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A New Paradigm for Wellness

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This is a guest post from Mark Cochran, DC. He is a member of Sandpoint Transition Initiative (STI) along with Mario Roxas  ND, and Owen Marcus, MA

So…What, Exactly, is Wellness?

Wellness is a journey. It is not an end or even a means to an end. Wellness is a way of living-a way of being. “Wellness” is a popular buzzword today, but our healthcare system and our society have yet to really define it. Opinions differ widely and most healthcare consumers and practitioners have only a general idea of what they believe wellness to be.

I once attended a workshop where the presenter, a respected medical doctor, defined wellness as, “the prevention and management of disease.” I have an entirely different perspective.  Wellness is about health and vitality; it has nothing to do with disease.

Within our current healthcare framework, most people equate wellness with prevention. Under the more empowering new paradigm that I propose, the two concepts are fundamentally different. My favorite parable for illustrating the difference between prevention and wellness is the fictitious story of two new business school graduates, Winifred and Tanicus (Win and Tank to their friends), who have just earned their MBAs and are getting ready to go out into the world of big business to seek their fortunes. Tank’s strategy is to steer clear of the pitfalls of the business world so that he can avoid failure. His outlook and approach are based on fear. Tank has a failure consciousness.

Win, on the other hand, is focused on achieving success. She understands what success will require, and she devotes her time, energy and resources to attract success into her life. Win has a success consciousness.

The Law of Attraction tells us that what we invite into our lives is determined by how we think, speak, dream, visualize and act. With that in mind, who do you feel will probably win, and which of the two is most likely to tank? My bet is on Win to win.

Now, let’s apply this to the world of healthcare. Many so called “wellness” programs have little to do with wellness because, ultimately, they seek to fight or prevent a disease or other health challenge. Examples of this are weight loss, diabetes prevention, cholesterol screening, blood pressure screening, stress reduction-the list goes on. Although these may be worthy endeavors, they approach health from the same failure consciousness that Tank carries with him into the business world. This does not mean that prevention is wrong or ill advised; it plays an important role in the big picture of healthcare. But focusing solely on fighting, curing, researching and even preventing disease is a consciousness that can keep us floundering in the quagmire of disease. In contrast, a wellness lifestyle invites vibrant health into our lives, individually and collectively.

The Most Important-and Most Lacking-Ingredient

One day, not too long ago, I got high. Really high. On breakfast! Earlier in the day I had attended my weekly yoga class where we practiced an especially powerful type of yoga known as Yoga Nidra. After that, I went for a four-mile run on the beautiful and challenging trails of Tubbs Hill, on the shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene. I practice a type of running known as ChiRunning, which is based on the principles of t’ai chi, a traditional Chinese martial art that facilitates the maximum expression of one’s inherent life force. After my run, I found a quiet spot in the sunshine with a great view of the lake, and relaxed and did some more yoga to stretch out after my run. When I finished my workout and headed for home, I had a feeling of well-being that permeated my entire being.

At home, I made myself a breakfast that included a locally grown organic apple; an omelet of organic eggs, fresh spinach, organic locally grown sweet onion and some locally produced organic goat cheese. I washed it all down with a glass of cold, delicious whole, raw, locally produced organic goat’s milk. There was such a high life force vibration in that meal that, by the time I finished, I was literally buzzing!

My yoga, trail run and delicious breakfast served me a few huge helpings of the most important and enlivening ingredient that exercise and food can provide us-and the ingredient most lacking in our “modern” lifestyle. That missing ingredient is life!

Yoga Nidra facilitates the expression of life whereas a double shot of espresso can’t. ChiRunning with Mother Nature is more enlivening than foot slapping a treadmill while watching TV. (It’s more fun, too.) Stretching in the sunshine next to the lake expresses more life than rushing off to get a head start on the hectic day ahead. Fresh, organic, local, unadulterated, delicious food for breakfast has way, way, WAY more life than nutritional supplements on top of a drive-through breakfast.

Above Down, Inside Out

When I was a student at Palmer College of Chiropractic, I had a gaudy decal on one of my notebooks that said “ADIO” in large, colorful, curvy letters. My friends and teachers got a real kick out of it. I got the decal from my son, Matt, who was a dedicated skateboarder. ADIO was the name of the company that made Matt’s favorite skateboarding shoes. So, why on Earth would I walk the halls of a chiropractic college with a skateboarding decal on my notebook, and why would my friends and teachers think it was so great?

ADIO is also a central and time-honored philosophical concept in my profession, dating back to the earliest days of chiropractic. Healing, health and life come from Above Down, Inside Out.

