The challenge of wellness

Special to The TelegraphApril 25, 2012 

Life on our planet offers many challenges to wellness. Though we, who live in this country, are fortunate to have a vast array of resources as well as much knowledge about food, exercise and ways to manage stress, we still face challenges, though they differ from those of our sisters and brothers in many parts of the world.

One of the first steps in the wellness challenge is the realization that it takes more than the absence of illness to be well. There are many times when we allow the fast-paced, stress-filled lives we lead to overtake us and to create a general sense of not being alright, even though we have no specific illness.

Many among us can identify with this situation, and when it is allowed to go unchecked it leads to patterns of behavior that tend to support illness instead of wellness.

Even when we make the decision to make changes in our lifestyle which might support wellness to a greater degree, we continue to face many challenges. It is not easy to forge a new path when we have established patterns that are not supportive of the integration of the mind, body and spirit.

Our culture does not affirm this approach to life as much as is needed. There are many forces that work very hard to keep us focused upon the separation of the mind, body and spirit. We are encouraged to care for the mind, or the body and sometimes the spirit, but the authentic journey toward wellness invites us to take care of all of them and to see ourselves as one.

The holistic approach, which is becoming more of a part of the way that many of our medical professionals treat their patients, continues to beckon us forward. Much thankfulness has to be expressed to everyone in the medical profession who understands and supports the idea of a more holistic approach to treatment and who encourage their patients to seek wellness instead of simply being free of illness.

While anyone who is free of illness will certainly be thankful for that state of being, it is necessary to find the path to internal peace and a sense of well-being in order to have a high quality of life.

St. Francis Episcopal Church continues to open its hand and heart to the challenge of wellness in our community and has joined in a collaborative effort with the Women’s Health Institute of Macon to present another St. Clare Wellness Day on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This event is open to everyone in our community at no cost.

The day will be spent focusing upon ways to foster wellness. There will be short presentations in the morning on Yoga, diverse ways to meditate through the use of the martial arts, crafts, walking and other creative expression, healing through massage, music and Reiki (a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation).

Along with these will be a discussion of the role and value of nutrition in the wellness journey which will be approached from the perspectives of a local farmer supporting locally grown food initiatives and a medical doctor. There will be an opportunity to learn how to construct mandalas and to work with clay as a part of one’s daily practice. A simple lunch will be available for a small donation.

Wellness is a challenge to all but so is illness. It is costly for a community not to function at the highest level possible and when large numbers of the community’s members are not at their best, the entire community suffers. Though we often resist the idea of accepting our amazing connection to one another, when it comes to the well-being of our community, we need to pay attention to our inter-connectedness. A highly functioning community needs everyone to be well and that is actually much cheaper than being sick.

This column by Catherine Meeks, Ph.D., appears twice monthly. Meeks is also a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. E-mail her at kayma53@att.net.

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