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Creating a Culture of Health Where We Live, Work, and Play

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Creating a Culture of Health Where We Live, Work, and Play

I’ve just returned from a women’s wellbeing retreat that I led in Canaan Valley, and once again I am struck by the power of community and environment on personal wellbeing.
 
My role on this retreat was to facilitate experiences and create an environment where participants could uncover their own innate wellbeing.  I led yoga, meditation, and hikes, made sure we had healthy food, and guided group interactions.  Every woman there chose to participate in these experiences, and each contributed to the vibrant and wholesome culture created over the weekend. 
 
Seeing the impact of this retreat on myself and the participants reaffirmed my belief that we should be intentional about valuing health in our society.  In 1948, the World Health Organization defined healthas “a state of complete physical, mental and social WELLBEING, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.”  But 1948 was a long time ago.  
 
Why then don’t our cities, schools, and workplaces create environments that encourage physical and mental wellness?  Why does our society spend so much money treating of disease and so little on creating spaces and places where human beings can flourish?  
 
The answers to these questions are complex. Perhaps a better question is:
 
Whose role is it to create a culture of health in our homes, workplaces, and communities?
 
I believe that each of us can foster cultures of health. As human beings, we continually look "out there" for answers.  Looking within, and assuming responsibility for what we find there, is a necessary starting point for prioritizing wellbeing.  To take charge of your own life and health means taking calculated risks.  It means recognizing that you have choices and are willing to brave the consequences of those choices. 
 
Being the first in your family, workplace, or community to take responsibility and actively advocate for healthier environments, interactions, and experiences can feel scary.  Doing so from the space of compassionate care—knowing that you can better love your loved ones, do a better job at work, and be of greater service in your community—is an empowered approach that’s bound to have a ripple effect on others.  

If you’re ready to take a step towards prioritizing health, I’d love to support you. In addition to the classes and events below, more options to help you create a culture of health where you live, work, and play:

With love and gratitude, 
Colleen

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5 Qualities of Your True Nature

“  May we live like the lotus, at home in the muddy waters”

May we live like the lotus, at home in the muddy waters”

I’ve just finished teaching my class series, which centered on the first facet of the eight-faceted yoga path, the Yamas. The Yamas are reflections of our true nature as humans. Knowing that these ancient teachings are as relevant in my class today as they were when first taught 5,000 years ago emphasizes this practice’s inherent wisdom and power.

 

The Yamas show us that the essence of our humanity binds us together, inextricably. All of us. All 7 billion of us. The Yamas sum up the truths of who we are with five qualities:

यम Ahimsa – compassion and reverence for all

यम Asteya –  generosity

यम Satya – truth and integrity

यम Brahmacharya – the desire to live in balance

यम Aparigraha –  acknowledgement of abundance

 

In her book The Secret Power of Yoga, Nischala Joy Devi wrote,

When we revere all as ourselves through ahimsa,

the other four qualities … are naturally present.

 

Remembering this message – that in our truest form we’re all the same and share these qualities – leaves me filled with peace and hope. When other messages impinge, I know I’m simply identifying with mind muck…mine or someone else’s, which are neither the real me nor the real them. When we see the ‘shadow’ side of humanity, it’s evident that we’re out of alignment with our true nature. This gives me hope, because recognizing it means I have a choice to align with the truth: our essence, our common humanity.

 

If we all extend toward and look for compassion, pause long enough to listen to our truth, generously give someone (and ourselves) the benefit of the doubt when they, or we, are mired in mind muck that sometimes trips us up, step back when we need to rest, and express gratitude for all the blessings in our lives, we’ll align and be elevated by this truth.

 

This seems simple: focus on our truest essence and common qualities as humans, and life will flow effortlessly. I suspect that the ancient yogis knew that what appears simple, isn’t; that forgetfulness is also embedded into our humanness. Hence, the value of continued practice of yoga, the choice to remember.