Friday, March 26, 2010


...The new buzz word in the spa industry? Not really; only for those who are discovering that wellbeing and by extension wellness could be related to what is being done in spas! History repeats itself but when it comes around again it might have a different spin. Spas originally were places where people went to improve their health: Thermal Kurs in Europe, Thalassotherapy, Onsen in Japan, etc. Today, in most cases, the reason people go to spas is to find an environment that will promote wellbeing, improve health and make people happier! Thus, today the experience is more important than the treatment; the ambiance found in a spa, the service, the attention that one gets and is looking for are the formulas for success. All of this in most cases is achieved without the participation of doctors or medical staff! Yes, because people who go to spas are not sick. They just want to feel better in their head, in their body, and for the most part do not want to be reminded of clinics or hospitals! Spas have an avocation of being the conduit to better health through prevention and improved lifestyles. Spas can respond quite adequately to the “ills” of our times: technology in communication, added to a cultural phobia of “touch”, is alienating society! The touch factor so necessary in life for human beings (preemies die if they are not touched!) is disappearing from everyday encounters. Corporations fearing lawsuits forbid their employees to touch or to interact naturally. Schools ostracize children who hug etc., creating a hostile environment that needs to be relieved. Wellness centers, as spas will be referred to in the future, will deliver those necessary ingredients to attain the balance that is the “secret” ingredient to better mental, physical, and spiritual health.

As we look at our American society today there are some evident deviances, some of which have reached epidemic proportions like obesity. As a result we are seeing the return of so called “fat farms” and the introduction of diet consultants, with a number of physical activities aimed at calorie burning. This is not new, of course, but the way it is done now is inspired from the “Made For T.V.” programs usually followed by celebrities! This fascination that the American public holds for celebrities of any kind is indicative of this fixation on fantasy: an attraction towards the “unreal” where one is so estranged from real life that they must live vicariously through what they perceive is the life of others. So as long as the messages they receive go in the direction of better wellbeing, wellness will be achieved! However, those who manipulate the puppets do not necessarily have the wellness of society in mind, but rather their own economic advancement or sometimes even political agendas! So how can you defend yourself from being manipulated in this way? Simply put: DO NOT COPY! Think for yourself, be logical and you will make a giant step towards wellness.

Without a doubt, the inclusion of yoga, Tai-chi and Chi-Kong reflects the East meets West trend, but is also reflective of people’s new perception that Health and Wellness can be obtained by indulging in far Eastern philosophies where energy dominates physiology. Another syndrome of American society seems to be the difficulty to cope with sexuality. Nothing is more natural than the urges of reproduction and sexual energy is considered paramount in most Asian cultures; but Americans have a strong Victorian heritage that forces them to struggle with sexual matters, which cause major psychological and even physical dysfunctions, much to the delight of the pharmaceutical industry! E. D in men and frigidity in women are the results of denial, stress and societal taboos.

There are numerous treatments in Ayurveda, some based on Traditional Chinese Medicine that can take care of these problems. Eventually those treatments will be available in Holistic spas and by all means that is definitely part of wellness and wellbeing.

Wellness also involves being in balance within oneself. Here we encounter the most quacks and charlatans who exploit the naiveté and weaknesses of character of their clients under the pretext of building self esteem! This translates into just lying to them, to make them feel better! One example is telling a morbidly obese young woman that “fat is beautiful”, that her mind is what is important, etc. All the while, she finds that her social life continues to be a disaster and that her health is compromised! The bottom line of this approach is that “lying” is a quick fix to many of today’s societal problems, and it is done at all levels: political, medical, educational, etc.; but in all cases, like a boomerang, lies will come back and bang you upside the head. The lies one is subject to can cause depression and often addiction to drugs or alcohol as a necessary means to escape reality! Wellness is the opposite: wellness needs to be anchored in truth, no mater how painful it might seem to be a first.