Health and Wellness—The Medicine Wheel Way By Guest Writer, Ralph P. Brown
In this, the final installation of our four-part series on the Medicine Wheel and how it’s used in the Native culture relating to health and wellness, we’ll explore the social and occupational areas of the wheel and summarize how the Wheel can be used to enhance your life.
MOTHER – the Social
I hesitate to assign a direction to this aspect because of the negative connotation associated with “down” so I use “Mother” because Mother energy flows upward with Father energy spiraling downward. To remember this you can think of “Mother Earth” and “Father Sun”. Together they form a twin helix that spirals through all things. In people this energy travels through the natural channel in our spine.
We should care for our social/communal environment like a mother who cares for her child. In Native culture, there is a strong sense of community because we recognize that “It takes a village”. All that we are as individuals affects the whole, which affects us in return. We need to care about the whole just as we care about the self and all of the dimensions that make up that being. We rely on others for many things. We rely on the creatures and other beings on this earth for our very survival. We are a herd animal and, as such, we were meant to know our place in the great circle of life. We are meant to know how we relate to all others – and how they relate to us. Each person contributes either positively or negatively to his or her environment and community so it is in everyone’s best interest to strive for a healthy relationship with the world and all of the creatures in it.
Relating this to the four stages of the growth cycle . . . when a baby is born everything is done for the baby. He is clothed, fed, cleaned and tended to by someone else. In a sense, the world (at least as the baby knows it) revolves around him. As he grows and his awareness increases, he sees a bigger world and it is a natural inclination to try and master that world so he becomes more independent – going further and doing more for himself. Eventually in his learning, he discovers that the world becomes less about him and more about the whole. If his learning is in balance, he knows the importance of serving the whole because he knows that serving the whole is, in essence, serving the self.
A portion of our living should be dedicated to community service on some level. At the root of this is learning to live in harmony with our environment and the community – receiving from them and giving to them.
FATHER – the Occupational
Occupational is more than what we do to earn a living. It is how we “work” to enrich our lives and how we contribute to the whole of society. It rises above simply performing a task to doing so with a positive attitude.
In our occupations, we can acquire new skills and discover new ideas, all of which can feed our physical, spiritual, emotional and mental bodies. Understanding how work contributes to our own life, our families, our community and our world can elevate a task-oriented position to something more meaningful and fulfilling.
A key to finding this fulfillment is finding something that you like to do . . . finding something that is in line with your values, morals and beliefs. Barring that, it is about having the right attitude, working with your heart, and finding joy in the achievement and the doing because you know what you do is important on so many levels. Do it like you mean it!
Energy is all around us. We are created from energy. There are many different forms of energy: heat, light, male, female, positive, negative and so on. There is also a Universal Energy – a divine energy – that when we tap into it and align ourselves with its flow is life changing.
To align ourselves with this flow we must bring all of the bodies mentioned above into harmony. When all of the bodies are in harmony and balance, it is like all of the planets are aligning for us and our good.
Energy is about vibration and vibrational levels. If we are to resonate with those things on a higher vibrational level, we must first raise our own. We enter this higher stream by making better choices that affect all levels and all bodies. These choices come from positive thoughts and actions. Our quest for good health and well-being has, at its heart, the quest for a good life. Being well is living well.
In the traditional way, I place this information at your feet. If you should find something good in it, pick it up and walk with it because it now belongs to you. We do this with gifts of this nature because we understand that each person has his own free will. With that free will comes a responsibility for this gift of life that is ours. Each person must take the initiative and be an active participant to his or her well-being. The symbolic “laying at your feet” shows that you have to take it upon yourself to pick up and use this information. Like any other medication, this only works if you take it.
My prayer is that each person will find balance through this awareness which will then spread into the whole of our world and mend the Sacred Hoop of Life that has been broken for too long.
Ralph P. Brown
Ralph P. Brown (also known as Tawennihake) is a Mohawk Indian of the Akwesasne tribe. He currently resides in Nebraska, creating his art and delivering his message from Earth Lodge Studios. Visit his web site at
www.mirroredwindows.com for additional insight, stories, lessons and visual creations related to many Native American stories. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved worldwide.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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