Written by Anna Santoro, WLLC 2015-2016
In my opinion the most important wellness practices I do must support my emotional and spiritual health, even if it is through a physical practice (i.e. running). So the fact that all of the practices which we have completed over the past 7 weeks have been geared partially towards these types of wellness has really amplified my own wellness practices. The two practices for me which have been the most effective have been the Jar of Awesome and the “Right Brain Rodeo”. Both of these contributed to my own spiritual and emotional wellness more than the rest.
In class, we spoke at length about vulnerability and love. Though this includes loving others and being vulnerable with others, I think the ability to do this with others must first start with being able to be vulnerable with yourself. For me, the Right Brain Rodeo required a lot of vulnerability. It is pretty difficult for me to just sit down and stare at a page and write poetry on a schedule. This is why I am usually not consistent with writing every day. Finding inspiration usually comes on a whim. In order to do the Right Brain Rodeo practice, I had to be vulnerable with myself and allow myself to feel what I was feeling at that moment, even if it was negative (exemplified by my Day 6 poem) in order to find the inspiration from within, rather than on a whim from external sources. This in turn prevented me from carrying that negative energy into the day, and allowed me to be more vulnerable with others. In probably my favorite reading of the quarter, Omid Safi’s “Walls Around Hearts”, he says “We cannot be loved from behind walls”. In order to be vulnerable with others, we must first tear down our own walls. This is what I learned from the Right Brain Rodeo practice.
Towards the beginning of the quarter, one of our classes was taught about gratitude. We spoke about how important it is to recognize the small “blessings” we have, how scientifically if we do this every day, we will live a happier life overall. Though the practice for that week was different, I believe the Jar of Awesome was a way of practicing gratitude as well, even more than for five minutes a day. It helped me recognize the good that was happening around me, even when I was going through a more difficult time with friends and a recent ex at home than I wished to admit to myself. In recognizing the good things that happened in my life, I was able to realize that moving forward would not be as bad as it felt in the worse moments. In the article on counting blessings versus burdens it is noted that “The personal commitment to invest psychic energy in developing a personal schema, outlook, or worldview of one’s life as a “gift” or one’s very self as being ‘gifted’ holds considerable sway from the standpoint of achieving optimal psychological functioning”. When we consider life as a positive experience, rather than a negative one, we will end up living out this worldview to the fullest.