Many years ago, I read a book called, Wade a Little Deeper, Dear. It was about fly fishing for women - how to step into the deeper pools where the action is. I heard it as an invitation to life, wellness, and growth. When we were developing the WholeHeart Wellness Model, we began by talking about the progression of wading, then swimming, then diving into wellness and mindfulness - key aspects of a buoyant life. The process felt evolutionary, AND the journey could begin wherever we are in life or on any given day. We knew that a wholehearted journey is a deep dive. I learned the hard way as a child that diving requires deep water. We wondered what the nautilus, nature’s ancient, deep diver, had to teach us.
The nautilus is a free-swimming mollusk with a hard, multi-chambered, spiraling shell. Reaching through the interior of the shell is a tubular structure called the siphuncle. The nautilus uses this organ to control the volumes of water and gases within each of its shell chambers to regulate its buoyancy. This evolutionary breakthrough allows the nautilus to grow in size and move. It is known to dive up to 5,000 feet without cracking its shell and has survived for 500 million years.
The WholeHeart Wellness Model is inspired by this wisdom: six chambers embrace its whole heart center. Each chamber represents a particular perspective on the whole: Grace, Emotional, Intellectual, Physical, Social, and Cultural. It can be used for personal and organizational purposes, inviting people to explore which aspects of life feel solid, which are buoyant, and which need deeper attention.
Our Wellness Model has its own voice. People with a wide range of experience find it “speaks” to them, without introduction. Some say it surely is evolutionary from the inside-out of the spiral. Others observe it is obvious that the learning curve is from the outside-in. One person describes how he sees the chambers paired: Grace with Physical, Emotional with Social, and Cultural with Intellectual and that every pairing has a divine aspect. Each perspective makes perfect sense. The nautilus calls us to wade, swim, or dive into caring for our personal and organizational wholeness.
My right foot is currently leading me on a personal WholeHeart Wellness Journey. Particulars aside, I have not been able to walk or drive for eight months. It was a hard landing in my physical chamber last October. I have depended on my intellectual chamber to understand the ramifications of Charcot Foot. My social skills were quickly enlisted as I had to advocate for myself in a complex medical system. I spend a lot of time in my social chamber with caregivers, a crazy quilt of caring people who manage to squeeze me into their diverse and demanding lives. It’s all pretty emotional. My emotional chamber has shown me its many sides and enabled me to retain my buoyancy. What would I do without my sense of humor? Why, turn to Grace, of course.
Professionally, the model reminds us that the life of an organization is not a linear process. We use it in strategic planning and weekly meeings to keep us aligned. Moving with the wisdom of this ancient sea creature has brought us to new territory and depths: expanding staff, establishing new partnerships, and exploring ways to buoy ourselves in times of transition.
The WholeHeart Wellness Model serves as a lifeline while we wade, swim, and dive into what keeps us growing personally and professionally. We invite you to walk it, dance it, decorate it, and personalize it. Each time it surfaces, may another aspect of wellness and Beauty be reborn.
Trish Alley, Board President & Co-Founder of WholeHeart Inc.