About LIVING WELL
No one welcomes chronic pain or stress, illness or injury, life transitions or loss.
Yet when you face into life's uncertainties, you often have questions. You may feel fear, denial or disbelief. You may feel lost and unsure.
The Living Well with Serious Illness™ program for body~mind~spirit was designed to help you find comfort and wellbeing along your way. And realize you don't have to do this alone.
Living Well with Serious Illness™ offers integrative, whole-person care that recognizes that you are more than your body, more than your diagnosis and wish to live as well as possible for as long as possible. The goal of our work together is to improve your quality of life and offers many ways to relieve the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness or diagnosis, and helps to reconnect you with your inner emotional and spiritual resources in the service of your healing.
All of our work together is based on taking the time to slow down and drop deeply into your own experience. This provides the opportunity for a felt-sense of ease and well-being to arise and brings deep relaxation, comfort and relief.
When we come together to explore these complementary practices with a sense of openness, curiosity, and willingness to learn, we open to the wisdom and compassion of each moment. We are then living at the shifting edge of possibility by holding and expressing care and concern for whatever falls into the circle of your experience.
Living Well with Serious Illness™ offers many approaches to support you totally ~ body, mind, and spirit. Here are some tried and true ways to deal with the challenges of loss or illness, pain and stress.
The Living Well Approach
Provides holistic support to optimize your quality of life & sense of well-being
Integrative Care is a healing path embodying a holistic, patient-centered, whole-person approach to caring for your mind, body and spirit with evidence-based, complementary therapies. It focuses on cultivating and connecting your desires and strengths in service of your healing.
The Living Well with Serious Illness™ program offers complementary practices of Mind-Body Medicine to expand your healing opportunities and enhance your quality of life.. These practices include meditation, mindfulness training, somatic (body-based) practices including BioDynamic Cranial Touch and the movement practices of tai chi & qigong, as well as progressive relaxation, guided imagery and breathwork for pain and stress reduction.
"Complementary” versus “Alternative” practices. What's the difference?
Some people use the terms “alternative” or “complementary” interchangeably, but according to the NCCIH (The National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health - a Dept of the US Health and Human Services), the two terms refer to different concepts:
If a practice or technique is used along with conventional Western medicine, it’s considered “complementary.”
If a practice or technique is used in place of conventional medicine, it’s considered “alternative.”
Most people who use practices or techniques use them along with conventional Western medicine treatments, thus the NCCIH generally uses the term “complementary health approaches” when they discuss integrative care.
INTEGRATIVE PATIENT NAVIGATION & ADVOCACY
Focuses on successful completion of treatment + returning to wholeness
The collaborative approach of Living Well with Serious Illness™ provides support within the community setting and facilitates delivery of person-centered, holistic care so that psycho-social-spiritual factors as well as cultural and diversity issues are addressed. It offers a refuge outside the medical system with a highly trained navigator who offers a broader view and compassionate culturally-sensitive support.
Integrative patient navigation & advocacy educates and empowers clients & families through companionship, guidance, advocacy and support to engage in “participatory medicine” which positively affects their quality of life and sense of wellbeing by:
Communicating to their healthcare providers their personal desires and needs in the development of their Plan of Care, and
Making positive lifestyle choices and changes, supported by education and skills training.
Integrative patient navigation & advocacy provides a continuum of care, a “container of hope and support”, as well as opportunities to learn many new skills and practices. It extends the care continuum past treatment to long-term survivorship, supporting patients emotionally, and insuring they integrate healthy habits beyond the treatment phase into the challenges of their daily lives.
PALLIATIVE APPROACH = a means to ease the challenges of serious illness
Improves your quality of life by preventing & relieving suffering
Often misunderstood by the public and medical professionals, a "palliative" approach is a different aspect of “whole person” care. It focuses on preserving and enhancing quality of life for people with serious illness and their family caregivers as well as relief of physical, emotional and spiritual suffering. It is appropriate for those of any age, at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment (in non-hospice settings).
The palliative approach recognizes that serious or life-threatening illness, whether it can be cured or controlled, carries with it significant burdens of suffering for people with serious illness and their families and that this suffering can be effectively addressed by practitioners offering a palliative approach to enhancing quality of life.
The Foundation of the Living Well Program
Adapted from 2006 Duke Integrative Medicine
Explores how your thoughts, beliefs and feelings affect your health
This fundamental concept of integrative medicine, arising from many ancient healing systems, emphasizes the interconnection between mind and body in healing. Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, taught that good health depends on a balance of mind, body, and environment. Centuries later, Hans Selye MD’s research described how constant stress can affect us biologically.
James Gordon, Director and Founder, Center for Mind-Body Medicine has taken it a step further and said, “The health of our minds and the health of our bodies are inextricably connected to the transformation of the spirit.”
Research shows that connecting with the deeper resources of the body, heart-mind and spirit through “mind-body” techniques can bring about positive physiological changes, reduce anxiety, affect beneficial changes in brain function, reduce pain syndromes and increase immune function.
MINDFULNESS... a foundation & a practice
Connects you with your deepest inner resources to greatly improve your quality of life
Mindfulness is the simple act of paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and without judgment. Mindfulness isn’t just about what we ordinarily consider to be the “mind” and it’s thoughts. It’s also about the body (our awareness of our body and sensations) and about the heart (our awareness of our feelings).
