What is Integrative Self Care ?

Integrative self-care is a healing-oriented, philosophical whole person approach to life that individuals, families and communities practice to optimize their mind, body, spiritual and social aspects of health and well-being. Source University of Arizona’s I.-H.E.L.P (Integrative Health and Lifestyle Education Program).

As consumers, we make many choices every day that play a vital role in our own health status, the health of our nation and the world. The major chronic health challenges ( Heart Disease, Hypertension, Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity, and Respiratory & Autoimmune Illnesses) that compromise quality of life, expend our health care dollars and strain health care resources word-wide are largely mediated by stress, diet, lifestyle and environment.

Is the problem too big to solve? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Each of us has an essential nature that is healthy, whole, and capable of healing. You can uncover the buried treasures of your essential nature to make a difference in the your health and that of  your family, community and nation when you simply start with yourself!  THAT shrinks the problem into an exciting opportunity!

About this page…

 This self care resource guide is dedicated to enhancing YOUR well being! Good medicine is practiced with a foundation in good science, therefore this resource guide directs the user to credible sources to assist your journey to an integrative approach for your health and well-being. 

May you enjoy uncovering your treasures as you empower yourself with an educated approach to your self-care.


The 5 Treasures of a Human Being: Physical, Energetic, Emotions, Consciousness & Spirit

Yoga provides a perfect model for integrative health known as the five koshas. Koshas translate as sheaths, layers or treasures that collectively describe a unified human being.

This self-care resource guide is dedicated to enhancing YOUR well being.  Good medicine is practiced with a foundation in good science, therefore this resource guide directs the user to credible sources to assist your journey to an integrative approach for your health and well-being. May it serve you well.

Namaste, Cheryl

Please click the boxes below to access LINKS TO  INTEGRATIVE SELF CARE RESOURCES  organized by your 5 Treasures.

  Physical Body

Described as the covering made of food in Yoga teachings, this layer of our humanity describes all that has tangible form.

Key Message

The body is the vehicle in which we take our life journey. Regarding the body as a sacred temple for our soul presents an opportunity to shift our perspective in how we care for ourselves. Our body is dynamic, with new cells continually forming as others recycle! At any life stage, we hold the capacity to improve our health and to access our innate gifts for healing.

It is through your body that you realize you are a spark of divinity. B.K.S. Iyengar

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Our brain tissue can literally be remodeled by habits of thought, brain games and regular practice of meditation. The scientific term is Neuroplasticity. The brain learns to conserve energy by forming neural networks that wire and fire together for more efficient patterns of activation. Less active neural connections atrophy. Richard Hanson PhD refers to this a type of neural Darwinism: the survival of the busiest. So we get better at whatever patterns of thought we practice most often. This can work for your well- being, or against it!

 National Institute on Aging: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers
Games Designed by Neuroscientists to Challenge your Brain http://www.lumosity.com/landing_pages/521?gclid=CKXYhf28mL8CFdclvQodT7MAHQ

 Brain Waves : Alpha Beta Delta Theta http://www.doctorhugo.org/brainwaves/brainwaves.html

Bone Health
Throughout our lifespan, our diet, physical activity and our stress response greatly influence the health of our bones. Bone loss does not just affect the elderly.

Osteoporosis &Musculoskeletal Disorders http://www.iofbonehealth.org/osteoporosis-musculoskeletal-disorders

 Calcium Calculator from the International Osteoporosis Foundation http://www.iofbonehealth.org/calcium-calculator

 Helpful handouts and teaching modules by condition from the Department of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Public Health http://www.fammed.wisc.edu/integrative/modules

Cardiac / Heart
Heart disease remains the number one cause of death in this country and is largely preventable with diet and lifestyle modifications. High blood pressure or hypertension is a primary risk factor.

The American Heart Association http://www.heart.org/

Un Do It- Reversing Heart Disease Program with Dr. Dean Ornish http://ornishspectrum.com/

Move it or lose it. It really IS that simple. The future yhttps://www.ornish.com/undo-it/ou is not any more likely than the present you to start being physically active. Find something, anything, that you enjoy doing and MOVE . Start now.

