The Wellness Moonshot: A world without preventable disease is a movement organised by the Global Wellness Institute, which focuses on a different theme each month. RENEW is the theme for September 2020. We rounded up reader reflections and our own. Feel free to comment below the article.. Join us on The Wellness Moonshot.
By Liza Horan, Editor
In the simplest terms, to renew means to me to ‘make new again,’ but it’s much more. It’s a moment of discovering something already known with the wonder of experiencing it for the first time. It’s stripping away the extraneous to get at a core truth so intrinsic to one’s self that the emotion energizes forward movement. It’s the gift of free will that enables us to shift a mindset, switch our energy and make a new start; it’s about knowing we have the power for change, which feeds hope.
It’s amazing to think that while the process of cycles in nature are fixed — from sunrise to sunset, our circadian rhythms, and birth to death in all beings — we have so much freedom of choice. We can renew anytime.
A pause, whether deliberate or not, holds great power because it can serve as a touchstone that stirs real emotion and knowing. It’s as if we ground ourselves in a core truth. The connection produces a feeling, and it feeds a mindset. If we allow ourselves to pause enough to consider the core truth of something — the original inspiration or the ‘why’ of it — we can feel grounded. And that energizes forward movement, whether that’s an impetus away from something no longer serving us or one spurring us toward something that excites us.
I wonder if this is why people renew their wedding vows. It seems they are going back to that original moment in time when the feeling of love and commitment for each other marked a new beginning. Imagine the intensity and power of such emotions, stirring deep within, extending to another, connected to another, and then shared publicly with friends, family and the community. I suppose revisiting that sacred ritual is a process of getting back to the vividness of the true feelings, even if they were there all along.
It’s tough to be mindful of such a feeling or deeply connect with it or even remember it when we are rushing about life, dealing with schedules, bills, cleaning, and the rest. It actually takes conscious effort to pause, and explore thoughts and feelings to rediscover our connection to them. We can come away from such reflection with affirmation about what’s real and what matters. We can emerge positive and energized.
It doesn’t have to be as lofty as renewing wedding vows, though.
Last week I was meeting a friend at a restaurant for a socially-distanced drink. I arrived early so I could squeeze in a walk in the park. It had not been an easy day, so I wanted to change my energy by moving, being in nature and tuning out the world to be in my own thoughts. Instead of my usual manner of smiling to each person I encountered, I had my head down for solace. I was wound up from a series of practical life happenings — a thief stole my identity along with a large five-figure sum of cash from my bank, professional vendors not getting back to me for estimates on work, waiting on hold for hours across a variety of customer service calls, etc. I had had enough!
People probably sensed my low energy and veered out of my path. After several haughty minutes tramping around the park, my touchstone of walking wasn’t enough. The park was packed. How can I find any escape of peace here, I thought. Keep walking.
A few more minutes walking and the idea occurred to me: Walking is a touchstone. So is music.
Music always changes my energy. It’s my drug of choice. I know which genre, which bands and which tunes to play to meet me where I am feeling to feel my way through it (U2 for raw sadness, The Smiths for a broken heart) or simplify (Franco Robert for thinking while driving) or elevate (’80s new wave) or just spew it out (California punk and funk: The Offspring, Red Hot Chili Peppers). It’s not about the lyrics, it’s about the music for me.
You will see a light in the darkness,
You will make some sense of it.
You will see joy in this sadness.
You will find this love you miss.
I’ve heard this song many hundreds of times since 1981, but on this occasion I really listened as if for the first time. I played it four times.
The sensation of this focus was like the world receded into black, except for the soft, bright green, moist grass, and the sound coming through my ears and throughout my body as I delved within. Nothing existed but the truth of this song and my emotions. The pressure, anger, frustration transmuted to exhaustion, sadness, wistfulness, and then calm, balance, security, hope, and lightness.
I was back to myself. I felt present, positive and excited!
It is amazing that sounds lasting 3:33, which I’ve known for almost 40 years, can be so effective at shifting my energy; at renewing my human experience. That is the miracle of being able to renew.
The power of a song is only one touchstone to my pure energy source. Others are walking, spending time on the coast and the water, writing, playing piano, dancing, eating healthy, sleeping enough, singing, swimming, being alone, connecting with others. The right solution depends on the context of what ‘now’ feels like.
Think of watercolour paint. The dry cake is the most intense hue, as it is pure colour. As soon as water is added, it springs to life. But life’s demands are akin to adding more water, diluting that colour to the palest of shades ’til very little hue remains. That’s when we feel like we’re losing our way or our sense of self.
Let’s remember to renew before we get there. Consider what your touchstones are to get back to the core truth of something — a feeling, an idea, a mission, or just something from which energy poured forth at one time.
I really believe the ability to start anew is our greatest gift. It’s free, on-demand and in unlimited supply.
Next: See readers’ reflections on RENEW, and add yours.