.
  7. This group is a safe space for all religious and spiritual belief systems. Please be respectful of this. It is not all right to use the group time to try to convince people about any specific religion or spiritual belief system. It is; of course, fine to share how your belief system may have been supportive and helpful to you.

If anyone has any additional suggestions or has any concerns please let the group facilitator know.  

After a few minutes of open discussion and voluntary introductions the featured presentation for the group begins.  

Featured Presentation:  

When it comes to healing I have found that the responsibility lies with us.  Our current care system often leaves us dis-empowered as it focuses on physicians, tests, procedures, pharmaceuticals, and surgeries.  The whole process often leaves us stressed which is the absolute opposite of what our bodies need to heal. The goal of this group is to support and empower each of us to make the changes needed to ensure a long, healthy life.  

Which brings me to what exactly are these changes?  Only you know the exact answer to that, but this group is to help give you the tools to discover and do exactly that.  Each group I’d like to discuss certain info, ideas, or tools that can help us on our healing and wellness path.

This group I’d like to spend some time talking about elements common to healing.  Research has discovered recurring elements with people who heal or are living a healthy lifestyle.  The list looks something like:

Radical Change in Diet

Taking Control of Your Health

Recognizing and Managing Stress

Following Your Intuition

Using Herbs and Supplements

Releasing Suppressed Emotions

Increasing Positive Emotions

Embracing Social Support

Deepening Your Spiritual Connection

Having a Strong Reason for Living or Healing

This list can seem daunting on it’s own let alone without knowing if it is YOUR list.  Many of these items are not discussed in our healthcare system. It’s up to us to discover and implement them in our own life.  This can seem impossible and even more so when you’re ill and tired and it’s a task to get out of bed in the morning. On the other side those who are ill have better leverage to actually make the changes needed. Regardless, there is an image of life and a culture of life that a majority follow and it’s killing us – all of us to varying degrees.  Trying to become healthy can be a lonely, frustrating path, full of misinformation and missteps.

Let’s start with the last one on the list:  Having a strong reason to heal and having a strong reason to live.  While some people know this reason, others aren’t so blessed. I used to struggle with a desire to live.  I believe it’s played a huge part in my cancer. I hated my life. I was bored, lonely, and unfulfilled. I had to spend some time looking at myself and understanding myself. I had to realize how I felt underneath everything.  To start you simply ask yourself – what am I living for and see what you answer yourself with. My answer used to be “the weekend” and then my weekend was full of people and events that left me empty. There are a number of tools and exercises to help you discover this part of yourself.  This group can support and help you as you work to figuring this out.

Next, deepening your spiritual connection is a very personal thing.  This refers to your personal connection with whatever power or lack of power that you believe in.  Depending on what you’ve faced in your life you may or may not of considered this. We need to be at peace with the thought of death, or as much as we can be.  Living a life based on fear, guilt, shame, all hinder our body and spirit when healing. If you feel that you are an evil sinner and deserve to die it can hinder you in healing.  If you feel there that there is nothing after this it can hinder you in healing. Being aware of these feelings can help facilitate your healing and chances are your doctor will never ask you about them; help you work through them or spend enough time talking with you to help you potentially identify them.  

Embracing Social Support – There are numerous studies that show us that people without social support live shorter lifespans.  Your support group can help you feel loved and appreciated. It can help you feel a connection. It can help you make changes. With the right support team you can become anyone or anything… like President of the United States… Or maybe just healthy.  You pick your goals and discover people to help support you as you reach for them. I’ve watched this first hand in my life as I’ve created a tribe from my family and friends that help me discover and chase my dreams. Some of them are even here today and that means the world to me.  

Increasing positive emotions isn’t just putting a smile on your face and telling everyone you’re wonderful when inside you are dying.  It’s about feeling joy every day. If you feel joy by watching horror movies, well that’s your positive and watch one every week. If comedies and puppies make you happy then you should be sure to include these activities in your life regularly.  I love to write. If I don’t spend time writing I become a mess and I’m still coming to accept that. Sometimes my bad mood is simply because I haven’t given myself any writing time. When was the last time you spent time thinking about all the things that bring you joy and made a commitment to do something every day that brings you joy?  

