Your Learning Journal
The Importance of Health and Wellness, Part 2: The Whole Person Concept
By Michael J. Nila
In last month’s issue of Illuminate, we began the discussion on Health and Wellness by talking about enriched and impoverished environments and how each affect a person’s well-being.
I don’t think that any topic could be any more important to our police officers performance, or anyone’s performance, than their own health and well-being. We want to transform officers’/people’s health and wellness and their state of well-being. How? By developing what we call whole person health concept. Teaching police officer or anyone to take charge of themselves, to take charge of the influences that are impacting their life in a negative way — because we cannot change the circumstances of our work but we can change how we respond to them. We can do it in a much healthier way. We want to balance, heal, and transform.
As we learned from the HeartMath Institute, there are four dimensions of where energy, health, and wellness come from. These four domains — the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual — are the four critical ingredients for health and well-being. The simple message is that every single day we should be nurturing every one of these four dimensions. Some of them are obvious in there meaning, some less obvious — it’s about our endurance and our strength.
The mental is about our ability to stay focused on something for an extended period of time, that’s an indicator of your mental health and well-being. How much are we challenging? How much are we learning every single day? Because we know this is a muscle; if you don’t use it you will lose it. The ability to incorporate multiple points of view is an indicator of your mental health and well-being. We live in a world of absolute uncertainty. We live in an uncertain world where certainty can be debilitating; we live in a world of extremes—that’s not an indicator of mental flexibility.
Spiritual has nothing to do with prayer or religion — it can be part of it if it’s important to you in your life, but spiritual is really your sense of self. When you look in the mirror, do you like the person that is looking back at you? Or do you know that you are not being the best person you should be today? Its your commitment to purpose, to values, your ability to tolerate other people’s perspectives.
The most important of all of these domains is the emotional dimension. The emotional dimension is what is the biggest drain on our human battery. We are taught in many ways not to feel; that is debilitating to us. Because the emotional domain is the biggest drain on our human battery, something we need to learn. Doctor McCraty, the Chief of Science and Research at the HeartMath Institute says this about our profession: if our profession doesn’t learn how to deal with our own emotions and feelings, we are never going to solve these challenges we have today. Doctor Steven Covey use to say, “an emotion, if left unaddressed, will fight for life”. Meaning if you bury your emotions, bury your feelings, you’ve ignored them — they will fight for life and doctors will tell you an unaddressed emotion will ultimately manifest itself physically. It’s always going to appear somehow in your life and Steven would say, “an emotion addressed, owned, dealt with will die.” What you need to do is take a breath, interrupt that physical/emotional pattern that is happening right now. The second thing you should do is say, “I am getting angry right now. What do I do with it? What is the best version of me I want to be? What should I be doing in this moment?” Own it, acknowledge it, it’s okay to be sad. What are you going to do with it? Own it, acknowledge it but you can’t bury it. Because it is going to show up some how in our life. So, these four energy domains are the sources of where we derive our ability to be our very best. These are the sources that allow us to optimize our performance, and our response to any circumstance that we may have. So everything that we teach at Blue Courage is literally feeding one or multiple of these energy domains in these dimensions.
If you think about it, law enforcement is a profession that places a tremendous amount of energy on the physical domain. We have a tremendous focus on the physical domain from some of our police officers who are very fit and then they open their mouth. We are often one dimensional, we are not developing the mental, spiritual, and the emotional domains. Without that we are not full people.
President Kennedy said, “Physical fitness is not only one of the keys to a healthy body, its the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” So, it affects everything about us. If you knew that you were going to be in a fight for your life tomorrow, how many of you will change the way that you train your heart, mind and body today? When we ask that question in a Blue Courage class so many people say, “Yes if I’m getting into a fight tomorrow, I’m going to work my butt off today.” It’s the wrong answer. We should be living life every single day as if we are going to be in a fight for our life tomorrow because in this business we just might be. You don’t get to wait until it hits the fan to get ready. Readiness is a big part of what we teach at Blue Courage, if you stay ready you don’t have to get ready when life puts you into these circumstances. So, the physical dimension is about always being ready, getting a little more ready for tomorrow than we are today, shifting the bench mark place that we are at—so that we are a little stronger tomorrow, a little fitter tomorrow, and more prepared tomorrow. What are the three big influences on us physically? Sleep, nutrition, and exercise. Those that are listed in terms of priority intentionally. We use to think what the most important thing was exercise, then the next important thing is nutrition, and then hopefully you get enough sleep. We now know that is reverse, it’s sleep, nutrition, and exercise. Think about this for a moment, you cannot out eat the effects of not sleeping. Even if you eat really well in your life that will not compensate for the lack of sleep. So, you cannot exercise, or eat healthy enough to offset the impact of lack of sleep and we are a sleep deprived profession.
Nutrition: you cannot eat or sleep your way to strength endurance fitness. Meaning you can eat impeccably and perfect every single day, but that won’t make you stronger or enhance your endurance or fitness. It may impact your physical wellness but not the rest. Exercise: you cannot up work poor nutrition. So, if you go to workout for an hour then go eat a pizza and a half, it does not work like that. I use to think I can eat anything I want to because I work out a couple of hours a day, no it does not work like that. You cannot exercise your weight out of poor eating. So this is the big three hierarchy that we have to understand the impact, priority, and how do we get to that place.
