Gerald Vest    
 Holistic Self Care Practice21 comments
picture19 May 2005 @ 16:12
In my previous log I introduced holistic health care practices that I teach in my classes for the US Army, for my university and for prisons and detention centers.

I find that by maintaining a daily health routine, my life, health, and relationships are more balanced. I developed a routine over several years of experimenting with lots of exercises and programs and have now narrowed it down to a few very effective activities.

I start my day with Master Level Exercise-Arica Psychocalisthenics by Oscar Ichazo. These 23 exercises are coordinated with the breath so I find that they balance the body, mind and emotions while also giving me the vitality to maintain high levels of fitness. I follow this practice with some yoga exercises and some movements that I learned from tai chi and quigong or specifically, The Kath State - The Energy of Inner Fire, also designed by Oscar Ichazo. Following these exercises, I sit in meditation for 30 minutes to calm and quiet my mind in the morning and evening.

I also receive a body massage and acupuncture treatments regularly and engage in a 15-Minute StressOut Program several times during the week. I enjoy lots of physical activity so I ride my bike, play golf and take walks with my dogs as well.

I have learned that by maintaining a routine of daily activities throughout the week, it helps build and maintain determination or willpower needed for living in a society that is so scattered and out-of-balance.

As a professional and teacher I have also found that our students appreciate and trust us when we practice what we teach.

Recently, while turning 70 years of age, I discovered that I have prostate cancer and arthritis, especially noticable in my 4th & 5th lower vertabrae. I have thoroughly appreciated the help and support from my family, Dave Chitick, our NewCiv community, especially the interaction with Richard(jassoLog) who shares my plight and experience with prostate cancer. I am in the process of receiving treatment for the prostate and plan to have a speedy recovery.

I am particularly interested in introducing a helpful tool for persons who have back problems in this article. I read in a journal that over 70% of our adult population have back problems. I've recently become part of this back pain group. It is even hard for me to believe that I have back problems with all of the health practices that I have been engaged in for over 40 years; however, some of it can be attributed to farm labor as a child, heavy lifting and some of my athletic activities that I have enjoyed throughout my life. Also, my mother, sister and three brothers inherited arthritis so I am not feeling alone with this pain.

The Inversion Table -- a spacy experience

Recently, I purchased an Inversion Table that has given me complete relief from the back pain and am now able to resume all of my activities, including golf. (I strongly recommend that anyone purchasing this "hang up" table that you follow the instructions given in the video which are included with top-of-the-line tables.) There are many Inversion Tables available on many websites. Honest, I am not a representative of any company--only my own.

Some of the benefits include elongating the spine, increasing the space between the vertebrae, which relieves the pressure on discs, ligaments and nerve roots. In the literature that came with my F5000 inversion table, it is noted that "...Your heart must work against gravity to pump blood up to your brain, which is the body's largest consumer of oxygen. Inversion is a simple way to improve circulation to the upper body." Furthermore, they show their honesty about this experience..."Sometimes there's an explanation for why inversin works and sometimes there isn't." [link] [link]

On a higher note, after hanging with our head down, totally relaxed, our body-mind feels totally free. I put some headphones on and listen to some great music--Enigma-Wispering Spirits.

You can adjust the table's level and balance by moving your arms up or down. I enjoy this experience of finding my equilibrium and harmony while reversing my energies.

Following this hanging or floating experience, I disconnect myself from the foot clamps, I lie down on my mat and observe my body-mind-emotions all evaporating into space. Anyway, I'm sure that you long time meditators and yoga practitioners will love the "table". Hey, even beginners could benefit as this is a very safe and pleasurable way to relax our skeletal and muscular systems.