This goes along with releasing suppressed emotions as well.  For most people the biggest challenge is what they focus on, what they think most of the time, and what they believe.  Deciding what you really want or admitting what you really want are important. We can ignore these questions if the answers scare us or have the potential to  hurt others. I needed to uncover a lot of suppress emotions within my life. I’ve had to admit that maybe I don’t want to get well. I’ve had to admit that I’ve been angry with certain family members for years.  Recently I recognized that a part of me wished people would get their crap together because I’m trying to fix my own life and I had been feeling that way for 20 years. These aren’t the kindest of feelings so I didn’t acknowledged them.  In doing so I’ve let go of resentment I’ve held for the last twenty years.

Our emotions have a huge impact on our health, but our current care system doesn’t really do much to support or help us use them to empower our healing.  The good news is that we don’t need them to. We can do this ourselves. It’s a pattern of thinking, it’s a habit or behavior and it just requires that we practice it and keep practicing it.  The information on how to do this is out there for those of us who go looking and one of the goals of this group is to help give us an environment to learn and share our experiences and tools.  

Using Herbs and Supplements – this plays into nutrition and I’ll come back to it there.  I believe it’s important to have a person on your team who has some knowledge in this area or to follow your own intuition and then work with your healthcare practitioner.  If only to be aware of any known reactions with other medications you may be taking.

Following your intuition… this would be the little voice we often silence when it speaks.  We allow ourselves to make decisions based upon our doctors or how we feel others would like us to act.  But only we can feel our body. We have to live with our choices. Learning to listen to and trust your intuition is something we’ve discounted in our modern world yet we all have experiences where we are glad we trusted the little voice or wish we had trusted it.  In this group we recognize our intuition and appreciate all it does for us. Our goal is to learn to use it better and recognize when we do.

Stress is something that affects everyone.  Even good events can cause us large amounts of stress… like a wedding.  We don’t tend to recognize the amount of stress we put on ourselves and how greatly it affects the body.  Learning to identify and manage stress is key to our healing process. This also means recognizing how our healing system, our doctors, tests, and procedures, surgeries, etc. all have stressful effects on the body.  

These factors all require that you take control of your health.  You have to choose. You have to be willing to change. To try new things.  To accept you may have to live differently than many people. You need to be willing to take some time to work on yourself for your own well-being.  It’s easy to forget why you are doing something when family, friends, co-workers, and society live in a whole different way. When we are given conflicting information from biased sources, it causes us to question and possibly quit because the path is hard enough without fighting against the whole world.  This group can help you take your responsibility back, or help you keep moving forward in the face of resistance to help you keep your hope, remind you have a reason to heal, a reason why you need to be here… a joyful reason if possible, one that excites you. It can help you stop obsessing about illness, and instead put that energy into wellness.  

There’s one more topic and it can be the most difficult.  Our diet.

Why is diet so important?  The Lifestyle Heart Trial was a Harvard study conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish treating 28 patients with heart disease with a plant-based low-fat diet, three hours of exercise per week, and various forms of stress management, like meditation and breathing exercises.  The findings at the end of the year long study:

82% of the patients in the experimental group had regression in their heart disease within a year.  Blockages in their arteries diminished. A 91% reduction in the frequency of chest pain, and an average drop of around 50 points in both their LDL and HDL cholesterol levels.

In contrast, the control group, who received standard of care saw 165% rise in the frequency of chest pain, blockage in the arteries increased by up to 8%, and cholesterol numbers were significantly worse than those in the experimental group.   

These types of findings aren’t unique to heart disease.  You find similar results when researching cancer, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, almost any chronic illness has examples of people who have healed from the unhealable.  

This group promotes a plant-based whole foods diet.  While you can choose to eat whatever you want, in this group we share information to promote a healing and healthy diet.  We don’t pretend that fast food or large quantities of meat consumption are healthy. I am thoroughly convinced that Hippocrates was absolutely correct when we said “Food is Medicine”.  We focus on ways to add more fruit and veggies into our diet, including healthy snacks and meals, eating while travelling, understanding studies and information including the ability to assess the source of the information.  

