12 Countries in 12 Months

What is health and wellness anyway?

There are places around the world where people live happier and healthier than we do in the West. How are they doing it? Do people even think about their health or are they simply living their best with what they’ve got? What roles do culture and lifestyle play? Embarking on a journey of discovery, I left my home to travel and live in 12 countries in 12 months to find out.

Inconvenient truths

I find it curious that many people don’t think about their health. Generally, if people feel ok, and often when they don’t, they carry on unconcerned. People prefer to “not know” if something is wrong and to avoid inconvenient truths. This is universal and can also lead us into trouble. The difference from country to country is the cultural disposition toward healthiness and the type of help people seek when it’s needed.

Immersive experiences

Traveling from South America to Asia and Europe, I met diverse people from different walks of life. Their wide-ranging views and practices gave me new perspective. Talking with practitioners who offer remedies, the moment always arrived when I stopped searching. I surrendered to their healing modality, fully immersed and vulnerable. By doing so, I downloaded each experience and intuitively understood its value.

Beliefs and mindset

One thing was consistently clear—beliefs and mindset play a huge role in how people interpret their circumstances and how they feel. It’s universal truth that body, mind, heart, and spirit are interconnected and inseparable. Everywhere I went people treated them as such, not as isolated parts the way Western medicine does. Perhaps the West could gain an edge by embracing broader thinking and less scientific systems. The question is, are we willing to venture out of our routines, embrace a worldview of wellbeing, and consider holistic ways to help ourselves create better health and wellness?

Worldview of wellbeing

Click links for stories and images for photos of each country.

The Vietnamese firmly believe that energy forces and the flow of feng shui harmonize individuals with their environment. A master is consulted to fix problems in any aspect of life, including health. On Easter Island, ancestral Rapa Nui medicine called Papa Ra’au is practiced in the hospital alongside western medicine, and it’s curing people from sports injuries to stress. Colombians increasingly consult traditional Latin American healers known as curanderas whose spiritual and herbal remedies fix modern ailments.

The mindset of people living in the Mediterranean is geared to active lifestyle, outdoor activity, and nourishing food. Vibrational reiki energy and sound healing channel the body’s natural healing in Japan. Need to focus your mind? Take a meditation class at a temple in Thailand with a Buddhist monk.

Inside a small Temazcal—a traditional Mexican sweat lodge, medicinal herbs plus intense heat promote holistic healing. Coca leaves (illegal in the U.S.) have been chewed and brewed in Peru for centuries to produce a long list of medicinal benefits. The country also grows 4,500+ native potatoes, one of the world’s favorite and highly nutritious vegetables.

Finally, the Asian Iceman is Malaysian. He helps people transform their lives and achieve any goal they desire through purposeful methods rooted in meditation.


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