In the photo: Silhouette of person doing yoga near water Photo Credit: Cedric Lim
Current state of Wellness
One instinct that is unique to every organism is the need to survive. Yet what organisms pursue is not just mere survival, it is the ability to live at its best and thriving at all levels. Every creature wants to live comfortably and sustain its life expectancy to the fullest. In human beings, this instinct is probably the most powerful. The power is derived from our ability to be aware and regulate our minds and bodies which are at the crux of survival.
Humans are made not just to cope, but to ‘thrive’ in an abundance of wellness at physical, mental and emotional levels.
Every aspect of our evolution, thus far, has been to refine the survival mechanisms we have by all means. We see these in our need to eat well, breathe deep, rest enough, smile fully or in pushing our physical limits. Ultimately these pursuits lead us to live a healthy, happy and harmonious life with fellow beings and nature. In the pursuit of ultimate comfort on the inside and out, we have also discovered hidden powers of the world, and translated them to make our life comfortable, convenient and complacent. These discoveries have taken us to such innovations and technological leaps that at present our evolution as human beings is undermined by the evolution of machines and technology.
Especially alarming is how we have rapidly increased the speed of computation and human thought. Even though we have been attaining many physical luxuries, we have been foregoing the inner peace, serenity, and happiness which has started to have a direct impact on many aspects of wellness in our day to day lives.
In the early stages of human evolution, the biggest threat was from infectious and contagious diseases as well as natural calamities. We have invented many methods of tackling these challenges in the form of vaccinations, antibiotics, modern medicine and surgery. Even though we have made mind blowing innovations in medical science, we have started to fall victim to “life style diseases.” We have started to succumb to the self-destructive patterns and illnesses that result from faulty life styles and an ignorant attitude towards our most precious resource: the body and mind. We have abused our greatest gift, our own self.
The current state of “Wellness” is a paradox. On one side we have made very innovative advancements, but we have utterly failed in simple aspects of taking care of the mind and body leading to mental health illness like Anxiety, Depression, suicidal tendencies and Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs) like Diabetes, Hypertension, and autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and many more.
If we go to the root cause of the current state of health it is not hard to see that we ourselves are the culprits for the mess. We cannot blame an outside agent or organism for our state of ‘Sickness’.
We are reaping what we have sown.
In the rat race of material advancement, we have ignored and abused our health. Each of these life style diseases can be prevented (and also cured) with simple changes to life style. Our thought processes which are completely off track from our natural state of well being are to be blamed. The choices that we make from the way we eat, what we eat, how we eat, how we exercise, how we treat ourselves and how we treat others are what brought us to this state.
Each one of us starts our journey as a single cell zygote in the mother’s womb and in a miraculous way we multiply ourselves into trillions of cells. These cells knowingly organize themselves with innate intelligence into many systems and complex mechanisms of biochemical reactions, neural networks, hormonal synthesis, and energy creation at a cellular level.
We come into the world with pure innocence: that amazing peaceful, calm, and serene state of existence in which we simply know how to smile. But as we grow we slowly shift from innocence to ignorance. We fall trap to emotional turbulence, social pressures, and entanglements of mental pain and physical suffering. We forget to tune into our preciousness and instead get sucked into the madness of the modern bonanza. We lose touch with the miracle of trillions of cells functioning magically.
We not only move away from the core essence, we start to abuse the system deeply to such an extent that the functions and metabolisms start to derail. Who is at the root of all this melodrama? Of course the answer is very simple. We have mishandled the system that was handed over to us by nature. We failed to nurture the homeostasis, the optimal well being which is so innate to us.
So how do we reverse this? Do we need a medical system to fix this? Can we take control back into our own hands?
Yes, there is a need for the medical system to repair some chronically disabled systems in the body, to put them back on track with medication and other surgical interventions as needed. But most of it can be worked out by simply connecting back to the basics, to prevent and even heal from the illness.
In fact, the wisdom of many ancient cultures have gone deeper into these self-transformative models of wellness. One of the most prevalent systems of wellness which has become quite popular in recent times is Yoga and Meditation. Yoga is a time tested self-care system of recharging and rejuvenating the mind, body and spirit. It is a way to dive within to cleanse and purify the entire being, not just a quick patch to a problem.
In the photo: Dr Suman Kollipara Photo Credit: PeaceTree
My Journey into Wellness from Within
I was personally at a crossroads in my life going through physical, mental and emotional challenges. I have tried to get temporary solace through the medical system, but to no avail. It was just a band-aid for a bigger problem within.
This triggered my journey into the world of Yoga and Meditation. It began 12 years back by meeting this simple and humble human being, Sunita. I heard that she teaches a form of Meditation and Self Care healing system called ‘Sookshma’. Within few sessions of this subtle approach my health transformed from inside out. I used to suffer from IBS and stomach related issues which were fixed very quickly.
I started to experience great levels of energy and joy within. I was able to go beyond the emotional entanglements and dysfunctions of the mind to build one-pointedness towards achieving my goals and making my dreams come true. I realized that this gave me a cumulative overall well being framework to lead life with to my highest potential.
I have seen many who have come to her in my past 12 years of journey heal from simple to complex illness. It was an eye opener for me. I was able to relate to the science behind the psychosomatic illness. I literally started to see a new reality open up in front of me.
I have come across a plethora of research in the field of mind-body medicine and how some of the best universities are spending time and resources to study Yoga and Meditation and other self-care systems. I realized how illiterate I was about myself. Even though I come from a background of medical science, I had never truly taken care of myself. I had never been trained to understand the nature of the mind and its impact on the body.
