Stephan Rechtschaffen, cofounder of Omega, suggest that true wellness is about understanding yourself and your body by listening within to become aware of what is healthy and what is harmful.
Finding wellness is like experiencing peaceful silence amidst the roar of an urban turbo-charged environment. It’s possible, but requires commitment and effort.
The Omega campus was born years ago from a dream about creating a peaceful environment close to the hectic life of the city, since everyone needs to escape at some point to find the solace and rejuvenation that nourishes body and spirit. In this way, Omega has always aspired to be a place of wellness—for body, mind, and soul.
In one of his last movies, Steve McQueen told the story of a man who fell off a 10-story building. Each floor down they heard him say: “So far, so good.” Sounds like the advice of most doctors I’ve met during my medical training: “Don’t worry about your health. If something happens to you, the wonders of modern medicine will cure you.”
As time has passed, I’ve searched for these “wonders of modern medicine” and found much more wisdom coming from the shamans I’ve encountered in the Amazon, who speak with the plants to understand the true curative properties available in nature. I’ve discovered more wisdom coming from alternative practitioners—the naturopaths, acupuncturists, and deep healers who have come to Omega—many of whom are also physicians practicing a new medicine that focuses on reinforcing and reenergizing the body’s natural self-healing capacities.
In fact, true wellness is about understanding oneself and one’s own body—and, through this knowledge, one develops a practice of self-care to maintain a state of well-being. The good physician is one who listens carefully to the patient, not jumping to name a diagnosis, but listening to a story that reveals how the body can be re-set into greater balance and health. For an individual, practicing wellness begins by listening within, becoming aware of what is healthy for oneself and what is harmful. While one person’s honey is another’s poison, there is much we can learn from others along the way. Finding wellness is the exploration of what works and doesn’t work for you.
Modern society is unhealthy. The rates of autism are skyrocketing now at 1 in 110 new births, Alzheimer’s disease is growing at a disturbing pace, and obesity and related adult-onset diabetes has become epidemic. These are all socially inflicted diseases. Wellness is not simply an individual’s choice, because we live in community.
Yet, where do we begin to reverse this trend of collapsing social well-being? The ultimate answer for greater social wellness lies in prevention and self-care. From its earliest days, Omega’s philosophy has been to change the world or society one person at a time. Like striking a match in a dark room, once we all light our matches, a bright light emanates forth.
Living a vibrant healthy life gives light to all those around us, within our families and our communities. When we practice wellness choices as a way of life, we all benefit. These choices include simple, yet profound steps in life that are aligned with greater vitality and longevity, both for individuals and society.
Here are 12 steps you can follow to bring more wellness to yourself and your community:
- Practice inner peace and kindness—with your family, those at work, even those with whom you disagree, and most importantly with yourself.
- Live sustainably with awareness of the waste you create in life and how you can minimize the creation of garbage and toxins. Reduce your consumption. You can begin by reducing your food intake. Eating less is the most significantly proven way to longevity, and it benefits the environment, too.
- Eat less. Eat organic. Eat a rainbow diet of colors to increase your natural antioxidants. Avoid gluten and dairy. And, reduce your dietary fat intake by eating a vegetarian diet. Again, you’ll be helping the environment since raising livestock causes 18% of greenhouse gases.
- Take vitamins and supplements to reduce toxicity, stress, inflammation, and oxidation--the causes of disease and aging. I recommend a multivitamin plus tumeric, resveratrol, DHEA, DHA, Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils, Co-Q-10, and gingko.
- Exercise regularly. Do yoga or tai chi. Enjoy your body. Be open to the new. Play more!
- Drink plenty of water and eat lots of greens to increase your alkalinity.
- If you’re allergic—and you probably are—find out what to avoid so you can limit life-shortening inflammation.
- Eat superfoods to energize and revitalize your system. For example, cacao, goji berries, coconut water, maca, bee pollen, blue green algae, and acai are all natural wonders that boost your energy and long-term wellness.
- Do regular fasting or cleanse programs. The planet is toxic; so are you. It’s important to clean your inner body regularly. You can perform a mini-cleanse each evening by not eating after dinner so the body can naturally cleanse overnight.
- Take techno-fasts—go without your cell phone and computer for the day.
- Take regular retreats to nurture body and spirit.
- Love your life and live today as if it’s your last.
© 2012 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies