Senior Guardian writer Brigid Delaney has chronicled her extraordinary health journey in a new book, Wellmania – Misadventures in the search for Wellness.
We live in a society in search of good health. There’s a plethora of diets, pills, exercises and magazine articles that promise us weight loss, muscle gain, more energy, and many people pay huge sums towards a healthy lifestyle.
But Brigid Delaney believes physical health cannot easily be bought from a chemist or newsagent.
“There is no quick fix to wellness, and each day we have to really remake ourselves and recommit to living a life that is as healthy as possible and also fun,” she told Hatch.
Delaney reached that conclusion after a series of health adventures – and misadventures – which began with doing a detox for magazine assignment and evolved into a series of travels and fearless experiments that included wacky diets, drinking opium with a Brahmin priest, and being lathered with oil in the jungle of Sri Lanka.
Her stories have been wrapped into a book rather than a feature story, because “there’s more than 700 words in an exploration of the wellness industry. It is a very complex and multimillion dollar industry – ant it was worth exploring in depth”.
In order to discover as many possible ways to achieve a healthy lifestyle, Delaney travelled to different countries and digested as much of their culture and ways of life as she could.
“I learned that every culture is looking for meaning and a sense of peace and community,” she said.
Wellmania also discusses how fasting has been practiced for thousands of years in various countries, for cultural and religious purposes – and how it serves not just as a way to cleanse and purify the body, but also to unite people through a shared experience.
But many modern day health fads are solitary experiences, Delaney found.
The Chinese medicine 101 Day Program run by Dr Shuquan Liu was one of the programmes she went through alone. The treatment, which includes extensive fasting, promises to restore organs to their optimum working order, improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels and help you live to the age of 101.
Although it isn’t something she regrets, it is a challenge that she would not recommend to others.
“I did have second thoughts about it but once I committed to it, I decided to follow it through to the end. It was definitely the hardest thing I have ever done and I wouldn’t do it again. It was just very hard to go without food for that amount of time,” she said.
One of the main messages shared in Wellmania is to “Shoot for Serenity”, encouraging people to step out of their comfort zones to try new and different practices and find an approach to health that suits their personal needs.
For Delaney, this was Vedic meditation.
“Vedic mediation is good because you get a mantra and you spend 40 minutes a day, so two lots of 20 minutes meditating. I think its a really great way to start the day and end it with a nice calm mind,” she said.
Wellmania was written for audiences of all ages, including young people.
When asked about what she would recommend to people under 25, Delaney told Hatch: “Take a break from your screens and maybe spend three hours a week, like a block of three hours on a Sunday, to turn off your phones.”
“It could even be an afternoon, just have a period where you’re not on technology and not on social media, so that you can’t be contacted, and can learn to experience life without that constant distraction of phone and the internet,” she said.
Wellmania is published by Black Inc and can be ordered here.
Story by Shantelle-Ann Marquis. Feature Image by Lisa Clarke (Flickr Creative Commons).