By W.T. Eckert Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Jenny A. Morrill and Paula M. Youmell have written a book about letting go of stress, illness and poor eating habits. Specifically, they take a look at the benefits of practicing mindfulness.
When Colton-Pierrepont Central School teacher Jenny A. Morrill wanted to write a book that would create a tapestry of healing energy, real food, mindfulness and yoga poses, her co-author, Paula M. Youmell, shot her down.
"I have written two other books and I have literally 10 more in the works," Ms. Youmell said, laughing. "It is knowing what you have to go through, the publishing process, the marketing process, the editing of the book to get it out in the publishing process. All of that was a nightmare to me and I was like, 'No. Absolutely not. Thanks for the offer."
Then Mrs. Morrill started to talk to her longtime friend and collaborator about the project.
"And I'm not kidding you, like 30 seconds later I was like, 'Oh yeah, I get it. Yup. I can do that,'" Ms. Youmell said with enthusiasm.
"And then we started off on our adventure," Mrs. Morrill said.
"Weaving Healing Wisdom," "a labor of love" that was published in March by Lexington Publishing, LLC, Potsdam, is a book that acts more like a tool, the two women said.
A book launch party is scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 tonight at Five Elements Living, 46 Route 68, Colton, where both women conduct workshops and seminars.
"It is a book that teaches readers to plant seeds inside of themselves to grow into themselves and into their own self-healing," Ms. Youmell said.
A registered nurse with a bachelor's degree in health education and a master's degree in wellness physical education, Ms. Youmell, Hannawa Falls, is a natural health educator trained in several natural healing modalities and functional medicine, including yoga and natural medicine.
In addition to teaching fifth-graders at the school and having three degrees in education, Mrs. Morrill, Colton, also is a mindfulness coach who conducts workshops and presentations throughout the north country through her company, 3 Marigolds.
It was through those workshops with Ms. Youmell that Mrs. Morrill said she "invited" her to work on "Weaving Healing Wisdom."
"It is just so exciting because it lends itself so well to a holistic approach to wellness because when you explore how to embrace struggle, emotionally, you want to feel physically better and you want to eat foods that bring that all from the inside out," Mrs. Morrill said. "It is beautiful and it was just awesome."
The book includes journals and reflection questions and is something readers can use and refer back to over time, Ms. Youmell said.
Like a meal, however, the book is also something that the reader should digest.
The book will give instructions on breathing and relaxation techniques and should be treated as a "guide to letting go and letting be while at the same time learning to deal effectively with stress, illness, poor eating habits and injury, both physical and emotional."
"You have to digest it. You have to absorb it into your bloodstream. It has to circulate around and work its way into every one of your cells," Ms. Youmell said. "And that is what I tell my clients all of the time. It is not just about food and nutrition; it is about what you eat and how your body digests it. Your inner wisdom is right in every cell ..."
"And that is a big connection we make in the book as well," Mrs. Morrill said. "We talk about how our thoughts really do influence our nourishment on a cellular level. Our thinking shifts the way our body works."
Practicing mindfulness boosts your immune system, it releases endorphins, it clears your mind and it allows you to have better vision, productivity and creativity, Mrs. Morrill and Ms. Youmell said.
"You are really learning how to be aware of what you are thinking or feeling and shape how you are going to respond to whatever is happening," Mrs. Morrill said. "And sometimes that is uncomfortable and sometimes people don't' want to think and feel of things unpleasant. It makes them think, it makes them want to push things away."
It is sitting with the "ugly dark stuff" and realizing it is not you that the book also aims to teach readers to "get through it and into the light," Ms. Youmell said.
"When you are experiencing darkness, mindfulness teaches you to get curious about it," Ms. Youmell said. "'What is it trying to tell me?' and all of the sudden you can get playful with it and it teaches you something and you learn something new about yourself or someone else?"
Some of the benefits of practicing mindfulness includes learning how to navigate stress and anxiety, increase self-awareness, improve focus, strengthening endurance through tough times and increasing self-reflection and compassion toward self and others, Ms. Morrill said.
"It was something that I had to nourish and develop ... and when you do you, you are a better employee, husband, wife, friend -- all of that," Ms. Morrill said.
But readers are also advised to "go gentle" with themselves.
"Sometimes, I think when people are ready to start and make the shift and the change and it doesn't happen after day two, they are hard on themselves," Mrs. Morrill said. "They read the book and they know what to do and it is still a struggle, which is where the magic happens. In the struggle."
All things in life that bloom struggle in the outset, Ms. Youmell added.
"When you plant a seed in the ground, it struggles to get the roots down in the ground and then it struggles to start the process of drawing nutrients out of the soil and getting that photosynthesis with the shoot that comes up," Ms. Youmell said. "It's a struggle. But once it does, it sees it and then it just flourishes."
And just like the readers, the book takes on new meaning each time they revisit it, Ms. Youmell said, "When you read the book, you are a different person, when you experience anything in life, you are a different person after that," Ms. Youmell said. "And then there are parts of it you are not going to get at first," but Ms. Youmell said once the reader completes the book they are going to be able to go back and read it again, whether it be a paragraph, a chapter, or the book as a whole, "You are going back and doing it as a different person than you did the first time through. So now you are in a space where you have elevated yourself up and it is going to mean something to you, so now you can use that to plant more seeds and bloom in a different way."
That is what growth as a human is, Ms. Youmell said: "Constantly learning and planting and blooming in new directions."