The mind-body connection
I don’t know about you, but it seems so much has been said about wellness in recent times that sometimes it feels at best confused and at worst like a dirty word …
For me, Wellness is a concept (plan or intention) or lifestyle (the way in which you live) that should not be bundled into the generalist category of fad. Sure there are many fads that can be subsumed by wellness but if you are truly interested in yours, it would be prudent to take a more in-depth look. It is not about popping a pill, drinking a shake, having a massage or reiki session, attending a personal development workshop, burning oil or signing onto a gym … yet it can also be all those things.
I have been exploring the idea of wellness for … ever and have taken the approach that its beginning point has to be the relationship between mind and body. Buddha said ‘We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.’ Many founding fathers and mothers of the personal development world have carried this phrase forward. Earl Nightingale was a great proponent of ‘we become what we think about’ and Florence Shinn wrote ‘The game of life is a game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later with astounding accuracy.’
If you were to look through the body of work by inspirational thought leaders it becomes clear there is a definite repeating theme around ‘our thoughts create our reality.’
Many years ago, I stumbled across a model that looks at wellness in multiple dimensions. The model isn’t attributable to any one researcher however it forms the basis of a universal approach to well-being. Some writings talk about 4-dimensions, others 5 or 7 and for me I have identified 9 … 9 dimensions of well-being that when nourished, provide opportunity for optimum wellness.
These dimensions are physical, emotional, spiritual, social, creative, financial, intellectual, occupational and environmental. I immediately resonated with the need to explore many aspects of the Self because you will often hear the lack of some aspects of our wellness play out in daily conversations. ‘I love dancing, but I just never have the time.’ ‘I never get the promotions at work; I seem to be constantly overlooked.’ ‘I work such long hours; I never get to see the kids’ activities.’ ‘I’m drowning in debt, I never have enough money.’
On the surface these are pretty much stock standard conversation bites yet they reflect the mind-set of ‘never’, which is a focus on lack; the lack of opportunity, the lack of promotion, the lack of time, the lack of money.
If, we become what we think about then HELLO … is it any wonder that we create a ‘self fulfilling prophecy.’ That is, we end up creating the very lack we are trying to avoid.
So the perfect starting point is to create awareness of our thoughts and analyse them in context to each of the 9 dimensions in order to create strategy for doing something different or better.
Just as our physical realm requires food and water (nourishment) so do each of the other dimensions.
Here are a few questions to get you going in exploring your wellness.
How do you nourish your intellectual? What activities are you involved in that nourish your creative or social? How do you nourish your spiritual and emotional? What steps have you taken that nourish your environmental dimension? If you could change anything or do something different, what part (dimension) of your life would that be?
The following sets out an explanation of each dimension to acquaint you with the concepts.
The Emotionally well person can identify, express, and manage the entire range of feelings and seeks assistance to address areas of concern.
The Occupationally well person works to gain personal satisfaction and enrichment in their career, consistent with values, goals, and lifestyle.
The Socially well person has a support system of people based on interdependence, mutual trust, respect, and has developed awareness towards the feelings of others.
The Intellectually well person values lifelong learning and seeks to engage in critical thinking, develop moral reasoning, expand worldviews, and get involved in education for the pursuit of knowledge.
The Spiritually well person seeks harmony and balance by openly exploring the depth of human purpose, meaning, and connection through dialogue and reflection.
The Physically well person gets adequate amounts of sleep, eats a balanced and nutritious diet, engages in exercise, attends regular medical check ups, and practises safe and healthy relationships.
The Financially well person is very aware of their financial state and budgets, saves, and manages finances in order to achieve realistic goals.
The Creatively well person values and actively participates in a diverse range of arts and cultural experiences as a means to understand and appreciate the surrounding world.
The Environmentally well person recognises the responsibility to preserve, protect, and improve the environment and appreciate the interconnectedness of nature and the individual.
Take a moment and rate yourself. On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is pretty ordinary and 5 is damn fantastic; rate yourself around each of the dimensions. How did you do? Are there any 1s, 2s, or 3s? If so, there’s your potential starting point.
Once you have identified the potential for change, then it is time to start building strategies. Strategies don’t have to be scary or hard, simply small tweaks to get you moving in a different direction. For example, if you lack social interaction join a group – dance, cards, or bird watching. If you don’t move enough make the decision to walk more and drive less. Get off your bus one stop earlier and walk. Join a walking group and enhance your social dimension also!
These are just a couple of examples to demonstrate the change does not have to feel overwhelming. The key is awareness. Using the 9 dimensions allows you to focus on the entire YOU and slowly make the changes that you can embed into your every day life.
It will eventually and simply become a no-brainer; the way you choose to live.
How do I know? I’ve been there. It works.