Before you read this article, it’s not for everyone. If you find the relentless pursuit of Wellness™ a never ending path to happiness, then log out. If however, you’re stressed trying to be ‘perfectly calm’, then I invite you to read on.
We live in a world of perfection. The perfect skin, the perfect body, perfect hair, perfect children, perfect job, perfect clothes and perfect house. All under the umbrella of self- expression, choice, freedom and self -determined success.
Being self -full is the new Wellness™ mantra, and we celebrate it with a green smoothie in a jar, a raw cacao brownie and a salute to the sun. We only eat organic, gluten free, compostable, and biodegradable. Our beauty products are fair trade, we shun parabens, we strive to perfect our downward dog, and our goddess within is hungry for recognition.
We meditate, affirm, check our heart rate with a Fit Bit, take our probiotics, post sunsets on Instagram, and write in our gratitude journals. Chamomile tea satiated, we retire to our organic cotton sheets and bamboo pillows striving for that perfectly attainable eight hours sleep.
We work at ergonomically sensitive desks, take walking meetings, meal prep quinoa salads, delete sugar, but three times a week allow ourselves an almond milk chai latte. We have a monthly facial and Feldenkrais session and chat regularly with our inner child
We’re pure, we’re light, we’re organic and we’re right.
Well, let’s just for a moment, take a breath. What if we’re barking up the wrong tree? What if living in a bubble of Stepford wife Wellness™ perfection is making us sick? Pushing our bodies to be well, with schedules, rules, and sanitised purity so righteous we forget to be human? For what happens behind closed doors when we scoff that Kit Kat, drink too much wine, fall asleep on the couch and dribble on our designer pillows?
Shh, don’t tell, for we are driven by fear. Fear we’ll age, fear we’ll die, fear we’ll get cancer, fear we’ll get sacked, fear we’ll have tuck shop arms, a sloppy butt, fear we’ll be overtaken by some slothful, overweight wrinkled stranger we never saw coming. Purity and discipline are our bedfellows, and falling off the Wellness™ wagon is a sin.
What if we just stood still? Just got off the train and swam the other way? What if we stopped listening to the marketers and listened to our bodies for a change? And I mean really listen. For shouting above the need to be designer queen green is a greater you. A version of you so delectably unique, so defiantly permanent, so utterly present, that once inhabited will change your life forever.
And you find her by letting go.
And I don’t mean letting go and scoffing Tim Tams. I mean letting go of perfection. Getting off the treadmill of pre- ordained, relentless Wellness™ routines, and just asking our attention starved bodies what they want, for a change.
For pleasure awaits. And I’m not talking guilty pleasure. I’m talking full on, rounded mature pleasure that comes with satisfying exactly what your body wants. What it wants to eat, wear, how it wants to move, sit, lie and express itself. How it wants to wear its hair, what perfumes pleases it, what music soothes it, what exercise enlivens it. Instead of pummelling it, starving it, punishing it, pushing it, try caressing it, consulting it, including it, in all you do.
Now this is a challenge. It’s the opposite of all we have been told. I know that it’s counter intuitive to let go. Maybe your body will become feral, will have a mind of its own, will take off screaming naked down the street, will gain 10 kilos overnight, and will turn to a soft pudgy blimp overnight.
Or maybe it won’t.
Homeostasis sits at the very core of wellness. It’s our centre of balance where our body functions at its optimal best. It repairs itself, protects itself, rests itself, restores and cleanses itself, all automatically with a complex brilliance so mind boggling, our minds simply cannot keep up.
Each and every human body is unique. Yours and mine included. Bespoke wellness can only be achieved by listening, and learning to listen takes honouring, nurturing, allowing and connecting to a whole new level.
Back to pleasure. And right now I’m going to ask you to take on immediate step. Please eliminate the words ‘guilty pleasure’ from your repertoire for ever. Guilt stifles life. It contaminates pleasure, flattens desire, and dirties the landscape. Just deal with it. You are entitled to pleasure, to nourishment, to enlivened living on a level not seen before. However, there is one proviso; one non- negotiable protocol. Ask your body first. For ego’s take on pleasure is indulgent, hedonistic, narcissistic and eventually destructive. When egos win, bodies suffer. Your head rules your ego, that voice in your head. So make it quiet. Put it in a box, shut the lid, send it to sleep. You are NOT your ego.
Then watch. And Listen. Watch your health improve, your happiness quotient enliven, your relationships expand and your body sing. Being perfect is irrelevant. Being free trumps it all.