Reducing stress is within our power, author says

Vicki Atlas Israel

By David Baugher, Special to the Jewish Light

Vicki Atlas Israel wants parents and children to know they have the power to stress less. 

“I call it your inner power, your superpower,” the Congregation Shaare Emeth congregant said. “That can help us with making decisions. That can help us just to feel better about ourselves.” 

That’s the theme of Israel’s new book, “Inner Power Now: Healing Meditations to Reduce Stress and Pain so Children and Families Thrive.” The self-published work, which contains a foreword by Jack Canfield, co-creator of “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” is making big waves on Amazon where it has received five-star ratings and rave reviews. 

Designed with exercises to help the whole family, the 196-page book began taking shape in 2015 and came out earlier this month. Israel, an Ohio native and longtime St. Louisan, might be recognizable for her previous appearances in local media, including as a host on KMOX radio, as well as for her work as an award-winning documentary producer. 

Israel’s hectic life balancing her career in video production while being a mother of two helped inspire her to write the book. She used some of the relaxation techniques and found herself feeling better almost immediately.

“That was the light bulb going off,” she said. “I wondered if other people felt the way I do. This could help them so much.”

Now, Israel hopes to spread that message through a book with sections designed for children, teens and adults. 

“I want the whole family doing this together,” she said. 

What is the book about?

The book is to help families who may be going through stress. They may be in a hard situation. Maybe they have a child and may be going through some kind of a life challenge. It could be a serious illness. These tools can help them release some of the stress, some of the fear, some of the worry to help them lead a richer life. The book may be geared to a particular group that is struggling, but the tools that I have are really universal. … My main thing is that I try to take the mystery out of meditation and mindfulness and try to make it fun.

What are some of these tips?

We can begin with breathing. If we can utilize some ways to breathe more deeply, that can help send signals to the body to relax. One of the fun tools that I teach is a breathing technique that the U.S. Navy SEALs are using for calm and focus. I found this out by researching my book. Here I have been teaching this great technique that I used to call 16 seconds to bliss because it was the quickest way to get to calm. After a minute, you start doing this and you feel so much better. I found out the SEALs were doing it, and they call it the box breath. They don’t call it a meditative breath. They call it tactical breathing. If we have stressed-out parents, we can use tactical breathing to help us unwind a little bit so that we can begin to enjoy our every day and enhance our well-being.  

Why were you inspired to write the book? 

It was really to reach stressed out moms. I had a situation where I had terrible insomnia. I was sleeping maybe three or four hours a night. I also had a high-pressure job by day plus being a mom. It was taking a toll. I thought, well, you know what, I either can, as a lot of people do, go on medication or I could do this thing I have done earlier in my life, which was meditation and creative visualization. By rediscovering that, by taking the time and making sure I did one small practice a day, I’ve now kept that going every day for 10 years. I felt immediate results after three weeks.  

Are there other resources for people?

The book is really just the beginning. There is an online program where there are recordings. I wanted to make it easy because sometimes if you can just press “play” and hear a guided meditation that can help. I am certified in guided imagery. I have also been extensively trained in meditation and mindfulness. I combine it all together into this thing I call “inner power now.”

Why is this necessary for younger family members?

As you may know, children and teens have more anxiety and depression these days. We don’t know quite why, but there have been some studies that show that during the school year, they are more stressed than parents with all that they have to have done. 

Can these techniques have an effect on your health?

I think it has great effects. In the past decade, there have been studies on how meditations, mindfulness and this thing called guided imagery or creative visualization [improve] our health. It can help lower blood pressure. [It can help] if you are being treated for cancer in chemotherapy. It can help children who have attention deficit disorder. It can help teens in terms of their sociability, their compassion and focus. In terms of adults, there have been so many studies saying it can help you in terms of your reactions to things. You get in a better decision-making mode and your creativity is tapped.

Vicki Atlas Israel

Work: Author of “Inner Power Now: Healing Meditations to Reduce Stress and Pain so Children and Families Thrive.”

Home: Unincorporated St. Louis County.

Greatest professional achievement: “This book has been my journey, and I just think it is going to do a world of good. It is my pride and joy to bring it out to families who need it most.”

Hobbies:She and a group of friends get together to sing karaoke once a month