I spoke in San Diego recently at a Blue Courage class, and I was closing the class and for some reason I was deeply moved by this class because some of the discussions we’ve had. One of the officers in the class was the partner of the San Diego officer who was in McDonald’s and bought cookies for a kid, got into his police car and was killed moments later—brutally assassinated sitting at a stop light. His partner was in the class, his partner was broken, battered, beaten up, you can see it just hurt deeply. He had chosen to take that day off to go to one of his children’s baseball game. What he live with: What if I have been there? That’s moral injury. But at the end of the Blue Courage class I saw hope in his eyes, I saw light in his eyes, I saw a little bit of joy because he had come to a different place of healing. That’s the power of this — focus on health and wellness and the power of Blue Courage. We have the ability to put light back into peoples eyes, a little bit of hope in their hearts and souls. And I am telling you that if we can do that, the magic begins, the transformation begins, and we learn how to continuously become better.
The Reflection Corner
Thought provoking questions to spark conversations!
How are you doing in all 4 domains (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual)?
How can you enhance each domain?
Click here to comment and start a respectful discussion!
When a warrior is about to engage in battle, when an athlete is about to compete, when a musician is about to perform — whenever someone is about to take on a task that requires their very best — laser like focus is required where nothing else matters in that moment, when distractions are not present and the only thing that could end it all is a break in concentration. This is Peak State. Watch this short video on what Peak State is and why it is important.
Feeding the Mind
The HeartMath Solution: The Institute of HeartMath’s Revolutionary Program for Engaging the Power of the Heart’s Intelligence
by Doc Childre and Howard Martin with Donna Beach
A great introduction to what HeartMath is all about. The HeartMath Solution contains leading-edge science, practical information and easy-to-use techniques. Scientific research proves the heart is the control tower of the body’s systems and overall health. These life-altering techniques will show you how to deepen the qualities of the heart – wisdom, compassion, strength and joy and increase the intuitive, creative, heart-centered aspects of your personality. The HeartMath Solution offers three techniques, Freeze-Frame,® Cut-Thru® and Heart Lock-In® and a step-by-step methodology and practice worksheets, all to help you develop your intuitive intelligence. Cutting-edge science is combined with the warmth and humor of anecdotal stories and examples, exercises and worksheets laying out a clear roadmap to your full potential. The concepts are easy to understand and apply, yet powerful enough to make a real difference in short a period. Go ahead and give yourself a shortcut to stress prevention. (Source: HeartMath Institute.)
Why you should read this book:
- With modern science, this book discusses how the heart plays just as an important role in mental well-being as it’s physical function.
- The core heart feelings (ex: love, appreciation, care, forgiveness) can trigger physiological responses that improve stress levels, brain function, and immune systems.
- Discusses the wholistic approach to health and well-being; not just they physical aspect, but the emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions as well.
- Incorporates relaxation exercise that are simple to use on your own.
To purchase this book, click here.
Each month, we will present information and recommendations that could effectively enhance your way of thinking, behaving, and feeling.
Breast Cancer Awareness month:
About 40,920 women in the U.S. alone are expected to die from breast cancer in 2018. This year an estimated 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed…along with 63,960 non-invasive.
Is breast cancer hereditary? It can be – but about 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history. It occurs due to genetic mutations happening as a result of the aging process and life in general. The vast majority of cases are diagnosed in women over the age of 50 – our mothers and grandmothers.
1 in 1,000…the statistics for breast cancer in men. 2,5550 men expected to be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2018, that is a 25% increase over the past 25 years. Most cases take nineteen months from the first symptom to diagnosis because typically people don’t expect breast cancer to happen to men. But it does.
Reduce your risks:
- Don’t smoke
- Do regular self-exams
- Make healthy eating choices and exercise – weight control
- Follow recommended screening guidelines – early detection
- Using Hormone Replacement Therapy after menopause can greatly increase breast cancer risks
- Limit Alcohol – no more than 1/day for women, 2/day for men
- Breast Feed
Wishing you could help the fight against breast cancer? Awareness and research are the biggest weapons we have against breast cancer. Many support groups have been developed for the diagnosed and families, like the Angel Foundation and Breast Friends. There are also many organizations that sponsor breast cancer walks throughout the year to raise money for research and education.
Beneath The Surface
I have seen nothing more beautiful
Its special part and place in all that exists
Even when it appears to be still
It takes from all of the rivers and streams
But its gifts are boundless
And all this I see
Only looking at the surface
But it’s beneath the surface
That even more beauty lies
Our universe beneath the surface
And so it may be
There is always more
More than what we see on the surface
More than what we know
More than what we can grasp
More than we can feel
And to access that special place
Beneath our surface
Beyond our mind
Free from our thoughts
There we find heaven
Right here, right now.
Joe Fox, May 2017
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