Updated: Mar 24
Final excerpts from, Emerging:from Coma to Presence
When I emerged from the coma, I had to relearn everything, not just physical skills. I had to go through a lifetime of emotional and intellectual growth, again. I sought established, accepted theories to guide me. Many of these theories relied on similar descriptions and were used by many in the health and medical field, so it would help me to decipher their assessments of me as well. ...
(page 83, Emerging:from Coma to Presence) ... Now, my not-so-young mind grappled with abstract concepts as well, but through meditation I practiced quieting my own self-doubt and listening. When current interests and abilities differed from those I held in the past, I judged my current self, my post-TBI self, as inferior. My doubt insisted that, if I found interest in something after the wreck, that interest arose only because I could no longer resume former ventures; I regarded my new interests as a consolation prize, and grieved the loss of previous pursuits. I had gone to bed one night in my own bed; and when I opened my eyes, a month had passed, ten or more surgeries had occurred, and my son's first Thanksgiving Day pageant at school had come and gone. The doubt that continued to invade my mind repeatedly demonstrated my need for grace. My meditation practice provided me with a technique for quieting my mind and listening. ...
(page133) ...What first started as a blog about ways seniors could enhance their mental flexibility and mind/body awareness soon turned into an experiential class. With the help of a neurologist and a registered nurse, I documented the results of ten-week training sessions. The statistics bore out what I hoped. Over a ten-week training period, mental flexibility showed the greatest increase-89%. This kind of intentional training for seniors will change the future for the growing number of aging adults. My recovery is a miracle and one that I believe God presented me with the opportunity to prepare for my entire life. And having prepared, I called on the creative skills I developed when needed. Providing an opportunity to help develop those skills in others, I developed experiential exercises that any one of any age or physical ability could learn and practice. I have included the manual with definitions of important terminology, the ten-week syllabus, and the tools for data collection in the appendix. So, a ten-piece art exhibit, a wellness class for seniors, and a memoir--my cup overflows.
Part Two: Learning HOW to Age™️
Introduction Expressive Avenues: Wellness philosophy is one of intentional practice, encouraging mental curiosity and improving the quality of life. The National Wellness Institute defines seven dimensions of wellness; emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, spiritual and environmental. Of those seven, only physical wellness is consistently part of a wellness practice. Physical wellness has become a well-documented and sought after goal for many years. After all, there are very specific metrics for measuring physical wellness and years of statistics to back up claims. As a society, we have learned that a healthy body has a positive influence on things like blood pressure, heart disease, joint fluidity and mood. Having reaped the rewards of physical wellness, doesn't it make sense to attack the other aspects of wellness with the same enthusiasm? But how are the other aspects of wellness addressed and tested? What are the goals and benefits?
As we retire from the work force we are at risk from a sedentary lifestyle; however, only the physical body (weight, muscle mass, blood pressure, etc.) have been targeted--until now. Recent discoveries support that the mental, social, spiritual and emotional life of someone
retired and aging needs as much attention and focus as the physical body. Through advances in brain mapping, researchers have shown a correlation between a particular activity and increased energy activity in the region of the brain associated with that activity. Preventing age related accidents due to loss of balance, and encouraging social interaction and critical decision-making may be a matter of igniting the release of neurotransmitters in the region of the brain associated with these skills.
In 2012, Expressive Avenues: Wellness documented participants engaged in Learning H.O.W. to Age ™️ for ten weeks. The target participants for Learning H.O.W. to Age™️
(abbreviated to L.H.T.A.) are retirees, 65 years old and older, and in good general health. Each lesson in this program was developed with a specific goal in mind and tested on aging adults living independently in a retirement community. L.H.T.A. focused on the previously mentioned dimensions of wellness not typically addressed: intellectual, occupational, social, environmental, emotional and spiritual wellness. Each of these exercises are rooted in documented scientific studies and validated by leading thinkers in the fields of neurology, psychology, physics and kinesiology.
Based on fMRI brain mapping results illustrated in Mapping the Mind by Rita Carter and referencing Moshe Feldenkrais, Abraham Maslow, Edward de Bono and Dr. Richard Restak, Expressive Avenues: Wellness synthesized their theories and philosophies and combined them with experiential gaming and awareness exercises used in acting, dance and voice. The psycho- social wellness program, Learning H.O.W. to Age™️, is the result. In addition, Expressive Avenues: Wellness developed a toolkit for collecting and analyzing data related to this wellness program. The scientific and medical community supports the continued development of the skills practiced in L.H.T .A. and has determined those skills as crucial to a successful retirement free of anxiety, illness, and social isolation.
Learning H.O.W. to Age™️ was developed in response to the growing population of retirees, the escalating costs of medical care and the general decline in quality of life seen in this population. The validity of this program lies not only in the immediate results but in the long-term wellness benefits. Joining these particular acting and movement exercises with accepted therapeutic outcomes offers participants the promise of vibrant living throughout a lifetime.