Wellness about the daily mind
- Published: April 11, 2013
On the surface Yellow Springs might not have a lot in common with Loma Linda, Calif., or the islands of Sardinia and Okinawa. But local resident Carmen Milano believes that the village shares with these more sun-drenched places many of the elements associated with good health and long life spans. And beginning this month, Wellness Month in Yellow Springs, she wants to make the village a place where people truly live better and longer.
“My new mantra is ‘drop dead healthy,’ which to me means instead of assuming we’re going to get sick and die, try to be as healthy as you can while you’re alive,” she said.
In 2004 a group of longevity researchers and National Geographic began researching the five places on earth with the greatest human longevity. Known as “Blue Zones,” perhaps after the water that surrounds them all, Loma Linda, Sardinia, Okinawa, along with Ikaria, Greece and Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula all share attributes that scientists have found contribute to healthy living. Common traits include constant but moderate level movement, a lot of time devoted to family and friends, a plant-based diet, and a daily ritual for stress release.
“We already have so much of that here,” Milano said. “And there could be even more.”
Toward that end, Milano and the Wellness Association of Yellow Springs are kicking off a series of presentations by various local wellness practioners. All but one of the presentations, supported by a grant from the Yellow Springs Arts Council, take place at the Yellow Springs Library from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Milano, a registered yoga teacher, opens the series April 4, with her presentation “Brain Fitness Can be Fun,” focused on the regenerative neurological pathways that keep the brain sharp and happy. Licensed massage therapist Amy Chavez will give a second workshop on Monday, April 8, “Transforming Trauma & Cultivating Emotional Resiliency.” She will talk about the psycho-somatic nature of trauma, anxiety and depression, and teach ways to deal with stress, a common root of “dis-ease.”
Other talks scheduled for April include “Help Your Child Onto the Wellness Train For Life,” with doctor of chiropractic Erika Grushon on Saturday, April 13, 2–4 p.m. (the only one at that time); “Natural Pain Management” with certified iridologist Eric Rodriguez, on April 18; “Music Therapy for the Mind, Body & Spirit” with certified music therapist Larisa McHugh on April 23; “Learn Basic Chair Massage for Friends & Family” with holistic bodyworker Marybeth Wolf on April 29; and “The Healing Power of Poetry: Reading it, Writing it, Feeling it” with writer Rita Coleman at a date to be determined. (April is also National Poetry Month.)
To round out the health experience, the Presbyterian Church will host a 45-minute Om Circle on April 25, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. According to event leaders energetic bodyworker Deborah McGee and Ayurvedic practitioner Douglas Klappich, “om” is referred to as “the sound of the universe” and is said to have healing effects on those who chant it.
Living a healthy life involves a lot of personal responsibility, according to herbalist and iridologist Rodriguez, who teaches people to listen to their bodies to guide their own healing. His life and professional partner Lisa Spencer started out on a very different path. Born with spinal deformities that led to many years of joint pain managed through prescription drugs, Spencer reached a low point when, after a serious car accident, she could hardly walk and was taking 13 pills a day. She finally asked her doctor if there was something completely different she could try, and her doctor sent her to a yoga teacher in Yellow Springs. It was the beginning of a miraculous recovery that sealed Spencer’s belief in the transformative effects of those daily health practices, healthy eating, gentle movement, meditation and other traditions to create good health.
According to Milano, those practices are just some of the things villagers can take advantage of in Yellow Springs to help them lead healthier, longer lives.
“Ideally, people become aware of living a way of wellness rather than a way of repair,” she said. “It’s being willing to make the investment in yourself, because being healthy can be an absolute pleasure.”
The WAYS group has created a Facebook page, Wellness Events in Yellow Springs, to keep residents connected to an ongoing schedule of health events and activities that will continue after April. Their goal is to educate the community about the healing modalities and opportunities to be creative and recreate in Yellow Springs to keep their minds and bodies healthy and invigorated. Being empowered to acheive and maintain one’s own health is not something unique to official Blue Zones, Milano said. Yellow Springs can create that zone of health for itself.