By AmyLynn Dimaano, MT-BC, CADC-II, Hopebringer
What is Wellness?
What is this wellness you speak of? Sounds elusive, doesn’t it? When I work a booth at a health fair, I often ask people what they do to maintain their wellness. I’m often met with a blank stare, or worse, a long list of weekly accomplishments that include a personal trainer and a calorie counter. Sometimes I hear: “I shower regularly,” or “I go to the gym.” Don’t get me wrong, self-care is a good thing, please, keep showering, but I want to offer you a different perspective.
My personal definition up until recently has been threefold. What is sometimes referred to in the recovery world as the Three Legged Stool: Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual. If any one leg of the stool is wobbling, the stool becomes unsteady. By that standard, physical is anything you measure in your physical being, such going to the gym three times per week and sleeping x number of hours per night. Not getting the seasonal flu that’s going around. Not overeating. You get the idea. So now on to the emotional/mental leg. This is how you feel on the inside. “Feelings…..nothing more than…….” (visions of Filipino Karaoke parties I’ve been to). How calm is your self-talk? How about your communication skills and your ability to self-express in a healthy way, one to ten, come on, you can be honest, how would your partner rate you? Moving on, let’s talk spiritual. This is the one that trips everyone up. It’s what you do that’s OUTSIDE of you. It’s how you contribute to society, strangers, global warming (assuming you don’t think it’s a hoax), charity. It’s prayer, meditation, being of service, picking up trash that isn’t yours, picking up trash that is yours, and most importantly trashing the picks of years gone by. Spiritual wellness is connected to personal growth. Not flying off the handle is a gift. Not missing an opportunity to underreact. Smiling at that someone and simply saying: “You might be right,” even when you’re pretty sure they’ve never been right in their life. Ever.
So back to my initial burning question…..what does it mean to be well? How do you know if you’re doing it? I would submit to you that all of the above is a good start, but there’s more. Yoga helps, but it doesn’t necessarily give you an enlightened perspective. Spending time in nature can be centering, but it doesn’t automatically ground you in a greater reality. There are days that we simply exist. We just get through it. We don’t thrive in every moment, and that’s normal, but can we aspire to more? We can and we should. I’m adding to my current definition of wellness with this: It is the process of honoring and releasing your light. Think about it, when you do whatever it is you do that is YOUR gift (we ALL have gifts), you are honoring and releasing your light. That gift may be how you nurture. It may shine when you teach, coach, present, advise, or even just answer the phone. It may be silent. A genuine moment of supporting something or someone that only you know about. Or, fancy this, it may be what you don’t do. Have you ever stepped out of the way in order to make more space for another? That is shining your light. Encouraging someone downtrodden, showing up when you don’t feel like it and fear it might even be your undoing (it is almost the holidays after all). Honoring and releasing your light is the moment where you live with the consideration that every move you make, or don’t make, is part of a universal energy. UPLIFT. Live with the intention to honor and release your light so that others may do the same. Wellness isn’t a goal you achieve, it’s the sustained process of authenticity. Don’t keep your gifts from the world. The world needs your light. When you give it away it will inspire someone else to do the same. We don’t live well because we keep our light within us, we live well when we release it. Live like this, and you will be well.