Lured by the glossy pictures of beautiful, healthy beings in magazines and on the computer, my early wellness journey concentrated in earnest on physical health.
I was convinced that the harder I worked to cultivate physical health, the happier I would be both inside and out—and so my journey started something like this…
But then the issue was my energy levels, so I got acupuncture, quit my job, took more supplements and started ditching toxins from my bathroom cupboard.
Then it was my flexibility, so I learned to do yoga, started stretching before working out and implemented a rigid rule that I must move my body every day.
Then I was too flexible, so I started working out with weights. Then I didn’t have great cardio fitness, so I incorporated running and swimming back into my regime.
Then it was my skin, so I embraced green smoothies and juices and went on a cleanse that left me feeling momentarily glorious. But then it was my work and life balance, so I started doing more yoga, but with a bit of restorative yoga thrown in too. Then it was environmental hazards, so I moved to the country to be away from pollutants and started eating only organic.
Then I realised that it was, in fact, other people who were making me sick and stressed—so I changed my friends. And then I realised that I had changed everything that I knew how to change. I had changed my environment, my job, my body and my relationships.
Yet, I still felt heavy—stuck and frustrated—like there was something more that I was missing out on.
Despite all the things that were now “right” with me, I still felt—wrong.
And it was from this place—at the metaphorical end of the conventional wellness road—that my true well-being journey began.
I decided to stop “doing” for a little while and just observe my inner world—my thoughts, my beliefs, my emotions and my subsequent behaviours.
I observed the need to achieve—the rushing around to receive instant gratification.
I observed the stress levels rising, when I gave out too much energy and didn’t fill my cup back up.
I observed that most of the wellness stuff I was doing was making me more stressed, not less.
I observed the correlation between my digestive symptoms and my anxiety levels.
I observed the constant barrage of negative self talk, reinforced by the impeccably protected belief that I was not enough on my own.
I observed the rumination, the anxiety, the negative thoughts, the worrying, the paranoia and the judgment.
I observed my addiction to seeing everything as either a success or failure—rather than seeing challenges as a learning opportunity.
I observed my strange affinity for comparison.
And suddenly, I had an astounding revelation—it’s not what I was doing that was making me sick, tired, frustrated and stuck—it was how I was doing it.
I didn’t need to change my diet, I needed to change my way of being.
I took a deep breath, prepared myself stoically and dove into healing my inner world. Healing the negative self talk. Healing the belief that I wasn’t enough. Reconnecting with my more intuitive, nurturing feminine energy.
I read books, hired coaches, studied and wrote. I tried many different techniques—some of them worked, and some of them didn’t—but most of all, I developed a willingness to heal from the inside out.
Then something miraculous happened. From this point, it was easy to let go of practices that were not moving me toward what I really wanted. From this point, it was motivating to learn how to meditate in a way that fostered compassion and love.
From this point, it was inspiring to learn about what my sneaky mind was doing when I was unconscious and its effect on my body. From this point, I was open to talking and learning about spirituality.
I learned the astounding impact of thoughts and beliefs on well-being.
I learned to calm my mind—and my body calmed too.
I learned to stop doing and start relaxing.
I learned to manage my worry and anxiety in constructive ways.
I learned to stop judging myself so harshly, and with that I learned to feel confident again.
I learned to stop fixing things and start relishing what was already good.
And the impact of these actions and shifts—on my being, on my relationships, on my outlook, on my career, on my ability to give, on my health—have been profound.
I finally feel enough, and with that has come blissful moments of true physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being.
Now I work with other women—guiding them, teaching them and giving them permission to look inward to heal their wounds. The wounds that—when left untouched—can drive us to undertake behaviours that don’t really align with who we are or what we want.
I now believe that true well-being comes from the inside out—and so my 2016 wish is that we find the courage to look inward and observe the impact of our thoughts, emotions, perceptions and beliefs on our physical health.
Great treasure troves of abundance, health and happiness await for those who depart on this great adventure.
Author: Meg Berryman
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Andréa Portilla