Archives for November 2012

The Healing Power of Gratitude



If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.  

 – Meister Eckhart



Thousands of years of literature talk about the benefits of cultivating gratefulness as a virtue,” says University of California Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons. Throughout history, philosophers and religious leaders have extolled gratitude as a virtue integral to health and well-being. Now, through a recent movement called positive psychology, mental health professionals are taking a close look at how virtues such as gratitude can benefit our health. And they’re reaping some promising results.  

Grateful people — those who perceive gratitude as a permanent trait rather than a temporary state of mind — have an edge on the not-so-grateful when it comes to health, according to Emmons’ research on gratitude. “Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular physical examinations,” Emmons tells WebMD. Read more… 

Wishing you wellness,

The Healing Power of Knowledge

There is no health without mental health. Yet, like millions of people around the world, my family and I were ignorant about mental health issues.  

I was born and raised in Bangalore, India, amidst ancient traditions, and a large, loving extended family. My happy childhood, however, gave way to a traumatic adolescence. By the time I was 18, I was debilitated by generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks. At 23, as a young mother in America, I struggled to free myself from the death-hold of depression.

For years, I lived in a frozen state of fear, hiding behind a veil of shame and secrecy – fear about losing my mind, fear of losing control in public, fear of being called crazy, fear of dishonoring my family,and destroying their future. But, it wasn’t until I became severely suicidal and tried to kill myself that my family and I finally began to educate ourselves about mental health issues and seek help. Fortunately, with self-determination, adequate treatment, and the undying love and support of family and friends, I have recovered and am living a healthy, fulfilling life.
Looking back, ignorance about mental health issues pushed me to the brink of suicide, and sentenced my family and I to live in fear, shame and secrecy. Learning that depression is a highly debilitating illness that can be effectively treated, set us free to seek life-saving treatment and support.

 Ignorance imprisons. Knowledge sets us free.

As we celebrate World Mental Health Day today, I encourage you to educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of depression, its diagnosis and treatment. And, please share your knowledge with your family and community. You never know, you might save a life!

To learn more about depression and its treatment, please click here… 

Wishing you wellness,

The Healing Power of Holistic Wellness

Like millions of people struggling with depression around the world, for years, I prayed for a pill to cure my ills and promise me nirvana. But, despite medications, therapy and Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT), wellness remained a distant dream. Eventually, I learned that wellness does not come encapsulated in a pill, rather, it encompasses the way I live. Over the last two decades, I have created a life of holistic wellness by integrating the Eight Dimensions of Wellness: Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, Social, Intellectual, Occupational, Financial, and Environmental. And, my new-found wellness has empowered me to create a life of meaning and purpose.    

 As we celebrate National Wellness Week, I encourage you to integrate the Eight Dimensions of Wellness into your life, and enjoy a life of holistic wellness. 

Wishing you wellness,

The Healing Power of Gardening

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “All my hurts, my garden spade can heal.” And, research indicates that gardening has numerous health benefits.    

 According to Linda Wasmer Andrews, a  freelance writer who specializes in writing about health, psychology, and the mind/body connection, gardening can improve the beauty of your surroundings or put a bounty of vegetables on your plate. But it’s also excellent therapy for your stressed-out mind. Below are four ways that gardening enhances mental health and overall well-being:

Stress Relief: Sowing Serenity
Nutrition: Growing Brain Food
Exercise: Cultivating Brain Health
Creativity: Painting with Plants

Read more…

Wishing you wellness,

The Healing Power of Hope

In May 1989, a stranger named Aida came to visit me in the hospital and forever changed my life. She was my friend Karen’s mother’s friend who was visiting my hometown Portland from Los Angeles. Having heard about my struggles with depression and the recent hospitalization, she had insisted on visiting me. Although I was ashamed to meet her in a psychiatric ward, her very presence was healing. Aida was an Armenian woman in her fifties, an elegant blend of Jackie Kennedy and Mother Teresa. In the thirty-minutes she spent with me, Aida shared the story of her struggles with depression and her eventual recovery. Having never met a person who had struggled and recovered from depression, I remember staring at Aida in utter disbelief. Over the years, when  medications, therapy, electric shock treatments, and the love and prayers of my family had failed to heal me, I had given up hope of ever recovering. “Gayathri, I promise you will get better” Aida had said, “It won’t be easy. But, one day, one step at a time, you will recover and rebuild your life.” “Believe me, you have the strength within.”  Although my family and physicians had insisted I would get better, I had never believed them. But, I trusted Aida. Because, unlike others, Aida had journeyed through the dark abyss of depression, and emerged into the light. Although Aida’s visit was short, the gift of hope she gave me that day transformed my life and continues to transform the lives of those we serve through ASHA International. It is a gift that keeps on giving.

There is a quote that says, “Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” That day, Aida taught me that while depression has no barriers-not of age, gender, nationality, religion, or socioeconomic status–hope has no boundaries. Hope has the power to heal and make us whole again.

Each day, I thank Aida for the gift of hope she gave me, and look forward to sharing it with those in need.  

Wishing you wellness,

The Healing Power of Love

Love has the power to heal and make us whole. This Mother’s Day, I want to thank my mother, Shakuntala, and all the mother’s in the world for their love and support.Thank you for being our primary caregivers, cheerleaders and champions. Your love sustains us, and our world. Happy Mother’s Day! 

Wishing you wellness,