I now have another addition to my daily health routine and love every moment with this new treasure. Anyone interested in joining an Inversion Table support group, do let me know. :)  More >

 Health Promotion, Health Fitness and Stress Managment for Prisons16 comments
picture19 Apr 2005 @ 14:50
In the October 1985 Issue of Corrective and Social Psychiatry and Journal of Behavior Technology Methods and Therapy, I published the article, "Health Promotion, Health Fitness and Stress Management for Prisons." I received letters from all over the world requesting a copy of this article so I assumed that our correctional systems were interested in examining and beginning to offer health practices to their incarcerated populations. However, the general attitude of citizens in this country is to lock the criminals up and throw away the key. And, institutions(schools, families, prisons,religions, etc.) by their very nature, are slow to change.

KOJO NNAMDI: From WAMU at American University in Washington, this is Public Interest. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

Maybe you've heard the numbers before: 1,600 prisoners being released in the United States daily, about 600,000 prisoners to be released this year. The prison population in the United States now stands at about 2 million, which is about four times the number of people who were incarcerated back in 1973. What this all means is that most of those people will be getting out of jail or prison—prisons and jails that are located generally in rural areas.
Ohio System

About Visions for Prisons

Bureau of Justice Statistics

Robina Courtin

Although the prison community emphasizes fitness with body building equipment, weight lifting, boxing, basketball, and other competitive sports, these activities do not necessarily foster attributes of total health; empathy, curiosity, caring, compassion, openness, responsibility, dignity and self respect. The holistic or integrative approach, on the other hand, encourages emotional, physical and spiritual fitness without creating winners and losers. (Does this sound familiar with our public schools as well?)

Realities of penal organization and purpose present real challenges to the establishment of a comprehensive health promotion/health fitness/stress management program in that setting. Security is, of course, a primary consideration of such institutions--and rightly so. Consequently, scheduling of any program has to be considered in terms of tight, often inflexible, time slots in order to allow for prisoner checks and other facility and organization requirements. Another primary consideration concerns residents themselves. Some screening should exist initially to insure the safety of those residents who are sincerly interested in participating in the program. Finally, and most important to the health promotion worker, is identifying the special needs of this special population in order to offer maximum health potential within the limits identified. And, treating drug problems alone is not the solution to this problem, rather using an integrative approach is more successful. [link]

It is a very important lesson to reduce the tensions that often lead to serious problems within a prison facility. This tension also may well build up so that the prisoner who is released into society continues to see himself/herself as the victim and society as the criminal. This, unfortunately, has been the vicious cycle that has confronted law enforcement officials and justice systems for decades. Thus, punishment, protection of society, and rehabilitation are all essential elements for prisons to incorporate into every prisoner's health care plan.

We can't solve any problem without first solving the problem of human nature. We won't be able to solve the problems of homeless, impoverished, illiterate people, of murderers who would never have become murderers had they been adequately loved. You show me a murderer, and I'll show you a person who's been failed in the supreme need for love, who never learned how to love, and will hate, as I heard one saying, "I hate the whole world's guts, and the whole world hates mine." These are the victims of society, just as the doctor is a victim of society, as most of us are victims of our society.

We don't love children adequately, we don't even know what love is. It's a great help to know exactly what the criteria of love are, because these murderers, these violent people, these terribly undisciplined characters are exhibiting the frustration of love. [Love, Montagu says earlier, is the ability to communicate to others your profound involvement in their welfare, is that you will never commit the supreme treason of letting them down whenever they most stand in need of you, and that you will minister to and encourage the growth and development of their potentialities. That's love.]
Ashley Montague

I have designed a balanced approach to health care in prisons that I believe can make a significant difference to the high recidivism and recurrent crimes of this population. Those who find themselves outside of society rules are punished by the very fact that they are isolated and separated from the main body. However, most felons, 98% of them, will return and will find their transition less fraught with difficulty if they develop and maintain a comprehensive health fitness and health awareness program. As Fritjof Capra, one of our great physicists in the health movement states: "Health care cannot just be 'provided' or 'delivered'--it has to be practiced." [link]

The following practices are incorporated into my plan for introducing to youth offenders in a state detention facility here in southern New Mexico.

SUBJECT: Introduction to Holistic Health/Integrative Practices for Juvenile & Adult Facilities – 6 week course.

