Connected wellness is based on the idea that everything is connected. No, this is not about smart devices tracking your physiological functioning and biomarkers. And it’s also more than mind-body health.
What is connected wellness?
This is a term I’ve been marinating on for a while now and one that was inspired by the ayurvedic definition of health. According to ayurveda, health is more than the absence of disease. It is the balanced state of doshas (bodily humors that govern your physiological functioning), digestive fire, tissues, proper elimination, and the blissful state of soul, senses and mind.
Wow, there’s a lot to unpack there.
Your body is connected
Just by looking at your physiological functioning, you’ll see that your body is like a web of systems that are all interlinked. In the ayurvedic definition, your doshas, tissues, digestive fire and elimination capacity are all connected in your physical body. You may think of your organs and tissues in isolation, but in reality, they’re parts of a bigger puzzle. When one is out of balance, it can push another part of your body out of balance.
Let’s take your skin, your largest organ, as an example. Your skin and your nervous system share the same birthplace: the ectoderm in the very early embryo. But your skin is connected to more than just your nervous system. It’s linked to your digestive system, lymphatic system, and more.
Breakouts and skin issues are signs of indigestion manifesting on your largest organ. Indigestion stems from an unbalanced digestive fire, which can be brought on by eating the wrong foods or having a balance-vitiating lifestyle, such as too much stress or getting too little sleep. Indigestion is the lack of proper elimination.
Your body and mind are connected
…but you already knew this. What you may not know is that your thoughts and emotions are food, too. And as such, you need to process them.
Ayurveda says that one of the disease sources is the mistake of the intellect (prajna paradha). You may be “committing a crime against wisdom” without even knowing it. Cultivating—what ayurveda calls—sattwa in your life can help recognize, stop and prevent prajna paradha. Sattwa loosely translates into purity, clarity, balance, harmony and goodness. Meditation is a great way to build sattwa. You can pick up some tips here and here.
Modern research has been increasingly studying the body-mind connection as well and is proving ancient ayurvedic teachings right. With about 90% of serotonin produced in your gut, it’s no surprise that mental health is linked to gut health. Your gut is often called your second brain.
Your body, mind and soul are connected
The term that comes to mind is somatic expressions. It’s the concept of your mind and soul talking to your body, which in turn physically expresses their energies.
For example, the expressions of your mind and soul may show up on your skin in the form of breakouts triggered by stress, or boils due to anger and frustration.
What about chronic lower back pain (CLBP)? Several studies have shown “a strong correlation between CLBP and emotions, such as anxiety, fear-avoidance, self-efficacy, catastrophizing and depression”. Those, too, are somatic expressions manifesting in the body.
Your body, mind, soul and senses are connected
Your sense organs perceive the world through sound, touch, sight, taste and smell. The sensory stimulus you come in contact with goes through the digestive process. And since your brain translates these experiences, it will be part of this process. Just to throw in some fun facts, the “human body sends 11 million bits per second to the brain for processing but the conscious mind seems to be able to process only 50 bits per second”, according to research cited by Britannica. Not surprisingly, the sensory input you take in will have an effect on your mind and body alike, whether or not you’re conscious of it.
Ayurveda found thousands of years ago the overuse and misuse of your sense organs to be another source of disease. Exposing yourself to pleasant, sattwic sensory stimuli responsibly—not too much—can help maintain a balanced, healthy state.
These sensory stimuli range from the movies and shows you’re watching to environmental factors. Some are completely within your control, some are not.
When you think about your skin, you can choose to only put on products that are free from harmful chemicals. That’s within your control. But you may not be able to do anything about the level of pollution from your environment that your skin absorbs every day.
How much stimulus is another question. Overusing our sense organs is just as much an issue as misusing them. I’ve written about the need for a digital detox before, a concept that’s recently started emerging in our over-connected (no pun intended) modern world.
The daily rhythm for connected wellness
Up until this point, we’ve talked about individual wellness and how everything within your body and across your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies are connected. Now let’s briefly touch upon how this all connects to your daily rhythm.
While there’s a lot to say about the wisdom of the circadian rhythm, I only want to bring up the need for good quality sleep at the right time here. Your body goes through important processes, such as digestive, cleansing and repair, when you’re asleep. It can only do this work when you’re sleeping because of a thing called the blood-brain barrier. The time at which you go to bed is also important.
Let’s take it back to our skin example. Your skin may feel drier and more dehydrated in the morning after a late night. And when you keep repeating the pattern over and over, the dryness will stay. Ayurvedically speaking, lack of sleep vitiates vata dosha, which is tied to increased dryness in the body.
Following a connected wellness plan
With the idea of connected wellness harmonizing across every inch of your physical body and expanding beyond the mind-body connection, consider a wellness plan that helps keep your physiological functioning, mind, emotions, soul and senses in balance.
I’d love to hear what you think. In what ways have you experienced connected wellness?
This post is not intended as medical advice.
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