#WeekendRead: Do you mind?

by Wendy Long
26 Jan 2020

It's a new year for new musings.

“Have some tea” or “take manuka honey” are my usual replies to anyone who laments about any physical discomfort, ranging from headaches, chest pain, a bout of flu, sore throat to just about anything, because, really, what do I know? I’m not a doctor.

Though I too occasionally have my doubts about whether the general practitioner knows anymore than I do, given that I’m always told to “get more rest, drink more water and, here, take some Panadol.” Of course it’s a generalization of the situation, and there are times (thankfully more often than not) it’s best to leave it to the professionals. 

(I recall once self-diagnosing a presumed ailment based on what I had uncovered on the internet, which was in contradiction to what my doctor advised, and he diplomatically replied, “So what else did Dr. Google say?”) Don’t we all feel “empowered” by the vast amount of information that can be found online, to the point where we even start doubting what doctors advise?

At the rate information gets shared through even more channels than ever, it becomes more challenging to sift through facts, pinpoint the relevant ones, and make decisions.

With growing affluence and advancement in technology, people are spending more time on wellness, not just on curing ailments but on preventing illness and improving their health and general well-being.

It’s cliché, but health is indeed wealth, and more people are dedicating time, effort and money to ensure not just longevity but a healthy and youthful one, because we all want to look younger than our age, right? Otherwise, what is the point? 

That brings me to my point on wellness: I truly believe it’s mind over body, and how we feel about ourselves directly impacts our physical well-being.

Without delving too much into details that will bore you, some time back I had a minor issue with a “sleeping” gut that had to be “awakened,” and in the meantime, it meant me feeling bloated. When I got home, the first thing I did was to use a measuring tape to measure my waistline, just to be sure nothing had “exploded” due to the bloatedness.

My unamused mom lamented, “You mean that is more important than your life?” Of course she was exaggerating, as all moms do.

I will not equate it to life, but I get where she’s coming from. Without skipping a beat, I said, “It is my life!” That’s the whole point, right? 

Our priorities in life differ and we should decide for ourselves what matters most to us. The whole point is about finding what makes us tick and what we truly care about, without which our souls will be starved and it will manifest in our physical well-being (or lack of).

It is about prioritizing our priorities. It is no different from a fitness fanatic who dedicates hours to exercising.

If you take that away, it is as good as taking away the one thing that matters, and suddenly one’s purpose in life will seem elusive, which may lead to depression and a general lack of energy and motivation to do anything meaningfully. We all need passion to spark motivation and it takes discipline to follow through.

But that in itself gives life a purpose, a goal, and wellness is ultimately about feeling alive.

The most common New Year’s resolution is to exercise more, eat well, lead a healthier lifestyle, and so on, because we are more aware than ever of the importance of health and wellness. We all have the freedom to make lifestyle choices, but it takes a steely determination to adhere to a decision and make a difference.

Discipline and determination are the tenets of a strong mental health. As they say, it’s mind, body and soul.

It all starts with the mind: Feed your inner well-being and the positive energy from that satisfaction will spread overall positivity.

I guess that is why meditation is widely practised as a form of therapy to promote well-being — peace of mind, so to speak.

I’ve recently watched a documentary on Netflix called “Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator,” which is about the controversies surrounding the founder of hot yoga, Bikram Choudhury. Without giving too much away, it is an insightful documentary on the many plot twists revolving around the life of a revered figure in the yoga world.

He conquered the world with his teachings of hot yoga, and this film gave a behind-the-scenes account of the sexual abuse allegations that surfaced about two to three years ago, culminating in legal drama. But what stood out (to me) was the fact that despite his personal indiscretions, his teachings and the yoga discipline that he promoted and taught remained untainted.

Followers still, to this day, believe that hot yoga had changed their lives. The power of the mind and its ties to spirituality and ultimately well-being are inherently linked to the essence of wellness.

Finding a passion to live by — isn't that what life is all about?