Conscious Living and Dying!
A friend of mine recently completed her circle of life. It was a good life—one of selfless public service—a commitment to others. When she felt the treatments would no longer improve her quality of life, but rather continue to make her sick during her final days, she and her family courageously made a decision. Her final days were spent in her own home surrounded by loved ones, friends stopping by, sending notes—bringing her much loved treats, laughing and sharing life stories—it was a good death.
In our feature “Dying Well,” by Ronica O’Hara we find that most of us want to die at home in our own beds, yet only one in five of us attain that gentle final exit. Anxiety about death often means we defer conversations and practical planning, which makes stressful “medicalization” of the dying process more likely. Although death has its own schedule, we can lower the chances of dying in the ICU by attaining clarity as to our values and desires, having discussions about our end-of-life choices, attending to necessary paperwork and opening to our spiritual process. Knowing the right words to say also eases the process of planning and being with a loved one in their final hours.
This month’s Conscious Eating article “Eat Well To Feel Well, author Christy Ratliff found that about one in five Americans are struggling with mental health issues, numbers that are rising during the pandemic among both adults and children. The good news is that the gut-brain connection makes help as close by as our own kitchen. Eating a nutrient-rich diet and making sure we have sufficient vitamin levels enables key neurotransmitter production. The best Thanksgiving dinner strategy is not to eliminate family favorites, but to add in new dishes and more vegetables to classic ones. With sidebars on brain-healthy foods and four recipes.
In this month’s Healing Ways article “Healthy Brain Strategies,” by Linda Sechrist we learn how functional medicine experts are helping to shift the old paradigm of inevitable aging and cognitive decline into a new one based on the brain’s neuroplasticity. Strategies they advocate to preserve cognitive skills include good nutrition, exercise, reducing inflammation and stress levels, balancing hormone levels, cultivating healthy relationships and getting restorative sleep. Eating plant-based diets, supplementing to improve gut health and insulin sensitivity, and reducing exposure to toxins are also brain-healthy steps.
I always strive to lead a healthy lifestyle, but I have weaknesses. Being mindful of my intake helps me notice the effects of certain foods as painful inflammation in my body. I find that too much of anything causes weight gain which in turn limits my range of motion. I would rather be free of pain and mobile and so I make choices—most of mine are simple moderation, because the thought of giving up the things I love seems much too final.
To conscious living,
Pamela Gallina, Publisher