When most people think of wellness, they often think about health prevention, better nutrition, clarity of mind, increased energy, freedom from disease. Goop and other wellness practitioners offer products to enhance wellness as well as a framework for understanding how to care for our bodies and minds.
I grew up around family members who often sought wellness prevention instead of disease management approaches. As a Chinese American growing up, I drank ginseng and herbal soups to maintain health. I was taught that when I ate tendons and ligaments they would build up my body’s own connective tissue; cupping would reduce my po po’s (grandma’s) aching back, and acupuncture was more than de rigueur–it regulated menstruation cycles, and effectively addressed pain without heavy drugs.
Today, wellness practitioners abound. Spa experiences coupled with botanical skincare and herbal teas along with the latest healing practices–the best your money can buy–are marketed and sold.
This is all for the good, but there is more to wellness than fancy supplements and expensive experiences. Wellness as a philosophy assumes a mind-body connection that those of the spiritual persuasion already know. As a Christian who meditates and practices mindfulness, Scripture provides the tincture that produces healing. And, the Word is the infusion of health and wellness, both spiritually and cognitively.
How does the Word offer health and wellness, especially for Christians who are interested in this mind-body connection?
The Word is a grace-filled scripture that advocates moderation in all things, particularly in what we could consider vices. For instance, on drinking alcohol, the goal is not abstinence, but moderation. To be mindful of how much alcohol is consumed and to enjoy libations with the intent and purpose they serve, as part of an offering of harvest (Numbers 18:12), symbol of abundance and God’s blessing (Deut 7:13), as well as a celebratory experience (John 2:3). Excess drink and drunkenness always led to the worst of human depravity (Gen 9 & 19; Habakkuk 2:4-6; 15).
This is an easy one for me because of my Chinese genetics as I’m allergic to alcohol in general. However, I point to good friends and family members along with other cultures, who have a healthy approach to drinking alcohol for enjoying food and life, while mindfully checking in with themselves so they do not fall into the trap of excess.
For wellbeing, the commandment of keeping the Sabbath day holy (Ex 20:8) was to practice a period of rest and holiness. Keeping the Sabbath lends itself to the spiritual to move in our lives and others. Jesus moved and performed miracles on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:12); so we can expect the same if we are to be more Christ-like in our efforts in keeping the Sabbath. As we approach the Sabbath as a time of rest, we can find a restored soul and a practice of holiness in our lives that is often lacking.
A weekly Sabbath day, or a few hours even (if you find it difficult to set aside that time), can lead to greater integration of the spiritual in what may feel like a very secular week. For me, the Sabbath was a challenge I began through as a stressed-out college student, and have continued along with my husband, through job and family responsibilities, and many other time-stressed challenges. The Sabbath reminds me of my human limits and my dependence on God for not only time, but all things. The practice can be done, and the Sabbath allows me to find balance. I urge you to try it.
For health overall, nutrition and food choices that may be counter-cultural leads to wellness. Mindfully eating what is nourishing is a healthy choice that can lead to physical, mental, and emotional strength, even in the midst of stress. Daniel’s friends show us this principle of eating right when everyone around you seems to eat in way that is mindless (Daniel 1:14-16).
Some folks will want to choose vegetarianism, but that is not the point of the passage. You should choose a nutritional meal plan mindfully and intentionally. Even better if your choices go against our cultural norms of processed, packaged and convenient, which seem to satisfy the gods of our culture: convenience, hurry, and mindless waste.
These are only three of many guiding practices and principles that are sourced in the Word that mindfulness practitioners can find and apply to their lives. They aren’t the only ones, of course, and if none of these I’ve mentioned seem attractive to you or applicable to your life, there is no judgment here.
If you have other wellness practices, (again, going with the definition of disease prevention and wellbeing in life), then please share them by commenting below (appropriate, thoughtful and mindful responses only please).