Topic: Emotional/Spiritual Health

What Is Wellness?

What is wellness?

What is wellness, exactly? What does wellness look like for you?

 

Wellness As A Commodity

 

Have you noticed a trend towards people consuming wellness? Objectifying it into a commodity that you can purchase to attain?

Instagram is rife with it. The building blocks of consumerist culture.

Aspirational living is so on trend – as though that is the only direction one should choose.

Isn’t the modern obsession with attaining wellness just sprung from the mythscape of “I’m not enough”?

 

Stop Your Perfectionism

 

In my opinion, the aggressive expansion in wellness marketing drives obsession, perfectionism, neurosis and the undermining of self-esteem.

In the quest for ultimate wellness we see unhealthy obsessions with:

 

These obsessions also flood the internet with unreliable resources, and an ongoing lack of representation of diversity (age, body type, class, colour, style, life stage, ability).

We are perpetuating a myth of what wellness looks like. 

 

What Is Wellness? What Is NOT Wellness?

 

Let’s not be manipulated by all this imagery and marketing.

Wellness is not something that you consume.

Wellness is a state of being, and not always relating to your physical state of health. 

I love what Dr. Gabor Maté said recently on healing being a subversive act:

 

“… our work with people is about subverting their self-image as isolated, simply biological or simply psychological creatures, and helping them see the connections among their existence, the nature of the culture we live in, and the functioning of all of humanity.”

 

On what wellness is not, Dr Mate` also said:

 

“[We need to challenge] the idea that someone’s value is dependent on how well they fit into an abnormal, unhealthy culture. Ideally, as healers in the broadest sense, that’s what we should be doing.”

 

What is wellness?

What Is Wellness from a Chinese Medical Perspective?

 

Chinese Medicine has a concept of Yang Sheng, commonly translated as ‘Nourishing Life.’ 

The Chinese word “Yang” means to nurture, take care of, and nourish. “Sheng” means life, birth, growth and vitality.

Together, “Yang Sheng” means to nurture life or to cultivate health and vitality.

Yang Sheng is the practice of health cultivation/preservation by nurturing body, mind, heart and nature.

Yang Sheng is an accessible practice for ordinary people to cultivate health and harmony through daily activities – the micro-moments in which you choose what benefits you, and then what benefits others.

​Chinese medicine has always considered both the internal landscape and the external environment of a patient – the ways in which the patient participates and interacts in the world.

The cultivation of health, rather than simply the treatment of disease, is a major characteristic of Chinese medicine, strongly differentiating it from modern biomedicine.

 

The Many Ways to Nourish Your Life

 

Nourishing life is about nurturing yourself. This can occur over many aspects of your life.

Nourishing life could look like:

  • Saying no
  • Having pyjama days
  • Chewing your food
  • Watching comedy
  • Giving up on shit that’s not working
  • Shopping for your food
  • Making your own food
  • Spending time with music or the arts
  • Connecting with a community to support a cause you’re passionate about
  • Calling your mum
  • Spending time outdoors
  • Spending time with your family and friends
  • Having fun
  • Watching a sunrise/sunset
  • Having conscious sex
  • Getting good sleep
  • Knowing your limits
  • Playing with animals
  • Financially living within your means.

 

Abandon Perfection, Focus on Balance

 

Seriously, it’s time to stop striving for perfection.

Instead, focus on maintaining balance through an awareness of our connection to nature, to our own bodies, to our heart and to society. Yang Sheng is a powerful practice that can preserve and improve health when engaged in daily.

 

So, What Does Wellness Look Like For You?

 

Maybe take a moment and draw your own little map, keep it simple.

I’m not enough is pandemic in our society. Maybe it’s about what not to do. Be mindful of the endless, unattainable self-improvement list that is stemmed in an inability to accept who you are, as you are.

 

Getting Support for Restoring Wellness Through Balance

 

In the beginning of a holistic treatment process, you may need to apply some discipline to change habits and the corresponding dynamic in your body or behaviour. A practitioner (or, if accessible to you, your community) can support you through that.

Ideally, through that process you glean what you need to do. Your plan of action (or inaction) should be appropriate to your lifestyle, your needs, your stage of life and your capacity, so that you stay well. (Most of the time.)

You will still get sick.

You will still feel pain.

You will still experience difficult emotions.

Your heart will break again.

You will have significant traumatic events happen.

Life will always challenge you.

 

Wellness resides in your adaptability in response to challenge and in your resilience to get through it. 

 

 

Transforming Anxiety with Chinese Medicine

Transforming anxiety with Chinese medicine

Anxiety can be such so insidious. You can feel fine and then you’re hijacked by these paralysing and overwhelming feelings.

You can start to feel like you’re separating from your body, detaching from reality. A veil seems to descend between you and the world. Your mind and heart no longer feel safe and grounded.

You might even feel like you’re going to have a heart attack, pass out or die.

You develop a whole system of checks and balances nuanced to your particular flavour of control, all to avoid being triggered.

You become afraid of your anxiety returning and this creates a type of cage that you comfortably inhabit, because however restrictive, you deem it better than that anxious feeling. And this can work – it does keep things manageable – but sometimes you get stuck there and think it’s a forever thing.

But how to open the door? How to step out of the cage? (more…)

Cultivating Spirit – The Shen or Heart-Mind in Chinese Medicine

Shen or Heart Mind - cultivating Spirit

 

“Life is transformation. There is no life that is not an unceasing transformation.”

– Élisabeth Rochat de la Vallée

 

It’s the final month of our Winter here in the Southern Hemisphere. As we approach Spring we get closer to emerging from our Yin state and the building of Yang will initiate.

Yang is light, activity, movement, initiation, action, the doing. On a metaphysical, spiritual and cosmological level the most Yang manifestation of a human, the purest Yang aspect of our consciousness, is the Spirit or ‘Shen’.

Shen is translated as something which is divine, marvellous, extraordinary or mysterious. In recent times we call it the Heart-Mind. (more…)

The Wisdom of Water – How to Cope with Winter

How to cope with winter

Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.

– Lao Tzu

 

In July in the Southern Hemisphere we are in the depths of winter – that deep dark Yin place of stillness, hibernation and rest. The mysterious and all-pervasive impetus for growth has stilled. The soil temperatures are cool and flower buds that have birthed from their seeds are still just kernels of potential, waiting.

Winter can be hard for some peeps. It can get you down, especially if life has also thrown in some tough times or big changes. In winter it’s easier to descend into the deeper layers of consciousness (the sub and unconscious) to places where the script is written. There can be great fear and resistance from most to go there and experience it.

From a Chinese Medicine treatment perspective, winter is a very important season for rejuvenation and renewal. Daoist and Buddhist traditions (as well as many styles of psychology) would posit that it is from sitting with yourself, with a non-judgemental attitude and willingness to just see what’s there and be with it, that enables transformation and disintegrates old constructs. What is liberated provides the alchemical building blocks for the new.

If you’re the kind of person who struggles in the cold, each year you may wonder how to cope with winter in a way that is less defeating, more empowering.

Since water is the element of the winter season, I like to look to the wisdom of water for answers. (more…)

The Power of Yin

Power of Yin

What is Yin?

Yin is a term that comes from the classical Chinese concept of opposite yet complementary forces, Yin and Yang. Yin is described as the “shadow side of the mountain” in relation to the sunny side, which is Yang. Yin is dark, cool and quiet, and so we often neglect the importance of Yin in favour of the hot, bright and loud Yang elements in life.

It’s an elegantly simple concept, yet Yin Yang can describe mind-bending complexities of the mechanisms of the universe. Its essence is encapsulated in the Yin Yang symbol. No matter how you try to dissect this circle, every slice will contain both Yin and Yang. (more…)