The concept of Well-Being is generally accepted to represent the confluence of physical, social and emotional health, though there is a good array of more extensive definitions.
But if we think of the two words that comprise the term – Well and Being – we might arrive at a different place. It’s easy enough to understand Well, which can be thought of as not sick, or feeling good, or even feeling great or fantastic.
The idea of Being, though, brings on a deeper exploration of meaning, quite literally in fact. Being is well known to advocates of mindfulness who emphasize areas of self-awareness and presence. Through meditation and other means of “paying attention” that focus on the here and now, we can learn to attain a greater sense of Being.
This usually leads to a feeling of inner peace, calm, relaxation – and when done with regularity, it can also have profound positive health impact.
A recent Wall Street Journal op-ed article (A Transcendental Cure for Post-Traumatic Stress) spoke of the clear benefits of transcendental meditation – described as 20-minute meditation twice-daily –and how it has led to some powerful results for veterans with PTSD. One recent study cited a 50% reduction in symptoms after just weeks of TM, and the article noted that there over 340 peer-reviewed papers on the beneficial effects of TM.
Within Healthways, we too, are actively examining the well-being benefits of mindfulness with Elmo Shade’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MSBR) course. Over 100 Healthways colleagues have participated in MSBR over the past year both in-person and virtually, and Elmo is currently collecting effectiveness data for future publication. We are also planning to incorporate elements of mindfulness in our Well-Being Solutions roadmap.
Sometimes viewed as a “fringe” practice for “new agers”, mindfulness is moving into the mainstream for many reasons, not the least of which is its value proposition – it doesn’t cost anything to practice it!
On a recent vacation trip to upstate New York, I enjoyed an early morning experience of gazing out at the lake while watching a YouTube clip of Jon Kabat-Zinn, the originator of the mindfulness movement, giving a talk to employees of Google. Take a look, you may find it to be an eye-opening experience…
Expect to hear more about mindfulness in the weeks and months ahead. And the next time you consider the elements of Well-Being, remember it’s not just about Being Well, it’s also about Being.