Have you spent any time healing in “wellness spaces”? Or given much thought to the blossoming field of Health and Wellness Coaching? Or considered the changes taking place as a growing wellness industry reacts to the limitations of modern healthcare?
Yes, me too!
I’ve done all three of these things and more along the winding road of my health and wellness journey. I’ve been in many, many wellness spaces, shaped like gyms and yoga studios and acupuncture offices and health food stores….. functional doctors, herbalists, float tanks, countless other settings. For better or worse, I’m teeming with commentary on this topic.
I’ve thought a ton about the blossoming study of Health and Wellness Coaching as I picked up a graduate degree in the field and now work one-on-one with clients.
And I’ve watched wellness spaces ebb and flow with trends, shape-shifting alongside their social media influencers, all the while attempting to provide a refuge for the exhausted and chronically ill searching for answers in an overburdened healthcare system.
Ultimately, my time in the wellness world inspired a few specific adaptations to the way I’ve learned to practice, evolving into the spaceholding that I now relate to and identify as Psychospiritual Wellness Coaching. This approach, Wellness Coaching for Psychospiritual Integration, brings together everything beautiful and bountiful that traditional wellness practices have to offer, and deepens our relationship to them across multiple planes.
from wellness work to psychospiritual wellness work
No matter what angle you’ve been using to think about wellness care, you’ve likely been the recipient of the rewards this industry offers at some point or another. So have I! Perhaps focusing on strength training led to muscles that can do things they couldn't do before. Mindful eating brought you greater awareness of food sensitivities or cravings that were interfering with ease-filled nourishment. Maybe you came into the wellness space feeling groggy, lacking energy, and this work took you beyond personal trainers and nutritionists into the realm of acupuncturists manipulating Qi or massage therapists supporting lymphatic flow.**
Taking a spin around the classic wellness wheel model, I find nothing but wonderful topics worth exploring, the focus of which will lead to tremendous quality of life improvements for those who endeavor to work in any of these realms. Nutrition. Movement. Sleep. Rest vs Stress. Sexuality. Professional wellness. The list really goes on here. In classic health and wellness coaching, we use a variety of tools and techniques to strategize around goal setting, to draw forward the motivation that already dwells within, to reaffirm one’s values as a means of devotion to the changes they seek.
I. Love. This. Work.
Annnnnnd, as time has passed, I’ve fallen more and more deeply in love with psychospiritual work too!
The psyche. The mind and emotions. Mental health. Stored memories. Entrenched beliefs. Cultural narratives.
The spirit. The sacred. The Divine. Mother earth. Holy rage, holy sorrow. God/Goddess.
Slowing down with them, we’ll notice that these terms are actually quite nuanced, and personal, and individualized. I’m not convinced psyche or spirit mean quite the same thing to any two people, and the way this work actually shows up in someone’s life is even more personalized.
Simply look down the block at the number of different religious institutions you’ll find (ok, I’m in the DC/Baltimore area, I can find a lot…. depending on what part of the world you’re in, this won’t be the case, but you get the idea). Or consider mental health care options - there’s a similarly diverse stream of modalities for understanding the psyche as there are churches and temples to engage the spirit. From classical psychoanalysis (whose roots, by the way, don’t extend that far back into history) to a wide range of modern psychotherapeutic approaches, to esoteric consciousness studies, and beyond.
So if there’s this much variety within the fields of psychological and spiritual study and practice, and the wellness world is equally saturated with options on every urban street corner for how to “get fit” and “be well,” what does all of this actually look like when woven together in practice…when woven together in practice with you?
putting psychospiritual work into practice
Ahhh, that last sentence fragment above is the key to thinking about Psychospiritual Wellness…. it will be woven together over time, like a complex tapestry, in the dynamic, living practice that is you, that is your life. Unlike the “Six Weeks to Six-pack Abs” protocols of the wellness world, Psychospiritual Wellness Coaching doesn’t aim to accomplish the same goal for every participant - you won’t all end up with six-pack abs at the end. Or 12 weeks to a healthier thyroid, or “fatigued to fresh in five easy steps.”
