Your health and wellness affect every aspect of life. So, maximizing your health is essential to get the most out of life. Find out about this exciting relationship between your health and your spiritual path.
First, we’ll review each of these six dimensions of wellness. Then we’ll discuss how these relate to the spiritual path. Dr. Hettler, the World Health Organization (WHO) (1), describes the elements of health and wellness in the following categories:
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” — World Health Organization (WHO)
Six Dimensions of Wellness
These dimensions or elements explain how to leverage all aspects of our lives to achieve better overall health. So, maximizing your health is a matter of applying this knowledge. It’s easy to focus on just one thing or one dimension. If you affect one element, it can affect the others in ways that aren’t immediately apparent. The goal is to achieve the proper balance to be healthy and durable.
The first step is to make an honest assessment of each dimension. If you Understand your relationship to these six dimensions of wellness, you can make the adjustments.
The Path of Wholeness to Wellness
Wholeness is the condition of complete harmony and health. Each dimension has its own focus, but they work together when in balance to give us our ultimate state of wellness. A deficiency in one dimension affects the others, but an increase in one doesn’t always result in positive changes in the others. As we become whole and balanced, we attain our highest level of wellness.
This dimension recognizes the need of personal satisfaction in our work. Occupational wellness follows these tenets:
- It is better to choose a career consistent with our values, interests, and beliefs than to select one that creates conflict with essential elements.
- Focus on developing functional, transferable skills is key to keeping up with technology changes.
The physical dimension makes regular physical activity a priority. A holistic approach to the physical dimension includes exercise, diet, and nutrition. Physical wellness follows these tenets:
- It is better to consume foods and beverages that enhance good health than those that satisfy taste.
- Focus on being functionally fit to increase your ability to enjoy a wider variety of life activities.
The social dimension encourages contributes to others and the community. It emphasizes the interdependence between others and nature. Social wellness follows these tenets:
- It is better to contribute to our community’s common welfare than think only of ourselves.
- We strive to live in harmony with others and our environment than to live in conflict.
The intellectual dimension recognizes one’s creative, stimulating mental activities. It values expanding knowledge and skills while discovering the potential for sharing its gifts. Intellectual wellness follows these tenets:
- It is healthy to stretch and challenge our minds with intellectual and creative pursuits. Otherwise, we become unproductive and interested only in passive entertainment.
- A healthy intellect learns to identify potential problems and choose courses of action. They use data to make proactive decisions. It’s better than procrastination, waiting, worrying, and contending with significant concerns later.
The spiritual dimension recognizes our search for meaning and purpose in human existence. It includes developing a deep appreciation for the Universe’s depth and expanse of life and natural forces. Spiritual wellness follows these tenets:
- It is better to seek the meaning of life for ourselves and our path than others’ beliefs. To be tolerant of other views but not complacent when confronted with injustice, inequity, or prejudice.
- It is better to live each day consistent with the universal value for all people and the environment than selfish and greedy.
The emotional dimension is being aware and accepting feelings. It is the capacity to manage one’s emotions and behaviors. It develops emotional awareness and a realistic assessment of one’s abilities and limitations. The ability to cope effectively with stress and maintain healthy relationships with others. Emotional wellness follows these tenets:
- It is better to know and accept our feelings than to deny them.
- An optimistic approach to life attracts more positive support than a pessimistic outlook.
Maximizing your Health
Now it’s time for an assessment of these principles. You’ll likely spot a dimension or two where you lack action or focus. To achieve the proper balance will require constant adjustments along the way.
For example, if you know, you need to lose weight for health reasons. But your assessment shows you lack proper focus in both the physical and emotional dimensions, know where to put more effort. So, you may need to adjust the time or effort you spend on one or more other elements.
By applying the six dimensions of wellness, we can maximize our health and wellness. We notice how they relate to one another and affect our quality of life. This holistic model explains the path of wholeness to wellness:
- We learn how we contribute to their environment and community and learn strategies to create a better life.
- The enrichment of life through work and how it connects to living and playing; belief systems, values, and creating a world-view;
- The benefits of regular physical activity, healthy eating habits, strength, and vitality. Our responsibility for self-care and seeking qualified medical attention
- Encourage self-awareness, self-control, and determination to find direction, foster creative and stimulating mental activities. We learn to share our resources and gifts with others.
Apply a holistic wellness approach which benefits all aspects of life. Wellness is the pathway to optimal living. A holistic health philosophy is spawning growth in helping professions. More people are cultivating interests in counseling and medical arts and practices. The National Wellness Institute has three questions to assess the degree to which wellness is incorporated:
1) Will this tactic or activity help people achieve their full potential?
2) Does this recognize and address the whole person (multi-dimensional approach)?
3) How does this affirm and mobilize people’s positive qualities and strengths?
The Wellness Dimensions And My Path
Health and Wellness have an exciting relationship with our awareness and consciousness. Sometimes, we find either direct or inverse relationships. Sometimes there is a correlation. Maximizing your health requires the proper balance of all dimensions.
“Know thyself.” ― Socrates
We need to learn about ourselves and it starts with observing our thought life. Our wellness needs are unique. So, an honest self-assessment is an excellent place to start. Some say that we are spiritual beings having a human experience.
