To be or not to be? You’ve heard the Shakespearian question before, but let’s not get all theatrical about it.
What does it actually mean ‘to be’? And how does ‘being’ help you feel good?
That’s what I’m about to tell you. But first, a few definitions:
Being means existing. It’s the nature or essence of something
While wellbeing is a particular state of existing. Plus being comfortable, healthy or happy
As human beings we have a unique way of existing which, when expressed truly, helps us to function well, with positive wellbeing. Ignore your innate humanness at your peril!
Here’s what I mean…
Humans are whole beings
A human is made of mind, body and soul. The mind and body are physical aspects of our humanness, our faculty of thought and consciousness plus our bones, flesh and organs. The soul is our spiritual part, or essence, which often desires connection with a higher purpose or God.
And we must look after all three, or we suffer.
Perhaps you think you’re alright because you go to the gym every day. And it’s true, you’ll likely reap many rewards – leaner body, healthier heart, increased concentration to name a few. But if you’re constantly rushing around without relaxing… Flop! Burnout! Exhaustion!
By actively seeking to nourish your soul you’ll be able to thrive.
For millennia we humans automatically nourished our whole selves through the way we lived. There was no need to think about it, it just happened. Here’s how:
1. Looking after our minds
Early humans lived in caves, outside, as part of the natural world, and it satisfied our intrinsic biophilic natures (biophilia: a human’s innate attraction to nature and natural processes). Even quite recently we were far more connected to the environment than we are today. Remember your childhood, building dens, climbing trees, with freedom to roam until you were called in for tea? And you knew your roast chicken wasn’t grown in a supermarket wrapped in plastic!
Now we have to make quite an effort to ensure we don’t forget nature.
2. Looking after our bodies
We also used to get the nutrients we needed naturally. Our past hunter-gatherer lifestyles meant we took food directly from the land, eating only what was available in that season and geographical location. There was no processed junk available 24-7!
And we could get a decent night’s sleep. Ancient cave-dwellings didn’t have electricity so we went to sleep when it was dark and got on with life when the sun rose. Yes, in winter we got the sleep we desired rather than working all hours regardless. And in summer, we thrived on longer hours of toil, feeding off the energy of the season.
Regular exercise just happened because we had no cars, walked (or ran) everywhere, hunted and gathered food to survive.
Now we must think about all these things – choosing a healthy diet, adapting our environment to prevent our circadian rhythms getting out of whack, and arranging regular running or gym sessions with a friend.
3. Looking after our souls
Humans are spiritual at heart. According to the experts, religious traits among indigenous tribes have been with us for millennia including animism, belief in the after-life, shamanism, ancestor worship and belief in ‘high gods’.
But it’s not restricted to indigenous tribes.
The modern world is a melting pot of worldviews with a huge variety of spiritual expression. It’s common to hear people talking of ‘the universe’ as a place you can find inner guidance (not just space, planets and stars). Buddhists follow a path of spiritual development and practices like meditation to help them understand reality, culminating with Enlightenment. And Humanism is a rationalist outlook where human, rather than divine or supernatural matters, are most important.
There are many views including disbelief in any god or spirituality. But lots of us today, from all walks of life, still feel an inner void or a sense of restlessness at times. I believe that’s because something important is missing. It’s a God-shaped hole if you like.
Whatever your view, one thing seems clear. If we don’t nourish our souls, our lives will remain depleted.
Embracing wholeness (our being) today
Some modern medical professionals embrace the holistic approach wholeheartedly – Dr Chatterjee for example – with fantastic results.
But what about you?
- Just being in nature can nourish your mind
- Taking regular, gentle exercise can satisfy your body
- Engaging with a higher purpose can replenish your soul
When you tap into your natural humanness and incorporate some simple habits into your life you’ll be amazed at how good you’ll feel. Things like meditation, pausing for 15 minutes with a cuppa, or taking a slow walk by the river can all help.
As Eckhart Tolle said: “Just be, and enjoy being”
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