ADIO is rooted in the understanding that there is a Universal Intelligence that permeates, organizes and maintains all time, space, consciousness and matter. Every human body is a collection of many trillions of cells, thousands of chemicals, countless molecules and atoms, and myriad chemical and biomechanical processes. Universal Intelligence is what tells that collection of cells, chemicals, molecules and atoms, and processes to be a human body. (Above, Down)

Within living beings is an aspect of Universal Intelligence known as Innate Intelligence or Life Force. Life force is what causes cells, chemicals, and processes to work together, in perfect harmony, as a vibrant, living, thinking, feeling, spiritual human being. Life force is the core of every living being. Everything one experiences in life comes from this core. Life, health, healing, happiness, success–everything! (Inside, Out)

Doctor Mark’s Teeter Totter Theory of Health

Vibrant health is like playing on a teeter totter. When two children play on a playground see saw, the fun is in going up and down…up and down…up and down. What fun would it be if they remained motionless-in a perfect state of balance-with both kids suspended at an equal height above the ground? That might be a fun challenge for a moment or two, but it would get boring pretty quickly and they would go right back to teeter tottering. You might say that their enjoyment comes from existing in a constant state of imbalance.

Or…you could look at it a different way: that their cyclic exchange of energy is, in reality, a state of harmonious, dynamic balance. That is the way health works. Under conventional ways of thinking, you may believe that if you catch a cold, you are out of balance. This view holds that if factors in your life fall out of balance, you become more susceptible to disease because of suppressed immune functioning, and that the purpose of the immune system is to fight germs and disease.

Under Dr. Mark’s Teeter Totter Theory of Health, a cold isn’t a problem, nor is it a lack of balance. A cold is a gift! When you are experiencing the fever, coughing, sneezing and runny nose of a cold, your immune system is working perfectly-just as Nature designed-not to fight anything, but to keep you in a state of harmonious, dynamic balance within your environment.

The New Paradigm: Turn on Life First

This brings us to a turning point-an opportunity to make a fundamental shift in our approach to health. Here, we reframe our collective and individual understanding of health and healthcare.

Our current paradigm: “Uh oh. Something’s wrong; gotta fix it.” Our primary approach to healthcare is intervention. This is true not only in conventional medicine, but in alternative healthcare as well.

“Uh oh. Got a cold. I’d better run down to the drugstore and pick up some cold medicine.”


“Uh oh. Got a cold. I’d better run down to the health food store and stock up on vitamins, herbs and a natural cold remedy.”

Taking herbs and vitamins may seem to be a more enlightened approach than taking drugs, but in most cases, the approach is still the same-intervention-taking something to get rid of something. If one must intervene, I certainly favor natural alternatives to drugs, but in terms of intention, a pill is a pill whether it happens to be an herb or a drug.

Before I go any further, let me make it clear that I am not suggesting that herbs, vitamins and other natural approaches are always intervention. Any healing art-including conventional medicine-can be used either as an intervention or to turn on life. The difference between turning on life and intervention is in the intention. If your goal is to cure, fight or prevent a disease, you are intervening. If the intention is to maximize the expression of your inherent vitality, regardless of the presence or absence of disease, then you are turning on life. Is intervention appropriate sometimes? Of course it is-sometimes. If someone sustains an injury in a serious accident, an emergency room can be a godsend. But in general, intervention should not be our first approach to our health.

Our new wellness paradigm: Turn on life first!

“I’ve got a cold. Cool! I love what my immune system is doing for me right now. What an incredible gift! Maybe my body is helping me keep in balance…and…telling me to take a look at how I’ve been treating myself. Am I getting enough activity and rest…drinking enough water…eating the right foods?”

Wellness in the form of turning on life is simply a matter of using the gifts that Mother Nature has made available to each of us. These gifts include a variety of fresh, whole, natural foods; fun physical activity; clear, clean water; and a vibrant spirit. As we incorporate these gifts into our lives, they facilitate the maximum expression of the life force that shines brightly within every human being. The more life we express, the more vibrant our health and well-being. It is a simple, empowering paradigm.

Doctor Mark William Cochran is a chiropractor, energy healer and lightworker, who practices in Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint, Idaho. Mark’s unique and gentle approach to healing calls upon ancient spiritual healing concepts to help awaken each person’s own natural potential for vibrant health. You can reach him at 208-664-6359 (Coeur d’Alene), 208-304-2330 (Sandpoint) or Visit his blog at

© 2009 by Doctor Mark William Cochran
All Rights Reserved

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