I. Scope of Work & Activities – This six (6) week course offers two weekly, two-hour sessions, Tuesday & Thursday, for six to eight (6-8) participants, introducing student residents to an Introduction to Integrative Health Practices Program that enhances the whole person—physically, mentally, socially, emotionally and spiritually. Cross-cultural health practices will be introduced to acquaint the participants with methods or disciplines that include: Kum Nye, T’ai Chi, Yoga and Acupressure. Western practices will also be integrated into the course such as Arica Psychocalisthenics-Master Level Exercise, 15-Minute StressOut Program, progressive relaxation, gestalt strategies and mindfulness.

II. Goals & Outcomes -- Students will: 1. Have an overview and direct practice experience with traditional and modern health promotion and health fitness methods; 2. Become aware of cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary approaches to health and wellbeing; 3. Learn to assess and identify strengths and negative patterns of conditioning; 4. Be able to demonstrate at least twelve (12) "Master-Level Exercises" that promote revitalizing the body and awakening their organism; 5. Learn to coordinate their daily activities and incorporate a daily health routine to promote balance with their physical, mental, emotional and social relationships.

III. Details of Monthly report & performance measures: Students will be introduced to the development and maintenance of a Daily Health Journal. This journal will include: 1. A personal commitment to maintain a holistic health experience with identified health practices that support their physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing; 2. A student report, each session, to the instructor, describing their personal experience with daily health activities (this includes their emotional state and behavior); 3. A Log that includes their class attendance and description of time spent in meditation, mindfulness and other health related activities.

IV. Other performance measures will include a closing evaluation instrument to review the changes and improvements of the participants during the six week course.


Kum Nye Relaxation, Tarthang Tulku, (1978, Dharma Publishing)

Kum Nye Relaxation is a gentle healing system which relieves stress, transforms negative patterns, helps us to be more balanced and healthy, and increases our enjoyment and appreciation of life. ". . . The written tradition of "Kum Nye" is contained in Tibetan medical texts . . . ." [link]

T’ai Chi

The movements of the T'ai Chi form, follow a precise system of balance and relaxation. The most important principle in T'ai Chi is relaxation. In doing the T'ai Chi form, we become aware of where we are relaxed and where we hold tension. The postures and movements help the body to release tension in the muscles and encourage flexibility in the joints. [link]

Yoga & Mindfulness

Specialized breathing exercises and relaxation techniques are introduced to improve concentration, balance and reduce hyperactivity. [link] [link]

Master Level Exercises – Psychocalisthenics, (1993, Oscar Ichazo, Arica Institute, Inc).

The series of 23 exercises is based on elemental callisthenic movements plus yoga asanas, it is strictly developed for awakening the organism in a serial fashion, with which we produce a flash of vital energy through all the organs, glands and tissue. The series produces strength, coordination, balance and flexibility of body, mind and spirit. [link]

15-Minute StressOut Program, (1980, Gerald Vest)

I designed this 'healthy touch' program, in collaboration with the Associated Students Organization - New Mexico State University (NMSU), Health Promotion Team, NMSU School of Social Work and the Family Preservation Institute, as one alternative for improving health and wellbeing in our university, society and beyond. The 'stressout program' includes "guidelines for the safe use of touch" with all populations. Touch techniques are self-administered or exchanged with a partner. We use our skillful touch program with individuals, groups, couples, families and communities. The program develops trust and empathy while learning to coordinate the power of touch with the vitality of the breath. [link]

Continued and advanced courses will be designed using the same methods for participants interested in improving the quality of their lives, health and relationships.
[link]  More >

 Lung Cancer12 comments
picture7 Apr 2005 @ 01:40
Peter Jennings announced that he was joining with 10 million other lung cancer victims and beat this thing. My wife had her left lung removed 3 years ago along with some nodes and went through the chemo and radiation therapy for several months. She was fortunate that a small tumor was discovered in her lung while undergoing gallbladder surgery, so catching these cells early is important.

