Written by Safara Fisher
We leave the comfort of the “forest,” its luscious trees, the kind bearing people who have assisted us in our time of need and have comforted us with their guidance and support, to return to our lives and recreate what we have at last found: peace of mind. This is no easy challenge and one that all Hippocrates Health Institute (HHI) alumni have faced as we go back to our homes upon graduation. It’s daunting and at times can appear to be a bit scary for many of us who have found it difficult to manage our own health. Many of us have not found such serenity for some time in our lives, either because of what life has brought us to pay attention to or because we didn’t have the knowledge we needed to make it happen. Either way, when we come to HHI, I believe we are each given a unique health affirming experience we hope will nestle into our bones and carry us through on our journey of life.
When we come to HHI we are filled with anticipation of what we might learn and gain. We hope to find ourselves healthier and in better spirits. We are given so many opportunities to engage in our “self-healing” mentally, physically and spiritually. Each day we are students and teachers, amongst each other and the staff. Tools for how to manage our stress, create a nourishing environment to eat and live in and how to relate to our bodies and spirits as “one” are all a part of the Hippocrates Health Institute (HHI) experience.
Gathering our big binders and endless notebooks, which have been synthesized into a program and reviewed with the Take It Home Program, is one way to ensure you have some good tips to follow and begin to implement what you have learned. Even after such, you may still feel overwhelmed by it all, wishing you could just pack up the people, food and experience that have encouraged you to take charge of your health and recreate it, like some play set for your house.
However, healing never comes with such ease. It’s a messy and interconnected web of difficult experiences that provide you with the courage to define yourself. This allows you to let go of the heavy bags of emotional and physical weights from your unhealthy self. Free of that burden, you can settle into the comfortable stability that comes with adopting a healthy lifestyle.
So how can we take what we have learned and apply it to our lives? Practical and economic choices will prove more lasting. What can we comfortably manage within our physical spaces, our community and family dynamics?
We can begin by revisiting ourselves within our home environment and taking inventory of our lives through our newly found perspectives on health and healing. What can we identify as elements of our surroundings that lend themselves to being helpful or hurtful towards our well-being? For example, you might ask what kind of natural environments do I gravitate toward when I visualize myself at peace? This does not necessarily mean we need to pack up our families and move across country trading in the four seasons for more year round summer weather or vise-versa. It could mean heading to your local nursery and buying some plants for your house, adding in some color, planting flowers or beginning a small herb garden by purchasing some herbal plants that are easy to maintain and easily accessible. Pick herbs that call you to eat, that speak to your palate as it can make a big difference in how you approach your mealtime.
I include fresh herbs in my meals as I learned of their importance to my well-being at Hippocrates. Fresh herbs were a catalyst for my healing while I attended HHI. Due to a digestive condition, I had a difficult time finding foods in the right combination to work for me. Every day I would head to the cafeteria while Renate and the amazingly hard working kitchen staff would try to create a blended treat that I could stomach. One day, when I was in session with Antony discussing my challenge, I looked outside his window to see wild oregano in his garden. My heart opened and a big grin came to my face. With permission I took a piece and held it in my hands, crushing it between them, and inhaled. The fragrance gave me the familiarity of my Italian roots. I smiled and ran to the cafeteria and asked that they include oregano in my blended meal. It worked; I ate my blended meal and loved it.
Another part of this journey comes with finding resources in your area that may have been in your backyard all along, but now, with fresh eyes, are seen as wonderful opportunities to help you succeed with your program goals.
When I moved to Arizona from Maryland shortly before coming to HHI, not only was the terrain completely different, but I had little to no knowledge of my whereabouts. I had spent four months there, much of which I was
in bed, due to my health challenge!
I knew my bathroom, bedroom and the distant kitchen.?I say “distant” because much time would pass before I was able to enter the kitchen and resume my role as a cook, becoming my own best resource for health. So when I returned from HHI, I felt overwhelmed to say the least.
Where I began was with the internet. Running search engines for “sprouts and wheatgrass in Phoenix, Arizona.” Whole Foods came up immediately, which, as you may or may not know, offers to supply trays of wheatgrass and bulk sprouts through special order. These are usually from vendors outside of your local area such as Sproutman or Brocco Sprouts, well reputed companies. However I was interested in obtaining my trays and sprouts from a local vendor. While supporting local agriculture, I also wanted to build a rapport and have a relationship with those who produce my daily food supply. While I was researching I bought several trays and boxes of sprouts from Whole Foods until I could find a vendor. I found it with Rhiba Farms (www.rhibafarms.com) in Chandler, Arizona. Every Monday, I’d meet Suzi accompanied by Jose, Marlo or Mark. I looked forward to sharing a bit of time and a smile, developing a relationship that extended from farm to table.
Coming home to your family after your time at HHI can feel just as foreign as it feels good and welcoming. We have undergone changes to our lifestyle without the other members of our family being with us. Though supportive in their willingness to find an opportunity for you to improve your health, they may not be aware of all the lifestyle changes you are looking forward to continuing. Diet I think is one area that many find particularly challenging to continue in the company of their loved ones.
Where I began was with the Shopping List from HHI’s Taking It Home Program. I reviewed the list with my boyfriend and described items that were unfamiliar. Fruits and vegetables were self explanatory. Quinoa, millet, buckwheat, kelp, dulse and sprouts were more difficult to actualize. So instead, I just bought samples and recreated the table buffet we had at HHI so that he could experiment for himself. What he liked he adopted onto his plate, what he didn’t he left and I of course picked up. My goal was to make these new foods accessible to me and less foreign to him. I also wanted to see what we might be able to trade in for some of the “traditional” food groups we ate. For example could quinoa or millet be substituted for rice, or sweet potato for white potato? Perhaps they could be offered alongside one another? When purchasing items to try with your family I suggest buying them in small quantities at first to get a realistic estimate of what will be consumed. There is no getting out of prep work!
I found this to be essential to create a manageable lifestyle with the dietary changes. I’ve gotten in the habit of preparing full batches so that I can have them multiple times during the week. Also, I cut my vegetables up for the week, storing them in small batches to make them accessible during the day.
Beyond mealtime, a shared evening walk with a loved one can be rejuvenating to the relationship while tending to your digestion and need for exercise. Perhaps while at HHI you enjoyed strolling through the lush gardens and could incorporate a pre or post meal walk into one of your mealtimes. If you are fortunate to be near the beach, a swim or relaxing float hand in hand can bring peace to both of your days.
Your journey home is an extension of what you have begun at HHI, a renewed faith and understanding for yourself that health begins with a peace-filled mind. If you’re too stressed out to enjoy yourself while doing well by your body, mind and spirit, consider the essentials and build slowly. Be mindful of your needs and communicate while not putting pressure on yourself to be perfect at recreating the “HHI experience.” Focus on creating a lifestyle filled with healthy choices that can be maintained and shared with those you love.