Being mindful doesn’t mean you always have good days. It means when things are rough, you remember to breathe because you’ve practiced it. And when tears come, you don’t judge them. You just be with your feelings in the moment, notice your thoughts, tell yourself you are not the same as them, and call on wisdom you’ve read or heard or cultivated on your yoga mat. This can still look messy, don’t get me wrong. But as long as there is openness to believing there is something to be gained, even from pain, there is possibility. Even though I got there late, I found inspiration at the Achieving Optimal Health Conference.
The conference was not a full-day retreat from my life as a mom, but it offered me exactly what I needed.
The Achieving Optimal Health Conference (AOHC) is organized by Patricia Reilly Koch, Doro Bush Koch and Therese Burch of BB&R Wellness Consulting Team. BB&R puts on this event each fall at Georgetown University. I was pleased to be able to attend and offer giveaway tickets again this year and hoped to attend as much of the conference as I had last year, but the universe had other plans.
When you get a media pass to an event, it’s best to focus and make the most of it, even if kids are allowed to join for free! So I hoped I could attend the conference by myself. Maxed out on babysitter budget and playdate favor requests, I’d hoped it might rain so that my husband’s sports commitment would be canceled so I could attend the conference solo.
But the weather was clear, so no dice on Dad staying at home. I hoped I would be able to rally my kids to come along with me to the conference for an hour or two and then get picked up by their dad. But I just couldn’t. They weren’t in the best of spirits, and neither was I.
I didn’t have the energy to prepare what I would need for them to be quiet in a lecture hall. I knew I wasn’t up to dealing with their complaints if I was having an animated conversation with an exhibitor and they not-so-tactfully showed they wanted to move on.
So I waited until I had the kids covered and arrived during the brain science presentation by Dr. Robert Silvetz of iSynchrony Clinic.
Based in Oakton, Virginia, iSynchrony works with people with autism, depression, PTSD, traumatic brain injury and stroke-related damage to reduce anxiety and pain, improve focus and sleep, and improve cognitive function and sensory processing.
Treatment begins with an EEG to analyze brain wave activity and create a plan for using individualized Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (iTMS) to treat psychiatric and neurological disorders.
The results sounded very promising. I look forward to learning and sharing more about this healing modality.
Listening to the presentation got me into a space of being open to new ideas and feeling less alone in my own challenges. That is one of terrific benefits of health conferences: community.
In addition to learning details about food, herbs, bodywork or whatever is being discussed, it’s incredibly powerful to be in a room with other like-minded wellness seekers.
The final speaker of the day, Spiritual Lifecoach and New York Times best-selling author Iyanla Vanzant, capitalized on that power by entering the room to booming, affirming music. To be there was something magical. Watch the Facebook Live video I took to get a small sense of the positive vibe.
Iyanla shared her personal journey and imparted compassionate words of wisdom to support the rest of us in ours. She encouraged us to “come home to ourselves” and to “elevate happiness to joy.”
Summarizing her talk would be like summarizing a spiritual experience. It could be done well with time, but I’m still processing more than a month later! Suffice it to say that I was in the place I needed to be at that time and that her talk left me feeling hopeful, grateful, and inspired.
After Iyanla’s powerful talk, Speakers from earlier in the day convened on a panel and shared additional insights and stories and answering questions. Wounded warrior n Dan Nevins shared how yoga saved his friend’s life. It was Dan sharing how yoga helped with his own healing that led a friend to move away from suicidal thoughts and onto the mat. Sometimes saving ourselves leads others to healing.
And sometimes parenting leads us to our own healing. In trying to support the health of my older child, who has seasonal allergies and several other issues, I’ve learned about things that have helped me. Our doctor had recommended my child take Skullcap to calm the nervous system, and I had begun taking it myself with positive results.
Just weeks before AOHC, the same doctor recommended we add in L-Theanine for additional support. I hadn’t researched it, but when it came up in the panel discussion, I knew it was a sign to bring it into our protocol. I know it’s made a difference.
And I know that taking care of myself and taking care of my kids – even though it led me to miss several speakers and opportunities to network – was what helped me to make it to the rest of the conference. And what I did attend has been a tremendous help in the month that followed.
The day concluded with two beautiful songs from the Georgetown Univeristy a capella group Superfood. It was a delight to be treated to such pure voices sharing their gifts joyfully.
For anyone who has not attended a health conference recently, I strongly encourage finding a community that will support you in your journey, whether it be about physical and emotional wellness or with a focus on parenting with joy.
Much of my work of late has been inward, and that’s important, but the Achieving Optimal Health Conference and other events I attended this fall with like-minded wellness seekers have all played significant roles in my improved health and my personal evolution.
This is not a sponsored post. I received a media pass and four tickets to offer as a giveaway with no expectation of a post. All opinions are my own.
Jessica Claire Haney is the founder, publisher and editor of Mindful Healthy Life and the author of its Guide to Holistic Family Living in Metro DC. Jessica volunteers on issues related to wellness in public schools and was the founder of the Arlington/Alexandria Chapter of Holistic Moms Network. A writer working on her first novel, Jessica offers writing, editing, and consulting services. Learn more at JessicaClaireHaney.com and in Jessica’s Mindful Healthy Life Q&A. Follow Jessica on Facebook at MindfulHealthyLife, on @Twitte