“Feelings aroused by the touch of someone’s hand, the sound of music, the smell of a flower, a beautiful sunset, a work of art, love, laughter, hope and faith all work on both the unconscious and conscious aspects of the self, and they have physiological consequences as well” ~ Bernie Segal
What does it mean to exist in well-being?
The Berkeley Well-Being Institute has been helping people improve their well-being for more than 15 years. The Institute’s founder Dr. Tchiki Davis suggests that, generally speaking, a person’s well-being emerges from their thoughts, actions, and experiences – most of which we have control over.
As I pondered the phrase well-being and reflected on the meaning, I started rearranging the words and was intrigued as it morphed into ‘The Well of Being’. I felt there was something strangely esoteric about that expression. What would existing in The Well of Being convey?
To experience well-being – or to exist in the well of being….is there a difference?
The first time I remember hearing the phrase “The Well of Being” was in learning about a book by that title, The Well of Being, from Jean-Pierre Weill. A children’s book for adults, this literary treasure is an illustrated inquiry into the art of happiness and what it means to be radically alive in our daily moments.
Okay, so a distinction could be made between ‘Well-Being’ i.e., having influence over our thoughts, actions, and experiences versus ‘The Well of Being’ i.e., feeling radically alive in the moments of our days. When was the last time you felt radically alive?
Feeling radically alive – what does that even mean?
The dictionary definition of these three words breaks down to:
– feeling = “sensation experienced through the senses; generalized bodily consciousness or sensation”
– radically = “fundamental…. relating to, or proceeding from a root”
– alive = “full of energy and spirit”
Hmm…this could then be translated to mean experiencing a state of energy and/or spirit that is rooted in us at birth as we are aware of and open to the information coming through our senses. The operative words here are experiencing our senses.
One of the best examples of someone living from their fundamental well of being and having a radically alive experience is a healthy young child who is open with wonder and curiosity to her newly-emerging world.
Before she learns to filter her experiences through the lens of her culture and family conditioning, her senses offer a kaleidoscope of images, sounds, smells, textures, touch, and tastes. Her sensory experiences go on to evoke a variety of feelings that are associated with aliveness and spiritedness.
Children are naturally attuned to the energy and spirit of life within and around them. This instinctive nature to be informed by our sensory awareness is the birthright in all of us. We are all born with this full-body awareness to moment-by-moment fully and deeply feel radically alive.
The barometer for feeling radically alive is our body, which is our vehicle for energy and spirit to be fully felt through our beautiful senses. As sentient beings we are born with the gift of being fully aware of and responsive to our sense impressions. This is what it means to literally “come to our senses”.
How often do we experience the depth of the present moment? Every day we are given this precious opportunity to allow ourselves to engage with life through our senses. When we open our field of awareness to include what we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste we have the chance to feel radically alive.
In summary, the well of being can be understood as a place within ourselves that feels like home. Being is our essential nature as humans. We often forget how to enjoy simply being as we become so obsessed with doing. The state of being is vast, mysterious, and as deep as a well. Within the well of being we can access our sentience and immerse ourselves in the radical nature of energy and spirit – the source of our lives.
“Find the love you seek, by first finding the love within yourself. Learn to rest in that place within you. That is your true home”
~ Ravi Shankar