[Preface by Dr. Lynda]
In the summer of 2014, I was traveling in Nepal with a group of college students who were studying Buddhism and I met the most extraordinary young man on the trip. Christopher Greene seems to radiate wellness, thinking deeply about the kinds of things that are common to all of us at our very core, so I asked him to write something for us at EWC.
Part of our mission is to hear from all kinds of people who may have something to say that touches a chord in many.
Here’s the subject Christopher Greene chose to tackle…
There just isn’t enough love in the air these days.
The meaning or perception love has become so narrow: When do you hear the term being used outside some kind of intimate or romantic setting? Should the meaning of love reside somewhere inside us all, context aside?
Where are we with regards to simply appreciating love as a deep affection for ourselves or others, our kindred spirits, or even just another fellow human being?
If I was to say that I loved you, would you believe it? Would you believe that “some guy” far away could care about your well-being: physically, mentally, emotionally, or the very seat of your character and emotions?
Well believe it, it’s true: I love you very much.
But why wouldn’t I love you? We are both human beings, regardless of our relative locations we still count on the same plants for the very oxygen we breathe; we share the same planet, the same solar system, and the same spot on the same spiral arm of this galaxy.
We experience the exact same feelings, too: hope, hate, hunger, anger, ecstasy, depression, joy, shame, confusion, pride, and embarrassment. When you think of it this way and within the scope of eternity, we are practically the same person!
We are the same, you and I; we are the same, us and all.
That said, we also all aspire to the same basic things. I don’t know about you, but I would like to live a life with as much love, light, joy, hope, peace, and grace as possible. I can muddle along, self-involved, trying to get as much of those things for myself as possible… or I can operate in a way that brings my fellow human beings along for the ride, making it ours. Lately, I ask myself often: why not try to give those things to all other beings who likely wish the same things for themselves?
And it’s this ideology which leads us to the subject I’d like to share today:
Let’s talk about whole wellness.
Now hang on… I know you think you’ve heard it all before, but I have a perspective I’ve found resonates with others, so hear me out!
Wellness is my thing you could say, however, it’s wellness on a much deeper level… one that connects us all in an interesting and mysterious way.
Here’s something you can try: think of one or more things in your life you deem very special, even precious? Go ahead, take a moment… I suspect your friends, family, pets, possessions, hopes, and/or dreams made it to the top of your list. But what about your inner being? Who are you on the inside? What do you cherish there?
Today I’m going to give you a sort of whole wellness challenge of sorts. It is a concept that includes caring for your own emotional and spiritual type of wellness. Now, when I use the word “spiritual,” I’m not giving it any specific religious meaning. I’m simply suggesting that we might begin to look past the surface of things for answers to all our problems, ailments, diseases, etc., How about we look deeper into ourselves, so deep as to reveal the true source of our dis-ease.
So, what is whole wellness?
Imagine that you are actually made up of four bodies, each similar to the layers of an onion – the onion of your being, if you will. As whole as it appears on the surface, the onion of your being is actually made up of many layers. These layers are:
Without each of these healthy and functioning harmoniously as one, whole wellness is not possible. Yet with all our emphasis on the physical (i.e. fitness), how much effort do we put to the other three inner layers of wellness?
The physical body is what grounds us in what’s obvious. That physical love we mentioned resides there. But the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of our whole being are key to our experience of love as human beings connected on the most fundamental levels. We share some pretty basic needs, no matter our culture! Here’s a great “old standard’ visualization that seems to fit here, attributed to Maslow (hearken back to your sociology class)…
See how the physical aspects of our needs are merely the base, but the structure of the whole is mostly mental, emotional and spiritual (the higher parts of the pyramid shown above). Our outer physical body is our vehicle for experiencing this beautiful planet, but our inner wellness is what allows us to truly appreciate it.
In order for optimum wellness, our inner layers can only go ignored for so long before the whole system begins to break down.
Out of sight, out of mind… right?
Well, frankly… no. We all need to give rest to our physical senses from time to time and shift our focus from outside ourselves to what is happening inside. This “rest” can take many forms: a long carefree walk, meditation, sitting quietly while listening to nature, prayer, reading for enlightenment, or studying philosophy and psychology.
This makes sense, but do we love ourselves well enough to value time spent in those pursuits while we travel towards whole wellness? Could we spare some of the social media time, gaming or web surfing time and find time to work on our inner health?
Here’s the point: All along, our inner cravings are never going to be satisfied by external experiences.
However, with an internal shift, we can begin to harness our own whole wellness and become that love, bliss, joy, and happiness for which we’ve been searching with our physical body. We simply must take time for the inner work. We must make the time.
Again, this perspective is about much more than ourselves: it’s a way of being in the world, a way of changing the world for the better with our unique existence. What would a world look like with many, if not most, people caring for their inner lives? Whole wellness fosters, no, allows for a broader, deeper meaning of the word “love.” And this love embraces the wider world, each other, and ourselves.
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