Wellness with Whitney: Walking and Thinking – Moods

June 22nd, 2016

If you’re in a bad mood and want to improve it, take a walk.

Walking for 30 minutes boosts people’s moods by increasing their feelings of well-being, according to a University of Texas research study. Even those who had been diagnosed with depression reported experiencing better moods after taking a walk.

I was in a bad mood one summer night after fruitless discussions with some family members while trying to resolve an issue. Frustration and sorrow hung over me like a wet blanket. So I decided to try to walk it off.

Setting off from my yard, I walked around the neighborhood as thoughts about the conflict swirled around in my mind. I was ruminating on a negative subject, but still found my mood improving after a few minutes. Fireflies flew past me shining their lights, crickets chirped around me, and a warm breeze enveloped me as I kept walking. I hadn’t noticed the wonder of the summer night when I first began walking since thoughts about the family drama had weighed so heavily on my mind. But the more I walked, the more I gained a better perspective. By the time I returned home, I was in a good mood.

How about you? If you’re in a bad mood while you’re reading this, take a walk as soon as you can. If you’re in a good mood, great! Try to walk for at least 30 minutes on a daily basis to keep both your emotions and your body strong.

— Whitney

Whitney Hopler writes about how to pursue wellness in body, mind, and spirit.


Wellness with Whitney: Walking and Thinking — Memory

June 15th, 2016

Want to improve your memory? Take a walk.

Exercise such as walking helps the brain grow new cells — especially in the hippocampus region that relates to memory and cognition, says Preventive Medecine Research Institute founder Dr. Dean Ornish.

Walking has helped me remember something important on many occasions.

One day, I took a walk to solve the mystery of mysterious noises in our home’s attic. As I walked, the details of different instances came to mind, so I could connect the dots between the various clues. There were several times I heard running and bumping sounds. On one occasion, I remembered, those sounds were accompanied by noises that seemed like animals chattering. I also recalled seeing shredded bits of wood showing up inexplicably at a place that was located right below the attic.

After walking boosted my memory, I solved the mystery: It was squirrels! They had invaded the attic, and the strange sounds were coming from them scrambling around and chattering with each other. Thanks to that memory walk, I figured out what was going on in enough time to evacuate the squirrels and prevent significant damage to our home.

What are you having trouble remembering right now? Mull it over during a walk. Afterward, make a note of the new insights that came to mind while you were walking. Hopefully you won’t have squirrels in your attic, but some new cells in your brain for memory wouldn’t hurt!

— Whitney

Whitney Hopler writes about how to pursue wellness in body, mind, and spirit.

Wellness with Whitney: Walking and Thinking – Peace

June 8th, 2016

Need some more peace in your life? Take a walk.

Walking promotes a sense of peace by relaxing your mind. A Princeton University research study found that exercise such as walking reorganizes brain neurons, helping people relieve stress and anxiety so they can experience more peace.

When you walk, your mind’s attention centers on basic, fundamental focuses: simply putting one foot in front of the other and noticing what’s around you. You’re not as concerned with what you’re doing as much as you are with just being. That’s why walking promotes mindfulness, which in turn promotes peace.

If I have a disagreement with someone, I’ll replay the conversation afterward in my mind, trying to figure out different possible meanings of what the other person said and wondering if I had said what I should have or not. If my mind starts spiraling into stress, I’ll try to take a walk. Walking quiets my mind and gives me a clearer perspective on any situation that had been making me feel anxious.

Usually when I take a walk specifically to relieve stress, I’ll meditate on, or pray about, that intention as well. Then the peace I experience deepens to become especially strong. As I take each step on a walk, I let go of my worries. Step by step, I transfer the energy of my thoughts from negative (worry) to positive (trust in God). Walking enriches the process by giving me a foundation of relaxation on which to build.

How has walking helped you experience peace in your own life? What stressful situations are you going through right now that you could think about more clearly on a walk? How could that clearer perspective give you the peace of mind you need to navigate those situations well?

