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How To Achieve Enduring Health and Vitality
John W. Travis, M.D. & Regina Sara Ryan
 
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  Home  > Helping Professionals  > Introduction

Introduction

This material is designed for:

  • Helping professionals seeking to balance the intellectual reasoning of their head with the compassionate calling of their heart - those seeking to integrate personal values with their professional work.
  • Those frustrated with the authoritarian, dominance-oriented limitations of the traditional treatment or medical model and desiring to incorporate wellness concepts into their practice.
  • Practitioners already addressing wellness, but wanting to bring more depth, breadth, and inspiration to their work.
  • Anyone wanting to make a difference, wanting to contribute to their own healing and to that of our planet.

Humankind is at a turning point in its evolution. All around us traditional structures are failing. Those we have looked to for answers - our parents, schools, governments and the helping professions - simply don't have them. The word is out - we cannot continue to place responsibility for our wellbeing with someone or something "out there."

Most wellness programs are based on modifications of the treatment model whose dominance orientation emphasizes over-powering "problems." Sustainable change requires addressing the fundamental issues underlying the self-destructive attitudes and behaviors rampant throughout our society. We must expand the popular definitions of wellness beyond their narrow focus on individual fitness or lifestyle.

The wellness of an individual cannot be addressed in any meaningful way unless viewed within the context of the prevailing consciousness of our world. The impact of this consciousness is ubiquitous, manifesting in every realm of our society from the medical, economic, environmental, and psychological to the spiritual. It is inseparable from our wellbeing and yet often overlooked in wellness writings.

As long as we address only the surface manifestations of our estranged consciousness, we will continue to perpetuate, in changing form, the very maladaptive destructive behaviors that in every moment are killing not only the bodies, but the hearts and souls of peoples everywhere. *

Our basic premise is that personal and professional development go hand in hand. We emphasize the role of integrity and heartfulness over the use of any particular technique. We know that the role of the helping professional need not be one of frustration and burnout. We know it can be different. We know it can be exciting, challenging, and rewarding. We can make a difference.

Dispelling a Myth

In 1977, a colleague, Don Ardell, coined the phrase "Wellness is fun, romantic, hip, sexy and free," - which he printed boldly on T-shirts he distributed at his programs. While we acknowledge Don as one of the people most responsible for the term "wellness" catching on, we believe that this definition is misleading because in our experience it has most definitely not all been "fun, romantic, hip, sexy and free."

Why? Wellness is about taking responsibility for our lives; being accountable; living consciously. Accepting responsibility for our experience means we can no longer say "you did it," "I can't help it." No more blame games. No more Victim dramas! Accepting responsibility can be painful and difficult. It requires a developing awareness of the unconscious patterns underlying our behavior - our shadow-side. This means looking at parts of ourselves we would rather not own, the defenses built around our childhood wounding.* It means recognizing the many subtle ways in which we avoid responsibility, the many situations for which we just don't want to accept responsibility.

Accepting responsibility is hard enough. Healing our wounds with love and compassion for ourselves and those around us can seem even harder. But without love and compassion, there can be no experience of wellness. Ultimately, love is the healer.

We begin to recognize blame and guilt as subtle maneuvers of our head to keep us from heeding the calling of our heart. With blame and guilt, energy goes into perpetuating what has been rather than building what is new.

Following the best path for us often means taking risks, venturing onto unknown paths. Some new paths we meet with an immediate rapport and joy. Others we move toward with feelings of reservation - even fear. Dilemmas and paradoxes abound. We seek peace and yet need to go into the restlessness of our minds in order to confront it, to name it, and to release it. I say "you are accountable for this" and yet I know too that I am a part of you.

We discover wellness is not about "quick fixes." Wellness is a process, a journey, not a destination. Every moment-to-moment decision is a decision to become more well or less well.
Our pursuit of wellness has led us to looking away from techniques and toward the meaning and purpose of our lives. It has become a spiraling back and forth between what's happening "out there" and what's happening "in here."

It is commonly held in the Western world that there is only one reality - what I see is what everyone sees. The universe is viewed through the eyes of the now scientifically superceded Newtonian Model. This materialistic world-view is a recent one (only a few hundred years old), and is not even shared by the majority of the people on the planet, though it controls much of the way they live. This outdated view sees the universe as able to be dissected, analyzed, and understood by the study of its parts. It sees one fixed physical reality and allows no room for the impact of consciousness. It sees each of us as separate from each other and our environment.

We now know from theoretical physics that we are not separate from each other or from our environment. We can never be objective observers of any thing. We influence everything around us by our merely existing. We are all part of a larger whole. This expanded view of "reality" recognizes that there is no single fixed reality, and allows for the impact of consciousness on matter.

How we view the world, the meaning and purpose we give our life, determines the degree to which we practice accepting responsibility with love and compassion - and hence our experience of wellness. To the degree we accept responsibility for our experience, we move out of a paradigm of blame and guilt and the associated roles of Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer. We move into a Paradigm of Accountability in which our role is that of conscious co-creator of our experience of reality.

The central theme of our work is the emergence and application of the Paradigm of Accountability, which we contrast to the prevailing Paradigm of Discountability (blame/guilt).

Our commitment is to supporting people in developing and sustaining the awareness and skills central to creating safe spaces and Optimal Wellness Environments wherein norms supporting personal integrity and authenticity, cooperation and partnership, vulnerability and interdependence, supplant the prevailing cultural norms of domination and control, competition and self-reliance. This is the work of CultureMaking.

Through these pages we want to create cultures that celebrate rather than denigrate life - that heal rather than hurt. We focus on creating nurturing environments that affirm the immanent worth of self and other. These environments support honest communications, honoring and exploring of diverse realities, the acknowledgement and resolution of conflict, and emotional safety. They are a crucial ingredient in our sustaining and conveying wellness in our personal lives and professional practice.




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