As a lover of words, I hold on to sentences that carry a universe of their own. Some enthrall, some provocate and some come with a promise to heal. In my pursuit to understand wellness, I explored a few concepts that share a need to heal the human soul.
Dolce far Niente
As I watched Godward’s painting in a recent exhibition, the women held my attention. Sun-kissed women lounging in oleander-filled Mediterranean gardens personified the very essence of this phrase. Dolce far Niente- ‘Sweetness of doing nothing.’ Just the lines you need to hear to unwind, to be.
This idea also seemed like an escape, but did it have to be that alone? Does one have to keep hoping to live a life they want to? The focus shifts to the present. Releasing ourselves from the drudgery of time and welcoming the present for what it holds. This is a form of wellness. Italians believe in this idea through their lifestyle. Their wine and cheese are meant for leisure, to feel well. A set to-do list or the mandatory check of calorie intake is laid to rest for a bit. They live in their present, enjoying life through the idea of living, away from the grasp to function constantly. Welcoming every day through what could seem mundane, slow, yet poignant.
The thing about indolence is that it can be understood only if one understands busyness. The busyness is needed so that I can understand the indolence or that much-needed ‘Passegiata’(leisure walk) at home. I wish to eat my meals to rejoice, not to merely blot out the chaos that surrounds me. Welcome the delight of savoring the present like the beautiful souls in Italy.
Herbed-infused oil when applied to our body works with three doshas or elements( Vata, Pitta, Kapha) that determine the well-being of a person. Shiro Abhyanga essentially looks at the human body like an inverted tree, where the root lies in the head. As we massage our head the oil travels through the nerves into the body, replicating the functioning of a tree. The herbal oil passes through the body enriching and lubricating it into a state of healing. Abhyanga hence means self-massage.
The act of taking out 15 minutes to massage the body could be the best way to start your day. One feels the very being of his/her existence through this form of care or ‘Sneha’(love) which also means ‘oil’ in Ayurveda. This ritual is amplified if we can incorporate this as a part of our lifestyle. While massaging, we work with the 107 ‘Marmas’ or energy sections of the body. The benefits on the nervous and lymphatic systems are immense. The ‘Ayurvedic’ way of living through their sattvic diet and natural ways of healing is a must for holistic health.
The translation of this term according to ‘Dao’ philosophy implies effortless action. The idea speaks of sailing with the ebb and flow of the natural and not opposing it. It’s the negation that makes the sailing feel like rowing. The idea of ‘Dao’ speaks about ‘a means’.
We understand the rhythm and swim with a natural adaptation of life. When one flows with the moment one adapts with it. If the pain brings sadness, welcome it in its deepest embrace with no resistance. When one recognizes the Dao of life, you work with it and welcome it.
Everything in the world has a Dao, a way, and only if we recognize it can we see ourselves with its fall and leaps through time.
‘Wu Wei describes authenticity, it is a reminder to align with the present and accept the flow and course of nature.’ The truth is about finding your personality type and welcoming the flow with no distractions. If you are a creative person, the flow or Wu Wei will emerge through creating and not if one is at a desk job. This is the most powerful concept that makes us calm especially when questions within fail to reach an answer.
Wabi-sabi means ‘finding beauty in imperfection.’ It is an ability to welcome the roughness, the unpretentiousness that comes with time and age. This intimacy with the irregularity eases us of the pressure from perfection. The need to reach contentment as accepting the old could free us from the constant need to gratify through the new and trendy.
The joy could be towards the simple, local and imperfect. For example, the famous Japanese tea ceremony by Murata Juko negated the lavish decor for the local and imperfect crockery. This was a break from the ornate teacups that symbolized a state of flamboyance and societal approval. As a lifestyle, this philosophy creeps up when we look at our achievements, social circle, and question- what is it that we want and why do we want it? To keep or abandon? The need to accept the imperfection that comes with the pursuit of perfection as ‘Things are either devolving toward or evolving from, nothingness.’
‘Sva’ means ‘self’ and ‘adhyaya’ means ‘study’. As a yogi, this aspect of Yoga summed up the importance of self-healing for me. The idea of education is meant to empower, create, and rise. But, the study of ‘self’ draws the best within oneself to achieve these. If one develops the habit of inviting spaces of solitude to engage in reading, revising, and writing there is a change in one’s outlook. The energy and reflection within seeks for the energy around with the change in perspective through self-study.
The beautiful learning of this practice also tells us the difference between ignorance and knowledge. Ignorance has an end but knowledge doesn’t. Like a student, one should swim through the most profound of texts to seek the guidance of self. The most important text being the subject itself. For me, it is about a break from the constant burst of opinions and actions that meet me. Maybe taking a year off to figure out what truly makes you happier or the people who bring the best in you could be the best gift you could give yourself.
Pro read: “Svadhyaya is the study of one subject which is the basis or root of all other subjects or actions, upon which the others rest, but which itself does not rest upon anything.”
Hopefully, healing reaches you through these philosophies, if not maybe it raises the strength to do so. For true strength resides within, let's look within to welcome this beautiful process of wellness.