Mindfulness is the practice of present-moment awareness. It promotes personal wellbeing and enables us to experience life more fully by developing the ability to return with kindness to the present moment rather than being lost in repetitive thoughts and worries about the past or future. In this way, we become more able to respond by making conscious choices, rather than to react out of habitual and often unconscious patterns.
Mindfulness practice helps you learn to shift your energy toward what is most important to you, rather than allowing your life to be consumed by the struggle with problems or difficult emotions. Mindfulness helps you live your life as if it really mattered, moment by moment by moment by moment.
Mindfulness practice is suitable for people of any religious belief or background. You need not subscribe to any spiritual path to learn and benefit from this program.
Mindfulness is a key element in Mind-Body Medicine and at the core of the Living Well with Serious Illness™ program. Mindfulness trainings including Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) are practice-based, interactive and experiential learning programs to connect you with your deepest inner resources for living, healing, and coping with stress.
Over 35 years of scientific research on the effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR),
demonstrated that mindfulness practices help many with chronic illness and other conditions that are not helped by traditional medicine, and
supports the integration of meditation and mindfulness into mainstream medicine, health care, and society.
SPIRITUALITY & SPIRITUAL CARE
Supports your search for meaning, for purpose and for connection
Simply stated, Spiritual Care is what nurtures the human spirit in coping with change or crisis. It provides comfort, support and mobilizes your own deep resources for coping and healing, as well as, emotional and spiritual growth. Spiritual Care provides compassionate care and counseling in times of transition and loss.
Spirituality is defined as "the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred" - from the Consensus Conference, 2009, in support of spiritual care as a fundamental component of the palliative approach.
Often my role is to provide a safe place for patients, their family or caregivers, especially when any of them have sensitive issues regarding concerns, hopes, fears and spirituality that they want to explore outside the treatment setting. My focus is on serving and listening to you as we journey together and meet the challenges of illness or loss.
Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, you want to be fully met, wish to be heard, accepted, and encouraged as you seek resolution and reconciliation. In each session we, in partnership, respond to what your needs are in the moment. We may share tears of grief or joy; we may sit in silence enjoying each other's company or have deep, heart-felt conversations about what matters most to you.
Taking the time to slow down with someone willing to deeply listen often brings a sense of deep relaxation, comfort and relief. Clients often report they feel clearly seen, not judged and accepted just as they are.
Our time together focuses on what matters most to you ~ whether it is finding psycho-spiritual support, relief of physical symptoms, emotional support or helping your family support system understand more about you, your prime concerns and your care. I help you prioritize those things that improve your and your family's quality of life and formulate a supportive, holistic plan.
The Practices of the Living Well Program
Cultivates your vitality & energy through meditative, mindful movement
Qigong is an ancient healing art of slow, mindful movements that unite and strengthen the body, mind and spirit. The word ‘Qigong’ translates as “energy or vitality cultivation”. These simple practices, grounded in the body, the breath, the heart and open awareness, are a means for transformation and healing.
Radiant Presence Qigong™ is an integration of medical and spiritual qigong. These practices are used to create, balance and promote good health and healing by quieting the mind, calming the nervous system and opening the heart. Continuity of practice brings a unified physical, emotional and spiritual sense of wellbeing.
"Journey of Sisterhood" By permission of ©Shelly Panko
ART MAKING ~ ART EXPLORATION
Unleashes hope, affirms life and connects us with our deepest inner resources
Making art gives comfort and elevates the spirit. Making art is healing and life enhancing. Making art develops concentration and mindfulness skills. Making art contributes to a person’s healing process. Incorporating making art with psycho-spiritual support develops resilience and cultivates a greater ability to cope with serious illness.
The creation of art has played an important part in my healing journey. Cancer and a serious car accident short-circuited my academic career and left me with physical challenges and chronic pain with which I coped without the use of pain medication.
I found inspiration within ancient wisdom traditions that utilized art (and art tile installations) for spiritual transformation and physical healing. I founded and ran Designs In Tile™ for 34 years (1978 - 2012). DIT became an internationally known Art Tile Studio, created custom historic tiles, installations and restorations from concept through completion, and used as its advertising tagline ~ "The Art of Transformation".
BIODYNAMIC CRANIAL TOUCH
Provides experiential and direct contact with the Stillness within to help restore balance, harmony and wholeness
This body-based (somatic) tablework helps quiet the mind, calm the nervous system and unwinds the habitual holding patterns of the body. It is an exploration of "the body as consciousness", a realization of the harmony within the Whole, is profoundly relaxing and often gives the direct experience of connecting with sacred realms.
It is a non-medical, inner-body oriented, non-doing approach to healing. It has at its root the work of WG Sutherland DO, as well as the ancient sacred and healing art of laying on of hands which also underlies the subtle body, “vital force” (qi) energy healing modalities found in Eastern Medicines. All these modalities share at their core contact with Stillness.
This hands-on modality, done fully clothed, provides an access to deep and profound insight and transformation through connection with and fully inhabiting the body. It is based on understanding “the Body is a gateway, Breath is a path, Self-Compassion is a guidepost", allowing for full expression of the innate healing wisdom of the body.