Everything in her body looked so good, for about 3 years, with positive reports from all of the body scans, but my partner suggested to her oncologist that she should also receive a brain scan. Sure enough, the body scan showed a small tumor, just under her skull. So, she chose to have the tumor surgically removed. It was a successful operation and she came home, feeling pretty good, following a couple of days in intensive care.

On April 1, my partner received the Gammaknife radiation treatment. This is very high tech radiation treatment that focuses on the surgical spot and/or if other cancer cells are detected, they shoot gamma rays for several minutes into these areas. The team consists of a physicist who sets the parameters, the oncologist and surgeon. The nursing staff were well trained and stayed with us throughout the experience. The real downside for us was having my partner wear this head brace, screwed into her skull in 4 places. She wasn't given any real pain medication for this procedure. Perhaps the worst part of this treatment was arriving in the hospital at 5:00am. We left home at 4:00am to make the trip from Las Cruces, NM to El Paso, TX.

We had to wait 4 hours for the surgeon to arrive and push the button on the radiation machine.

I can tell you for certain that the "Laying-on-of-Hands" exercise worked perfectly during this time. Lou was most comfortable sitting in a chair so I rested my hands on her shoulders for much of the time while we observed and experienced the unity of our breath and of our being. The Power of Touch andLearning to breathe

After the treatment, Lou was unscrewed and freed of this contraption. There was some blood on the bandage that she held on her head, so the treatment obviously penetrated her skin. We were given a room and after about an hour, we headed for home.

I learned that my partner is determined to beat this cancer thing. She has been through more medical interventions than a human should ever have to endure in a life time. She just gets stronger following each challenge and intrusion. We are having a great life right now and every moment with Lou is very precious.

Pain Management and Pain Advocacy  More >

 Our Tomorrow9 comments
picture17 Mar 2005 @ 14:42
Christiane, my daughter, wrote this poem many years ago. I don't have the date, perhaps a fifth grader, but she was obviously aware of what was happening in our world then. As a professional social worker, Christy works with teens, at risk, in Colorado's "I have a Dream" program. Obviously, I am very proud of her work and devotion in helping our next generations preserve their dreams and help them bring their aspirations to realization. I have a dream foundation

Our Tomorrow by Christy Vest

As I look out this window
I can imagine our World tomorrow.
A chill runs up my spine
And my heart fills with sorrow.

Whatever happened to love?
Where is all of the cheer?
I think about this,
As I wipe away a tear.

Tomorrow is upon us
Fear is in my heart.
As the war we have, love and hate,
Quickly begins to start.

Bring love to our World
Even if for just one day.
Fight for our World of Tomorrow
Fight for love today.

Thank you Christy for keeping your dreams alive and for working with others to help them improve the quality of their lives, health and relationships. I love you. Dad
 More >

 Partners for our Healthy Touch Program2 comments
picture27 Feb 2005 @ 19:02
In my earlier articles, I describe the "use of Safe, Skillful and Appropriate touch" as a means for improving the quality of life health and relationships with individuals, families, communities and with others on our planet.

On Friday, I again introduced our touch program to soldiers and spouses at our monthly stress management/health promotion program at Ft. Bliss, TX. It is always delightful and amazing for me to see the relief on the faces of our blessed soldiers during this three-hour program.

I am hopeful that I can recruit more allies or partners to use our 15-Minute StressOut Program. Recently, one of our NewCiv members from India indicated an interest in our process for certification. However, anyone can give and receive this method or intervention without completing additional requirements as a free public service.

Our protocol or step-by-step instructions are available on my webpage so just record them on your tape deck, put some cool music on and enjoy the experience with your partner.

As you proceed through the experience of healthy touch, it is important for both the giver and receiver to be aware of their breath. One of my favorite teachers,Tarthang Tulku, describes a very sensible and practical approach to finding balance in our life and relationships while being observant of our breathing and our touch.

