By Daina Crosbie
I was in my early 20’s and I had just started my primary teaching career. Some days I would wake up with that delightful feeling where I felt a spring in my step, the colours around me seemed brighter, I smiled often, and things just seemed to flow throughout my day. But more often it would be the opposite. I felt like I had woken up ‘on the wrong side of the bed’, many things felt like a battle, I was agitated by everything in sight and I couldn’t wait for the day to end. I knew something needed to change.
Luckily as a part of my teaching degree I was introduced to a simplified version of a Māori framework, Te Whare Tapa Whā- developed by Professor Mason Durie. This was my first introduction to a holistic well-being.
Te Whare Tapa Whā comprises of four pillars. Taha Tinana-our physical well-being, Taha Whanau, our family and social well-being, Taha Hinengaro-our mental and emotional well-being and Taha Wairua-our spiritual wellbeing.
The framework is centred on the concept of being structurally sound. If we think of our Hauora/well-being like a whare/house, at the bottom we are built upon our land/roots, our four walls are made up of our Taha Tinana, Taha Whanau, Taha Hinengaro and Taha Wairua. All four walls are necessary to establish strength and symmetry, and when they do, we are at our best.
As the world advances, I have noticed that many of us are so busy with our jobs or our children that we forget to stop and be aware of what actually helps us to maintain a strong sense of well-being.
In my early 20s I used the Te Whare Tapa Whā framework. It helped me to look at myself through gentle eyes when I was struggling, and life just didn’t seem as bright as it used to. Fast forward 10 years, it is now a measure that always brings me back to feeling and being my best self.
When my Taha Tinana/Physical well-being is strong:
Taha Tinana relates to how well we look after our physical growth and development. Often if things aren’t going so well in our Physical well-being it can be more obvious that something needs to change. From my experience success is achieved through just starting, along with consistency. Just trying something new has been a helpful tool to finding what works.
When my Taha Whanau/Family and social well-being is strong:
Taha Whanau is the health of our family. Family can mean different things to different people. There’s that saying ‘friends are the family we choose for ourselves.’ Research shows that social connectedness is just as important for our health as eating nutritionally and exercising.
When my Taha Hinengaro/Mental & Emotional well-being is strong:
Often Taha Hinengaro is characterised as just our ‘mental health.’ In my opinion there is a lack of understanding about the term and the conecpt. I like to think of it as our mind, how it connects to our heart, our conscience and our thoughts and feelings. It’s about how we think which is directly related to the way we feel, act and communicate. This is important for everyone to consider, whether we feel as though we have had experience with a mental illness or not. Often the way we deal with daily setbacks that are out of our control, can be a measure of the strength of this pillar.
When my Taha Wairua/Spiritual well-being is strong:
Taha Wairua is known as our ‘spiritual well-being.’ This pillar is our life force. It’s who we are, what drives us, and a sense of purpose of where we’re going. It is different for everyone, and yes for some it may mean religion and for others it’s an internal connection-understanding ones values and beliefs, bringing about self-awareness and identity. Knowing who we are and having a sense of purpose are both directly related to our overall happiness.
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