In the article “Destination: Wellness,” New York Times journalist Jesse McKinley describes his tour of treatment centers dedicated to helping people feel healthier. “I was left, on various occasions, body-weary, sleep-deprived and incredibly waterlogged ... I meditated and hyperventilated, and was plyometric-ed, watsu-ed and ceremonially ‘crowned.’ I hiked and ran, floated and swam. I had my chakras read ... and ate more quinoa than I can remember.”
It’s important to realize that behind the trillion dollar “wellness cluster” market that the article describes is a yearning for some procedure that will give us, in the words of Dr. Jim Nicolai, a “feeling of confidence, this feeling of vitality, this feeling of ‘You got this.’ ”
Contrast these methods, however, with a spiritual perspective on well-being. Jesus said, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” and “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:25, 33).
What if health and wholeness can’t be obtained through material methods? What if wellness is not a physiological or intellectual experience, but a spiritual one? Hydrotherapy may provide a temporary sense of energy or relaxation, but physical satisfaction is a fleeting sensation that inevitably dissipates. I believe that Jesus was talking about an understanding of identity that comes from a very different apprehension of being – a sense that we are each connected to a much larger vitality and intelligence.
Maybe wellness isn’t so much something we access or acquire, as something we uncover; an already intact state of being that becomes apparent when we realize that we’re not independent creators but part of an infinitely larger whole that is spiritually good in principle and expression. This is the metaphysical understanding of wellness.
When you acknowledge the divine as real and authoritative, you begin to have the experiences Jesus was describing. The recognition of Christ as universal and always active, not restricted to a long-gone time and place, is natural to us all. As Mark Twain once wrote, “These things are true, or they are not. If they were true seventeen and eighteen and nineteen centuries ago it would be difficult to satisfactorily explain why or how or by what argument that power should be nonexistent in Christians now” ("Christian Science," p. 208).
A contemporary of Twain, Mary Baker Eddy practiced and taught the scientific principle of Jesus’ healing and teaching and called it Christian Science. She applied the rationale of logical proofs and standards of demonstration to Christianity and discovered Jesus’ premise of a loving, ever-present Spirit to be consistently applicable and dependable. She wrote: “Jesus of Nazareth was the most scientific man that ever trod the globe. He plunged beneath the material surface of things, and found the spiritual cause” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 313). She also said: “No system of hygiene but Christian Science is purely mental. Before this book was published, other books were in circulation, which discussed ‘mental medicine’ and ‘mind-cure,’ operating through the power of the earth’s magnetic currents to regulate life and health.... Such theories have no relationship to Christian Science, which rests on the conception of God as the only Life, substance, and intelligence, and excludes the human mind as a spiritual factor in the healing work” (Science and Health, p. 185).
Instead of continuing the search for wellness with the perpetual round of dubious and expensive cures and therapies, perhaps thought is advancing to the place where we think outside the box of life as merely material. It does require a change of base – a willingness to begin our calculations with spiritual Truth. But the results are the same now as they were as described in the Bible: “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7, 8).