TTL Heart & Soul Group, April 20, 2011

Exploring Health and Wellbeing
A discussion led by Dr. Liz Archer & Dr David Peters

Possible ACTION: 
Start a community herb garden?
Start a Healthy Living Group?

Primary WORDS:
    Individuals, Community, Self-care, Acceptance, Resilience
    Building Compassionate Communities
    Living Well, Dying Well
    Growing the ecological self & how do we do this as a community?

Liz Archer introduced the discussion by presenting some reflection on the current state of healthcare in the UK – the limitations and inherent unsustainability of modern ‘biomedicine’; the rise in spending on complementary and alternative healthcare; our failure to address the determinants of ill health and loss of well-being which mainly lie outside the healthcare sector; the diseases of affluence; and the social costs of unequal societies.  Difficulties in the health sector reflect wider problems in industrialized societies, and we face profound problems over environmental sustainability, social justice, and human wellbeing – both locally and globally.

Liz then set out some ideas about how we could define health/wellbeing, and what we might include in that definition (e.g. body, mind, emotions, soul, spirit, ancestors? karma?).  Does wellbeing actually have anything to do with healthcare delivery systems?  What about the big picture (e.g. integral theory, evolution of consciousness)?  We clearly need some new thinking to solve the problems we are facing.

The transition movement is about sustainability, localization, community building, and the mobilization of people’s resourcefulness and resilience.  How does this model fit with our understanding of the creation of health and wellbeing?

We explored the following questions in small groups:

1.    What do the terms ‘health’ and ‘wellbeing’ really mean to us?
2.    What are the components and determinants of health & wellbeing?
Then, back in the large group, we then explored a third question:
3.    How can we intentionally create healthy individuals and healthy societies?

The outcome of our discussions:

(1) What is health?

Absence of disease.  Optimum functioning in the world. 

A concept or construct we go to when not feeling a sense of wellbeing; which perhaps is death denying?

Optimum functioning on all levels

(2) What is wellbeing?

Accepting ourselves for who we are, holistically; a sense of completeness and feeling comfortable in our own being

We can strive for wellbeing, even when in poor health or dying

The capacity to fulfill our human potential

Openness, clarity, thriving, resilience, all of which can be cultivated

A sense of the presence of community; kindness and tolerance in communities

Taking time to notice wellbeing in ourselves and in others

Energy & a zest for life, feeling empowered

Having choices i.e. ability to cultivate positivity, flexibility, resilience

Feeling able to contribute, and feeling valued within your community

Maintaining values and our cultural identity

Capacity to see meaning in suffering, not just to reject suffering

Accepting diversity within communities, making space for difference

Developing the understanding that my health depends on the health of others around me

Being empowered about own health; making active choices about our own bodies

Pausing in the moment, holding space, being seen and seeing others

Awareness of being held/supported by the group
(3)    How can we intentionally create healthy individuals & healthy societies?

We all agreed that we are not yet ready to answer this, but some of our thoughts included:

Celebrating the NHS as a good ‘rescuer’ (taking care of people who are sick) but acknowledging that is is not good at illness prevention or creating health

The importance of avoiding short-termism in society, since it costs us more in the long run

People can start working together in healthy ways; working together as a group is empowering.  Interdependence gives us something more than independence

Working things out together rather than struggling on alone. We might not know where we are going, but things will evolve as they need to if we work together

Encouraging any practice that can help us to know ourselves better e.g. becoming part of the Heart & Soul Group; tuning into what we all want; learning what makes us feel strong or helps us find a sense of purpose

Seeing others and being seen by others; being heard & appreciated; mindfulness

Accepting people for who they are in their individuality; becoming role models in our communities and wider society

Aiming to achieve a ‘critical mass’ for changing minds and behaviours e.g. supermarkets; food miles and local food; organic foods; growing the ecological community

It is important to say ‘we want a different dream’, creatively re-imagining the future

Asking, with genuine interest, ‘How is your wellbeing today?”

Creating true Health Centres (don’t leave this to doctors to reinvent healthcare!)


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