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Awareness as Foundation of Wellbeing

It’s helpful to define what we mean by ‘wellbeing’, because there’s more than one way of looking at it. 


According to The Oxford English Dictionary, wellbeing is defined as: ‘the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy’.  That’s all well and good, except those sound more like the desired outcomes of wellbeing, instead of explaining what it actually is.


1 Giant Mind proposes a new definition of wellbeing, which puts the quality of our mind and self-awareness as the most important aspects of sustaining wellbeing.  This is because, without an integrated mind state, we’re not able to accurately assess what our needs are and why we’re not experiencing wellbeing.


To understand wellbeing, it’s important to understand that it’s not a static state or simply an idea.  Wellbeing is an experience that requires a foundation of stable self-awareness and a deliberate participation in sustaining and growing it.  So, what is the 1 Giant Mind definition of wellbeing?


It’s the process of balancing our awareness between our capabilities and resources with the demands of daily life.


This definition not only describes what wellbeing is, but it also acts as the roadmap for how to manage and grow it.  This really resonates with me, because before I learned to meditate, I used to be a distance runner and I was convinced that it was the answer to keeping me fit, healthy and well.


The fact that I couldn’t see that my work/life balance was poor, that I was doing too much, working hard, and playing hard, completely passed me by.  I thought that because I was regularly running 15/20 miles a week, I was really looking after myself, full stop.


Nothing could have been further from the truth.  I was still the same anxious person, commuting to London, working long hours in a challenging job, overdoing it, not spending enough time with my family, or resting.  I could go on…. In fact, I did, until I got ill.


A short time after I’d learned to meditate, I could see clearly that additional lengthy physical activity like running, on top of everything else I was doing, was not what my mind and body needed.  It was crying out for rest and lots of it.


I began to get very fatigued, which made distance running challenging.  By becoming more aware of what my body was telling me, I finally began to listen to it and heed the warning. 



I’ve recently finished reading an excellent book entitled ‘Decode Your Fatigue’ by Alex Howard.  In it, there is a 12-step plan for getting to grips with our fatigue, but the one that really jumped off the page for me was Step 6, Get in a healing state.  In this step, it states that, before we can begin to heal, we need to firstly get into a healing state and the way we do that, is to calm our nervous system.  What does the book suggest that we adopt, to get into said healing state? Yes, you’ve guessed it, yoga and meditation. Increase our awareness and listen to our needs.



Of course, this makes perfect sense.  How often, having visited the Doctor, have we been told to simply go home and rest?  That’s what the body needs to begin to heal and achieve a sense of wellbeing.  But before we’ve learnt to meditate, we just don’t seem to have the awareness required to listen to the messages we’re clearly being sent by our bodies, and we just blindly carry on with our old conditioned patterns of behaviour.


It's only when we can sustain a continuum of awareness of the balance between the demands of life and our capability to respond to them, that we begin to experience a stable sense of wellbeing.  By being able to do this, we’re able to detect what our needs are and respond to them, in the moment that we recognise the need.  It’s when we’re unaware of our needs that we become imbalanced and lose our sense of wellbeing.


I can hear people saying, ‘you’re surely just talking about mental wellbeing, not physical wellbeing’? There is a complex interrelationship between the mind and body, but when it comes to wellbeing, the mind is primary.  If we want our body to be well, we must first attend to our mind.

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