 Exercise Resources for Youth

Input determines output. You literally are what you eat. To feel well, you must eat well. Cut through the info mania surrounding food by keeping it simple. Eat and drink only what comes from the earth in its most unadulterated form ( aka whole foods)  whenever possible. Treat your senses with a broad spectrum of colorful fruits and vegetables and tantalize your six tastes( Sweet sour salty, pungent, bittern & astringent)at every meal. Gauge your portions simply by eating no more than what can fit in your two hands. Bless all that enters your body as that which will become your body¦.. because it does. Honor the chain of human and nature’s actions that bring food to your table. Consider including in your blessing the intention that all beings have access to pure food, air, water and shelter.

  • Anti-Inflammatory Diets
    Chronic low grade systemic inflammation is a culprit in most stress and lifestyle mediated illness in industrialized nations. The rationale for an anti-inflammatory diet is to reduce intake of dietary components that trigger inflammation while increasing intake of more beneficial nutrients. The body becomes more acidic in the presence of chronic Inflammation and can be assisted back into balance with more alkaline foods.
  • Dr. Andrew Weil  on Nutrition
  • The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid
  •   Fiber
  • Glycemic Index  :The GI ranks carbohydrates according to how much they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Hi GI diets contribute to coronary artery disease, Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity. Low GI diets hold blood sugar more stable and control appetite by reducing hunger.
  •  Weight Management Glycemic Index Calculator from the University of Sydney http://www.glycemicindex.com/
  • Healthy Eating Plate Graphic from Harvard School of Public Health

The world prevalence of obesity has nearly doubled between 1980 and 2010 (W.H.O. 2010) More than 1/3 of US children and adolescents are obese. The downstream health and societal burden for this issue is beyond our worst nightmares as a nation. It is the loudest call for diet and lifestyle change on the part of parents.

Sleep and Rest

Yoga offers a multitude of physical practices to optimize health of each of the body systems.

  Second Treasure: Energy Body

This treasure refers to the subtle energy fields of the body in the Yoga and Reiki teachings, some of which currently defy scientific measurement, yet are described in ancient medicine worldwide by many different names (e.g. prana, chi, ki). Although much of ancient medicine is founded in this work, its use is controversial in modern medicine until research can elucidate its mechanisms of action.

Key Message:

Vitality is determined by the power and orchestration of the many energy systems influencing the human body. These energies collectively create a bio field or life force that is intelligent on a level independent of the brain, but very dependent on cellular environment. Vitality is sustained in the body by breath, hydration, food, water, movement, socialization, sex, meaningful action and sleep. Living in a state of chronic stress not only makes us less vital on cellular and whole body levels, but chronic stress also erodes our felt sense of connection to our innate intelligence/life force/bio field.  Breath acts is our guide inward where we remember our very nature and source of all healing is this life force. This reunion puts us in touch with our innate power for healing. Energy medicine then becomes a necessary component of an integrative health care and self -care.

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.  Martha Graham (1894 – 1991)

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Breath Practices
We can learn to use the breath to increase, decrease or balance our energy. The flow of our breath is a gauge for the tone of our autonomic nervous system and can be consciously manipulated to bring heart rate, breath and brain waves into a synchronous state.

Digestive Health
Gut Health and Your Microbiome: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/microbiome/

Energy Medicine
Everything is energy and energy is everything. Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can just change form. An underlying principle in energy medicine is that we can interact with the subtle energies in our bio field to promote health. There are many forms of energy medicine, with slowly evolving scientific study of their mechanisms of action.

  • ChakrasWheels / Hubs of Energy): You Tube 18 minute Guided Yoga Breath, Chakras and Mudras( hand postures ) Practice with Joseph LePage
  • Reiki http://www.reiki.org/FAQ/FAQHomepage.html
  • Music and Health:  https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/music-and-health-what-you-need-to-know

Heart Energy
The heart has the largest measured energy field in the body. Heart rate variability has been identified as one of the key factors in resilience.

