I would like to share with you the history of wellness as we know it today,so later we can explore the definition of wellness and its practices today
Wellness as a modern term has its origin’s in our rich history: From oral traditions of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine -TCM (3000BCE) to Hippocrates (400BCE), who was probably the first physician to focus on preventing sickness instead of treating one. He also argued that disease is a product of diet, lifestyle and environmental factors.
Traditional Jewish thought suggests that we must keep our bodies well for the sake of spiritual pursuits and in order to fulfill mitzvot as our body is a vessel for our soul.
In Ayurveda – later recorded in Vedas (4 sacred texts) we can see that yoga and meditation are a critical day to day practice.
TCM, influenced by Taoism and Buddhism applies a holistic perspective to achieving harmony and well-being.
Ancient Roman medicine emphasized Greek belief that illness is a by-product of diet and lifestyle. And we can’t overlook their developed public health systems of sewers and aqueducts that helped prevent the spreading of disease and germs.
The next 1500 years were relatively quiet. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a link between Christianity and well -being.
The body the church presents to be cared for is not the isolated body of strangers, but the baptized body of the people of God. In that body illness, suffering and death are not regarded as the ultimate enemy. They cannot be regarded as the ultimate enemy because Christians believe that even our suffering can be a gift that makes our relationship with God and one another more intimate.
But fast forward to 18th and 19th century we see a big boom of alternative healthcare methods, including Homoeopathy, Osteopathy, Naturopathy, and chiropractic practice.
Although controversial in today’s science practices(except chiropractic), all of them did promote the same idea that Healthy life is a product of healthy mind and body.
In 1910 the Carnegie Foundation published the Fleymer Report that sets the stage for modern, disease-oriented medicine(more on that in part 2).
In 1957, High-Level Wellness for Man and Society by Halbert L. Dunn is published and its probably the first modern based definition of wellness in the day to day life and its effects on our overall health (link in comments)
After 1950 the Wellness movement is starting to get recognition.
The first wellness center is established in 1970 in California by Dr. John Travis.
Wellness programs and practices go to mainstream and first conference is held in 1980.
Today, in the 20th century, chronic disease and obesity are becoming a worldwide crisis and because of that traditional medical establishment and more governments are shifting the focus to prevention and wellness. We are starting to learn about different foods and diets that may delay the development of dementia diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases as conventional treatment are still ineffective.
So to summarize, Wellness and/or well-being isn’t something new, in fact as a human species we’ve long known the importance of body, mind, and spirit. Its just in the last century we’ve started to back those ideas with science.
The popularity of Crossfit, different mud&ninja races, yoga hype, pilates, and many others are fruits of that new mindset.
The next part will focus on modern practices deeper definition of wellness aspects.
Until next time!