Defining health and wellness
We talk so often of ill-health and illness, words that seem to form a currency for conversation; we get a lot from talking to others of our wounds – both physical and metaphorical. But how often in conversation do we hear people say “I am in good health. I am living a life abundant in wellness.”
And how often do we talk of healing? We may say things are “fine” – which, did you know means “fucked-up, insecure, neurotic and emotional!” – just joking! Or we say tentatively “I’m getting better” almost as if it is tempting fate to talk confidently and positively of “I am healing well.”
When we refer to health it is often in the negative and with a very narrow implied definition.
And how can we talk of healing, if we haven’t first defined health? What are we in the process of healing and towards what?
When our health goes out of balance, and wellness becomes illness, healing is the range of modalities and process we employ to bring us back into balance, and into good health and wellness. Most of us are used to relying on the limited range of modalities available through our National Health Service. Those who can afford to, and are perhaps more open to other modalities, will also avail themselves of complimentary medicines, naturopathy, homeopathy, TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), herbs, energy medicine, metaphysical treatments, and what is increasingly known as Functional Medicine, Integrative Medicine.
So what and how broad is your definition of health and wellness? The extent to which you can define what health means to you will determine how far you can travel in reaching that definition.
The extent to which your medical professionals agree with your definition, let alone have one of their own, will also be a determining factor.
Most clients I talk to on health matters find it a strange question. “What do you mean, “What is my definition of health?” Surely it means not having anything wrong with me!” So often it is about “lack of" (disease) instead of a positive statement of what good health and wellness are.
Even my doctors find it strange when I ask. But surely it is a legitimate key first question to ask your doctor? After all, if you are both working to quite different definitions, then you are unlikely to agree on how to achieve or how to best treat conditions which are holding you back from health and wellness.
It may be radical but I wonder what would happen if you asked your doctor what definition he or she works to? It is a vital question. Research on-line and you will find many doctors who claim not to have thought about having a definition!
The WHO (World Health Organisation) definition of health is:-
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
This definition has not been amended since 1948.
Though one might argue it is still not the most adequate of definitions eg it omits any reference to spiritual health, it is evident from the above definition that you cannot divide the body into independent bits and treat each in isolation. As an individual you comprise cells, tissues, organs, bones, structure and so on which are constantly intercommunicating, outside your awareness, and so you must be viewed as a holistic unit requiring a total approach incorporating the physical (nutritional and structural,) the mental, emotional and spiritual. The fact a person declines to consider they are spiritual (some confuse it with being religious) does not mean they have no spirit, soul, energy, or life force.
Lack of sleep affects your physical body, your thinking, your emotions, your spirit, your life force, and your behaviour. As well as your work, your relationships and your finances.
But under conventional, orthodox medicine, if you are lucky, you will be given a sleeping pill to address a sleeping problem, even although the sleeping problem is only the manifestation of a deeper underlying cause eg to do with
a poor sleep routine, poor sleep environment
changes to sleep patterns – working night shifts or sleeping in a new place
drugs - alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, street drugs and stimulants
medication side effects
physical illness – being in pain, snoring or sleep apnoea, hormone or neurological disorders such as an overactive thyroid or Parkinson’s disease
stress and worry
trauma – abuse, accident, bereavement
A sleeping pill may help you sleep (and give you side effects) but it does not address any of the above causes.
So how might you describe health in a way that is not about the absence of dis-ease or condition?
Too often our focus is on the condition. So we attempt to tackle our obesity in order to be healthy. But if we treat health as a resource for everyday life and not the object of living, we can take a radically different approach and see that we must be healthy in order to lose weight, we aim for good health in order to reverse diabetes, we aim for good health in order to banish cancer, by having good health, we sleep well.
In keeping with the concept of health as a fundamental human right for all, the first International Conference on Health Promotion, meeting in Ottawa in November 1986, presented a Charter for action to achieve Health for All by the year 2000 and beyond. It emphasised certain prerequisites for health which include “peace, adequate economic resources, food and shelter, and a stable ecosystem and sustainable resource use.” Recognition of these prerequisites highlights the inextricable links between social and economic conditions, the physical environment, individual lifestyles and health. These links provide the key to an holistic understanding of health which is central to the definition of promoting health. And these days, the spiritual dimension of health is increasingly recognised although I find with too many medical staff that when I mention my spiritual profession and interests, the conversation is quickly diverted, or I am told, “I am not interested in that stuff!” and somehow one is left feeling “less than” and “ignored.” And they say we are patient centred!