In the montage of mystery that is your personal walk with living well in your body, attuned to your mind and mental health, with a pulse on what it means to live sacredly through your lens, no two clients ever strive to the same pot of gold at the end, and they certainly aren’t walking the same way to get there. It’s a highly individualized exploration of what health and wellness can look like for you in this season of life, what’s calling for your attention along the way, and what you’re being invited to actualize as a result.
That said, six-pack abs might be part of your story! Or your pot of gold might be thyroid labs that fall back into balance; fussy, late-night cravings that dissipate; marital woes that soften… the list is as infinite here as there are people on the planet. Along the way, during your one-on-one sessions, the focus might hover around the classic wellness wheel features, and perhaps you’ll set goals around movement routines or celebrate as your sleep improves. Other times, you might find yourself expanding out beyond this wheel of wellness fundamentals, touching themes often reserved for your therapist's couch, or your pastor's office, maybe even your yoga studio, ashram, or meditation retreat. Questions on the nature of consciousness. Inquiries into your ancestral line and the way it impacts you today. Considerations about the nature of trauma and safety and comfort in this human body. Reflections about recurring dreams you have or daily hunches that seem to unexpectedly come to fruition. A deep dive into the ways this pattern has been with you for decades.
In a practice where the wellness wheel expands out beyond the confines of the boundaries once known, where the psyche and the spirit are invited into wellness work, the question of what it means to live well doesn't stop at what you're eating, or how often you're running on the treadmill. While in this expanded space of Psychospiritual Wellness Coaching, the wellness wheel goals still do actualize - the periods of deeper rest emerge, the nightly love affairs with a particular food that leave you feeling guilty the next day slowly evaporate, the visions of starting a new running habit materialize - and alongside these fulfilled wellness goals is a deeper connection to that which is sacred about this state of being human.
A deeper connection to the questions of birth and death, deeper understanding of the traumas that have been suppressed, a more loving care of the inner parts that were encouraged to go into hiding so our performance as a person wouldn't be interrupted. All of that is now invited into the room when the question emerges, “what was it like partnering your goals and intentions this week”?
The opportunity to bring psychospiritual practice into the wellness space is a river with many tributaries branching from its central stream, and each practitioner designs their own way forward. I’m eager to share more with you about how the tools of Breathwork, the Internal Family Systems model, the Enneagram, and compassionate self-inquiry are used in my practice while we endeavor to journey through this work together. For now, I hope these words built a firm foundation and a soft landing for you to imagine what’s possible, that they set the stage for all the learning and exploring we can do together in the future.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a prompt to get you started today, and invite you to sit with a friend, a journal, or a long and rambling voice memo to yourself as you explore the answers.
As always, if I can be of service in any way, please do connect when the time is right.
Here’s to a life well-lived and a soul fully expressed.
questions to prompt a new perspective on your goal
Name one health and wellness goal or intention you’ve been spending a lot of mental energy or heart energy with lately - a change you’ve been making or wanting to make in your diet, your sex life, your sleep habits, your movement routine… what have you been trying on, or fantasizing about implementing? Now explore one, several, or all of these questions below to bring in a new perspective about this theme in your life:
** For those with goals related to specific body shapes or sizes, a dietary plan may have led to a desired slenderness or weight. (As a weight-neutral practitioner, I stopped short of mentioning this example in the list above, but the truth is that so many people enter the wellness world through this doorway! Often, wanting to be slimmer, smaller, lighter, thinner. I’m equal parts inspired by this collective drive to commit to our health and human bodies, and dismayed by the reality that patriarchal structures perpetuate mythology about what it means to have a “good” body. So before I digress too far, suffice it to say that I opted to leave the weight loss option off of the list above, and I simultaneously acknowledge and appreciate how much of our hearts goes into this work. More reflections to share on this another time....