The term holistic comes from the Greek holos, meaning “whole,” and the term therapeia, meaning “care.” It refers to the importance of taking care of yourself and others by adopting a comprehensive vision of balance.
These days, the holistic approach refers to the balance of body, mind, and soul, but also to the social, cultural, and political context in which we live. This awareness makes it possible to support each individual in their quest for balance and guide them toward practices tailored to the challenges of our era.
Our reality is constantly changing. In the wellness industry, some are demanding the radical return of self-care, which differs from the interpretation conveyed today. In an age marked by the quest for meaning, the search for reconciliation, and advocacy movements, the social is combined with the spiritual, thereby allowing a more engaged spirituality to emerge.
These little revolutions have an undeniable impact on the collective sphere. While individual well-being equips us with the necessary abilities to create positive social change around us, collective well-being influences the reality of individuals within societies. This holistic and relational vision of the world directly connects the concepts of individual transformation and social evolution. This perspective also invites us to rethink well-being as a collective consideration much more than a personal one, despite the advent of self-care in recent years as a practice starting from oneself, for oneself.
Here is a look at some emerging and evolving visions that are driving us to deepen the meaning of well-being in its entirety.
“Let us remember that we are constantly evolving and that every day, we learn new things. Sometimes, we learn how to relearn; other times, how to make certain concepts or truths accessible. With vulnerability and altruism, let us evolve in a world of openness and acceptance.”
— Bianca Des Jardins and Andy Dubois, authors of Anima : Rituels créatifs pour se connecter à l’essentiel
Self-care is an essential and crucial component of preventive well-being.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
— Audre Lorde
These words from Audre Lorde, a Black civil rights activist, writer, lesbian, and feminist, summarize an emerging notion of self-care, which is opposed to the definition belonging to the wellness industry, which focuses on the individual rather than the community, and which reinforces the same structures that Lorde devoted her life to dismantling.
Many see self-care as a temporary break that can provide relief from a stressful, fast-paced life. Radical self-care, however, moves away from this vision by addressing the causes of this stressful life. In other words, radical self-care works at the source to bring about lasting change for both the self and the community. As a community, we are all we need to overcome our own challenges.
Radical self-care involves adopting practices that keep us physically and psychologically healthy by taking the time to think about what matters to us. They invite us to remain faithful to our identity and implement strategies of introspection, rootedness, empowerment, and transformation by creating a support network within our community.
For some, this may mean living in harmony with the seasons and the different cycles of the moon, while for others, it may mean working on reconnecting with their identity and their community.
Giving yourself the necessary space to set boundaries, listen to your needs, experience your emotions, laugh, cry, dream, and meditate are simple examples of radical self-care.
Radical well-being is not a task to be checked off your to-do list. It is an energy that is cultivated every day within yourself. It is the practice of self-compassion and welcoming your deepest feelings. When you adopt this way of life on a daily basis, you will have the strength and benevolence that make it possible to face the most difficult situations and generate healing.
None of this is easy. Caring for yourself is above all a spiritual act that demands rest and a sense of revolution.
While individual well-being influences that of communities, the overall well-being of a community gives real meaning to the lat- ter. This is what leads to the rise of a more engaged spirituality.
“Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls your life.”
— Akshay Dubey
Spiritual activism is a practice that aims to develop internal spiritual faculties in order to apply them and bring about positive social change. The objective is to contribute to the creation of a more socially just world, particularly by fighting oppression.
For Rachel Ricketts, a racial justice educator, spiritual activist, lawyer, and author of the book Do Better: Spiritual Activism for Fighting and Healing from White Supremacy, spiritual activism is about daily anti-oppressive actions, thoughts, and words. According to Ricketts, this begins with introspective work and spiritual practices that are culturally appropriate to each individual.
For example, the contemporary reappropriation of the figure of the witch, a strong symbol of feminism, highlights its political aspect. People who identify with it address issues that have long remained in the shadows. Denouncing injustices, they amplify the voices of women and marginalized communities and examine social and cultural issues by revisiting history. Combined with modern issues, the quest for well-being now focuses on the collective.
As Mona Chollet explains in Sorcières: La puissance invaincue des femmes, “ The witch embodies the woman freed from all dominations, all limitations; she is an ideal toward which to strive, she shows the way.”
After movements such as # MeToo, # Black LivesMatter, # JusticeForJoyce, and #EveryChildMatters, to name just a few, players committed to deconstructing systems of oppression speak in turn of justice, mobilization, decolonization, and healing. These people who operate on the public stage or in the background may be members or leaders of marginalized communities, or valuable allies.
An ally is an individual who acknowledges their privileges but chooses to defend the rights of marginalized communities by fight- ing discrimination and stereotypes through concrete means. Targeted by oppression, marginalized communities include but are not limited to racialized communities, LGBTQ+ communities, immigrants or refugees, women, and people with disabilities.
Many of us dream of a more just world: let us remember that the dreams of yesterday’s visionaries are, for some, now realities.
The pursuit of well-being and the practice of self-care are characteristic of our era. In these times of social upheaval, however, it is necessary for us to rediscover the radical sense of well-being.
Radical self-care underlines the fact that it is necessary to take care of yourself first to be able to care for others. In this sense, individual well-being is an important step toward collective well-being.
In terms of collective well-being, there is still a great deal that remains to be done. We need to transform structures, acknowledge injustices, meet the needs of communities, initiate the process of healing, decolonization, and so much more. In short, reinvent the world…
However, the past few years have shown us with certainty that this movement is now well underway.
Chollet, Mona. « Sorcières : La puissance invaincue des femmes »., Éditions Zones, 22 octobre 2018. Desai, Shikha. « Why Ayurveda gained a lot of popularity since Covid-19 ». Times of India, 29 mai 2021. Gagnon-Paradis, Iris. « Populaire quête intérieure ». La Presse, 12 juin 2022.
Indiana State University. « Radical Self-Care », 2021.
Iowa State University. « Social Movement », Archive of Women’s Political Communication, 2022. Newman-Bremang, Kathleen. « Reclaiming Audre Lorde’s Radical Self-Care ». Refinery29, 28 mai 2021.
Ricketts, Rachel. « How Spiritual Activism Can Lead to Social Transformation ». Shondaland, 3 février 2021.
Turner, Nancy J. « Médecine traditionnelle des Premières Nations du Canada ». L’encyclopédie canadienne, 1er mai 2019.