What does wellbeing mean?
I think that wellbeing is a very individual thing and that we will each have our own ideas about what this means for us. Also, it’s not a static thing – it can alter as our circumstances change, as we grow and as we get older.
For me, it’s about much more than just an absence of disease! I think that in the West, we often focus on symptoms, wanting to stop them when they occur and thinking that doing so will mean that we are well. But I believe that our symptoms are important. They offer us wisdom about what’s going on in our body, and where our beliefs are serving us – or where they’re not! As such, it’s very helpful to give ourselves the time and space to listen and seek to understand what our body is trying to tell us. When we rush to take painkillers or other medication, it often just masks the symptoms, meaning that we miss out on the messages they offer, and therefore on the opportunity to understand ourselves and our needs on a new level. This might therefore result in us not meeting those needs which could lead to further issues down the line.
For me, wellbeing is about the ability to be radically honest with ourselves, and to take the time and space we need to explore any symptoms we might be experiencing – physically, emotionally or spiritually (by which I mean those deep soul searching questions that can keep us awake in the dark hours of the night) – and to address the issues we uncover, supporting ourselves as we learn and grow.
It’s the freedom to be our true Self, in all its wonder, and allowing our inner light to shine, while also celebrating the same for those around us. It is balance, ease, flow, joy, even in the tough times, knowing that these are just growing pains and that they come to teach us and to enrich our lives.
Why is wellbeing so important?
For me the value of a supportive wellbeing practice is that it enables us to gain a deeper understanding of who we really are at the innermost core of our being, and to step more fully into this, offering us a greater sense of balance, ease, flow and joy. It helps us to develop empathy, compassion and resilience, and gives us tools and techniques for handling the challenges that life brings.
Let me give you a couple of personal examples.
When I was a teenager, I started having migraines. The doctor prescribed some strong painkillers which I took daily. This enabled me to continue going to school, but in not exploring what was behind the pain I was experiencing, I just pushed on and ended up reaching the point of burn-out, having to take over a term off school and resit the year.
I am now grateful for this experience, and the learning that it brought for me, as it led me to the work I do now. I’m still a work in progress, but I now know that when my body nudges me, it’s much better if I give myself time to listen.
The other day I was going about my usual routine of loading up the wheelbarrow to take food and hay up to the horses, when my back went into painful spasm. I took a moment to connect in to my body, to relax and to listen. I could tell that this was an important message for me to explore and seek to understand.
We’ve all had a tough year, with covid-19 and the challenges this has brought, pushing us all to be flexible to survive, in business and many other areas of our lives. Also, the winter has been cold and the short days make caring for the horses hard work. My back was telling me that I needed to more deeply appreciate, and address, the strains that this has been putting on me, to take time to listen, allow myself to rest, stop pushing, relax, trust, and do all I can to support myself and to ‘lighten my load’, which includes finding time for the things that light me up and ‘make my heart sing’.
For me, this is why wellbeing is important. It’s about listening to our needs, and learning how to respond to them in supportive and uplifting ways, which in turn brings us deeper understanding and empathy for the needs of others, and a greater ability to support them in ways that help them, too, to grow.