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Jovanka Ciares, Reclaiming Wellness

Jovanka Ciares Jovanka Ciares
Longevity By Nature

Jovanka Ciares is the author of Reclaiming Wellness and several other titles. A certified wellness expert, integrative herbalist, nutrition educator and coach, she offers lectures and workshops in Spanish and English. Ciares studied nutrition with bestselling author T. Colin Campbell, PhD, at his Center for Nutrition Studies (in partnership with Cornell University) and herbalism/plant medicine with Tieraona Low Dog, MD. A native of Puerto Rico, she lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Q: What inspired you to write Reclaiming Wellness?

A: Reclaiming Wellness is an exploration of some of the most popular wellness practices today and their multi-cultural roots. In the book, I aim at inspiring the reader to reclaim the wellness practices of their ancestry in hopes that they too can reclaim their natural and rightful state of wellness.

In the last several years, I’ve noticed a boom in wellness practices, companies offering various alternatives like wellness coaching and products, but those practices and products were catered to the well-to-do and a highly homogeneous population: wealthy white women. I kept thinking that these are products and practices that come for the most part from multicultural communities and somehow we have moved away from them. And now, they are being offered to others at a premium. But it doesn’t have to be this way … we can attract a more diverse audience! I can show them how.

So I set out to write a book that showed people the history of these practices and show them how to use them as a way to promote solidarity and inclusivity.

Q: How do you define “wellness”?

A: Wellness is a state of being, a way of living, an active verb. Every part of our humanity, our spiritual world, our emotional world, our physical world, is interconnected. It is dependent on and affected by each other. Wellness then becomes the act of making choices that help us keep all those areas working optimally and in communion with each other so we can not only survive, but thrive.

And then we can take that same holistic approach to the rest of our lives, outside of us, and help us be well in relations to others, to our society and to the world at large.

Q: What are the seven wellness concepts?

A: After a decade of working as a health coach and herbalist, I identified these seven categories of wellness, which I described in the book, to help people reclaim their wellness in body, mind and soul. They are:

• Plants That Help Us Heal
• Going Within
• Yoga and Other Forms of Movement
• A Plant-based Diet
• Oil, Water and Heat
• Music and Community
• Grounding and Nature

Within each category, you will find several practices that you can reclaim, depending on your specific needs.

Q: How are meditation and mindfulness beneficial to overall wellness?

A: Mindfulness or contemplative practices (including meditation, visualization, hypnosis and more) are as ancient as humanity itself. They were developed by the sages of the world to help us connect with the spiritual and emotional parts of who we are. They are an integral part of wellness, and using them can help nourish and heal in mind and soul, while we use other practices to nourish and heal by connecting our emotional and spiritual homes with our physical homes.

These practices don’t require any spiritual beliefs, and they aren’t meant to replace someone’s religion. They are powerful tools and can easily complement your chosen spiritual practice.

Q: In the book, you explain the benefits of a plant-based diet. What steps do you recommend that someone interested in changing to a plant-based diet take?

A: Yes, a whole foods plant-based diet is the best option to honor your body, reduce your chances of developing preventable, life-threatening diseases and protect the earth. For anyone interested in becoming plant-based or simply adding more whole plant foods to their diet, my advice is twofold:

1. Don’t give it all up at once! Say you are ready to eat less meat but can’t imagine yourself ever giving up cheese. Give up the red meat and keep the cheese (for now). It’s easier for a lot of us to ease our way into a new lifestyle.

2. Educate yourself. There are few things in this world as powerful as knowledge. Start learning about the pros and cons of animal flesh versus a plant-based diet. Read books, articles, studies, [and] documentaries. Today, the data is accessible and very strong. Once you know, you can make better, more informed decisions and stick to them.

Q: What is grounding and why is it important?

A: Grounding or earthing as it’s sometimes called, is a practice of physically connecting with the earth’s natural electric charge, or the natural healing energy, with the purpose of stabilizing your body and with it, your emotional, mental self. Proponents of this practice believe it reduces inflammation, pain and stress, improves blood flow, energy and sleep, and generates greater well-being.

It is a highly overlooked area of health and wellness. We are from the earth yet we go days, weeks and months sometimes without literally connecting with it. We wear shoes 24/7, stay indoors most hours of the day and never commune with nature. Yet, you can start connecting to the earth instantly and as easily as walking barefoot on the grass, gardening, spending time at the beach (in the sand) or literally hugging a tree!

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: Remember that whether it is picking up a copy of Reclaiming Wellness, listening to a health-related podcast or reading an article, when you make conscious efforts to reclaim your wellness, you are honoring those that came before you, but you are also honoring this amazing machine we call the human body and hopefully, passing on the wisdom of the ages to the generation that comes after you. With this approach, everybody wins.