(The Full Text are from when EOV’s in-person workshops were developed.)
A warm welcome to the EOV Wellness Program. We’re grateful to all of you for your presence here. Simply acknowledging that your wellness is important and showing up today is a great start. The first step is never easy, so congratulations on taking it, and thank you!
We’d like to start by telling you a little bit about our approach to wellness and how we created this program. EOV stands for Emphasis on Viability, and the question that propels us at EOV is: are we our best selves? At EOV, we see wellness as an all-encompassing thing, affecting many areas of our lives. Life is a web of interconnections and interdependencies, it’s rarely about one isolated thing. “The part can never be well if the whole is not well.”, as the Greek philosopher Plato said some 2500 years ago. So when we speak about wellness, or we use the word ‘well-being’, we are referring to physical well-being, emotional, and cognitive well-being.
The program that we’re about to share with you is the culmination of five years of solid research and creative inputs from a global team of experts. Our contributors are doctors, scientists, academics and artists. They channel the landscapes and cultures that have shaped them, from the wild west coast of British Columbia to the cultural capitals of Europe, and the startling blend of tradition and contemporary that is India. All of them bring their particular lens – whether it is the healing power of music, or the effect that sleep has on our mental wellness. So our approach to wellness takes into account wisdom from different disciplines and different locations.
We are particularly fortunate to have built this program on a strong and sound medical foundation thanks to EOV’s Medical Director, Chris Stewart-Patterson, MD. Dr. Stewart-Patterson is an Occupational Medicine expert. He is a CME Program Director at Harvard Medical School. He has also worked at the Harvard Macy Institute, developing curricula for medical professionals and has provided occupational medical services to numerous institutions and individuals including those with high stress jobs like firefighters and members of the armed forces. His deep investment in this project is part of our commitment to distil the best medical information we have available to us today, and to create a course that was rooted in solid research. And of course, equally important to us, was the desire to communicate this knowledge in a way that can be absorbed easily, and that relates to our daily lives. That’s why we put together a team of creatives – art directors, composers, filmmakers, writers and actors, to give expression to the wealth of medical knowledge we’ve gathered. The program we offer you today is reflective of both a scientific and an artistic enquiry into wellness. It is strangely fitting that the culmination of five years of research and the launch of this program happens a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic. It is undoubtedly a difficult time for everyone around the world, but it has also sharpened the focus on the importance of good health. It has strengthened our resolve at EOV, and our mission to help people achieve wellness.
The program is spread across eight chapters. Each touches on a factor that has been shown to influence the way we feel and affect our wellness. For the sake of clarity, we will dig into the chapters individually, but we will also show you how they are in fact inter-connected. We will start with Sleep, then Nutrition, Exercise, Relaxation, Community, Toxic Coping, Money and the Environment.
If you’re thinking that this is not exactly rocket science, you’re absolutely right. All of these are things that form part of our lives and are responsible for our wellness (or challenges to our wellness). That’s the reassuring thing – you’re already familiar with all of these things and this makes you more capable of addressing them. We’re not asking you to learn a new language, or build something from scratch. What we are asking you to do, is to approach what you already know with care, and to work towards using some tried and tested steps that may be deceptively simple, but will require discipline and attention from you.
So, to reiterate, EOV isn’t one of those ‘disruptive’ programs that surprises you with a new concept. What we’d like to do is to give you a chance to look at each component of your own life from different angles and perspectives. This will give you a 360 degree understanding of how those areas affect us, so that you can start using them to your advantage. The martial art of Judo which translates as ‘the gentle way’ has some lessons for us here. In Judo, it is not so much about knowing your opponent as knowing yourself, understanding your advantages, and your style. You move outwards from a deep knowledge of yourself.
In this respect, we think it’s important to talk about wellness in terms of energy. Your personal energy. Whenever we human beings think about time, we’re always reminded about how little of it we have. And how we shouldn’t waste it. Energy is very much the same. We have a limited amount of it, but we need it to do everything we do. We need it to reach our goals, to become the people we want to be. We need energy to feel good about ourselves and our accomplishments, and we need energy to have the generosity to look kindly on other people.
That is why we’re going to look at ways to conserve this precious energy, and to harness and grow it. Throughout this program, we will identify ways in which we lose energy and ways of stemming that loss and allocating it to the things that really matter to you. We all know that life doesn’t exist in a perfect vacuum. It comes with a number of challenges that we don’t have control over. Things happen. In this program, we are not going to negate that life can be messy. The tools that we will share with you are not meant to work only under perfect conditions. Instead, we hope they will help you better deal with what arises in any given scenario, no matter where you’re at.
In terms of structure, every chapter will begin with a broad introduction to a specific area: sleep, or nutrition, or exercise. It will then share some research-based steps provided by our medical director, Dr. Stewart-Patterson, that you can take to create wellness for yourself. These practical steps can be incorporated into your daily life to see positive changes to your wellness. To be clear, the recommendations and directions we provide are not meant to replace or be in opposition to any medical advice you may be getting but rather as suggestions of pathways to good health. The chapter will conclude with further resources recommended by Dr. Stewart Patterson. We will then provide some additional information that we’ve found to be beneficial for wellness as well, so that you can continue your learning and practice of wellness even after you leave this room. Through this arc, we hope to provide both insights as well as pragmatic solutions. By wielding the right tools, by conserving your energy and by knowing yourself, you can flow past the smaller obstacles in life and work around the bigger ones more effectively. That capacity, to all of us at EOV, is at the heart of well-being.