— Whitney

Whitney Hopler writes about how to pursue wellness in body, mind, and spirit.

Wellness with Whitney: Walking Helps Thinking – Concentration

June 1st, 2016

Having trouble concentrating? Take a walk.

Walking strengthens your mind as well as your body. A Harvard Medical School research study revealed that walking and other forms of regular exercise enhance concentration by releasing brain chemicals that help people concentrate.

Often, I’ll take brief walks on weekday afternoons to help me concentrate better on my work. By the time late afternoon rolls around, my physical energy slows down and my mental energy slumps, too. That’s when I’m most prone to getting restless and distracted. Clicking over to YouTube for a brief break to watch a funny cat video is tempting, but will only distract me more, so when I’m having trouble focusing I take a brief walk instead.

The physical rhythm of walking sets our mind in sync with a healthy rhythm, as well. It lets all the discordant thoughts that run chaotically through our minds drop away, and focuses us on thoughts that are worthy of our attention. Walking also gets our blood flowing well through our bodies, promoting optimal brain function, which also helps us concentrate.

Even though it seems counter intuitive, taking breaks from our work to enjoy some walks can actually make us more productive than continuing to work when we’re distracted. Walking takes time, of course, but it’s a wise investment to make. The concentration boost increases productivity that empowers us to more than make up for the time spent walking.

So let’s walk — for our minds as well as our bodies — whenever we can!

— Whitney

Whitney Hopler writes about how to pursue wellness in body, mind, and spirit.

Wellness with Whitney: Walking Helps Thinking – Ideas

May 25th, 2016

Need a fresh idea? Take a walk.

The simple act of walking rejuvenates your mind as well as your body. A Stanford University research study found that people boosted their creative inspiration by an average of 60 percent just by walking.

Many of my best writing ideas have come to me while I was walking. If I’m struggling with writer’s block, I’ll take an office break for about 20 minutes to walk. Always, I return to my desk afterward with a breakthrough idea. Sometimes solutions to problems will come to me on one of the walks I take around my neighborhood regularly. At other times, my mind will make new connections between the details of my life, helping me understand situations better as I walk.

How often have you noticed new insights coming to you during a walk? Whether you’re hiking through a park or simply strolling down a hallway, your mind is a magnet for new ideas because walking promotes clear thinking. That’s why some people pace back and forth across a room while they’re trying to figure something out.

So get creative about how you can combine walking and thinking in your life. Consider:

  • Praying or meditating while you walk
  • Walking around your workplace (or outside it) to reflect on a current project
  • Mulling over a problem in your personal life (such as a broken relationship, financial stress, or a health issue) during a walk
  • Hiking outside in nature and making note afterward of insights that come to you

When you move your body, your mind moves forward, too.

— Whitney

Whitney Hopler writes about how to pursue wellness in body, mind, and spirit.


Renewing Your Mind: Angels and Suicide

May 17th, 2016

What happens in the afterlife to people who commit suicide? Do suicide victims go to heaven? Or do their souls go to hell because they killed themselves? Suicide and heaven is a painful topic for grieving family and friends who hope their loved ones have gone to heaven after death.

My loving great uncle shot himself after finding out that he had cancer. A wonderful woman I knew from church helped many other people in need yet didn’t reach out for help when she needed it, and then ended her life. All I can know for sure about what happened to them in the afterlife is that it depended on their faith — and if they truly did have faith, that was truly enough.

In the past, I’ve worried about the eternal destinations of the good people I’ve known who made that bad final choice. We’re often quick to judge people in pain and assume we know where they stand with God. Really, though, only God knows that state of souls who have died by suicide. It may be better than we think.

The good news is that angels reach out to everyone who dies from suicide. Here’s how angels help suicide victims:

Escorting them to the Afterlife
At the moment of death, angels are there for people who commit suicide, just as they are for all people. Guardian angels, who are constantly present with the people God has assigned them to watch over, always escort dying people into the afterlife, no matter how they die. They supervise the soul separating from the body and guide the soul across time and space from one dimension to another.

