Journey to WHOLE/ness
Our first job in life as women is to get to know ourselves and I think a lot of times we don’t do that. We spend a lot of time pleasing, satisfying, looking out into the world to define who we are. Listening to the messages, the images, the limited definitions that people have of who we are.
– Michelle Obama
Intention: What is your intention for reading this piece on wholeness and holistic wellness? How will you use the information provided to get to a place of wholeness?
I intend to share information about the phrase holistic wellness and what this means for women of color striving for wholeness. I write this with authenticity and compassion, and it is my hope that you move through this piece and your wellness journey with self compassion and a caring heart.
Let me begin by stating that despite what the title might lead you to believe, you are whole already. All of your experiences and the components of your life make up the complete person that you are today. The saying, "you are enough" is based upon this concept. You are enough because you have everything that you need to exist in and navigate through this world. However, for many of us, particularly if we are women of color, we search for something that exists outside of ourselves. We are often taught that we are less than. So, let me just state this once again, you are enough and you have everything you need. Everything and everyone else is supplemental. Therefore, if those supplemental things or beings are not adding value or joy, then they do not deserve a place in your life.
The environment and social relationships often teach us that somehow we need more than our selves. They create a sense of lack. I see wellness, particularly holistic wellness as a means of reminding ourselves of our self-sufficient uniqueness.
When thinking about holistic wellness, I tend to ruminate over the following 6 ideas:
1) Holistic wellness is based upon a theory of Holism, which suggests that any whole cannot exist and cannot be understood without considering the whole. Frankly, we would not be here if we were not whole. Our ancestors new this, and understood holistic practices as a means of being well. This theory is often attributed to Hippocrates, Ayurvedic traditions, and traditional Chinese healing practices, but others have contributed to perspectives on holism.
African traditions were focused on the social and familial relationship between wellness. If a person had physical and emotional imbalances, it was not enough to explore one's physical and emotional state, but instead, one's social interactions and relationships were also explored. This too, is holistic in nature. The same can be said for Latin American indigenous traditions. Healing practices included, and continue to include, spiritual grounding practices, food choices, and indigenous medicines. Culturally, holistic wellness is deeply embedded within our ancestral lineages.
2) Holistic wellness explores the connections between various forms of wellness. Physical wellness is not the only important factor, but instead, it is connected to other areas such as emotional, spiritual, mental, and intellectual wellness. These are only a few of the components that are considered as part of holistic wellness.
3) Holistic wellness is a practice. We do not wake up one day and "do" wellness perfectly. In fact, essentialist notions of wellness is problematic and based in colonialist thinking.
Instead, it is something that we engage in consistently. It means adjusting and refining certain aspects of a routine that works for us individually. What I did ten years ago to engage in wellness practices looks completely different today. For example, ten years ago, I had a regular work-out routine. However, ten years and two auto-immune diseases later, I do yoga in my bedroom. Different people need differently practices at different times.
4) Holistic wellness is not new. When I speak to people about my intentions of healing holistically, some possess a look of confusion. Others, believe that if I could just pray a little bit, and think positively, the things that bother me would no longer exist. However, the day that I decided to immerse myself fully into a life dedicated to holistic healing through a focus on my own comprehensive wellness, was the day that I felt whole again. I say again, but I never practiced holistic wellness this consistently before, but it was like my body remembered a time when I was well. The need to be well is deep within our bones and psyches. It has also been realized by those before us.
5) Holistic wellness is an activist practice. One of my favorite quotes is that offered by Audre Lorde in Burst of Light in which she states, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." As women of color, when we choose to engage in practices that contribute to our holistic wellness, it becomes an act of undoing and inciting simultaneously. Engaging in holistic practices are a means of healing trauma and injury, and undoing harm. It is a form of advocacy. Likewise, engaging in these practices, is a means of inciting change and demanding that our lives be different even when the world around us consists of structures and practices that harm our bodies. Ultimately, holistic wellness is a form of liberation.
6) As mentioned previously, holistic wellness involves more than physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and intellectual wellness. As a practice engaged upon by women of color, our social and environmental wellness is also important. That is, it is impossible to work toward wellness and healing when our social relationships and environments are toxic and unwell. The journey to holistic wellness is embedded with the need to ensure that the worlds in which we reside are also well. For many of us, this looks like the creation of boundaries, the creation of opportunities for healthy conversations, and even the elimination of relationships. For many, it might be impossible to remove oneself from toxic environments. However, the creation of home-based sanctuaries, alters, and practices to remove negative energy are ways to make sure the spaces that we reside within on an consistent basis are holistically nurturing.
Wholeness is our birthright. Wellness is our birthright. Women of color were created whole, and we remain whole. We were born with whatever we needed to thrive because our ancestors were dedicated to surviving and thriving. When we recognize that this is an undeniable right of ours, it is becomes even more important to practice wellness in a comprehensive manner to maintain that wholeness. Sis, I encourage you to see yourself as enough already. Regardless of the challenges, we are whole. Wellness provides an opportunity to remember, regain, and remain..
I end this post by affirming your greatness because you are wonderfully made and enough. For extra reassurance of your complete and utter magic, check out the episode below featuring reminders of your wholeness.