Now I have understood that the vices in the mind are at the root of most of the mental and emotional suffering that we go through. Ancient cultures and their wisdom have repeatedly emphasized the intricacies and functions of the mind. They have laid great importance on how to regulate the mind from childhood, to keep it sane and pure. They have explained in detail how mind can be a wild, mad monkey causing mayhem, but the same mind when trained and tamed can become the best tool for us to lead life with wellness in and out.
I realized how as a culture we lacked the basic knowledge and understanding of the most amazing system, our own mind and body. I started to see a huge gap in our society and the need for individuals and civil society to take action. I have seen how Sunita’s work has been impacting people across the globe in a very simple and practical way: she has been empowering them to take charge of their lives.
Her work is direct and gets to the root cause of many ailments. When a person walks into her presence she sees not just the physical body, but the underlying field of energy and consciousness. She articulates that we all are pure energy but filled with vices and habits that can be detrimental. She says that the Mind can be our best friend or the worst enemy.
The vices of mind like excess desire, anger, greed, delusion, false ego, jealousy though seemingly simple, can cause havoc on our physical, mental and emotional well being. This may seem simple and remind us of the stories our grandparents told us and as such we tend to brush this knowledge and approach away without paying much attention. But we all know how the mental and emotional habits that we build as a child and youth seep into the adult life and take a toll on many aspects of our health. These repeated habits create conditioned patterns in the subconscious which become stronger over a period of time and become crystalized in the form of our choices and actions. They then, in turn, directly impact our wellness.
In the photo: Wellness Conference Photo Credit: PeaceTree
Grassroots approach to Wellness:
Sunita’s healing program is a way of unwinding deeply rooted patterns. It involves purification of the mind which is a direct approach to tackle the problem head-on by helping us see our reflections in the mirror of our Conscience. It helps us go within and find how our thoughts and actions over a period of time derailed our well being. This Self-reflection empowers individuals to take action coming from a place of the authentic self.
Seeing this work I was truly inspired to help many. I wanted to start sharing this knowledge and experience with my own friends, family and extended family across the globe. I have co-founded a nonprofit, Peace Tree Innovations Society – Center for Wellness and Oneness, with the single pointed vision of empowering grassroots transformation towards Wellness. We have been marching across the globe for the past 12 years with our three step approach: Educate, Experience, Enlighten.
First we educate all on the simplified science and wisdom of the Mind and Body so that even a layman can understand the importance of self-care. Then we provide them with tools for Self-Empowerment so that they can experience the shift from illness to wellness. Lastly (and eventually) we can provide a basis for enlightening them about their true potential.
We have made a huge impact locally as well as globally at various organizations like schools, prisons, hospitals, addiction centers, community centers, private and public sector companies, and so on. We have seen phenomenal transformation in healing from simple to complex illness and people taking the tools of Self compassion, Self-love and Meditation to reduce the stress and life style related disorders.
Our experiment with Self-empowerment is showing great results across the globe. The impact of the work has also taken us to the World Health Organization in Geneva where we presented to the world delegates about the importance of Wellness from Within. I had an opportunity to educate all and present the science behind wellness from within, while showcasing some of the latest research in the field of Meditation, Mindfulness and Yoga. Master Sunita had an opportunity to give the experience of tuning into the Self and taking charge of day-to-day wellness with ancient Sookshma Self Compassion Meditation. The program was shared across the globe in a webcast.
The platform provided by WHO speaks volumes about the need and importance of Wellness from Within. Some of the great minds in the field of mental health and Non-Communicable diseases agreed that the time is now to prevent and heal the most debilitating impact these illnesses are having on the progress of humanity. Non-communicable diseases kill 41 million people prematurely every year, many of them in the prime of life.
In fact, the United Nations has placed Wellness as one of the most essential aspects for our generation, placing it in its Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030, as SDG3: ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’. To be very specific Target 3.4 requests that countries “By 2030, reduce by one third, premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.”
Former WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan has said: “The inclusion of non-communicable diseases under the health goal is a historical turning point. Finally these diseases are getting the attention they deserve.”
In the Photo: Conference of wellness Photo Credit: PeaceTree
Wellness from Within is the Way:
This shift is not going to happen by the medical community and hospitals alone. This involves education and self-empowerment of individuals and communities. This is not about poverty, nor about lack of medical facilities. It affects wealthy and poor, developed and developing nations exactly the same way. This goes across all cultures, nations, genders and religions.
No one is an exception.
We feel it is the responsibility of each individual to take time to care for their physical, mental and emotional well being. The need of the hour is to educate the importance of this starting from schools. Incorporating classes in the schools and colleges that help youth understand the nature of mind, body, and emotions is critical. The education about the impact of addictions to substances as well as devices and social media is essential to prevent and cure mental health issues.
We now have hope that we can move forward at a tremendous speed with collaboration between various UN agencies, Nations, and Non-Profits in bringing a revolution in the wellness of the world.
In the past we were able to eliminate the some of the most dreadful contagious diseases like Small Pox caused by a virus. We are pretty close to eliminating Polio from the face of the earth. If we could achieve these goals by education and engagement, we can very easily eliminate the NCDs and Mental Health problems, but the onus is on us as individuals.
Unlike a virus – an external agent that causes Small Pox and Polio – the root cause of NCDs and Mental health are the vices of the human mind. The best way to tackle them is through Self-reflection, Self-Introspection and Self-Empowerment using tools from Self compassion Meditation and Mindfulness. Then we can let wellness start from within.