Professor Arnold Ehret, a natural healing pioneer wrote; “Disease is an effort of the body to eliminate waste, mucus, and toxemias, and this system assists nature in the most perfect and natural way.  Not the disease, but the body is to be healed, it must be cleansed, freed from waste and foreign matter, from mucus and toxemias accumulated since childhood”.

Food can help us do this.  

It is not wise to depend on your doctor to be your source of nutritional data unless they have made a study of it.  Many doctors I’ve met have a very unhealthy appearance. This should help you keep in mind that the average doctor spends two weeks studying nutrition in medical school… or less.  One published study suggests only about 25% of medical schools require training in the medical nutrition sciences.

Realizing that this study was from 1990 I went in search of more current data.  The next study from 2004 showed doctors received on average 23.9 hours of nutritional instruction.  Most instructors, 88%, expressed the need for additional nutritional instruction at their institutions.   Both of these studies were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Still, 2004, that was 14 years ago, and a lot can change in 14 years.  Unfortunately it hasn’t, and in fact we are still experiencing a downward trend. A 2015 report in Biomedical Medicine found that only 29% of US medical schools offered med students the recommended 25 hours of nutrition education.  On average US medical schools offer only 19.6 hours of nutrition education across four years of medical school. This is a decrease of 4 hours within a decade.

A 2016 study by researchers at Case Western Reserve University examined data from 25 family medicine, internal medicine, and OB-GYN medical residency programs throughout Ohio.  What they found was the programs averaged 2.8 hours of instruction on obesity, nutrition, and physical activity counseling, and only 42% taught residents techniques for how to perform health behavior counseling.  This means that in addition to lacking an education in a key part of our health, our doctors also lack the ability to effectively discuss it with us.

More concerning maybe a quote from Dr. David Katz, Director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, “The basic structure of medical education was put in place in 1920, long before lifestyle-related chronic disease was a major public health focus”.  Our medical teaching system hasn’t evolved with our understanding of the world and what our sciences are teaching us. It’s completely ignoring lifestyle factors and the mind body connection.

Yet, people turn their power over completely to their doctors.  Physicians have on average 7 to 22 minutes with patients and to provide nutritional information, stress reduction techniques, emotional coping tools, wellness tips, along with offering guidance for recommended health screenings and performing a focused physical exam.  All of these actions do not fit into the 7 to 22 minutes. Which is where our current system of recommended health screenings and focused physical exams come to the forefront as these fuel the healthcare system.

This is why it’s better to create a community that helps you.  Dr. Marion Vetter, a Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania express it well when she said “That community can help you counter the current culture of medicine which as increasingly focused on pharmacologic treatments, rather than lifestyle modifications.  Both patient and provider want to see rapid results.” Many a patient would prefer a magic pill or the smallest action required to return them back to their life.

Dietary modifications and lifestyle changes typically involve a slow and steady approach. Dietary changes can be emotionally stressful, whether due to a need to gain satisfaction from food, or due to a body image and weight loss issues, to family beliefs and behaviors.  Our care system doesn’t really offer support to help people obtain these changes. They don’t deal with having family members not support your dietary changes, or when they don’t understand how some event may be too physically taxing or stressful.  They don’t help you figure out a way to change your diet, or how to add breathing exercises or meditation practices to your day. They don’t want to listen to you as you work your way through outgrowing friends or family members and the loneliness you feel at times.  

And they don’t need to.  We can create our own path, in fact we need to.  We need to take responsibility for our own healing or health.  

There will always be conflicting and confusing reports of “scientific evidence” of lack thereof, with regards to nutritional information, or at least there will be in our current paradigm.  But if you try something for yourself and see it truly helps you to feel better, look and feel amazing, who cares about all the “noise” out there? Well, we do care, because it can be hard, so we may look for an excuse to go back.  A reason to sabotage ourselves so we can better connect with those important in our lives, or to try and fit in with others and in society. To better ensure your success a new network of people can be a huge factor in the success of transitioning to a healing or healthy lifestyle.  

I’ve spent many a holiday struggling with my family over my diet or other lifestyle changes – like speaking more honestly and making choices based upon my own best interest.  One holiday gathering I found myself yelling about how I, even with cancer, would outlive many of them with their deadly diet and other life choices. Yes, I did that. It wasn’t a proud moment, but it was the beginning of the healing of a deep wound.  A new understanding of myself was found.

