What is the first image that comes to mind when you think of the term wellness? Maybe you picture a woman with long silver hair, dressed in linen taking a leisurely walk on the beach, or a buff dude downing his protein shake while quickly (but with excellent form, of course) pumping a huge dumbbell in the other hand. Maybe you imagine something else altogether, or your mind draws a blank, because wellness can refer to a plethora of things. But when we talk specifically about ‘The Science of Wellness,’ in this case we are talking about the overall wellness of a person focusing on the mind, body, and spirit. This form of wellness does not come packaged in a unique body type or with step-by-step instructions. This leaves us to ask the infamous question, “Where do we start?” If we want to feel better all the way around, but there are no explicit rules, how do we know where to begin?
We can start with the practice of svadhyaya (or self-inquiry). As we sit with ourselves, we can observe the mind, observe the body, and ask the spirit what it needs.
To support emotional wellness, we can begin with meditation. If meditation is a new practice for you, know that the expectation is not to clear the mind of all of its content, but to learn to observe what is there without judgment. (More information about Meditation and practices can be found at My Vinyasa Practice)
By creating a little distance between us and our thoughts, it may become easier to see that we are more than our thoughts. Our thoughts will inevitably have less control over our emotional wellness.
However, as you observe your thoughts, you may find that some of them are uncomfortable to sit with. What now? The practices of self-love and gratitude can support us as we patiently observe what is happening around and within us.
Maybe you already have practices in place meant to support your physical wellness, but it is also important to consider the manner in which you are going about these practices. Do you chug water at the end of the day to make up for not having had enough throughout the day, or are you taking a sip of water whenever you feel thirsty? Maybe you are eating a salad for lunch every day, but are you chewing your food thoroughly and giving yourself the amount of time for digestion, or are you scarfing it down between Zoom calls? Both show the difference between the former and the latter of mindfulness.
Below are a few suggestions for caring for your physical wellness.
Spiritual wellness refers to our intrinsic desire to explore our life’s purpose. We maintain spiritual wellness when the decisions we make a return to the practice of svadhyaya to determine what our core beliefs are. Maybe your core belief is that all beings should be treated with respect, so you show kindness to a stranger. Can you move towards it with a tone of neutrality? So it does not disturb you when something goes “wrong,” or when what seemed to go well is no longer moving in the direction you wish?
Encourage spiritual wellness by volunteering to help a friend, pick up litter around your neighborhood, and support the greater good. We may think that we need more things to be happy, but even if we have all the things we could want, we may still find ourselves with an aching desire to feel like we belong. Give in a way that resonates with you, and spiritual wellness will follow.
In the maintenance of our emotional wellness, physical wellness, and spiritual wellness, there are a few common denominators: mindfulness, self-love, and self-study. When something feels out of tune, lean into these practices to become grounded in the present, observe the sensations within our beings, and with love and compassion, meet ourselves where we are.