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Posted by Michael Finkelstein | August 18th, 2020

Beneath The Surface

The subject of wellness is a frequent topic of conversation in my circles. People come to me seeking it, friends like talking to me about it, and my colleagues discuss its definition and the path toward achieving it.

My first group of professional peers, conventionally trained physicians, understood wellness to be a reflection of a healthy body. As such, they measured and assessed the body’s parts and identified fixes for what was broken. There is no question there is a place for this. Similarly, for many laypeople, people are deemed healthy or not based on what can be gleaned from their physical appearance, their movements and their behavior. Also important to some degree.

But, neither of these is sufficient. For deep beneath the surface are other aspects of our being. Therefore, when one says they want to be well, there is a requirement to look deeper. Indeed, what defines who we are, not just how we are, is dependent on the integration of the sum total of all parts, above and below. And, in the final analysis of our lives, how these things are counted is far less determinant than the impact our life has on the world around us.

I think most people understand this to be true. Yet, we seem to place so much emphasis on what we see, and are often surprised and taken aback when the young and beautiful get sick or die.

I made the point in a previous MoonLetter that “healthy” people who get COVID and die are not, by definition, healthy to begin with. I got some push back on that, in fact, some angry responses – “How dare I assume to know anything about others.” “Who am I to determine who is healthy or not?”

I’ll admit, I don’t know anything about other people who I have no contact with. And, I apologize for suggesting there is a simple formula, or to imply that people who work hard to take care of themselves, and still get sick, are at fault in some other way. That is a misinterpretation of my point.

What I am saying, most importantly, to help each individual as is my intention, is that it is essential that you look at yourself and check the list in its entirety, so that you don’t leave something unattended that requires more work to keep you healthy and whole.

What often gets overlooked is the essence of your being…. the answer to the questions: “why do I want to be alive, what’s my purpose here on earth, who am I serving?”

In the end, we will all die, it cannot be fending off indefinitely, though I get we’d all like to put the moment off as long as possible. The question is really, what am I going to do with my life now. In essence, when one turns their attention to living each day in service, by definition, that is wellness; for the most underlying principle in the upside-down pyramid of wellness is a spiritual expression – grace, love and faith. As a result, living with that as the primary focus will, in the end, whenever it comes, define our life as a success.

To live in fear of death, on the other hand, and to single-mindedly work hard to preserve the body, often interferes with the practices and discipline of cultivated deeper health. We cannot avoid the iceberg by paying attention solely to the boundaries of what we see. As hard as it may be during times of stress like these, our deeper strength, indeed, our foundation, though hidden, still needs attention. The fact is, one can make the argument it needs it more now, and that’s what I would advise. I think you might be surprised how buoyed you are in the process; how strong and positive you can feel. And how much healthier and immune you become. That
is my wish for you.

Mitakuye Oyasin,


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