Memorable Words from the Master of Options
Dr. Tom Osborne talks about yoga, meditation and what works
Organizers of the first annual Omaha Health Expo: Mind, Body and Spirit Fair estimated that over 10,000 visitors came to the Omaha Civic Auditorium April 26 and 27 to see the booths, speakers, seminars and displays. Over 250 exhibitors filled both levels of the Mancuso Convention Center and the Exhibition Hall. There were over 50 free workshops and seminars.
Bob Mancuso, Jr., Director of the Omaha Health Expo, announced before Saturday’s keynote speakers that the Expo was the largest event held at the Civic in over five years. The event also included a morning Corporate Walk Challenge and a Bike Ride Challenge.
The range of exhibitors ran the gamut from esoteric and mystical to the mundane and materialistic. Psychic healers, pure food and water advocates, Eastern therapies like acupuncture and ayurveda shared exposition space with pharmacies that offered bio-identical hormone therapies and hospital groups providing information on how to improve health by getting a better night’s sleep. Exhibitors came from as far away as Florida and the West Coast. Veteran show vendors who are familiar with the national circuit of shows like these commented that it was the best example of a holistic health event they had seen aside from either Coast.
The emphasis and criteria for the show were set on providing information about healing arts options outside the conventional American medical version of drugs or surgery. One goal that the organizers held sight of was to open up that world of options to the general public who may not have been aware that these alternatives are available in the Omaha area.
Osborne a hit
In keeping with the desire to bring in attendees from the general populace, the organizers approached Dr. Tom Osborne to give the keynote address on opening day. If a goal of the Expo was to explore options, who better to kick it off than the man who knows more about the option than any other Nebraskan?
The casual observer would wonder what connection a former football coach, congressman and current athletic director might have with alternative medicine or the mind/body connection. For Osborne, the connection is strong.
Osborne was one of the first participants in the Ornish Heart Disease Reversal Program after discovering he had a 95 percent blockage of his anterior descending artery in his heart after suffering chest discomfort in 1985.
The Ornish Program Scores with Osborne
Dr. Dean Ornish, a San Francisco cardiologist, developed a program to reverse heart disease utilizing the basic tenets of yoga. He added the concept of group support sessions and the program successfully reverses heart disease without drugs or surgery. During his keynote address, Osborne described the concepts of the Ornish Program; all of which he participated in. He also told of adding fish oil as a nutritional supplement to his diet in the ‘80s, much before it was headline news.
“I had a cardiologist who was a kind of cutting-edge guy,” Osborne told the crowd of about 400. “He told me the Eskimos have hardly any heart disease yet they eat a high-fat diet, a lot of marine lipids, Omega-3 fatty acids. So I started taking fish oil. People kind of laughed at me but as it turned out, 15 or 20 years later, this is probably a good thing.
“Then Ornish came along. He had some patients who had reversed atherosclerosis,” Osborne reported. “I had other arteries that had partial blockages.”
Actually reversing blockages in cardiac patients had been unheard of. Osborne started on the Ornish Program. The program is a multifaceted approach. It includes diet, yoga, group support and meditation. Osborne took part in all of the facets.
“Diet, I understood that,” Osborne said. “But then he said ‘There’s more to it than that.’ He talked about yoga, which was a little bit mystical, you know, a little bit far out. Nobody had ever heard of yoga.
“Lastly, he mentioned something again that seemed kind of mystical and that was meditation. I never heard of it before.”
Osborne learned to meditate and learned it’s really not associated with any one religion or culture.
“I will tell you that of all the things I got involved with with Dean — I continue to exercise, I continue to watch my diet — but the meditation thing, yes, I do that. About 30 to 40 minutes every morning. I’ve turned it into sort of a time of prayer. It’s really the point from which I kind of center my day.
“You engage the relaxation response,” Osborne described. “As a result, I am able to call up that feeling whenever I need to. It isn’t that nothing ever bothers me. But I can tell you this, I don’t let a whole lot of things bother me.”
Osborne went on to talk about Stephen Covey and some of the ideas embraced in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He pointed out the importance of fashioning a personal mission statement or goal setting as Covey suggests.
Osborne finished by pointing out the classical Greek philosophy of balance. Balance to them considered the troika of body, mind and spirit, all of which were represented at the Expo.
“Somebody who’s developed in all three areas is truly an educated person,” he said. “I think the meditation, spiritual part is worth investigating.”
When it comes to options? The man who perfected the option offers simple advice.
“Everybody just has to look at their situation. Take what you can that works for you.”
Plans are already being developed for the 2009 Omaha Health Expo after the success of this year’s. Not every booth or exhibitor at the Expo may have been what a particular visitor might be looking for or even agree with. But as it was with those great football teams of Osborne’s, it’s about the option.
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