Chelsey Luger and her husband Tosh Collins have been advocating and highlighting the Aboriginal way of life and their perspective on well-being, especially through their well-being campaign – Well for Culture. Now, the couple have published their book The Seven Circles, which explores and provides practical practices in the seven areas critical to overall health: food, ritual, movement, sleep, sacred space, community, and connection to land.
In this book, the authors help you explore these places, with the help of Indigenous ancestral knowledge, to guide your own spiritual, physical and emotional well-being. We spoke with Luger to find out what the book can offer you, as well as why it’s so important to examine wellness through different lenses.
Well + Good: Native well-being, as you and Tosh say, can be many different things. How would you describe it in a sentence or two?
Chelsey Luger: Indigenous wellness means that Indigenous worldviews, values, knowledge and ways of working are grounded and respected as they approach a well-balanced way of life. This can look like many different things to many different people. Our approach, in particular, is a model called the Seven Circles of Wellbeing, which defines a map for dealing with mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well-being. It’s not something that every native is following, but it’s definitely something that our audience has connected with and found helpful – whether they’re native or not.
W+G: What is the biggest obstacle in incorporating these habits into your life? Is it a mental shift in how we think about wellbeing?
CL: For native people, it is very convenient to approach well-being with our cultural and spiritual views of the world, because these tend to be the teachings with which we were raised. Due to the ever-present issue of racism and discrimination, we often have to overcome the barrier of feeling welcome at all in a place of well-being. But once we build that confidence, and allow ourselves to integrate our cultural and spiritual teachings with a healthy lifestyle, everything will click and it will be very powerful.
For non-indigenous people, the biggest obstacle in learning about settler colonialism, and how this history is absolutely necessary in understanding why people from all walks of life ‘struggle with health today. But once that is clear, the path towards general healing will appear.
Most Americans know very little about Native culture and history. It enriches our story and makes us all understand Indigenous experience better, and wellness is a beautiful lens through which to learn about Indigenous people.
W+G: Nationhood is vast and varied – what are the unifying elements or two unifying ideals that most communities share? How does that fit into health?
CL: Many Aboriginal people believe in seeking balance, not perfection. We are taught to be humble, that we are only human, and to accept the ups and downs of life. We also know that life is cyclical – everything is a continuous journey, not a linear jump from point A to point B. This keeps us humble in good times and also hopeful in down times. – we know that the universe will bring balance back to our final life journey.
Many indigenous peoples and communities are also very familiar with the concept of interconnectedness. It is clear to us that what is good for our physical health is also good for our mental, spiritual, and emotional health. Our ancestors did not put these things in separate compartments and boxes, as the western world does. All things are interconnected.
W+G: In your opinion, which of the seven circles is the most difficult to incorporate into your own life? Why?
CL: There are always ups and downs in life, so on any given day, one of the seven cycles may be more difficult to incorporate than another. For example, sometimes I wake up feeling excited for a workout I have planned for that day, and other times it feels almost impossible to conjure up that kind of energy. So, it changes from day to day. The good news is that the seven circles are a map of opportunities. Even if you haven’t been involved in a movement practice, they will definitely show you that there are other options to engage in wellness, such as cooking nutritious meals, getting a good night’s sleep, tidying up so that your home feels like her “sacred place,” and so on. Wellness is much more than just diet and exercise, and this book embraces that fact.
“There’s a lot more to wellness than just diet and exercise, and this book embraces that fact.” —Chelsey Luger
W+G: How can people respect indigenous people and customs?
CL: While we were writing this book, we kept in mind that, as voices about Native well-being, we have a great responsibility to shoulder. We are always supported by our communities, but also held accountable by them, so it was no question that we would write about the topic of culture in a way that clearly explains how deeply what is its history, and how harmful it could be. . Readers will find these details in the Concert chapter. We are confident that they will walk away with a desire to support Aboriginal people in our cultural heritage when needed, and also to support indigenous language and cultural revitalization programs that benefit indigenous youth, instead of to feel a constant desire to exploit or respond to our spirituality. , as has become so common in the wellness industry.
W+G: Anything else you’d like to share about the book or about indigenous wellness?
CL: We are thrilled to be part of the growing movement to decolonize wellness and reclaim health in Indigenous communities, and are honored by the opportunity to share our vision to share Native joy with the world. You will get that The Seven Circles it is a judgment free zone. Ideally, it will help readers not only expand their understanding of wellness, but also embrace their own power and gifts they were born with.
You can buy the book for $29.99 on Bookshop.org and Amazon or wherever books are sold.
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