Wellness Pillars Enter Mainstream Waters, But Are We Missing The Boat?
The latest Special Edition of Oprah Magazine has on its front page, "The Power of Connection." If you google, "connection key to health," "benefits of meditation," "science of mindfulness," "healing power of gratitude," "why we need more time in nature," why you need mindful movement," "powers of positivity," or "HeartMath healing" you will now be inundated with articles, research, opinions, and offerings that center around mind/body medicine practices, connection being one. Oprah is on it!
The REALLY good news is that these pillars of mental, emotional and physical well-being (let's just call them "the practices"), that we teach at breatheIN2IT, that some cultures have been practicing for hundreds of years, and some practitioners like Aimee have been teaching and researching for a long time, are now hitting the mainstream. Why? Multiple reasons I believe:
1. 2020 events have put mental wellness front and center and placed under the microscope key well- being tenets like connection, pro-social behavior, meditative and relaxation stress reduction techniques, etc.
2. Western science is now studying the practices BIG TIME, and the amount of completed studies from major research institutions and highly respected educational institutions has tipped the mainstream scale and brought some previously marginalized "alternative mind/body medicine" onto center stage.
3. As more and more people participate and find success, the word spreads.
4. Social media aids the transfer of experience and information.
5. So many people, in record numbers, are living under chronic stress and anxiety. Many are searching for answers.
6. We have swung way too far to the "indoors, separate, and tech focused" direction. We are feeling ill and sense the need to balance.
7. The mind/body connection is now proven by science. We cannot separate the two. The brain is now an enabled and intense area of research with new technologies allowing us to connect the dots that lead to backing practices and techniques that address the connection, to the benefit and the wellness of a whole person - mind, body and spirit.
We have this timely convergence of factors that have the potential to greatly effect HUGE populations and address the stress and anxiety epidemic in our families, schools, communities, the world. We cannot help but notice also that the practices, for the most part, are accessible for many - - low cost. No equipment needed. If I have a schedule in my day of small moments of mediation, yoga, mindfulness, gratitude, connection, exercise, nature connection, etc., I may not spend a dime. Getting these practices into under-privileged communities is going to be entering the discourse more and more, and already has.
BUT, WE STRUGGLE TO INTEGRATE AND MAINTAIN WHAT WE READ IN A MAGAZINE OR HEAR ON A PODCAST WITHOUT THE EDUCATION AND AWARENESS PARTS OF DEEP LEARNING.
Before I started yoga, took and helped develop with Aimee breatheiN2iT versions of PART and HeartMath, (programs that use all three tenets: education, awareness and practice) I would read articles, books and watch shows trying to help myself constantly, but they would go almost nowhere. I did not have the cognitive groundwork (awareness) nor the technical guidance and repetition (solid practice) needed to effect transformation and truly, deeply, improve my well-being.
We are going to see more and more about nature connection, mindfulness, meditation, social connection, energy fields, helping others, gratitude and the breathing techniques that run through all, but we need TO LEARN THEM ground up.
Example: We read an article from a major educational institution on how we all can benefit greatly in our health, combating disease and possibly living longer, from meditation and/or relaxation techniques. The article even lists a few breathing exercises to get into a relaxed state and some apps we can download for meditations. We have the vanguard educational piece and we have even perhaps learned some of the physiological science behind why meditation works, which is fascinating. With enough motivation, perhaps we delve in. I am guessing that 98% of the time, we cannot get there let alone incorporate DAILY the practice into our lives.
WHAT IS MISSING FROM THE EQUATION IS AWARNESS, DEEP EDUCATION, AND THE STRUCTURE AND GUIDANCE TO EFFECTIVE PRACTICE.
It is very hard to:
- meditate unless you:
1. know and practice the correct technique and have learned how to breathe
2. learn to become self-aware of your stress state vs relaxation state and breathing/going INSIDE
- drop into mindfulness frequently unless you:
2. know where your mind is typically and it's tendencies
- improve wellness through connection and pro-social behavior unless you
1. understand how to examine where you are now - the balance of giving and receiving
2. recognize and practice connection-know yourself enough to understand what works for you?
-develop positivity unless you
1. learn how to be aware of maladaptive coping and the negative internal messaging/habits that effect our mindset
2. know how to practice positivity and combat the human negativity bias
Learning how to be self-aware is not an overnight process. Our lives are busy, hyper focused outward, bright light tempted, to-do list directed. We seldom have or make time to be contemplative, turn inward, learn what our tendencies are, feel how emotions and thoughts affect each other and affect our sense of physical wellness. Yet, awareness building is a necessary pre-cursor to almost every practice.
Happiness and resilience are other concepts that are being written about at a great rate. The articles and books are interesting, uplifting, hopeful. The scaffolding to integration in life, however, is not sound until a framework for practice and a guidance to awareness is also achieved. In fact, we need to PRACTICE to develop the needed AWARENESS! Schools teach reading and math with a knowledge of where to begin, a structure for learning every day, guidance, and practice, practice, practice.
The waters are now beginning to flow with social media posts, information and tech on how to help ourselves be well through the practices. But the sturdy ship that will keep us riding the waves is awareness and the wind that will continually fill the sails of wellness is initially guided and then continued practice. Let the media be your inspiration and tempting, enlightening waters, but have the practitioner be your navigator and guide to just feeling better and being more at ease, through daily and accessible life integration.
Education + Awareness + Practice = Greatly Improved Odds of Success