Editor’s Message


Stephanie Ross, PHD, MHD, HT, CNC, FAIS 


In the United States, prevalence of psychological stress proliferates unabatedly and in epidemic proportions. Recent studies have shown that stress levels among Americans are higher than the overall world average. 

Although stress can be an unpleasant experience, it is a normal part of life. Our capacity to deal with life’s stressors in an effective manner ultimately determines how it impacts us, both positive or negative, on every level – mind, body and spirit. For this reason, exploring the natural elements that humankind evolved with, and embracing the gifts of nature which surround us, has the potential to help restore our intrinsic peace and calm in a much-troubled world. 

Keeping this in mind, we dedicate the Spring 2023 issue of Contentment magazine to the majestic healing properties of nature, and with sincere appreciation thank the following authors for their contributions. 

Wendy Hollender is a botanical artist, illustrator, instructor, and author who’s internationally recognized career has spanned decades. Her detailed illustrations have been published in the New York Times; O, The Oprah Magazine; Real Simple; Good Housekeeping; and Martha Stewart Living magazine. She is currently an instructor at the New York Botanical Garden, and also at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii, and in Greece. 

In her article Botanical Drawing: A Path of Meditation and Self-expression, Wendy shares her remarkable year-long journey of healing after being diagnosed with breast cancer and how botanical drawing provided an effective stress relieving coping tool. Now 25 years later, Wendy continues to create botanical drawings and teaches thousands of students the techniques that she learned, developed, and used. To this day, she still uses the practice of botanical drawing as a means to de-stress and relax. Come join Wendy in her highly appraised 20-minute Botanical Drawing Meditation and experience the feeling of calm and relaxation. 

Frank Forencich, DAIS has successfully integrated his background in human biology and neuroscience with martial arts and health education. He has a keen interest in human origins and the ancestral environment, and has presented at numerous venues including the Ancestral Health Symposium. A former columnist for Paleo Magazine, Frank is the author of numerous books about health and the human predicament including Beware False Tigers and The Enemy is Never Wrong. 

Frank provides a captivating message in his article, Story Talk, Therapy for the Modern Human Narrative. As he notes, story can function as a control knob for the autonomic nervous system. By turning it in one direction we can move into fight-flight activation, urgency, and vigilance; while at the same time, by turning it in the opposite direction we can experience a sense of warmth and relaxation. The primary message is that stories create the lens through which we see the world and how we interpret even the simplest events. In his words, stories of trauma, neglect, abandonment, engagement, support and curiosity drive our attention and in turn, our encounters and our relationships. In this article, we are invited to witness the natural world that surrounds us, and to embrace the story of connectiveness that we share with nature. 

Lisa Rabens is the operations manager for Wyndmere Naturals, a certified women’s owned company that is internationally known for its pure, high quality, therapeutically effective essential oils. Through her guidance, we are taken on an immersion course in aromatherapy, the art and science of using pure essential oils to enhance health and well-being. Here we learn how specific essential oils are used for stress relief, their unique mechanism of action, therapeutic properties, and common methods used for application. In addition, we are provided with a visual experience of the most effective, aromatic plants and their respective essential oils that have been shown through research to help relieve stress, insomnia, and anxiety. 

Stephanie Ross, PhD, MHD, HT, FAIS is an internationally recognized leader in Integrative Health. She served as the Founding Director of the Department of Complementary and Integrative Health at Drexel University. Prior to Drexel, Dr. Ross initiated the first course in phytomedicine at Temple University School of Medicine, where she taught first year medical students. She holds a passionate love for nature that is clearly expressed in her articles, “The Scented Garden, a Symphony of Aromatic Floral Notes, and “Forest Therapy, An Effective Therapy to Enhance Health and Well-Being.” 

Josh Briley, PhD, BCMAS, FAIS is a licensed clinical psychologist and the Clinical Education Director at Electromedical Products International, Inc. Dr. Briley holds a broad range of clinical expertise including drug treatment, crisis intervention, group therapy for PTSD, depression, anxiety and chronic pain treatment. In his feature article, “When Nature is not Enough: Electromedical Devices for Stress Management,” he highlights the most effective, commonly used electromedical devices that can be used as a therapeutic alternative, when natural elements are not easily accessible, or as an added supplement for the stress relieving benefits of nature. The areas discussed include but are not limited to light therapy, photobiomodulation therapy, sound therapy and temperature therapy. 

Best wishes! 

Stephanie Ross, PhD, MHD, HT, FAIS