What is Wellness?
Maybe the better question is what does wellness mean to you? Is it happiness, health, a tranquil mind, stable self-esteem? Well, in fact, wellness is all of these things balanced with the ability to distinguish between inputs (pleasurable or not) from your surroundings and your reaction to those inputs. All of these elements depend on how each individual reacts to stressful situations, how they interpret situations and how they choose to react on a daily basis to inevitable fluctuations in stimuli.
The more one learns to control his or her mind and reactions, the more wellness will seep into day-to-day life. Focusing on the present and not dwelling on the past nor yearning for the future or desired objects brings a calmness and tranquility to life that each person has the power to choose for him or herself.
Wellness can be enhanced at Finca Exotica through yoga or massage. A one hour massage on our yoga deck overlooking the ocean is a great invitation to ease into a feeling of well-being.
Natural Inspiration – getting in touch with the wisdom of nature
Many of the most well-known philosophers of last century got their inspiration from nature. So what’s the secret? Getting away from day-to-day distractions.
It is so easy and even common to focus on what we do not have at this moment and what we want to have. In order to get out of this rut of thinking it is necessary to begin to appreciate what is right in front of us! Being immersed in nature is the perfect opportunity to begin to appreciate what surrounds us. That’s what our wellness retreat is all about.
Have you ever been so engrossed in your internal dialogue that you failed to notice something amazing around you – a chickadee singing in the morning, a deer frolicking in the field, a bunny hopping around the flowers in the backyard? If we begin to truly engage our senses with our natural surroundings we begin to truly see what is there. And the ego – sense of self and isolation – begins to fade, and the interconnectedness of everything becomes more vividly understood. This leads to a reevaluation of what is really important and an understanding of the principle ‘less is more’.
There are scientific studies showing that gardening, contact with nature, especially trees, and contact with other animals, is therapeutic. Contact with nature soothes the soul in an abstract way that may be felt but not explained. As your mind and body relaxes and finds the serenity that follows, your energy levels and creativity increases and you may begin to feel the prana (life-force) flowing through your body in a way you have not noticed since you were a child.
Spiritual Purity through Meditation
Indian society often refers to the mind as the monkey mind. It is common today for people to have many things on their plate at once and thus find it very difficult to calm a mind that is constantly reviewing to-do lists, jumping from one thought to the next and all the while being distracted by the array of technological devices so prominent in hands and pockets today.
What may be less prominent is the knowledge and understanding that immersion in this lifestyle is also leading to extreme stress, chronic health issues, mental health problems and much more. Taking even 5-10 minutes a day to calm your mind and focus only on your breath can have multiplier effects in your life.
The word meditate has a certain tone of being something very formal that you need to be led through, and only if you are a yogi. But really, what is meditation? If we break meditation down into its fundamental form, the overwhelming technical concept loses its exclusive tone. Meditation is simply a practice of calming the mind … whew – feel better?
So then the next logical question is HOW to meditate. First, let go of any expectations! Beginning to practice anything is exactly that – practice. There is no such thing as meditating perfectly; each individual has to seek what works.
Hatha Yoga – the physical postures – was introduced to prepare the body for meditation. It may be useful for you to first do yoga or some kind of intense exercise that will allow your body to settle into a seated position. However, it is not necessary.
First, come into a comfortable seated position – this may be half lotus, but many people are not comfortable in this position, so you can also try sitting over a cushion on your knees. Close your eyes. Begin to drop into your seat, releasing any control of your breath or muscles. Scan your physical body first and notice any sensations, dropping deeper into your seat. Then bring all of your focus and concentration onto the flow of your breath into and out of your body without trying to control it. Keep your concentration here. As other thoughts arise (trust me, they will), simply step back from the thoughts and imagine that you are up on the bank of a river watching your thoughts flow by like a river with uninterested tone, noticing without judgment. Begin by sitting in meditation for a very short time – this may be between 3-5 minutes in the morning or perhaps after you afternoon workout. As you come out of meditation note the effects on your physical, mental and emotional body. The eventual goal of meditation as you deepen your practice is a balanced, serene and tranquil mind. So just give it a shot and start by calling it “my five-minute relaxation” if the word meditation intimidates you.
Outside the Thinking Mind
I find sustenance outside the thinking mind.
As the thought stream quiets, awareness comes
to focus on a single point, then moves –
shooting through me like the light from distant stars.
Focus follows energy, rides like a feather on the breath,
flies to the source of ecstasy and life force.
Focus carries me everywhere and nowhere,
flowing like water in a fountain.
Is it any wonder I return morning after morning,
to the still point at the heart of motion?
– Kripalu Yoga
Relax Right Now
Stress zaps you of all of your energy and motivation. So the natural remedy for stress is relaxation. We often think of relaxation as something we have to mark off in our agenda and MAKE time to do it. However, this is a serious misconception that may be taking away your opportunity to live a healthier, more stress-free life.
For example, here are two easy options to relax right now that only take 3 minutes each:
- If you are at home or somewhere you can find a wall, lie down and walk your legs up the wall placing your entire leg from your butt to your feet flat against the wall. Relax your torso, neck and shoulders into the ground. Close your eyes and begin to notice your natural breath. An inversion such as this is great to do every day. It reverses the flow of blood, stimulates the movement of immune fluids that keep us healthy and allows us time to notice. Spend the next 2 minutes noticing the weight of your torso pressing into the floor, the breath flowing through your body and any sensations in your legs. After the 2 minutes are over, get up very slowly to avoid any potential dizziness.
2. Push back from your desk or work. Close your eyes. Begin to imagine a scene that relaxes you – maybe the crashing of waves on the beach, a trickling waterfall or a relaxing Sunday morning. Deepen your breath – this is your life force and altering it in any way will also alter your mood. Begin to draw the breath into your belly, inflating it like a balloon, and then up through your rib cage, allowing it to expand, and finally all the way up into your chest, allowing it to rise slightly. Then exhale slowly back down through these three parts of your body and squeeze your abdominal muscles at the bottom of the exhale to get all the old, stale air out and prepare your body to take in a longer deeper breath with the next inhale. This breath called ‘dirgha’ in yoga, or three-part breath, increases your oxygen level and calms your mind. Continue this breath for 3 full minutes, even if your mind is getting distracted.
Holistic Living Tips
Markus envisions Finca Exotica eco lodge as an inspirational center – a place where the facilities, natural surroundings and events enable visitors to engage with deeper layers of themselves and ponder the meaning of life. By introducing the holistic living tip of the day we hope to transport a piece of this inspiration so even from home guests and friends are reminded to take care of themselves – body, mind and soul! So here’s a little teaser to start you off:
Take 2 minutes right now to close your eyes and imagine yourself in the most relaxing place you have ever been. Take 5 full, deep breaths with your eyes closed while reveling in the effect on your physical and emotional body.