Eight Pillars of Wellness
I was listening to Oprah's podcast - Super Soul Conversations recently and heard her interview Kathy Freston, who has a new book out called Quantum Wellness. As I listened, the 8 pillars resonated with me and I wanted to share them with you.
1 - The first pillar of wellness is meditation. "For anybody who is looking to change your life, I would absolutely recommend that [meditation] be the first thing that you do," Oprah says. "I think there are a lot of misnomers about what it is. People think it's something that it isn't. ... Meditation is not religious."
At the heart of meditation is stillness, Kathy says. "It's really just getting quiet, going inside and connecting to that inner light. For some people, it's religious and spiritual, connecting to that higher power. For other people, it's just a matter of becoming present."
Kathy says meditation rescued her in her darkest hour. "I was constantly beating myself up, trying to figure out what was wrong with me and how to change it," she says. "Meditation pulled me into my center."
2 - There's one wellness practice that Kathy says should be observed above all others. "The mother of all pillars is conscious eating," she says. "It doesn't only make a difference to our own personal health and well-being, but conscious eating means you stay aware of where your food comes from, how the animals are treated and how the environment is affected by the foods that you eat. You take in the energy of whatever went into creating that food."
Kathy is a vegan, which means she doesn't eat meat, eggs, or dairy. "Nobody was harmed—that's conscious eating," she says. "If I want to be someone with spiritual integrity, I have to think about the principles that I want to adhere to—compassion, kindness, mercy and the alleviating of suffering when I see it. ... I thought, 'If I want to further myself on my spiritual path, as well as my health path, I need to have more integrity. I need to be conscious about it.'"
3 - Exercise is another pillar of wellness. Kathy suggests engaging in physical activity three to six times a week for 30 minutes a day. "It's good for your body, mind and spirit," Kathy says. "Especially when you're outside."
Don't think you have to do something strenuous and join a gym. A simple walk each day can improve your health and wellbeing significantly.
4 - The fourth pillar of wellness is visualization. "It's like creating a blueprint for the way I want to become and setting down the intention," Kathy says. "I journal in my notebook, and I think about where I want to go, who I want to be. Then, I just need to close my eyes and see the breakthrough happening."
5 - Spiritual practice is Kathy's fifth pillar of wellness. Kathy keeps a statue of Kuan Yin in her home, who she says is the Chinese deity for compassion. "I have her in my bedroom because I always want to be reminded that it's not just about me," she says. "So as much as I can, [I try] to be aware of the suffering that's all around and to be compassionate. I think that's the best spiritual practice anyone can have."
6 - To achieve the sixth pillar of wellness—self-work—Kathy says she is constantly educating herself. "What I do is I read all the time, whether it's on nutrition or spirituality or emotional well-being," she says. "That means going inside and learning where you're stuck and pushing yourself past what's comfortable. And then I choose a book that's going to help me push through those boundaries."
7 - Service is Kathy's seventh pillar of wellness. "When I was feeling depressed and like life wasn't going my way, I started volunteering and doing service, and things had a way of just turning around," she says. "I felt like I didn't get fixated on my own self-centered fear, and I felt like there was an abundance in the universe that I was participating in. And that made me feel really good."
I agree! I frequently tell clients that one of the best ways to feel better is to start helping others. The website Volunteer Match is a great place to get started.
8 - Fun activities are the last pillar of wellness. It may seem simple, but Kathy says it's still important. "Doing something fun just kind of loosens up your energy, makes you feel grateful for everything" she says. "And you have levity in your life, which is important. Once a day, I do something fun, whether just rocking out to music or painting."
If you only focus on work, Kathy says you lose the spirit inside. "Get back to that spirit," she says. "That spirit actually is the thing that generates the good ideas, the inspiration."