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The science of life

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Lewises teach mind-body, holistic approach at Southside Adult Literacy Project

By Greg Summers

Our lives are like a pot of good Caribbean vegetable soup, says Omileye “Omi” Achikeobi-Lewis.

There are red peppers, garlic, onions, carrots, yellow peppers, orange peppers, green peppers, celery, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, stock and just the right amount of nutmeg, soy sauce, seasonings and fresh thyme, mixed with fresh coconut milk and love.

Once the ingredients are simmered and cooked down, the pot has everything that is needed to keep a body healthy and strong.

But the keys, she said, are to keep stirring the pot, keep hoping and keep chopping.

Comparing life to a pot of vegetable soup is the approach that Achikeobi-Lewis, and her husband, Derrick Lewis, have adopted in teaching a holistic lifestyle during a seven-week leadership class at Southside Adult Family Literacy Project.

An award-winning journalist, author and complementary health healer, Omi  Achikeobi-Lewis is founder of AharaLife for Wellness. She has 15 years experience in the field and has studied holistic and Eastern medicine in great detail.

The goal, she said, is to help those in the class achieve balance in their lives through the use of age-old Eastern medicine principles and techniques.

The Lewises are teaching others how health and nutrition, adequate rest and exercise work together to make the body stay in balance.

“A lot of them haven’t had successful relationships or healthy lives,”  Achikeobi-Lewis said. “But 99 percent of them know nothing about what steps they can take to be successful. We’re trying to expose them to things and concepts they’ve never seen before. I’m so glad they’re having access to this way of thinking. Several of them reported a higher energy level after eating properly for one day.”

Achikeobi-Lewis said the body is no different from an automobile in that it sends out signals when something is wrong.

She said what we eat and what time of day we eat has a bigger impact on our emotional and physical health than we realize. Achikeobi-Lewis said most high- sugar junk foods and take-out fast food are body toxins.

“The body is a beautiful, delicate message and is always trying to pull itself back into balance,” she said. “There are six stages of illness and in five of them, the body is very merciful and lets us know there’s something we need to tweak. A lot of times, nutrition, lifestyle and exercise can pull it back into balance. Many of the illnesses that people have are preventable by keeping our bodies in balance.”

Many of the techniques, like foot massage, head massage with essential oils to relieve stress and tension, along with proper breathing and gentle stretching can be passed along to the student’s children.

The Lewises are teaching more than the “how.” 

“If we overeat, there has to be a reason behind it,” he said. “Whether it’s skin, headaches, weight, comfort or stress, you can interject the right things into your life to eliminate them.

“What we’re trying to do is equip them with a tool belt to deal with it,” Lewis said.

After each session, those in the class must complete a required two- to five- minute free-flow writing assignment.

“It’s been amazing to hear what’s coming from their souls,” Lewis said. “The writing really releases their emotions. It’s bringing out something in them so they can know each other better.”

“I’ve been impressed by their work,” Achikeobi-Lewis said. “They are really starting to get a grasp on how acheiving balance affects their lives.”   

Getting active and staying active results in other balancing benefits, student Angela Cauthen said. That includes sleeping better and reducing stress.

“I know my spirit is a lot better,” said Mary Alexander. “They’re taking time to bring food to my soul.”  

Achikeobi-Lewis said those in the class are starting to gain a new focus in with their lives.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” she said. “Circumstances might try to prevent them, but they don’t have to stop them.”

A cooperative effort between Deliverance Word of Faith Church, the J. Marion Sims Foundation and the Springs Foundation, the Southside Adult Family Literacy Project’s mission is providing effective programs to strengthen families.

Headquartered at the Preston Blackmon Family Success & Career Center, the literacy project offers a range of programs from spiritual and academic to social and physical.  

Want to know more?

AharaLife for Wellness teaches holistic lifestyle through an extensive variety of programs, seminars and training programs. Its services include personal holistic assessments, wellness reports, follow-ups and lifestyle plans.  For information, call Omileye Achikeobi-Lewis or Derrick Lewis at (803) 285-5380 or (770) 498-3472

Signs that your body is out of balance

– Fatigue

– Insomnia

– Headaches

– Tired-looking skin

– Bloatedness

– Inability to concentrate

– Down moods

– Irritability

Steps to get your body back in balance

Here are seven wellness principles to incorporate in your life:

– Examine these areas – nutrition, lifestyle and emotions – and eliminate the culprits that are having a negative impact.

– Try and engage the food plate principle. It varies, but in general it is 50 percent carbohydrate, 40 percent protein and 10 percent healthy fats (such as olive oil, avocados, etc).

The feeling that you are lacking purpose can be a big contributor to feeling out of balance. Help this by creating a life map of where you are and where you would truly like to be. Remove the fear and allow yourself to dream.

– Avoid heavy, late-night eating. If you must, eat something light after 6 p.m., such as soup, salad, vegetables or small portions of fish and meat.

– Slow down, rest, re-center and make time for yourself.

– Traditional, holistic foot massages, foot baths and gentle stretching go a long way in re-balancing your body.

– Avoid toxic people and situations.

– Include forms of creative expression in your life, such as writing, painting and drawing.

Holiday meal tips from Omi

– First and foremost – enjoy it!

– Indulgence is OK, but don’t overindulge – it will make your mind and body feel like “woo”. Address it by engaging the food plate principle; 50 percent healthy carbohydrates, 40 protein and 10 percent healthy fats and other. Make sure to include plenty of salad and vegetables on your plate to bulk up the meal with the good things.

– We know that you may not have followed most of that. After Christmas, a gentle detox of fresh vegetables, salads, soups and lots of water/fresh juice for a day or two  can help get your system feeling good again.

– After the season, indulge in a foot bath of warm water, 1 cup sea salt and 1 cup of Epsom salt to ease the toxins away. If you feel really adventurous, chose your favorite essential oil and put a few drops in. We love ginger, ylangylang, lavender and chamomile.

– Supplied by Omileye Achikeobi-Lewis, founder of AharaLife