Relaxation Response
Dr.Hillary McClafferty describes the relaxation response as a state of relaxed passive attention to a repetitive or absorbing stimulus that turns off the “inner dialogue” decreasing the arousal of the SNS (sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight response). It is focused and sustained awareness within an attitude of interest. 

Supplements, Vitamins & Minerals
When our energy feels too high or too low, we often turn to supplements.  Plants and minerals are medicines. Always inform all members of your health team about everything you are taking.

  Third Treasure: Mind & Emotions

It is no accident that the Yoga tradition groups mind and emotions together in the same kosha/sheath/treasure. Long before brain imaging technology the yogis recognized the constant interplay in the brain between our centers for executive control,  emotion and  our primal instincts as vrittis. The first sutra of yoga states the practices still these vrittis, these fluctuations of the mind. This stilling allows a union of body mind via recollection of our essential nature that is free of suffering. Forgetting this natural union is considered the root cause of all disease.

Key Message:

Depression is one of the leading causes of disability in this country.  In the past 45 years, suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. making it the second leading cause of death ( after accidents) among American high school and college students!  Stress-related complaints accounting for more than 90% of primary care visits, we must continue to highlight the importance of psychological health as a mainstream part of medical practice.  Becoming aware of our thoughts, emotions and behaviors and food choices using mindfulness is one of the most important steps we can take on our path to well-being. The science of mindfulness (originating in Yoga) has emerged as bedrock for integrative health as it provides solid evidence that states of mind influence health and disease.

What happens in the mind of man is always reflected in the disease of his body …René Dubos-

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Meditation encompasses a variety of practices that build skills to focus and control attention. Multiple studies have demonstrated that meditation practices build areas of the brain involved in learning, memory, emotional regulation, self-referential processing and perspective taking ( Holzel, 2011)


  • Mindfulness involves paying attention on purpose, in the present moment and without judgment.


We are social creatures. Our relationships are sources for both joy and pain and therefore greatly influence our health and wellbeing.

  • Center for Nonviolent Communication NVC offers practical, concrete skills for manifesting the purpose of creating connections of compassionate giving and receiving based in a consciousness of interdependence and power with others.

Resilience refers to our ability to positively adapt to life’s challenges and to bounce back from setbacks. Evidence supports resiliency can be learned.

Stress is part of life. Humans are designed to survive stressful events when they arise and then return to a relaxed state when the threat has passed. When real or perceived threat is constant, the stress response becomes our default state of existence, at a high cost to the health of our body, mind and spirit. We learn our way into stressful patterns and we can learn our way out.

Resources for Financial Stressors

  • Money Smart Financial education program created and run by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Money Smart materials are free and can be ordered on the FDIC’s website. The adult Money Smart curriculum has ten modules that focus on everything from how to work with banks and loans to how to work with credit, checking accounts, and consumer loans.
  • Financial Knowledge Institute Non-profit educational organization that specializes in on-site workshops on personal financial topics. The speakers are members of the community that are donating their time to share their passion of creating financial literacy.
  • Institute for Financial Literacy Non-profit organization whose mission is to promote effective financial education and counseling.
  • Money Management International Non-profit agency that provides free professional credit counseling, debt management programs, and consumer education.
  • National Endowment for Financial Education Information on ways to save money, tips on how to become a savvy saver, a savings quiz, and financial calculators to help figure out how long it would take to save money or pay off a loan.
  • My Money Information from the U.S government to help improve the financial literacy and education of persons in the United States.
  • Women’s Institute for Financial Education WIFE is a non-profit organization which provides financial education and networking opportunities to women of all ages.
  • Jump$tart (Financial Smarts for Students) Evaluates the financial literacy of young adults; develops, disseminates, and encourages the use of guidelines for grades K-12.
  • The American Financial Services Association Education Foundation (AFSAEF) An affiliate of the American Financial Services Association (AFSA) is a non-profit organization to heighten consumers’ awareness of personal financial responsibility. AFSAEF’s mission is to help consumers realize the benefits of responsible money management, understand the credit process, and seek help if credit problems occur.

