For the sake of this post, I present the pillars separately, but they are interwoven. I like to use a cake metaphor when explaining the four pillars and self-care: You always need dry ingredients, wet ingredients, leavening, and sweeteners to make a cake, but the specific ingredients you choose change the cake’s flavor and texture.
If you use almond flour and coconut oil, your cake will be different than a cake made with wheat flour and butter. Each of the book’s four parts focuses on one pillar, but you need all four of them to create a complete recipe for inner wealth. The pillars are about finding a balance between effort and surrender.
To stay with our cake metaphor, eggs are part of the cake, but more eggs don’t always make the cake some better. Even when we believe we’re taking care of ourselves, we often feel some level of stress and don’t understand why. It may be that one of our pillars is weak or that we are overdoing it in a specific realm.
For example, someone who exercises five days a week eats a healthy diet, and has fulfilling relationships with family and friends may still feel depressed or anxious. Of course, real-life factors come into play, but neglecting to take the time for stillness, which involves rest and reflection, could be inhibiting her ability to cope optimally.
She could be eating a super-clean diet, but it’s so restrictive that she’s always eating alone or experiencing stress around food, which can leave her feeling empty. You’re busy; I get that. I am too. Even though it seems like I’m suggesting you add something else to your already packed day, in the long run, these pillars and the practices that bring them to life will support you in navigating the fullness of your life and schedule.
The Four Pillars of Wellness are a framework to help you integrate a balanced self-care routine into your days. I’ll show you ways to create efficiencies rather than crowd your calendar. We will make moments that already exist more supportive of your health and well-being. The idea is to engage in four pillar practices from a place of loving yourself and feeling nurtured from the inside out, rather than the perspective of having more to do or the need to be perfect.
The lens through which we view the practice’s impacts our ability to be consistent. You’ll find you have more energy, prioritize your time more effectively, and feel healthier if you consistently approach self-care from a balanced, mindful, and compassionate perspective. These practices enable you to be successful and enjoy your life, family, and work.
A quote that always comes to mind for me (by Dolly Parton) is “Don’t be so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” The four pillars support you in actualizing the healthiest and happiest version of yourself and your life. When clients come to us for their first wellness advisory consultation, we want to understand where the four pillars show up in their lives.
We can determine the ingredients they already have in place and figure out the complementary ingredients to create balance and help them thrive. When we are in our lives, it can be hard to see the forest through the trees. We have blind spots, and sometimes small shifts can make a huge difference.
For example, I met with a new client who was going to spin class six days a week but had no strength training. She felt weak and tired despite a rigorous fitness routine. We replaced two of her spin classes with personal training and yoga and added bodywork sessions two times a month.
She felt exponentially better. Another gentleman runs and plays golf but has chronic knee and back pain. He came to us because he believed he needed consistent massage. A once-a-week massage will help, but it will only scratch the surface of his situation. If he plans to manage his pain or optimize his golf game, he’ll need to integrate mindful stretching and breathing (i.e., yoga).
But we meet our clients where they are, and some times we need to give them what they think they need, build trust, and then make suggestions about what we know, based on experience and research, to move the needle on their situation. We find that as clients begin to feel better, they’re more willing to explore and add other practices.
Helping clients cultivate a mindful perspective and listen to their bodies, hearts, and minds from the inside out is a huge part of the process. Oftentimes people know the answers; they are just not listening well or need a framework like the four pillars to interpret the messages they may be getting from their bodies.
The practices within the pillars of movement, stillness, touch, and nourishment don’t appear out of anywhere, nor do you reap the full benefit by working with only one. The integration of these life ingredients needs to be highly intentional and supported by teachers, coaches, therapists, and community in our fast-paced digital world.
When you practice elements of each pillar, an intricate web of self-care begins to support and cradle you in a space that allows you to let go. You begin to realize the world won’t fall apart if you wait twenty minutes to check your email. As a result, you start to feel like you are leading a healthier, happier life.
All that said, you have to begin somewhere. When you begin the journey with one of the pillars, your curiosity to experience the other pillars will grow. Deep down we all crave a healthy state of dynamic equilibrium, and as you begin to peel off the layers of resistance and become open to the potential of greater balance, you will look for practices to build on the ones you’re already engaged in.
When you start to feel well, you’ll want to feel well more often, and you’ll look for ways and practices to make that happen. You’ll also notice that when you feel good in and about your self, you see the best in other people. This is where the true magic begins to happen. But of course, it’s not magic because it’s entirely real and achievable.
You can begin using the practices to reinforce one pillar at a time, but know that you’ll see the most benefits when all four sustain you. In this book, I’ll give you lots of options for the types of practices you can integrate from each of the pillars. That way, you can choose those that are most appealing to you. Just like baking a cake, some of us prefer chocolate, and others love vanilla.
Engaging in practices that we genuinely feel drawn to makes the integration of the four pillars feel natural and authentic. It’s about experiencing the best version of you, as opposed to trying to be someone you’re not. Overtime in the ever-evolving stages of your life, the practices that resonate with you will change. Be kind to yourself and open to adopting what’s feels right at any given time.