Welcome to our new blog, our first posting is from our director, Roberta Meldrum. Thirty three years ago she founded The Centre and today it has grown to become the largest complementary health centre within the East of England and quite possibly the UK. Mental wellbeing underpins much of The Centre’s ethos. Here she discusses her own personal thoughts about what being mentally healthy means to her:
I’ve never much liked the term ‘mental health’… It seems so clinical, so reflective of an artificial division between the mind and the body. The mind thinks – but what part of us feels? And isn’t this the part – our emotions – that gets confused and tied in knots? And what about the soul or spirit? Where does that fit in to the picture?
To me, the essence of being ‘mentally healthy’ is about feeling good about ourselves, about our lives, about others – it’s about being able to enjoy being alive. My take is that we need to go further than simply focussing on ‘mental health’. We must not forget that ‘feeling good’ has many aspects, all of which are interconnected and which affect our mind… Our work, our relationships, our sense of fulfilment, our connection with nature – all play a role in determining how we feel from moment to moment. We are not simply ‘heads’ that talk to each other – although clearly Prince Harry’s recent extraordinary interview gave us a wonderful insight into the dangers of bottling up feelings and the importance of talking about them– whether to a professional or a friend.
These days most health professionals recognise the intimate connection between our bodies and our emotions: what we eat (because some foods are really ‘downers’), the exercise we take (or don’t take), etc. There’s a lot of talk about traditional English ways of keeping active – such as walking, cycling, gardening, sport, dance … But there are also extremely effective approaches which in themselves constitute age-old complete systems of health like Yoga and T’ai Chi and which conventional advice often ignores. Many of you will know the subtle but nevertheless very palpable effect that these activities can have on our sense of wellbeing – on our inner calm and sense of inner peace.
Whatever our physical condition, our pains and physical issues, we can benefit too from the objectivity that Mindfulness and Meditation can bring. Both involve ‘being with’ our problems and pain. Both are the opposite of running away from them.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that there is lots we can do ourselves to regain balance in our lives and lift our hearts. And if we need it, we seek help, too. But it’s our life – and the responsibility is clearly ours.