  Fourth Treasure: Consciousness

In the yoga tradition, this treasure of being is often referred to as our witnessing faculty; a level of Awareness sensed to be beyond self-awareness.  A witnessing from a place of compassion, free of judgment where core beliefs that arose from our formative childhood experiences combined with our ancestral lineage and culture can be integrated. This witnessing function dramatically deepens our self-study.

Key Message:

The nature of consciousness is a question that remains a great scientific debate. In its largest sense, consciousness has been referred to as a milieu of potential, a shared ground of being from which all experiences and phenomena arise and eventually return. The blind spot of science may be that the seer cannot see itself.

The subtle mind is the basis of mind. The co-operative cause of mind is the human body, but the substantial cause is consciousness. The Dalai Lama

Consciousness consists of gross and subtle consciousness, with the gross level based in the body and its sensations/perceptions and the subtle level shaped by the brain, but not subordinate to it.
In fact, many authors who work in the interplay between Tibetan Buddhism and Western science believe consciousness exists independent with or possibly from “ and ontologically prior to “ matter and life.
William Harryman from Mind and Life: Discussions with the Dalai Lama on the Nature of Reality

Web Resources :

  • Life-enhancing Purposeful Living http://www.mindandlife.org/
  • For the past 30 years, the Mind & Life Institute has pioneered the field of contemplative science. Mind and Life’s work operates in an array of rigorous fields”neuroscience, psychology, education, medicine, ethics, religion, the humanities”and is always guided by the Institute’s larger mandate to alleviate suffering, cultivate kindness and compassion, and advance human flourishing.
  • The Laboratory for Advancement of Consciousness and Health ( LACH) at the University of Arizona http://lach.web.arizona.edu/
  • Institute for Noetic Sciences:( Noetic As defined by philosopher William James noetic refers to states of insight into depths of truth unplumbed by the discursive intellect. http://noetic.org/research/overview/
  •  Inner World Outer World Movie http://www.innerworldsmovie.com/

  Fifth Treasure: Spirit

It is a beautiful mystery and Source of deepest wisdom. Re-member the body-mind to be guided in healing by the spirit that dwells within. Yoga is one of the best ways to remember.

 Key Message

Author and Psychologist Dr.Frederic Craigie defines spirituality as a comforting awareness of the sacred nature of the vital energy that animates all things.   Sacred implies a sense of holiness.   Heal, health, whole and holy all share the same etymology in the Old English word hal. It is from this awareness of the sacred nature and inherent wholeness of our animating vital energy that we can transcend suffering and tap our innate capacity for healing. This comforting awareness guides us into right relationship with ourselves, each other and our world so we may move through life experiencing meaning, purpose, dignity and joy. Engaging our spirituality to express the very best within us for a life well lived.

 Perhaps the most spiritual thing any of us can do is simply to look through our own eyes, see with eyes of wholeness and act with integrity and kindness. Jon Kabot-Zinn

Web Resources:

 SOERCE Spirituality and Health Online Education and Resource Center http://smhs.gwu.edu/gwish/resources/websites

Integrative Health: Healthy Earth Means Healthy You

The World Health Organization defines environmental health as a field of study that addresses all the physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person, and all the related factors impacting behaviors. It encompasses the assessment and control of those environmental factors that can potentially affect health. It is targeted towards preventing disease and creating health-supportive environments. This definition excludes behavior not related to environment, as well as behavior related to the social and cultural environment, and genetics.

Key Message

Consider how the modern motto of better living through chemistry has made home environments in industrialized nations more convenient, but at some unforeseen costs. Body burden testing is revealing a host of endocrine disrupting chemicals in our tissues from flame retardants in our products, pesticides, plastics, etc that appear to be adversely effecting human growth and development. The Environmental Working Group published a study showing more than 200 chemical present in the umbilical cords in a sample of minority newborn babies.  Our environmental health is not somebody else’s problem. We are innovative and resourceful creatures. Once humanity embraces the necessity for stewardship of our planet and its peoples, we can actually enjoy the process of cleaning up our bodies, our homes and our consumer practices.

