Wellness is a modern health term meant to move our focus from a problem-based point of view (which could be illness, injury or disability) to a solution-based attitude and action plan for how we function and experience life on a daily basis. It implies conscious, healthy self-care with the intent of achieving and maintaining health and well-being in our minds, emotions, and physical bodies, often extending to all our external affairs. Research in medicine, sociology and psychology has shown a correlation between a sense of meaning in life and various measures of health outcomes, adding spiritual wellness to the recommended components of the ideal wellness plan. This remains a rather vague, undefined term in traditional medicine. Generally it is translated to mean being comfortable with your religious/spiritual beliefs or being comfortable without religious/spiritual beliefs, but either way you are finding meaning and acceptance in your daily life. The “spiritual wellness” component often provides a platform to introduce meditation and its well-proven health benefits as an antidote to the stress of modern life.
But there is another way to approach spirituality, not as a “component of your wellness plan”, but as the very ground of health. Spirituality can be experienced as a recognition that life springs from a Unitive Source retaining its mystery, order, intelligence and creative power that surpass human knowledge and control. It is the source of “wellness” that encompasses all healing, even medical intervention. Wellness then includes the capacity of life, in all its perplexing forms, to repair, renew, and heal: Life takes care of life. To manage the complexity of society, to communicate, and for the sake of our partial piecemeal understanding of the vastness of existence, we divide the whole into the parts. (Even in this website). Here we explore spirituality as our capacity to heal, make-whole, and take care.
What is our part in maintaining our health? We are flooded with information about health—what we must do to be healthy, commercials that demand we pay attention to new products, promises of relief from pain and limitation, techniques to stave off the natural changes of age. All of this information forms a kind of bubble around us, a thought-form of the current collective ideas of what we need to be healthy. Ironically, this "bubble" is a barrier that keeps us from the direct experience of our own innate sensory awareness and sensitivity to life.
The human body has many protective mechanisms. One of them is our built-in awareness of the body, its automatic regulation, and an intuitive understanding of how the body works. If we "live only in our heads," in our ideas, worries, and imaginings, or live "through our ears," believing only what we have been told, we are cut off from one of the most important aspects of health: our awareness of our body, and our intuitive wisdom of how to take care of ourselves. Modern medical technology has brought great benefits to mankind and we certainly do not want to regress to a world without it. We want access to the best understanding and tools of health care. Yet, if we rely only on the feedback of technology to tell us how we are doing, we cannot help but weaken the natural sensitivity and subtle feedback that the body already directly provides.
The human body is amazingly intelligent and our spirituality includes our physicality. Divine Intelligence is operating in our bodies, and that Intelligence is evident in daily life, if we let it do its work: when we are hungry, we eat; when we are tired, we sleep; when we are tense, we stretch; when restless, we move; when we feel pain, we withdraw; and when we laugh, we heal. Dr. Susan Nettleton