Quantum Wellness - By Kathy Freston
Kathy Freston, from the book “Quantum Wellness”, encourages readers to “lean” into change. If you have been at the self-improvement game for a while and have tried one diet after another only with the result of failing to stick to the guidelines and rules, then Quantum Wellness may be the fresh change you are looking for. Kathy Freston helps us to discover that change and growth are part of our nature. She insists that if we just “point ourselves in the right direction” and start moving towards what we want, we will see great results in our lives. There are really only two directions in life: towards your potential, and away from potential. What are your goals for your future physical and emotional health? In Kathy Freston’s book Quantum Wellness, she introduces eight suggestions that she believes will improve your life. They are called the Eight Pillars of Wellness, and are as follows;
- Fun Activities
- Conscious Eating
- Self Work
- Spiritual Practice
The first pillar of wellness is mediation. Meditation is a word that scares a lot of people. They don’t think they are “that kind of person.” Sitting for long stretches with an empty mind seems impossible. It is not necessary to go to this extreme. In fact meditation can be lots of different things. It is simply a state of contemplation. Meditation is simply about turning focus inward for a predetermined amount of time to access a deeper truth. Inside all of us is a natural unique current that is the foundation of our own personal truth. Meditation allows the time to quiet our mind and get in touch with that current. Meditation is about listening to your source or spirit. The physiological effects of meditation have proven to change your metabolism by lowering biochemical by-products of stress, lowering heart rate and blood pressure, and easing your respiration. When one meditates, it benefits the left prefrontal cortex of the brain. This is the area associated with the ability to focus and concentrate, plan, and enjoy positive feelings. Studies have also suggested that people who meditate have less depression and anxiety.
The second pillar of wellness is visualization. You may be wondering to yourself, what is the difference between mediation and visualization? Visualization is similar to meditation but more active. It is a way to communicate the changes and upgrades you wish to make within yourself to your subconscious. The subconscious side of your brain cannot determine the difference between imagined events and actual. If you want to change the way that you feel, you have to change the way you think by creating new patterns and thoughts in your mind. Some of our most successful athletes of this time spend hours a day visualizing their success. In visualization you feed your brain new images to replace the old. Visualization is proven to change how you see yourself. If you see yourself as strong and attractive, you may stand up straighter and people will more likely treat you that way. How you see yourself is how others see you. What you project to the world starts with how you see yourself inside. Be sure to visualize how you want to look and feel. Imagine how people will treat you and how good you will feel inside. Imagine yourself happy, healthy and transformed.
The third pillar of wellness is fun activities. This one sometimes surprises people, but who wants to imagine life without fun? Fun activities, whatever you decide them to be, keep life fresh and bring levity to existence. Fun loosens up your energy and brings in optimism. Fun reminds us that life is meant to be joyful. Some fun things to do may be to dance, read, paint, take pictures, or lose yourself in a hobby of your choice. Whatever you decide to be fun for you, see the blessing in feeling happy. Feel gratitude that we have the opportunity to have a full life. When you get funny with friends or laugh at a silly movie you can feel the weight of responsibility float away. Sometimes we get so focused on life, work, health, or accomplishment that we forget that the most important thing in life is to “live it”. Make a habit of doing at least one fun thing per day; those moments or hours of delight will keep lifting your heart for the rest of the week.
The Fourth pillar is conscious eating. Kathy Freston believes that it is “crucial for your overall wellness that you give your body good fuel and that you bring awareness to your food choices. Eating consciously means not eating something just because it tastes good, and not blindly, accepting that certain foods are good for you simply because they are marked that way.” She stresses that we must look where our food is coming from and how it came to be on our plate. When we eat food, the energy that the food experienced is brought into our bodies. Kathy Freston is basically vegan. I am a vegan already, so it is not a stretch for me. If you are not ready to become a vegan, which means no animal products including eggs, dairy or even honey, Mrs. Freston encourages us to at least shop and consume consciously. Make sure that to the best of your knowledge, the food was raised and harvested thoughtfully and for the good of all. Make sure when you buy your products, you take into consideration the farmers, the laborers, the truck drivers, the animals and the environment that it was made in.