Conscious business.. business that is conscious of inner and outer worlds…would therefore be business that takes into account body, mind, and spirit in self, culture, and nature.Put differently, conscious business would be mindful of the way that the spectrum of consciousness operates in the Big Three worlds of self and culture and nature.
Ken Wilber

Web Resources:

Earth & Environmental Health

Chemical Hazards

Water Quality

Moisture and Mold

Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs)

I doubt anyone would argue that we are in drastic need of effective leaders today. Effective leaders practice these five things: they challenge the process, inspire a shared vision, enable others to act, model the way, and encourage the heart. Maybe you can be our next effective leader in your organization, community or government. As described by Theory U out of MIT, we are in great need of a shift from EGOsystems to ECOsystems as we create our world.

There is no power for change greater than a community
discovering what it cares about. Margaret Wheatley

Web Resources:

Health Policy

Health Research

Epigenetics: At the heart of this new field is a simple but contentious idea”that genes have a ˜memory’. That the lives of your grandparents”the air they breathed, the food they ate, even the things they saw”can directly affect you, decades later, despite your never experiencing these things yourself. From the BBC television program The Ghost In Our Genes http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/genes/

Searchable Data Bases:

Key message:

Consumers have been driving a shift in health care towards an integrative approach to medicine for over thirty years and the power of their collective voice has created significant change. Integrative medicine creates a therapeutic partnership ship between the practitioners and patients in which all aspects of lifestyle are addressed with an emphasis on health promotion and prevention of illness. Informed by evidence, a plan for health is co-created using all appropriate therapies in a team approach.

Web Resources:

  • Yoga Warriors International   Large multifaceted program offering evidence-based yoga and mindfulness practices to alleviate symptoms of combat Large multifaceted program offering evidence-based yoga and mindfulness practices to alleviate symptoms of combat
  • My HealtheVet Offers a food journal and other tools
  • Eat Wisely VA National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (NCP) website with tip, information and policies
  • Eat Wisely Patient handout
  • MOVE! Program (NCP) Internet resources for both Veterans, their families and clinicians
  • DoD/VA Suicide Outreach: Resources for Suicide Prevention and Crisis LineAccess to hotlines, treatments, professional resources, forums, and multiple media designed to link individuals to others. This site supports all Service Branches, the National Guard, the Reserves, Veterans, families and clinicians.
  • Veteran Crisis LineTo receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, Veterans and their loved ones can 1) call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 or 2) chat online, or 3) send a text message to 838255.
  • DCoE Outreach CenterThe Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) runs a resource center that provides information and resources about psychological health (PH), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injury (TBI). The center can be contacted 24 hours a day, seven days a week 1) by phone at 866-966-1020, 2) by e-mail, or 3) by online chat.
  • National Call Center for Veterans who are HomelessFor a Veteran who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless (also intended for Veterans families, VA Medical Centers, federal, state and local partners, community agencies, service providers and others in the community). 1-877-4AID VET (877-424-3838)
  • Military OneSource Military OneSource is a free service provided by the Department of Defense to Service Members and their families to help with a broad range of concerns. Call and talk anytime, 24 hours day/7 days a week at 1-800-342-9647.
  • National Center for PTSD Support Group Page The National Center for PTSD lists resources for those with PTSD, as well as general resources for finding support groups focused on a variety of other areas.
  • National Resource Directory (NRD) The NRD is a website for connecting wounded warriors, Service Members, Veterans, and their families with those who support them. It provides access to services and resources at the national, state and local levels to support recovery, rehabilitation and community reintegration. Visitors can find information on a variety of topics including benefits and compensation, education and training, employment, family and caregiver support, health, homeless assistance, housing, transportation and travel, and other services and resources. The NRD is a partnership among the Departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs.
  • VA Caregiver Support Programs available both in and out of the home to help caregivers support Veterans and themselves.
  • Dr. David Kearney and Tracy Simpson, Loving-Kindness Meditation Video Clip
  • Compassion: Bridging Practice and Science, Stanford University, e-book
  • Center for Investigating Health Minds