Our breath and heartbeat are natural monitors of tension: their rates tend to increase when we feel agitated and tense, and slow down as we relax. Because of this interconnection, we can use the rise and fall of the breath and rhythm of our heartbeat to penetrate tension and anxiety. By simply focusing gently on breathing, we can slow the breath and allow it to find its own natural movement. Knowledge of Freedom - Time to Change
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 My grandkids love the Tarot10 comments
picture16 Feb 2005 @ 14:23
During a recent visit with my grandkids, I introduced them to the Tarot. Beau (5) and Ariana (7) were fascinated with the colors, symbols and images that these cards(Waite version)represent.

During my early studies and search for meaning of the Tarot, I learned that the Minor Arcanas represented our ego's process or personality development, while the Major Arcanas show us the parallel journey of our spirit or essence. We begin and continue our journey as the Fool. We can see how we, as humans, evolve and mature and hopefully, at the conclusion of our trip, we have knowledge, wisdom, love and truth integrated into our lives and relationships.

I initially introduced this game as representing our life experience as it unfolds in the 4 suits--Wands(learning), Pentacles(wisdom), Cups(love), and Swords(truth). The kids took the lead by drawing a card from the deck and describing the meaning it had for them. I fully accepted whatever their perception allowed so that they freely expressed their point of view.

It was particularly interesting to me that they could identify experiences with their cards and also report some of their beliefs stimulated by them. For example, I drew both the Death and Devil cards early on and both Ari and Beau indicated that they did not like them and asked me to pull them from the deck so that we could deal with them later. In fact, Beau bent the corners on them so that he wouldn't draw them ever. We laughed about these fears as the game progressed over the week.

I was able to let them know that I am still processing some of my experiences represented by the cards so they are free to openly share what comes to their minds. We held four sessions which lasted about two hours each. It was also amazing to me that they could sustain such an interest in the cards. Daeja(3)was not interested at all in what we were doing and her brother and sister seemed to understand that she was too young to understand or appreciate this game.

During our final session, we lay the Minor Arcanas out on the floor by each suit, starting with the King, Queen, Knight and Page followed by the X, IX, VIII, VII, VI, V, IV, III, II and Ace. I invited them to select the cards that they most identified with. Ari chose all of the A's and decribed what she experienced with each. Beau had a mixed selection of Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles.

I recognize that there are many and varied interpretations and use of the Tarot. I believe that this is a good tool that can be used in learning and in understanding how we evolve as human beings. Also, the kids seemed to appreciate that we also learn from the problems we face and beliefs that we have while growing and maturing.

Tarthang Tulku, author, Knowledge of Freedom - Time to Change, describes healthy changes for our being:

To rid ourselves of pretense, we would need to integrate the face we present to the world with our real feelings; we would need to learn how to resolve inner conflicts between what we are and what we feel we should be. We would also need to understand how the ego manifests, the origin and nature of desires and emotions, and how all of these factors influence our judgment. We would need to understand the nature of relaxation and concentration and learn to protect ourselves from negativity. Ideally, we would gain a sound foundation for self-understanding as part of our early education, before negative patterns were deeply entrenched. (p. 165)

As we discuss consciousness, I often observe how I touch others throughout the day. I listen to my voice, inside and out, so that I can see where my tensions are located. I frequently remind myself to observe my breathing and notice its fullness or lack there of. When I experience a pain in various parts of my body, I invision a color representing the system and breathe deeply into 'it'. Then I invite my massage partner to spend some extra time massaging this area. I would like to hear from others who 'awaken divine consciousness.' Integrative Health Forum

 More >

 What is preventing us from being free?44 comments
picture1 Feb 2005 @ 19:57
As I grow older I begin to "see" that I have been stuck in my serious nature for far too long. I allow too many things to bother me and prevent me from being happy, joyful and creative. During these past two elections, while observing the Bush administration's policies and their enormous greed, I have watched with disbelief their war on Iraq, the subsequent loss and injury of our service men and women, and the killing and wounding of thousands of innocent civilians, all which add up to an incredible burden that is nearly impossible to manage.

