Well: I was feeling really well at the idea of writing well this post about wellness.
Such an abused word, isn’t it? Wellness. What does it even mean? We had a training course exploring the topic. It was an intense journey, a week of great inspiration, connection and personal development. So I am here to celebrate it, and to write a short account of it.
As it turned out, writing it was much harder than I thought. It was one of those evenings when I experience the writer’s block (which means basically, 90% of the evenings).
So to overcome it somehow and start the creative process, I had to include a lot of Freddy pictures in the post (the other option was large amounts of alcohol). So please be patient with us. After all, this is his blog as much as it is mine.
An after all, it’s all part of wellness. Isn’t it?
Game of Wellness is the title of an Erasmus+ training course we developed and delivered in Kapraluv Mlyn, near Brno in Czech Republic, in December 2016.
The team was a pleasure to work with, and was composed by Jana Stará, a wellness coach, university researcher and lecturer on Wellness; Bara Rodi, medical doctor and trainer expert on facilitation and group processes (and, my lovely wife); and me, great example of a guy almost on the edge of burn out.
No, seriously. My colleagues were really qualified and had a lot of experience and knowledge to share. I felt under a lot of pressure. So, having to somehow justify my presence there, I took on myself the responsibility of
delivering sarcastic and inappropriate jokes at every opportunity bringing my experience on games and gamification to the table. And so, we designed a week on what is Wellness, how to achieve it, and how to make it fun, so that it’s easier to achieve for ourselves and others.
It was a new concept, born after a good experience we had in a previous training course. We decided to experiment a lot, while designing the new format. The combination of topics was something new for us. It also completed my trilogy of courses on games, which started with Game of Challenges (Greece 2015: I was so young back then!), continued with Green Gaming (Tenerife 20216) and ended here.
I am also proud to say that I am learning more and more in this field, and as I am gaining experience in theory and practice I continue to discover new applications of games and gaming for learning and social work. Plus – it’s great fun!
The topic and the course title must be very attractive: we keep receiving notifications by random people from exotic countries all over the world who want to join our facebook group. Sorry, folks: it’s a closed group. Plus believe me, you don’t want to see some of the pictures that are there.
We followed a very experimental approach because we
had no idea how to fill the programme wanted to base the course as much as possible on participants and their contributions.
So, what is wellness? Well, if you wanted to know, you had to be at the course. If you didn’t apply, hope that there will be another edition, and do apply then. But if you applied and were not there, there are two options:
- the application was written badly, and you were not selected. OR you were selected, but you didn’t come. Either way, you have only yourself to blame;
- the application was good, but we underestimated it (or maybe, other ones were better than yours). In this case it’s OK to blame us, or the others. Blaming will not help though: it still doesn’t change the fact that you were not there.
But anyway. Health is often defined on dictionaries as “the state of being free from illness or injury”. Interesting, isn’t it? We don’t even know what health is, so we don’t know how to define it and we need to use its opposite concept. But then, finally in 1946, the World Health Organisation developed a definition that was much more complete, and went like this:
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Ah-ah, so well-being was introduced. Not merely the absence of disease. Very good. Next natural question: so what is well-being?
Wellness is much more than just “health”. It’s a term usually associated to spa centres and expensive stuff. It doesn’t have to be (although they help – up to a point). It’s the conscious process of reaching a state of balance and ehr… not-badness (try to define it without using the word “well”) in physical, mental, social and spiritual dimensions.
This is also very important, as many of us tend to focus on a few aspects of our wellbeing. Maybe I exercise, eat healthy and sleep a lot. But then why is it that I feel depressed and broken? Or maybe, I have a happy family life, my work gives me satisfaction, and I am an active member of community. But my back aches, and I have trouble sleeping. Do I feel well, generally?
All of this are signs that a wellness wheel may not balanced. In order to reach an equilibrium, many different dimensions have to be considered. And here is the rub: they all have the same importance. So yes: family, friends and meaningful connections. A satisfying sexual life. Eat well, sleep and exercise enough. Self-respect. Reflection. Fun. Spirituality. Meaning in life. All of these elements come into play when trying to reach a balanced state of wellness.