The Fifth pillar is Exercise. Fitness is a benefit for every aspect of our person. Exercise has been proven to positively affect not only your body, but your mind and spirit as well. By maintaining a moderate amount of exercise, (moderate meaning about 30 minutes per day six days a week), you can significantly improve your overall well-being. Exercise helps to prevent and alleviate the symptoms of major health issues such as diabetes, cancer, obesity, and heart disease. It also improves your confidence and self esteem. After a rigorous session of exercise, notice how your heart pumps, and the energy courses throughout your whole system. Instead of feeling exhausted afterwards, you actually feel more alert and energized. Breathing heavily has many positive affects when you exercise. Your huffing and puffing helps lungs to increase in capacity and take in more oxygen. More oxygen nourishes your cells and alkalizes your body. When you breathe deeply, you relax your nervous system and that helps your blood to travel more efficiently distributing essential nutrients throughout your entire system. In addition to all these benefits, when you sweat, your perspiration detoxifies your body helping to free your body of impurities and toxins. A combination of aerobic exercise and strength training are best. Try some aerobics, some strength training, some weight lifting, and some yoga or tai chi for well-rounded workouts and variety. Most forms of exercise increase the muscle to fat ratio, and enhance performance of everyday tasks by making you feel good about yourself. Anxiety and depression are eased because working out stimulates the production of endorphins, which produce the feeling of well-being. Endorphins also combat the effects of cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that prematurely ages the body. Exercise increases adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine contributing to feelings of energy, clarity, and alertness.
Self Work is the sixth pillar of wellness. Self work means working on our selves by 1) looking where we are at presently, 2) setting attainable goals where we would like to improve, and 3) setting short term goals to helping us reach to our long-term plan. Self work means engaging in observing your thoughts and circumstances and asking questions such as; what am I feeling right now? How familiar is this feeling? Where do these feelings come from? What is this thought or feeling trying to teach me? What steps do I need to take to heal this? These questions are simple but can lead into painful wounds that need care and compassion. The purpose of life is to grow and awaken to our greatest potential. Before we said that how you feel inside manifests itself on the outside. This is the same with our painful wounds. Until we acknowledge and care for our hurts, the same lessons will continue to re-occur in our lives. Self-work helps us to get to the heart of the problem so we can finally grow and let go of pain.
The seventh pillar of wellness is spiritual practice. Spiritual practice brings us out of self and ego and into identification with something larger. It increases our capacity to love and be kind, both to ourselves and others. Through spiritual practice whether it be through a church or a self styled practice of philosophy, you learn to transcend the narrow focus of self, and widen your circle of consideration. Self sees each of us as separate from the whole, spirituality sees all of us as one. When we do something unkind or selfish towards another, we are really hurting our self in the end. The goal of your spiritual practice should be to shift the tide within from fear to love. As each of us nurtures our own unique light inside, we can shine for the rest of the world. If we give ourselves permission to shine, it gives others permission as well. In conclusion, having a spiritual practice reminds us of life’s important truth; we are all one. At our truest we are innocent and perfect. Our greatest prophets all had something in common. They taught mercy, forgiveness, humility, benevolence, compassion, selflessness and integrity. Keep in touch with your inner voice and your core goodness by finding your own path to spirituality.
The final pillar is service. It is so easy to get caught up in life’s little dramas and overlook the bigger picture. When you reach out to help someone else, you strengthen the mindset of abundance rather then lack. Service makes us feel good. It helps transcend the small self in favor of a higher source. Anytime I start to feel depressed, I look around me and see how I can help someone else. Almost anytime I start feeling sorry for my self, I realize I have been lazy about helping others and I am taking my agenda way to seriously. Once I give to someone else, I feel grateful that I have something to give. Our culture persuades us to believe that satisfaction will be found in powerful positions and material objects. Unfortunately, no matter how much we accumulate, we always want more. The “ego” can be compared to a tape worm that lives inside your soul; it always craves more never being satisfied. You will never be rich enough, beautiful enough, or powerful enough to be the best in the Universe. The moment you look to the spirit for satisfaction and let go of the attachment to things of the world, you will feel lighter and freer. We must realize we contain within ourselves the keys to happiness. By doing service, we begin to shift our perspective from the small self to the bigger picture. Remember, we see in others projections of what is inside us. If we are generous, loving and compassionate, this will be reflected back to us. When we help another to improve their situation, we make our own life better. The more you extend yourself in service to others, the more you will cease to feel alone in the world.
Kathy Freston offers more advice in her book Quantum Wellness, about how to methodically make these changes in your life. The above summary only touches briefly where her book goes much more in depth. In her book you will also find useful tips and support to make the changes she advocates. The eight pillars above, are the crux of Kathy Freston’s definition of Quantum Wellness.