However, I learned early on, during my meditation practices, that having such negative energies running around in my head only blocked creativity, health, and well being. Like many or most of you here in the NewCiv Network, I joined social action and justice groups, demonstrated and spent much energy appealing to our 'leaders' to find new solutions for peace, justice, prosperity for all, and equality. I don't know how much influence these actions have had on this current group and am beginning to feel that it is more frustrating than productive.

On another note, I have learned to enjoy and play again as my grand children won't have it or me any other way. We drum, dance, sing, tell and read stories, create art forms, and give up my adult power and control mechanisms. It is so refreshing to be with innocent children who are filled with love, joy, and happiness.

I say to our leaders--stop being so rigid and give up the ideas you have about yourselves and the world around you. Play with your children and grandchildren and allow them to teach you to have an "open mind" -- experience balance and freedom from pain and suffering, power and control.

A child does not doubt. He has implicit faith in his parents. He has implicit faith in everyone he comes across. We also can play the same role in our day to day life. Let us play with God, the Divine Child. There can be no shadow of doubt in our life when we speak, when we eat, when we move around, if we feel that we have a Divine Child within us, sporting with us. We are not alone. There is someone playing with us at every moment. If we know and feel this, then doubt can never eclipse our mind.

Sri Chinmoy

Sri Chinmoy Article

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<< Newer entries  Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
In these articles, I introduce the basic need for human touch. While there is strong evidence that our society and human family are becoming an endangered species, many governments, such as the USA, pay little, if any attention, to global warming, nuclear stock piles, environment, natural and economic disasters, poverty, abuse, neglect, pandemic health diseases, and growing military-industrial monopolies.

While many of us are aware of these pending and current disasters, organizations such as New Civilization, are hoping to awaken humanity through mindfulness, virtual interaction on the Internet, and forming healthy, respectful alliances to make a difference and change the direction we are heading.

Our health promotion team is a small effort, but hopefully an expanding opportunity, to awaken individuals, couples, families, groups, organizations and commuities to an awareness that touch, respect and love are basic human needs for survival and wellbeing.

Obviously, there are serious considerations for being circumspect and skillful in offering touch as a conscious intervention in the workplace or in a family environment. Guidelines for the safe use of touch include:

- providing the option for participants to self-administer our program;

- receiving permission to touch and reminding participants that contact is always in safe areas;

- having witnesses or partners present;

- teaching the activity to others so that they can be the givers of the stressout program;

- encouraging participants to use the teaching video and study guide (Vest,1995)if the worker chooses not to make physical contact.

Join with us in advancing the use of healthy, respectful and loving touch throughout the world. We are One.

Previous entries
  • Om Ah Hum Mantra

  • 2015-07-06
  • Maintaining Continuum of Awareness for Health, Healing and Restoration #2

  • 2015-05-25
  • Takes Courage to Be Ourselves

  • 2015-05-19
  • Be the Best we Can with a Health Care Plan

  • 2015-05-11
  • Living and Being without Borders and Boundaries

  • 2015-04-26
  • Continuing Awareness develops Mindfulness

  • 2015-04-05
  • Visit our Website for Injured Warriors and Families

  • 2015-03-03
  • A Psychosomatic Engagement with Integrataive and Holistic Health Services

  • 2015-02-24
  • Social Work-A Psychosomatic Engagement with Integrative and Holistic Health

  • 2015-01-02
  • Celebrating Life with Friends

  • 2014-12-26
  • Being One with Our True Nature-Mother Earth

  • 2014-12-12
  • Being One with All that Is, 24/7

  • 2014-11-05
  • We are not our Body or our Mind

  • 2014-11-01
  • Seekers with Truth

  • 2014-10-17
  • Our Master Mind is Blinded by the Light

  • 2014-10-09
  • Awareness and Miindfulness - Be Here Now!

  • 2014-09-29
  • Insights in the Present Moment

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