Uff! It may sound like a lot of work, but it’s really worth achieving it. Because if not… we end up in all sorts of bad places.
Anyway, dear reader: if you were not present there at the course, maybe it’s a good thing. Because the group of participants was really experienced and qualified. We were overwhelmed by proposals for workshops and activities, so much that we had to radically change a significant part of our intended programme and give a lot more space to sessions led by participants. It was a
relief very good decision. Workshops were really well done, informative and inspiring, at least generally, but what can you do.
Some examples of activities realised:
Plus: I could bring Freddy the Cat as an added team member! The manager of the scout center wasn’t entirely aware of it (if you are reading, Michal, apologies! Freddy loved your place at least as much as we do) but his presence became a very important element of the course.
Freddy loved the group, and (well, most) people loved him.
Ok, so we basically left the whole week in the hands of the participants, free to organise the whole thing?
I wish. Not really. We were still in charge of holding the famous red thread, and providing for the general structure of the course.
We proposed activities on Wellness
Burn out and where to find it,
games and gamification – want to know what are some of my favourite videogames, and why I love them? read here – and much more.
Which brings us to Star Wars, lots of Star Wars in this programme.
Rogue One was released during our training week and, coincidence! We had a free evening that very day. Seriously, it was a coincidence. Believe me! But these things happen when one is one with the Force, and the Force is with one.
It was like having another Christmas, before Christmas. A movie night with buddies.
In general, if you want to know, I think every child should watch Star Wars while in primary school. I mean it. You don’t believe me? Here is why I love it so much and what I think on the matter. Feel free to have a look, I always love to discuss the topic.
So, back to the main story. In general, we wanted to follow a very experiential approach for Game of Wellness. So… to experience wellness, first thing we took people to the wellness centre! Really. Look:
If you were reading my blog recently, you know that even such a pleasurable activity can hide dangers for some people. Check number 5 on my list, there.
It was a challenge, we took it as a group, and it had a great team building value. Seriously, good hint for a training course: take your group to sauna on the first or second day and
ask them to strip naked see the result!
Disclaimer note for parents, relatives, boyfriends, girlfriends, jealous relevant others: not everybody was forced to be naked. Don’t worry!
All considered, it was a very, very rich week. Full of sharing, reflection, insight and… wellness!
The sharing included: fun problem solving and educational games,
discussions on epic failures, and how to avoid them,
writing down our own personal wellness wheel inventories,
scientific facts and sharing of knowledge,
lots of creativity,
a birthday celebration,
some more questions instead of answers,
and then this session,
two movie nights, plus a memorable dance (I have no good picture of it, sorry, and dancers were too busy you know, dancing).
The group also had a lot of cozy time together, as documented by this picture
which developed into a pillow fight – things that happen when you insist on the need to release the inner child in each of us
which developed into someone going to the hospital with one broken finger.
But as we all agreed: if it’s all done in the name of wellness, it’s just a small price to pay.
The programme also included a solid component of The Way of Council, also thanks to very experienced and enthusiastic participants (thanks Giula and Kriszta!) and if you tried this method, you know how good it feels and what wonders it can bring to a group.
These are from our last night’s circle:
Being fully in the Christmas atmosphere, we wanted to do a very festive circle, and ask ourselves the question: “What gifts were we taking home after the course“. It was a very intense moment.
So, the end.
We played games, discussed, learned and shared. The course is right now unfolding its effects on people’s lives and projects
and for me personally, it was a very inspiring time, a space for healing and clarity, and left me with a stronger motivation to keep working with people and in this field, in a moment where my motivation was a little bit shaking. Which, wow, all sounds really wellnessey, doesn’t it?
It also left me completely exhausted, but that’s another story. I am one with the Force, the Force is with me.
Thank you for reading! Would you like to take part or organise a course like this one? Contact us, and we will be delighted to support you and discuss ideas!
To say nothing the Cat, who might also be there with you.