The University of East Carolina defines wellness as "the integration of mind, body and spirit. Optimal wellness allows us to achieve our goals and find meaning and purpose in our lives. Wellness combines seven dimensions of well-being into a quality way of living. Overall, wellness is the ability to live life to the fullest and to maximize personal potential in a variety of ways. Wellness involves continually learning and making changes to enhance your state of wellness. When we balance the physical, intellectual, emotional, social, occupational, spiritual, and environmental aspects of life, we achieve true wellness."
The purpose here is not to find one perfect definition of “health” “healthy” “healing” “wellness” or “well-being.” Rather it is simply to: -
Provoke a deeper thinking on what is meant by health and wellness (and related words)
To raise the issue that if doctor and patient are working to radically different definitions, then there is the possibility for miscommunication and poor treatment
Is our NHS system healthy and well?
Our present National Health Service paradigm or bio-medical model is inadequate in that it in no way treats people holistically or as whole beings of intercommunicating parts. We are confined to selecting one thing to discuss during our ten-minute slot with a general practitioner. But the pain in my butt and my inability to walk easily due to pain in the hips and legs and becoming breathless within minutes requires consideration of possibilities such as arthritis, disc problems, lung problems, and exploration of other musculoskeletal disorders of the body's joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves, tendons, and structures that support limbs, neck and back. But each time I seek to discuss these with my doctor, I am told to choose the most serious of the issues. And even if an issue is targeted when it comes to treatment, that too is limited in the range of healing modalities it can offer – medication, radiography, and surgery. Many are ineffective and harmful. But fundamentally the approach is not about my overall health, it is about isolating symptoms and treating symptoms and conditions as isolated bits.
With the rise in the range of integrative, functional, and complimentary medicine, even there the modalities offered are not risk-free nor treatments able to be guaranteed successful. But because the approach is more holistic, and increasingly more attention paid to the power of nutrition and the power of the mind, and patients being empowered to become better informed about and take more responsibility for their health, then at least the focus is more about bringing the patient back into balance and a good state of health – on every level possible – physical, mental emotional, spiritual and soul.
This website seeks to address the above, to inform people on a wider view of healing and health.
It offers a plan to take you more deeply into healing and health, and not just the alleviation of symptoms and dis-ease.
It advocates that we need a new paradigm, a new concept of health.
The future healer to health and wellness
The healer of the future will no longer use drugs and medication and surgery to treat, alleviate, or cut out signs and symptoms. More and more we are moving to a state where the healers of the future, doctors and nurses included, will work on the etheric body and energy systems and teach patients how to become self- healers by using the power of their minds in different ways. We may not use the term doctors or nurses. Their role will change significantly. Sooner or later we will see that GP practice are little more than agencies for signposting patients to sources of specialist help. We may even give up calling patients as we do – they certainly need bucket loads of patience to navigate the present NHS system but as that changes, the role of the patient in their own healing and self-care will change. They will become radical healers. And doctors may become little more than technical signposters – doing more holistic assessments and signposting to all the different specialisms which will be required to better communicate between departments so as to help bring someone back to health and wellness.
Health and wellness is your choice – governed by the decisions you make in every moment of each day; it is a constant process requiring regular review and refection
Health and wellness is not a “thing” or an end point – it is ever varying; you may be in excellent physical health but poor in mental and spiritual health. Your spirit may be willing, but your body weak. But your compass can still be set on complete health and wellness, as complete as it can become.
Health and wellness is the integration of your whole being – your body, mind, emotions, spirit and soul, when one is out of kilter, the others too become affected
Health and wellness is about how and what you think, whether you keep yourself imprisoned in a self-sabotaging belief system, or seek to heal and aspire to become all you are capable of
Health and wellness is about how you use energy – how you take in the energetic forces of the universe, from the environment, and then transform that within you, and energetically transmit your positivity back out into the universe. As you heal, or courageously embrace that which you cannot change, so too can you inspire and help others heal.
Health and wellness is a way of life, of lifestyle choices based on your desires and wishes and how you respond to environmental and social factors
Fundamentally, the foundation of health and wellness is built on your capacity to love and accept yourself fully.
Your health and wellness is about YOU!
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
St. Francis of Assisi - 13th century
The wound is the place
where the light enters you.”