Wellness Wednesday: Wholistic Health, Resistance and Community Healing
Welcome to Wellness Wednesday, a new weekly blog, where we will explore topics that impact individual and communal health, with an emphasis on the importance of healing, nourishment, and relationships. Written by an Indigenous woman, mother and creative.
Understanding Wholistic Wellness as Resistance and Community Healing
by Rebekah Elkerton
As an Anishinaabe kwe, I have found that so much of the knowledge sharing in native communities happens through story-telling. Story-telling is key to how we learn the life lessons that keep us safe and moving forward. Our communities carry stories passed down through oral tradition that hold lessons about the world around us. We may hear the same story many times throughout our lives and find new meaning each time we listen, depending on the things we are experiencing in our lives at the time.
New to the team, I of course binged all of the Matriarch Movement podcast episodes within a few days and what I found is that the podcast is a space of weekly storytelling. Founder Shayla Oulette Stonechild interviews Indigenous women and non-binary folks about their work, community contribution and their path to success. A common thread in each interview is experiences of overcoming. Whether it be mentally, spiritually, or physically every person has faced something that feels like a hindrance to their life path until they’re able to heal it. More often than not, these stories of overcoming are non-linear, involving multiple shifts and changes of direction along the way.
In many ways each episode has become a how-to guide for self check-ins and identifying which areas of our lives need more attention before we can achieve our goals. What’s uncovered is that there is no one path to healing and success but instead there are infinite ways to unlock better versions of ourselves.
Throughout life the healing journey will change many times. Everyone goes through life cycles where one or more areas of our lives thrive while another area needs more care and nourishment. For true wellbeing, we must ensure that no part of us is left behind, ignored or forgotten. To live in a state of fragmentation and compartmentalization denies the self of understanding the connections that may inhibit healing and growth.
There are so many forces around us in this contemporary world that tell us that if one area of your life is not going well, that area is the only place where solutions can be found and applied. Instead, Indigenous understandings of wellness remind us that there is an element of spill-over both positively and negatively between the different aspects of ourselves.
As Indigenous people we recognize the interconnectedness of all things, and this is reflected and practiced in the ways we approach health. For individual wellbeing, a person needs sustenance in many forms. Ultimately, the goal for any person is to reach mental and spiritual prosperity along with physical health, because we know that the more wholistically healthy people we have walking around, the better our world will be.
Good health for Indigneous people is reclamation and resistance in action. Colonial narratives and ways of being often drain us of our wellness. There are times when, knowingly or not, we start to lose touch with parts of ourselves. These detachments, when ignored, can cause deeper ailments to our health as time goes on. However, when we reclaim ourselves, we can create stronger communities and set up future generations to flourish.
One thing that I’ve found most effective in the reclamation of my own wholistic health has been setting aside time for intentional self check-ins. Whether it’s a nightly routine before falling asleep in bed or a weekly moment with yourself that you schedule in your calendar, each of us needs to pause and look at what is and isn’t feeling right for us.
It could be that you’re not moving your body frequently enough and you know your body is not feeling how you would like it to feel. Perhaps you’ve been focusing more on negative thoughts while forgetting to show gratitude for the things that have been going right. Maybe you’ve been so busy that you’ve lost touch with community and the connections that make you smile and feel loved. All of these things can create an imbalance that prevents us from being at our best. Whether these imbalances seem big or small, healing is necessary for laying a foundation that invites good things into our lives and allows them to find a home with us.
Consistently is key. As with all decolonial work- that which reclaims, resists, and rebuilds- the journey is not a “one and done.” Healing requires ongoing care and conversation, whether with yourself or outwardly. Maintenance may look like attending ceremony, strengthening the relationships with those close to us, taking time for daily movement and exercise, or allowing yourself to rest. Whatever your wellness journey looks like, it is valid and important.
Through nourishing ourselves wholistically we are undoing intergenerational blockages and personal traumas. These changes create a ripple effect in our families and communities. We have the ability to impact future generations through our healing because what we are and what we exude can change the world.
As we continue, and aim for consistency, this blog will offer weekly topics in wellness through an Indigenous lens to get each of us thinking about better ways to nourish ourselves and achieve our goals.
Rebekah Elkerton (she/her)