The wellness movement has been taking hold for more than a decade. By increments, certain aspects of people’s lives have improved, while in others it hasn’t. Smoking is down, for example, but millions of people are stressed. Insomnia, overweight, anxiety, and depression remain at a troubling high level.
The 3 Obstacles to Wellness
With this spotty record of success in mind, let’s ask what has gone wrong. There are three major things that haven’t worked out well.
- Thinking in terms of risks. Standard prevention is based on reducing your risk of illness, which sounds reasonable. But the motivation behind risk prevention is the fear of something going wrong, and fear is a bad motivator. When they forget to be fearful or grow tired of seeing life thorough anxious eyes, people stop complying with what they know is good for them.
- A piecemeal approach. There are so many parts to a wellness program that you could spend the whole day attending simply to diet and exercise for yourself and your family while attending to the demands of work and everyday duties. Millions of people race against the clock every day and are lucky if they can squeeze in time for yoga, meditation, relaxation, and finding a source of enjoyment that feels fulfilling.
- Confused priorities. Once wellness becomes complicated, it is hard to adopt the right priorities—there is too much to choose from. Between trying to do the right thing and backsliding, countless people turn to pharmaceutical drugs for sleeplessness, worry, and depression. Fast-food chains continue to thrive, as do packaged-and-processed convenience foods at the supermarket.
This picture of a lifestyle rife with confusion and fragmentation can be turned around, beginning with a new starting point. If you see yourself first as infinite consciousness expressing itself as a mind, body, and spirit, you are in a new position. You can base wellness on the totality of your awareness. From this starting point, practical benefits derive not by struggling to lead the “perfect” lifestyle but by discovering for yourself that consciousness can take care of you.
Embracing Infinite Consciousness
Right now, you may believe your mind is taking care of you, but your mind isn’t the same as consciousness. The mind is filled with activity while consciousness is unmoving and unchanging. The mind experiences good and bad ideas, emotions, memories, and desires. Consciousness simply is. The mind is personal, shaped to fit your story and no one else’s. Consciousness is universal. It allows you to be free of your story and all the problems it has created, which include many kinds of limitations.
To get down to particulars, a wellness strategy based on the totality of consciousness puts its highest priority on being conscious. I’ve devoted a forthcoming book, Total Meditation, to this issue. The main thesis is that if you are aligned with the infinite field of pure awareness, life will begin to display the most important values that have their origin in pure awareness, namely:
- Creativity Intelligence
- Inner peace
- Personal evolution
By putting these values first in your life, you will be coming closer to your source.
The secret of total well-being is to live as close to your source as possible. This represents a major change of direction in almost everyone’s life. Constantly immersed in mental activity, a typical life attempts two impossible things: First, to create wholeness out of bits and pieces. The state of fragmentation and separation cannot be cobbled together into wholeness. Second, people attempt to find fulfillment by thinking and desiring. Thoughts and desires are constant companions. They come and go, having no stability that you can place your trust in.
You can, however, place your trust in consciousness. In everyone’s life, there are glimpses of consciousness through the values just mentioned, beginning with love, compassion, and beauty. But a large quotient of your days may be spent in unconscious living. You are bound up in habits; conditioning; fixed beliefs; self-defeating attitudes; the practice of avoidance, delay, and denial; and the struggle to get ahead. Well-being consists of reversing the quotient so that your daily life is more conscious than unconscious.
How to Cultivate Total Meditation
To achieve this reversal, it helps to set time aside for meditation, but that alone isn’t enough. A hit-and-miss approach to meditation provides a small oasis of calm during the day, but that’s not your real goal. Your real goal is to be present, aware, alert, and restful without stress. In that light, I am recommending something new: total meditation. Its basic principle is that the mind wants to be calm, centered, open, alert, present, and free of stress.
Therefore, your daily life should be focused on noticing whenever you are distracted, stressed, fatigued, worried, or in any way displaced from a sense of feeling centered and content. This new focus represents a big change, but there’s an axiom to keep in mind: You cannot change what you aren’t aware of. Awareness brings you back to yourself with calm clarity. Being centered is possible at any moment. You simply sit by yourself quietly, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Place your attention in the center of your chest and relax. Usually, this centering exercise works in a few minutes.
Repetition is critical. You need to center yourself as soon as you notice that you have lapsed into unconsciousness. Each time you center yourself, you are calling upon pure awareness to rebalance the whole mind-body system. In essence, you are reminding yourself, and all your cells, that you are first and foremost a conscious being.
In time, this will become your truth more and more. Total well-being is possible only through total awareness, yet every moment of waking up has its short-term benefit, too. That’s the beauty and promise of wellness as a total project that anyone can undertake here and now.