Recently the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre, in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, was graced with a presentation by the Dynamic Duo of Serryn O’Regan and Sara Harris. The focus of the presentation was on Women’s wellness, health, well-being and how women are truly living. The presentation was real, grounded in the reality of how women are living in these modern times and filled with a simplicity that all women could relate to.
One of the refreshing aspects of the presentation was that it was free of quick fixes or solutions that we often use to band aid the issues in our life. The presentation was remedy free, it simply proposed some questions:
Could we as women start to be honest about how we are living, rather than waiting for a crisis to hit ourselves or a loved one, making us stop and forcing us to be honest?
- Are we willing to begin to have real conversations?
- Are we willing to look at the quality of our lives?
The beautiful feeling I could sense from the women in attendance was an openness and a willingness to explore these topics. There was such a gorgeous feeling of togetherness and support in the building; it was like we were being held in the foundation of how these two gorgeous presenters live. This created a space for us to be inspired, to open up and to be real about how we as women are choosing to live.
The presentation was opened with an acknowledgement that many women are living with much busyness, stress, overwhelm, tiredness and exhaustion. Our modern lives seem to insist that we focus on ‘doing’ to prove we are enough. Many of us are juggling family, work, social commitments and putting the needs and expectations of others first. We allow the demands of life to be the focus, even if this means ignoring the signals of our body. Serryn gave a lovely example of how we can override the body e.g. we get home from a full day of work and a stop at the supermarket and our body signals it is tired. Most women would not honour this feeling from the body and refuse to pay attention to it. It is like we say no to the body and begin to push through, placing the body under much stress, so we can accomplish the tasks that we believe are the priority. Essentially we force the body to give us a second wind and then because we are so wired up we go onto make dinner for the next 5 nights, do the washing, clean the kitchen, etc., etc. It feels exhausting just writing about it.
There was a collective nod of agreement, all of us could relate to this example.
The presentation then deepened and pondered on what type of body do we then take to sleep and how restful and restoring can our sleep be? If we choose to over extend ourselves and push through, what type of sleep do we have?
We were asked:
- Is managing our lives enough?
- If we choose to live with just getting by and pushing through, can we say we are truly well? Does this mean we accept a lower quality of life as well-being?
- Does the absence of illness and disease equate to well-being?
- Is there another way?
Statistics on Women’s Health
Sara commented on global statistics on women’s health. There is an increase in newly diagnosed cases of cancer every year. In her clinical practice she has seen an increase in female reproductive health disorders related to women’s periods, fertility and menopause. If we are honest, the global trends in women’s health reveal our health is deteriorating, despite all the fixes and remedies out there. Is it time for us to truly look at what is going on?
Solutions: Diets, Self-help, Exercises, Pills, Shakes
There was also an observation about how women often look outside of themselves for information of how to be well. We may follow the latest fad diet, self help book, exercise regime, pill, shake or miracle cream etc. and go into lots of doing to improve our wellbeing.
Quality of Life and Well-being
Sara proposed a different look at the word well-being:
What if well-being was not about doing but how well we are being. After all the word is well-being not well-doing.
There was applause.
What if we stopped and allowed ourselves to feel how we are being with our bodies?
If we stop and consider that the person we spend the most time with in life is ourselves and we began to lovingly put ourselves first, what would the quality of our being be then?
Would we return to a true quality of well-being?
The Mind Body Connection
There was an audience question about practical examples of how to focus on being rather than doing. Sara clarified that focusing on being does not mean we sit around and just ‘be’, we still ‘do’ things. The difference with being is in the quality and togetherness you bring to your everyday tasks that supports your mind and body to be focused on what you are doing. This supports you to stay in touch with your body and receive the signals it gives you constantly about how you are feeling. Sara shared a personal example of getting dry after a shower. In the past she didn’t bring focus to her tasks so she would never remember drying herself, she would just appear to be somehow dry. Now when Sara dries herself she constantly chooses to bring the focus of her mind and body together in connection so no moment of time is lost.
Sara expanded by presenting that when we go into doing without the quality of mind-body togetherness our body senses there is a threat because you are not focused on the task at hand, the body goes into a flight or fight response. This creates much anxiety in the body and stress on our nervous and cardiovascular systems and all the while there is actually no threat; all we are doing is simply making a cup of tea.
And Serryn proposed:
What if we lived in a way that we were connected to ourselves and deeply cared for ourselves first, without selfishness, and then took this quality of connection to our tasks and interactions with people?
What would the quality of our lives be then?
How we feel matters! If we begin to be honest we can feel that all we want is connection. This first starts with ourselves and then we want connection with others. As women we deeply care for others and want to support them. Imagine the quality of support we bring if we are first deeply caring and connecting to ourselves, bringing our mind and body together to our doing, thus living in a way that creates well-being?
There is such a beautiful and real quality about being connected to being and then being with someone in this way of being. Did you get that it’s all about being! This connection is all we truly want and it is deeply satisfying.
Serryn proposed pondering on how it would feel to look back on your life and feel you had been connected to yourself and others.
In my experience being connected brings a feeling of fulfillment to life that no remedy or band aid solution can bring. I left the presentation pondering – perhaps connection is the secret element to women returning to well-being.
Heart-felt thanks and appreciation to Serryn O’Regan and Sara Harris for providing a platform for the women of Melbourne to begin being honest about how we are living and providing a space for real conversations on Women’s Health and Well-Being.
by Bianca Barban, Registered Nurse, Melbourne, Australia