I’ve come to recognize how much better I feel and how much easier it is to live a healthy lifestyle when I have others in my life that also get it and are trying to live a better life.  When all my friends want to eat at a fast food restaurant I feel out of place and disconnected. Whenever my family members try to cook something for me and I have to explain my dietary needs, I overwhelm them and I know they are trying as am I and it ends in both of us feeling hurt and frustrated.  My lifestyle doesn’t mean they need to change theirs, but it does mean that I spend less time in a certain world if I find it unhealthy. Huge holes had been created in my life with the changes I’ve made. I’ve needed to find new things to fill them. I’ve need to find new people.

Here you’ll find help to make these changes or support for the changes you’ve already made.  We can help remind each other how much better we’ve been, or feel when moving towards a healthy lifestyle.  Because in my experience that’s exactly what happens when we commit to putting our well-being first. We do improve.  But sometimes we forget about the improvement if we run into resistance, either our own or others. In this group we’ll celebrate your triumphs, and comfort and support you during your trials.  You don’t have to be alone.

Here we’re getting golden together in whatever is your golden and if you don’t know what your golden is, we’ll help you figure that out as well.  

Open Discussion

The next 45 minutes is spent in open discussion.  

Now I’d like to take what’s left of the group and open the discussion.  Questions, thoughts, experiences you’d like to share?

Topics included if current participants had a reason to heal or live.  

How we often use sickness as a means to avoid events we’d rather not too.  Or using the little white lie of being exaggerating illness and how that can promote or prolong our illness.    

If they had joy in the daily life.  What brings them joy? How to add more joy into their day.  

Discussed the possibilities of Saturday meetings.  

Announcement of next group focus on stress.  We’ll be discussing what stress is, the types of stress, being aware of how much stress you have, it’s impact on our life, and how to better manage it.  

HEALING HERO

Finally, I’d like to share this group’s Healing Hero.  Each group we’ll feature someone who has healed from chronic illness, terminal illness, or overcome great obstacles to heal.  We may also feature healers that have made an impact or changed the way we look at things. These people inspire healing.

Lyme disease is something a few of our member suffer from and I thought it would be wonderful to see someone who has healed from lyme disease.   Perry Louis Fields is a US track athlete who became infected with lyme disease. Most of what follows comes from her website, thetickslayer.com.

Perry Louis Fields

She’s been a speaker at medical conferences, has created a line of products specifically for people with compromised immune systems, designed a free health app and is often imitated in the Lyme community.

Perry was bitten by an infected tick in the mountains of North Carolina in 2003.  She has been a long time track and field athlete, competing at the highest levels in high school, collegiate and post-collegiate.

In 2005, she was forced to stop racing and training and seek medical help soon after the 2005 USA Track and Field championships, where she became very ill during her race.  Within a few months, her health continued to decline. After a short stent on conventional treatment, not seeing improvement and worried that her health would continue to decline, she began researching and treating herself with alternative treatments.  Her debilitating condition made her quit the sport that she had participated in since childhood, including missing the 2008 Olympic Trials.

Because of her success in recovering from Lyme disease, as well as Chronic Fatigue and Epstein Bar Virus (health problems that began in college), as well as co-infections from tick bite(s), her sentiments toward the ongoing autoimmune health crisis for many people in the US and world wide, was to write a “how to” on recovering from devastating diseases.  The Tick Slayer is a book for anyone who finds themselves devastated by chronic illness and health care.

The book is autobiographical recant of her amazing journey back, with medical details of the treatments and how she dealt with the health care system.  It will empower every reader, no matter their condition, although originally written for Lyme disease, many people with autoimmune disorders, including cancer, will find many nuggets of invaluable information on their current condition, in a story that is inspiring and motivating.

Includes resources, treatment options & experiences, as well as guest authors in the medical field explaining new technology that can save lives.

“For a long time I’ve had many people ask me about how I did it and now I can finally describe in detail what I did!  It should provide many answers to questions that people have about their own health, because what I’ve discovered is that many of these autoimmune diseases are very similar, they just have different names!”    -Perry Louis Fields, author

By 2009, Perry was training again and by 2010 she raced her first indoor track season since 2001, where she made her debut at the USA Track and Field Indoor Nationals.

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