The forgotten element of wellness

Originally posted on Wellness & Writing Retreats and Consulting website on November 14, 2013.

soul polished

Did you know they took the soul out of psychology? Psyche as defined by the dictionary is “breath, principle of life, soul.” Psychology, then, must be the study of such a soul, I thought. But when I scrolled a few lines down in the dictionary to the word Psychology, I found this: “the science of mind and behavior.”

Hmmm…

I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked then at the omission of “soul” from the definition of “wellness,” too, which is “the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of a deliberate effort.”

I am shocked, though, and here’s why: Until we nourish our souls, wellness will never be completely had. That’s right, never; because wellness is in fact about the soul—it’s a direct relationship. Any “good” feelings of health are only cursory without awareness of and attention to the soul.

Perhaps that’s a bold statement to make, but the spiritual laws of the universe
—the ones that directly nourish our souls when aligned with and leveraged—are simply not up for debate anymore. Writing off discussion of soul/spiritual truths as “quackery” is becoming more and more like subscribing to the flatness of the Earth, especially as science is also (slowly but surely) coming into alliance with what mystics, gurus and poets have known for centuries. That being: We are spiritual beings having a human experience, not humans who occasionally have spiritual experiences. In this paradigm, attending to the health of the soul becomes paramount.

Often in attempts at healing, whether personally or collectively, we focus on addressing the symptoms of our diseases. Yet these Aspirin solutions will never bring about true health. As Thoreau said, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” Writer Mathew Dowd is striking at the root, boldly claiming that it’s time to address the root cause of our collective ills: “soul poverty.” Humanity, largely, has done what psychology and wellness did: forgot about the soul.

The beautiful thing is it’s now a time of remembering.

So if true wellness means the enrichment of the soul, what does it look like, exactly, to do that? Here’s a short list:

– Slow down rather than speed up.
– Give to others rather than expect
– Be grateful rather than disappointed
– Practice empowerment rather than victimization
– Listen rather than spout off advice
– Walk or bike rather than drive
– Hang out in nature rather than the mall
– Practice self-compassion rather than self-criticism
– Practice forgiveness rather than resentment
– Pay attention to your breath rather than your anxiety
– Accept responsibility for your life rather than make excuses
– Meditate rather than play Candy Crush

You get the point—soul stuff ain’t easy!

In this the original definition of wellness hits the bulls-eye about it taking “deliberate effort.” Nourishing our souls requires great tenacity and discipline because often times it means doing the opposite of what many of us have been conditioned to do. But it is so 100% fabulously worth it when the result is true freedom—root-level happiness—don’t you think?

Deepak Chopra puts it this way:

To make the right choices in life, you have to get in touch with your soul. To do this, you need to experience solitude, which most people are afraid of, because in the silence you hear the truth and know the solutions.”

We’ve come to consider difficulty, loneliness, meaninglessness and sadness as fundamental to life itself, but that is the biggest myth—a grand, socially ingrained, self-perpetuating illusion. When we finally lift the veil, we see life is actually very wonderful if you let it. How do you let it? You put the soul back into your psychology; you put it back into your wellness. You remember your forgotten, hungry soul, and you invite it to the table to feast.

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