We believe meditation is an important part of any comprehensive approach to wellness. The word wellness typically evokes thoughts of blood pressure, nutrition, exercise or weight management. Many times we think of wellness in physical terms alone. Wellness, however, is much more than our physical health. It is the multi-faceted context of our happiness and fulfillment. It is the full integration of our physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing, and everyone can do something to become more well.
Wellness is commonly viewed as having seven primary dimensions: Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, Social, Occupational, Environmental, and Spiritual. Each of these categories is very broad and involves many other sub-dimensions. For example, the physical dimension includes all of the obvious things you would think as well as less obvious things like your sleep patterns or how many risks you take. Many of these categories also overlap. For example the amount of stress in your life impacts your physical health as well as your emotional well-being.
Spend some time thinking about each of these fundamental dimensions of wellness and identify areas in your own life that could use some attention. Maybe it's setting limits on certain social demands to make room for other things that are more important to you. Maybe it's spending more time with your kids. Perhaps it's making time for a new hobby like gardening or developing the spiritual dimension of your life. As we have discussed in earlier tips, one important effect of mindfulness meditation is living more consciously and more in tune with your own deepest priorities and values.
The positive effect of meditation on each of the seven dimensions of wellness continues to be confirmed by a growing body of scientific research. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to benefit your emotional health in a variety of ways. Mindfulness reduces stress, combats anxiety and depression, and it is now an integral part of many empirically validated modern psychological treatments. Meditation has been shown to have a number of pervasive and significant effects on your physical health as well. It is quickly becoming a standard first line treatment for many common physical ailments such as heart disease and chronic pain. It is especially useful for individuals wishing to eliminate or minimize their need for medications. And at the other end of the physical spectrum, meditation is used by many elite athletes to boost their performance and learn how to enter a flow state. More information about this flow state can be found in a free sample lectures on the guided meditation page.
Meditation impacts your intellectual wellness by helping you clear your minds and open to new information. Research has shown that meditation improves your capacity for "divergent thinking", or thinking outside the box, which is an important contributor to creativity and creative problem solving. Meditation improves your social health by increasing your own self-awareness and helping you realize the impact you are having on others. Meditation can also help you develop a sense of connection and harmony with your immediate environment and the larger universe. From even this brief overview it is clear that mediation can improve wellness in ever major domain of life.
A wellness lifestyle is a personal commitment to finding a way to live your best life. It is a commitment to your own evolution in each important domain of life. If any one dimension of wellness is overlooked or becomes too far out of balance, you will not reach your full potential even if all of the other dimensions are fully developed. Each dimension of a wellness lifestyle contains many individual elements that are unique to the circumstances of your own life. Spend a little time today considering each dimension of wellness and how the practice of meditation might help you move closer to living your own best life.