by Pablo Das.
You are the ultimate authority on your own wellbeing. That might seem like a strange thing for a teacher and a wellness coach to say, but it's true.
Years ago, I was training in a holistic health program where I learned about all the major dietary theories. The school I went to did something interesting. They encouraged us to have the direct experience of trying out the various diets instead of just accepting them uncritically, even though our faculty was full of experts who each "wrote the book" on their respective dietary systems. So for the time between our monthly sessions we tried everything from macrobiotics to raw vegan diets to Atkins. We tried diets meant to cleanse, diets designed to support the immune system and diets rooted in ethical conviction.
Every presenter compellingly sold us on why their diet was the most heath supportive, disease reversing and longevity producing diet ever conceived. After a few months, confusion began to set in as each new "expert" contradicted what seemed like sacred dogmas of the one before. Turns out this was an intentional part of the program. Every new doctor, researcher and nutritional scientist presented their way as "THE" way. But because we each were having direct experiences trying out the diets, and communicating with each other, we started to see that there actually was no universally “right” way of eating that supported the health and well-being of all people uniformly. I remember, for example, trying the raw foods diet and feeling terrible while another person in my cohort suddenly found the energy to run marathons. I started that training as an ethical (but wildly imbalanced) vegetarian and finished the training as a person who understood, experientially not theoretically, that animal based fat and protein sources were what were right for my body. I've said many times to clients that where food is concerned, that any conflicts between a theory and what the body actually needs must always be decided in favor of the body.
The recurring mantra of the training program was "one person's food is another person's poison". What I learned is that while it's important to have the guidance of teachers and wisdom holders, nobody would have all the answers for me. They actually couldn't. We're all so different. Even within the course of our own lives we can see what we need at one point in life is not what we need at another. What works in the summer doesn't work in the winter.
What I discovered was that the authority was me. That authority was established through trial and error and by paying attention to the results of what I consumed in the laboratory of my own body, heart and mind. It meant I had to be present and it meant that I had to take responsibility for my life.
What I didn’t realize then is that this truth would be affirmed for me in different ways, over and over throughout my life. As a gay man, raised in an atheist household, I would not get sober in the traditional way, like everyone else. As a person whose nervous system has been impacted by trauma, I would not practice mindfulness like everyone else. As a person with sugar and wheat sensitivities, I would not eat like everyone else. So many times, I’ve had to critically analyze, test and sometimes reject the dietary, spiritual, healing and recovery authorities and find my own path. I'm not saying we can do it all alone. You need help and your teachers have so much to offer you. But ultimately, as your practices mature, there will be times when you must find the strength to reject dogma and reclaim the authority to walk your own path to a fulfilling, healthy and authentic life.
As a teacher and coach, I seek to support my clients in reclaiming that sense of agency and authority in their own wellness and healing practices. I seek to be a "guide on the side" not an authoritarian expert.
May you find within yourself the capacity to trust your own heart and your own inner knowing and walk your own path with wisdom and without apology. You don't need permission.
For more information on my coaching practice please visit my coaching page.
Please see this page for a special offer on coaching.