Just like suicide victims’ human loved ones grieve their loss, their guardian angels also grieve for them. Angels experience emotions such as sorrow and anger just like humans do after people kill themselves. Guardian angels who see the people they have been caring for end their lives prematurely feel an especially profound sense of loss. They had devoted themselves to trying to protect, encourage, and guide those people, only to see some of God’s purposes for their lives go unfulfilled due to their premature departures.

However, as much as they may disagree with the choices suicide victims make to end their lives, angels continue to love them unconditionally. The mistake of suicide as a final act doesn’t change the fact that those who commit that act are God’s beloved children.

Guiding them through Life Reviews
Next, angels guide suicide victims through the process of learning from their earthly lives through life reviews. Angels accompany people as they experience everything they said or did – every situation from birth through death – that angels have recorded in the universe’s official records. Then angels teach them lessons about the impact and significance of the choices they made. As people relive the scenes of their lives, they understand the thoughts and feel the emotions of everyone who was affected by their decisions.

They can perceive all the good and bad results of their decisions. They also feel the intense pain that the tragedy of their suicide caused their loved ones. In the process, they feel a deep sense of regret for not realizing how valuable they truly were and still are to others. They understand how they cut short what could have been in their lives, and left voids in other people’s lives due to their emotions.

The souls of those who have committed suicide are in a state of anguish when they enter the afterlife because of their tragic last choice. During their life reviews, the pain intensifies as they realize the full impact of that choice and feel guilty and ashamed.

The good news is that angels don’t condemn suicide victims for their mistakes. Instead, angels help them learn from those mistakes in ways that lead to healing and growth for their souls. Angels act as guidance counselors during life reviews. They don’t sugarcoat the truth; they come alongside people with compassion to help them face it honestly. Angels respectfully listen to people express themselves, absorbing their thoughts and feelings and sending them love back and forth, through telepathy.

Directing them to Heaven or Hell
The destination of each soul in the afterlife depends on whether or not that person chose to say “yes” to God during his or her earthly lifetime. Those who have decided to pursue relationships with God go to the heaven, while those who have chosen to live separately from God go to hell – regardless of how they died. Suicide is tragic and considered a sin because it involves rejecting God’s will that people continue to live for their full lifetimes. However, people don’t automatically go to hell because they’ve killed themselves. It is possible for suicide victims to go to heaven. What determines their fate isn’t their final action, but their love, or lack of love, for God.

Angels, God’s messengers, express God’s mercy to souls who have committed suicide. They express compassion for the pain suicide victims have endured, and understand how factors such as depression and substance abuse may have influenced their ability to make healthy choices. They are always kind when they carry out their duties directing souls where they have freely chosen to go. Varying levels of energy vibrations – from the highest in the top levels of heaven to the lowest in the bottom levels of hell – match the energy levels of the souls who reside there. Angels lead people to the place that matches the spiritual state of their souls.

Praying for Souls and their Living Loved Ones
Finally, angels pray for the souls of suicide victims to learn lessons in the afterlife that may help them grow closer to God and other souls in bonds of love. Angels also pray for the needs of living family and friends who are grieving the deaths of suicide victims.

Those who have killed themselves yet still accepted God’s love and grace end up in heaven because of their relationships with God. In heaven, they have many opportunities to work with angels to heal from the negativity that led them to suicide and embrace positive thoughts that strengthen their souls.
Loved ones who are left behind after suicide can count on angels helping them heal, as well. Angels never stop reaching out to help hurting people however they can.

Renewing Your Mind: Natural Prayer Partners

May 4th, 2016

While hiking through the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park, I noticed a memorial to a woman who had passed away. Some of her loved ones had placed her photo, a note, and a cross inside a pocket in the trunk of a towering Sitka spruce tree. The tree stood in the ancient forest as a silent sentinel, bearing witness to all humans who passed by on the forest path over many years. Its service as a symbol of God’s constant presence and solid strength inspired me, and likely many others, including the woman’s family who had chosen it as a place to honor her.

