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Wellness: Pathways To Healing

How following a path of spiritual wellness is key to achieving a healthier mind, body and soul

When 32-year-old Nandini Kallesh quit her upwardly mobile corporate job and moved to the UK, she plunged head first into the domestic life like fish to water. Little did she know that years later, due to monotony and lack of familiar surroundings, she would one day walk into an ayurvedic treatment centre back in India for a severe case of gastroenteritis. While allopathy offered temporary relief to Kallesh, it was cautious and consistent change in food habits and lifestyle combined with regular meditation that gave her a new lease of life.

Kallesh is not the only one who has found this elixir of life and she is not alone in this quest of spiritual wellness. In the last few years, there has been a massive surge in the level of awareness with which people live their lives. A whole new breed of conscious beings seems to be emerging. There is a quest for a better quality of existence focusing on centring grounding and balancing of one’s whole “being” — both mental and physical. Making choices from a place of heightened consciousness and awareness.

For starters, wellness is no longer limited to the WHO definition of complete physical, mental and social well-being. Spiritually inspired author, artist and guide, Annu Kalra, believes that to qualify for true well-being, the presence of “joyful abundance” has to exist. This far supersedes being just disease-free.

“There has to be an emotional dimension where well-being is looked at from the context of consciousness, from a spiritual state, only then does it become true well-being to me,” says 49-year-old Kalra, also the author of Aavirbhaav (2017). “This welling up of love, of compassion, of joy, of peace within, such that it overflows is what wellness means to me. Permeating and radiating within each cell.”

Across all aspects of well-being — mind, body, green soul — people are making conscious choices. Not only for personal betterment but also for collective growth. The focus is shifting from ‘I’ to ‘we/; in both personal and professional spheres.

The M-Word 
The Live Love Laugh Foundation is a Bengaluru-based non-profit foundation working towards mental health awareness. Anna Chandy,  the Chairperson is also among the Board of Trustees of the Deepika Padukone-led foundation. “In the last two years, the conversation on mental awareness has come into focus in metros and tier-2 cities. Individuals, specifically millennials, have started exploring mindfulness with the intention to minimise stress, anxiety and depression,” says Chandy, who has also authored Battles in the Mind earlier this year. “In today’s India, mindfulness plays a great role in preventive work which impacts the mental well-being of young India,” adds 49-year-old Chandy.

Corporate India is slowly, but surely taking note of mental well-being among its employees. Spirituality is fashionable again and hopefully here to stay, says Sumer Datta, entrepreneur and HR leader. “There is a significant increase in the number of corporates who seek help from organisations such as the Art of Living foundation, Brahmakumaris and Isha Foundation,” says Datta. “There is also a new trend emerging of a happiness consultant / coach, a role unheard of earlier, again trying to help over-stressed employees connect to a higher purpose and help them find meaning in their lives.”

J.P. Singh, a management consultant and an executive coach, has noticed a growing trend over the last few years in the coachees approaching him, wanting to grow personally and professionally, in a more aware and mindful manner. This, in his opinion, is only possible when the coachee is willing and wants to evolve.
You Are What You Eat
It is true, not only do people want to elevate their mental and emotional quotient but they also want to lead healthier lives, something one can also achieve by eating healthy.

Misha Grewal Soni, a nutrition consultant, feels that India is in the nascent stages of a major health crisis that has been brought about by the over use of GMO processed foods, pesticides, hormone and antibiotics given to our livestock and chicken.“The scenario looks dismal if we don’t stop and reset that outlook urgently. People have become aware of this, which is why health and wellness are the new buzzwords today,” says Delhi-based Soni.

The awareness of what is served on our plate has led to a newfound interest among the professionals to read up on and empower themselves with the knowledge on both eco-friendly and organic products. Ayesha Grewal, owner of Delhi-based The Altitude Store, is an organic farmer with a background in Finance and Sustainable Rural Development. Grewal shares that she has seen a high growth in her customer base for organic foods primarily because of increased awareness of the potentially harmful effects of toxic residues in foods grown with synthetic agrochemicals.

Food, indeed, is key to good health, says Tavleen Akoi-Gill, gallerist and Wildlife Eco-friendly Director at Jim’s Jungle Retreat, Corbett. Akoi-Gill is fiercely passionate about the environment and feels that people are looking for a way out. “We are told to seek help from doctors when we are ill. Unfortunately, the doctor writes out a prescription and medicines are involved. Taking them hasn’t helped. So, now they have realised that eating clean food is the key to good health,” says Akoi-Gill. “There is a huge rise in Indian made nutritional supplements. More people are growing moringa trees and aloe vera at home.”

Akoi-Gill is not the only one who believes in treating diseases through lifestyle changes and food habits. Nandita Shah, who has done great work in the field of nutrition and is founder of Sharan, confirms this. “Medicines cannot cure. The more you take them, the more you need them. Disease reversal requires a shift from listening to doctors to listening to our body,” says Shah, who is an award-winning medical practitioner for her success in reversing lifestyle diseases naturally through food.

Others like Darryl D’souza (47), regarded as a pioneer in integrated wellness and spiritual alchemy and also the author of Become Healthy or Extinct (2011), echo Akoi-Gill’s thoughts about the ineffectivity of medicines. Goa-based D’souza says that a growing number of people are now trying out alternative healing modalities that fall in the domain of integrated healing of mind body and spirit. “This is happening mainly due to two reasons. One is the failure of modern medicine to cure chronic illnesses from their root causes, instead making people slaves to pills,” says D’souza. “The other is the effectiveness of alternative, complementary and ancient therapies, especially when applied in an integrated fashion to cure illnesses.”

Preeti Singh, founder and Director of Highlight, has also curated her very popular group Fit & Fabulous in 2014 on Facebook, which covers topics on all things wellness. Here she adds value by connecting people who have the answers like India’s leading doctors or people with firsthand experience, with members who are seeking help on their health. “It is interesting now to see on the group that more requests than ever before for alternative treatments are cropping up,” says Singh. “More often than not, our physical manifestations are just a reflection of our emotional state of being. Because we are living in an era invaded with digital distractions, there seems to be a distinct need for people now to become more “mindful than mind-full”.

Creativity and Healing

Anamika Singh, founder of ADAA in Delhi, is known across the nation for her traditionally Indian yet refreshingly modern dance. She has experienced first-hand, evolution of her students using dance as therapy.  “Wellness is truth and art unveils it,” says Singh. “Creative arts such as dance, music, poetry and painting are highly sensitive and effective therapeutic mediums and they make us aware of our behaviour patterns and conditioning, helps us acknowledge, express and heal,” explains Singh.

As we practice and slowly discover several paths to healing, we realise spiritual wellness, without a doubt, is a combination of several things. Both individuals and organisations that embark on the road to spiritual wellness and work towards employee well-being will make an impact in the long run. And as Singh says, “Art is therapeutic not only for the artist, who is in the experiential mode, but for the observer, who effortlessly comes face-to-face with their true selves.” Which, after all, is what everyone strives for, corporates included.

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magazine 11 November 2017 wellness Spiritual

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