Many people hear the call of the spiritual quest. It’s what Joseph Campbell calls the Hero’s Journey (2). Many people overlook this critical part of our overall wellness. Spiritual exploration meets the need for the spiritual dimension. We are not talking about religion; instead, it involves using spiritual technologies. You can divide these into four categories:
The Occupational Dimension of my Path
What we do to earn a living can be an entry point. However, many people work to live. They don’t have the luxury of choosing financially viable work. Those lucky enough to have a career that provides enrichment are in the minority.
The corporate culture consumes much of our life energy. It leaves little time for other dimensions that make life meaningful. People come to us to reduce stress and carve out time for the different areas of life. You can learn to enjoy your work more (see the above reference to Japa/TM meditation). The Japanese Tea Ceremony is an excellent example of learning to find spiritual meaning in what would otherwise be a mundane and tedious ritual.
The Physical Dimension of my Path
Our physical health and wellness directly impact our ability to engage in all activities. The quality of health and well-being are often critical elements in determining readiness to learn. The state of emotional stability, being vibrant, resilient, and durable are all assets of the physical path. Having these qualities is essential, especially for the more physical processes. There are, of course, exceptions.
The Social Dimension of my Path
Spiritual exploration is an individual path. The social dimension seems to conflict with this principle, but it is not. To walk your own path doesn’t mean always walking alone, but we also need time alone to think. It’s important to help others learn and overcome roadblocks on their path will enriches your own. You’ll never understand a method better than teaching it and helping others.
You’ll also face your own “dark night of the soul” at some point. And, having friends, you can talk to help in those hard places. Yes, you’ll still be forging a path of your own, but you’ll go farther when you have partners along the way.
You may even find a teacher. A good teacher has a precise way of assessing the student’s readiness to learn. Look for a teacher interested in teaching processes, not making followers. If the Universe brings a teacher into your life, listen to them.
The Intellectual Dimension of my Path
Enhancing your critical thinking skills is not just valuable. It is essential. The enhancement of your critical thinking skills will help you avoid many problems. Spotting errors in an argument will save you a lot of time and heartache. We also recommend use of the Enneagram Personality Profile, which will help you understand your personality.
If you are a part of a tradition that controls or bans what you can read, then you’ve got a problem. There is an inverse relationship between religious belief and your ability to explore ideas and processes. The more rigid the belief system, the more it affects your use of reason and common sense.
When you think about it, it makes sense. The greater the number of boundaries, the more roadblocks you create, the harder it will be. It’s not impossible to have both closely held religious beliefs and use techniques outside the paradigm. It means you will encounter more conflicts. You will be more likely to run into things that conflict with your belief system. Attempting to reconcile conflicting ideas causes what psychologists call “cognitive dissonance.” It is a significant hindrance to maximizing your health.
Cognitive Dissonance is a psychological term that describes the state of mental and physical discomfort one experiences if one cannot reconcile conflicting data.
If you are experiencing this, we recommend further research on your part. Identify the specific areas of conflict. Develop a plan of action to address or at least minimize the conflict.
The Spiritual Dimension of my Path
This dimension creates the most confusion of all the wellness factors because spirituality can mean many things to different people. We use the word spiritual for the processes of spiritual exploration.
Here again, we see the inverse relationship between inflexible beliefs and reason. Closely held and rigid views are the enemy of spiritual exploration. They prevent the investigation of anything new.
The Emotional Dimension of my Path
There is a correlation between your emotional health and your ability to learn. To learn advanced spiritual technologies requires good health. The practice of these methods is what we call spiritual exploration. It’s a holistic approach to investigating awareness and consciousness, which contains physical, mental, and spiritual healing elements. We involve our emotions on these levels.
Our emotions are a barometer of our total health and wellness. Some of the best tools for assessing our emotional state are the simplest. The spiritual journal for recording thoughts, dreams, and experiences is indispensable.
The Enneagram Personality Profile is another one of the core tools we recommend and use. It is a tool for understanding the mechanisms of personality and instinct. It’s also a doorway leading us through various intellectual exercises to the Observer. The person we are talking to inside our heads.
Inner work often brings to light aspects of ourselves that typically remain hidden. Inner work can be stressful. You may feel emotionally drained or raw when completing sessions that delve into the psyche. It’s a normal reaction. As we saw above with intellectual and spiritual dimensions, it is quite probable that we will encounter some roadblocks in our path.
The process of spiritual exploration can be an emotional merry-go-round. We learn something new about ourselves. This new awareness uncovers a roadblock or hidden wound.
We’ve examined the six dimensions of wellness and how they relate to the path of spiritual exploration. We’ve brought to light some interesting correlations we hope help you develop your spiritual journey.
Although we travel our “own path,” we should not travel alone. You’ll need partners to help you from time to time for healing and encouragement. We can help you find these people and assist you as a “virtual” partner. The path of wholeness to wellness is an ongoing process of life.
Besides the information above, proper self-care can also positively affect almost every aspect of health and wellness.
(1) Dr. Hettler and The World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/
(2) Joseph Campbell’s book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hero_with_a_Thousand_Faces