A clarion call to the wellness community

Wellness has become a phenomenon. You hardly heard the word 20+ years ago. Now, it's everywhere. Despite it being vague, people are willing to pay out of pocket for a "wellness experience" of almost any kind, making wellness economically and politically powerful.

The essence of wellness is that it values our own subjective experience without demanding that it be quantified. It self-validates. It honors the inner voice. It says "I know, I can" but not to the extent that I become unwilling to listen and learn.  In that sense, wellness is revolutionary. It goes against the culture of fitting-in. And in that sense, it is acting as medicine for a greater, pervasive societal emergency. We must also recognize that the word "wellness" has been adopted by many simply for marketing reasons. All that is labeled "wellness" is not necessarily well, but what wellness truly represents is the importance and awesomeness of being uniquely you.

The wellness community has differentiated into many expressions. Among them are movements in integrative health, ecology, food, self-exploration, social justice, sustainability of every kind, and a vast entrepreneurial community of bloggers, writers, communicators - you name it.

By virtue of championing the subjective, we, the wellness community and our many expressions, are more likely to communicate subjectively by talking about how we feel, our state of mind, our hearts, the energy of an event or our personal energy, how conscious or aware we are, our spirit, and so on.  We are comfortable pairing objective observations with subjective experiences, which is a revolutionary approach that is not seen in popular science. Such a level of comfort with the subjective can be misinterpreted as confusion and vagueness by those who are more comfortable with a strictly objective perspective.

The wellness movement has reached a critical stage of growth. Despite being a $3+ trillion juggernaut, we still have a lot of work to do to do communicate effectively across the subjective and objective perspectives. Without such communication, the systemic change we seek is not possible. The subjective has to be balanced with the objective, and vice versa. At its core, this divide is represented by a few key questions.

How are the mind and body related?
How are consciousness and matter related?
How am I related to the world and how can I influence it?

One way to bridge this divide is by using the concept of energy. Energy has one leg in the objective, measurable world and another in the subjective, experiential world, making it a good candidate to be part of the bridge. We have to find a way to language energy in a way that promotes a greater understanding.

However we build the bridge, it is important to recognize that it is not a bridge from us to someone else, bur rather from one part of us to another part of us. From one kind of knowing to another kind. Each plays an important role.

Scientific-minded organizations in the wellness movement have a unique responsibility and role to play because they are operating in the center of the divide. They/you/we are the voices that can push popular science past its outdated assumptions. That will require coordination among organizations, not just within organizations. Such organizations will use key terms consistently and present the science consistently. We must express uniquely, but we must also be able to consistently articulate a common message that bridges the subjective-objective divide. Our greatest achievements are waiting on the other side.

Reflections:

  • What binds together the innumerable people and organizations that we can collectively call the wellness community? What defines our we?
  • What do we want?
  • How can we act together as one organism, millions-strong, while expressing uniquely?

-Anoop Kumar