This morning I read several articles in the NY Times that focused on teens and adults and the many ways in which we are able to achieve mental wellness. Therapy and behavioral health treatment are often the most recognized form of treatment and yet there is a growing acknowledgement that the use of guides, companions, wellness, recovery and accountability coaches plays an important part in anyone’s wellness routine. Whatever they are called, these are well-trained individuals who have also navigated adversity, are familiar with the terrain, and who, with gentle understanding, help us process who we are and how we move forward in the world.
Appreciating the Value of Guides
Two days ago, I returned from Peru having hiked the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, walked alongside llamas and experienced a Mother Earth ceremony with a Shaman who serendipitously shares my birthdate. While I traveled with my daughter Felicia, we were with 14 other people from all parts of the world – from Toronto to Nebraska, single, newlywed, married, etc. Our guides were seasoned professionals, one from Spain, Caterina, who spoke 5 different languages and was full of zest, encouragement, vitality, and humor. The other, Martina, originally from England but makes her home in Peru, is a lover of dance and music who has strength, grace, and grit. They were joined by a native guide, Jose, who helped teach us the ways of his world with love, respect, and admiration.
What struck me was how important these individuals were to our mental wellness and physical safety. Like the wellness coaches we find inside and outside of any great behavioral health facility, they were present to help us process our feelings, test our strength, and navigate new ways.
Welcome and Not Alone
Our group ranged from 25 to me, 76, and the range of physical abilities was varied–though I was the slowest of the group and the only one that had to forgo some of the activities. Activities like walking 700 craggy steps up and down or doing an arduous 8.1 mile hike with even more steps and challenging terrain. The realization that it was too much for my body was not easy and was very emotional. My guides allowed me the opportunity to process my feelings as tears softly fell as I watched my fellow travelers climb on the high dunes. Yet I was not alone. The magic of the group and the comradely way of my fellow travelers made me feel welcomed.
Such was the power of the group who let me process the vicissitudes of aging while still walking almost 15,000 steps a day and making sure that I was an integral part of the group.
Companions on the Path
The experience, which at this point is still hard for me to put into words, fueled my heart and soul. It made me even more convinced that in our field when we recommend a wellness coach to work alongside of our clients we are providing a most valuable service. Our guides, our wellness coaches, our companions walk alongside us as we traverse a myriad of emotions, try out new ways of being, and give us a safety net to explore, to grow, and to be. For it’s in their presence we can process what we have learned, walk with confidence, slip a bit, and fall up to our highest self. Ultimately, the synergy of the moment allows us to go off on our own and to walk a new path on our own, knowing we are surrounded by courage, fortitude, love and a way to navigate the challenges of daily living.
Worried About Someone You Love?
If you are worried about a loved one and want some help, please do not hesitate to reach out. Sometimes having an accountability coach or an older peer trained in mentoring can be a great solution; other times, your loved one may need a higher level of care. My team and I are just a phone call away. We want to hear your story and help you navigate a solution that helps your teen and your family flourish.
Contact me today to discuss a healing path for you and your loved ones.