The tree inspired people to pray, and even seemed to be praising its Creator, just as people do.

The scene brought to mind a passage from the Bible: “Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the Lordfor he comes to judge the earth. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:33-34).

We often find ourselves motivated to spend time with God in prayer when we’re outside in nature. In their own ways, other parts of creation like trees, water, and rocks are also praying, through the energy vibrations they’re sending out.

The unity of all living things praising their Creator is especially evident in heaven, according to reports from near-death experience survivors who come back with stories of active natural resources there. But we don’t  have to wait until we get to heaven to benefit from natural prayer partners. Anytime we let nature inspire us to pray, we’re growing closer to God.



Renewing Your Mind: Angels and Addiction

April 20th, 2016

Addiction is a widespread issue in our society. We’re all prone to developing addictions, because we’re all tempted to seek fulfillment in someone or something else besides God. The list of what we can become addicted to is long: food, sex, gambling, alcohol, shopping, cigarettes, work, the Internet, etc.

I used to silently judge people who got drunk, smugly taking pride in the fact that I barely drank any alcohol at all. But then I realized that I had just as much of a problem with compulsively eating chocolate. None of us is immune to falling into addictive behavior. We all have to choose, day by day, to devote ourselves more to God than to anything or anyone else.

Angels, who are God’s messengers, are valuable allies to have in the fight against addiction. That’s why I’m writing a series on angels and addiction for About.com, covering such addictions as pornographyfood, and alcohol and other drugs. Hope you find the articles helpful! And if God or one of his angels have helped you recover from an addiction, please send me your miracle story or angel story to post on the site to inspire others.

Thanks, and Blessings,



Renewing Your Mind: Body, Mind, and Spirit Connections

April 6th, 2016

Emotional stress can lead to physical pain. The body, mind, and spirit are connected in ways that affect each other when there’s a problem with one part of the system. Fortunately, the angels who answer our prayers are also closely connected, so when we pray about a health issue, God may send us help from different angels working together. The archangels Michael and Raphael often join forces in healing work, since Michael is a master of empowering us to overcome fear (which causes stress) and Raphael is an expert at sending us guidance for the physical healing process.

I discovered how well Michael and Raphael work together when I woke up with pain in my jaw during a particularly stressful season in my life. While sleeping, I had been grinding my teeth because of anxiety caused by stress, putting pressure on my jaw and causing the pain in the process. I asked God to assign both Michael and Raphael to help me. Later, not only did my jaw feel better, but my mind was more at peace, as well.

How can angels help you with your own health right now?

If you’ve ever had an angel answer a prayer about your health, consider sharing your story about the experience on the About.com angels and miracles site to help others.



Renewing Your Mind: Spiritual Energy in a Place

March 23rd, 2016

As soon as I walked into a certain section of a restaurant where I was eating dinner with my husband, I felt uncomfortable. The longer I stayed, the more feelings of stress and even fear came over me. It seemed like I was being threatened, but there was no visible reason for me to feel that way. I was about to learn that the reason had to do with spiritual energy attaching to a place.

On the way out, I discovered from reading a sign about the restaurant’s history that a tragic event accompanied by strong emotions had happened there. Years ago, when the section of the building I was in had been a private home, a husband had discovered his wife in bed there with another man. Enraged, the husband shot the man, murdering him in the place right around where I had been.

I felt better immediately when we left the restaurant — and even better still after I prayed about it.

By contrast, I’ve had the opposite experience of feeling waves of joy wash over me in some places of worship as soon as I’ve entered and joined people gathered there to pray. All the positive energy being expressed there through prayer was tangible in the atmosphere of the room.

Both negative and positive spiritual energy can attach to certain locations where it’s expressed in emotionally intense ways. Thankfully, angels can help clear negative energy out of places (like our homes) and bring positive energy in when we pray. So now that it’s a spring and we’re cleaning house physically, let’s do some spiritual spring cleaning with angels, as well.