5 Elements of Total Well-Being
What is a healthy lifestyle? I used to think it meant eating “right” and getting enough exercise. But, as I study the subject, I’ve come to realize that it is much more. A healthy lifestyle is about the whole person from the outside in.
There is a ton of research being conducted about how meditation, restful sleep, healthy diet, emotional and social well-being, exercise, breathing techniques and healthy relationships can help healthy people stay that way and change diseased genes.
New technologies are being developed to monitor and quantify exercise, sleep and stress in our bodies. Several of my friends have monitors that count their steps. It’s becoming big business because the writing is on the wall. Unless we change how we approach health and aging, the cost of acute care will bankrupt our country.
The good news is that people are becoming more aware of the impact of their life choices on their health, and they are making changes. Deepak Chopra says that well being is the #1 trend in the world at the moment. As I reflect on this trend, I think how the more things change; the more they stay the same.
The Ancients, those earliest inhibitors of our planet, knew the importance of total well being. They identified 5 dimensions or layers of the human system and knew that all of these layers needed to be cared for in order to be a well person. These 5 layers are directly correlated to what modern day research says are the components of health and well being. Amazing! It’s like we’ve come full circle.
Following are the 5 layers (Steps):
- The Physical Body: This is the outer most layer. In the yoga tradition this is the physical fitness aspect of yoga. The ancients used the tool of asana (postures) practice to prepare the body and mind for seated pranayama (breathing) and meditation. They knew that being fit physically was important to feeling good and to being able to withstand stress. Today, we are told to “keep moving” to stay healthy.
- The Energetic Body: Moving inward, the next layer relates to energy and the metabolic functions that maintain life. The Ancients referred to this as prana or life force. They used the science of breath (pranayama) as a tool to assess their vitality, energy and general health. The quality of our breath reveals so much about our physical, mental and emotional states. Today, breath techniques are being used by individuals and health practitioners to get a sense of overall well being.
- The Intelligent Body: Our ancient ancestors recognized the power of the mind and how it influenced the whole person. They knew it was important to develop the mind and to keep it sharp. Chanting was the tool they used to train the mind and to pass along the philosophy from generation to generation. Today, we are encouraged to continue learning and be life long learners after our formal education ends. Learning a new skill helps keep aging brains sharp and is considered a key component of total well being and healthy aging.
- The Personality: This layer relates to how we interpret life’s events and is based on our conditioning. The Ancients recognized that our responses to situations, our motives, attitudes and basic beliefs come from our conditioning. They knew it was important to understand this conditioning and used the tool of meditation to recognize and refine the personality. Today, meditation is widely accepted as a way to manage life’s stresses and to be more aware of our perceptions. Awareness is the first step to change.
- The Heart: This is the deepest layer and it involves relationship(s). The Ancients understood that we humans do not do well in isolation. We need family, friends, and community to feel connected. Having a passion is another aspect of this layer. Today, we hear of the importance of staying social and that people who share common interests with others live longer, healthier lives.
The Ancients called these layers by different names but their truth has stood the test of time. We will explore these tools in greater depth. My hope is that these ancient tools are useful for your modern day life management.
Enjoy and Breathe Easy!
Health is a precious gift and my goal is to help you live a healthier, happier life through yoga. Every private session is uniquely designed just for you. For a free telephone consultation call me at 303.818.4181. Discover whether personalized, private yoga instruction is right for you.
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