Journey to enlightened healthcare. Part 1
A unique self-help health program began with wanting answers and evolved into a superb holistic health program.
A conversation with Brother Promise
I had a conversation with a loving, joyous, youthful monk, living and developing a holistic health program to enrich the lives and health of others. He is a fellow writer on Substack, where I publish my Mind Wise newsletter, where I discovered his work and connected with him.
(Ron Parks—"RP"): "Hi, can you please introduce yourself and tell us what got you interested in mental health?"
(Brother Promise—"BP"): Hello, my name is Brother Promise. I was born and raised in a suburb of Paris, France. As a teenager, I went through a psychosis and it was extremely difficult. Unfortunately, the mental health professionals I met could not help me. When I asked my psychiatrist how I could take better care of myself, he could not answer me, so I set out to find the answer for myself. I joined a martial arts club, began to exercise more, and then discovered mindfulness meditation through the teachings of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. At 18, I went on my first retreat at his main monastery in southwestern France, Plum Village. A year later, I returned to ask for monastic ordination. Since then, I've lived in several monasteries, including in Thailand and the United States. I'm 34 years old now.
(RP): "What is Mental Health Revolution?"
(BP): "Mental Health Revolution is the name of my Substack and YouTube channel, and my attempt to keep the promise I made to myself as a teenager: that if I found things that helped, I would share them with others. I believe our world needs a Mental Health Revolution, and that this revolution should uphold three values: empowerment, holism, and positivity. Empowerment, because it's time to take a self-care centered approach to mental health. Holism, because mental health is multifactorial. And positive, because we can do more than manage our pain: we can cultivate well-being, purpose, virtue, love, and transcendence.
The most important thing I share on Mental Health Revolution is my Daily Wellness Empowerment Program. I also speak about the intersection of mental health and social issues, and have a book for young people on this topic called Heal the System: Suggestions for Frustrated Youth. I am also fascinated by the analytical contemplations of Buddhism and have written another book called Vipassana: Contemplations Leading to the Bliss of Letting Go.
Everything I do is free.
(RP): What is the Daily Wellness Empowerment Program?
(BP): "The Daily Wellness Empowerment Program (DWEP) is a program that aims to empower individuals with ten daily practices for mental and physical wellness. All these practices are do-it-yourself, simple, free, back up by science, and holistically effective, and are based on insights from Buddhism, lifestyle medicine, positive psychology, and physical exercises from Asia. For increased effectiveness, the process of implementing these daily wellness habits into one's life is informed by behavioral science.
This is the DWEP Sheet that I invite your audience to print out if they're interested:
On the left are the ten DWEP practices. In the middle is a space for DWEP practitioners to set their own goals in relation to these practices. And on the right is a space for them to check at the end of each day whether or not they have met their DWEP goals, to help them reflect on how their actions affect their well-being. I also encourage DWEP practitioners, if possible, to check in once a week with a friend, a "DWEP Buddy," to support and encourage each other. At the back of the DWEP Sheet are 1-sentence summaries of the instructions for each exercise.
So far I have given two DWEP courses at my monastery and the response has been wonderful. A course is eight weeks long, and we meet once a week for two hours. In those two hours, we begin with a half-hour DWEP check-in, where people bring in their DWEP Sheet from the previous week, pair up, and talk about how they did with their DWEP goals in a spirit of empathy and mutual support. Then I teach the DWEP practices for an hour. As much as possible, we learn by doing, such as practicing the sitting meditation together, the physical exercises, or the mindful communication exercises (as part of Meaningful Human Connections). I also share the science behind the practices. At the end of each DWEP meeting, participants set new goals for the following week. At the end of the eight weeks, participants leave with a comprehensive wellness strategy for their lives.
As a teacher, I try to provide the maximum wellness value in the least amount of time, while creating a safe, comfortable atmosphere where people can connect authentically and meaningfully.
My goal is to make the entire program available online for free. Right now there is enough material online for people to get started at home (with the DWEP Sheet, the DWEP Manual, and some videos), but I need to make more videos. There are so many things I want to do, but it's going to take some time!"
(RP): "I've reviewed the teaching and practice materials Brother Promise has developed for The Daily Wellness Empowerment Program (DWEP). Everything is superbly organized, easy to follow, and all the components fit together organically and holistically. Or, to say in another way, they fit human nature and are incentivized to establish daily healthy habits and routines. Every component is beneficial and genuinely supported by users and medical research. Many of the program's elements come from long-standing cultural traditions and practices. The actual names of some of the components may vary in different cultures and traditions. Many of the program's features are consistent with what I have come to accept and integrated into my practices and teachings. I can vouch for the benefits of such programs and practices as they have kept me healthy, active, and working as I enter my 80s.
Tip and Points to Ponder:
Thank you, Brother Promise, for sharing your inspiring story and journey to find better healthcare solutions for yourself and others. Your love and attention to your inspired work and program will well serve the needs of others seeking health, a beneficial lifestyle, and consistent practices. Hopefully, more people will consider pursuing and trying out healthy alternatives to their present lifestyle, especially if there has been ill health or concern about not feeling their best in times of increasing demands and emotional distress.
His DWEP program is free, and it might be what you need. Such beneficial programs can fit in with other more traditional healthcare things you are doing, and I'm sure you would have the support of your present healthcare givers. If not, you have my blessing and love to do your best and be open to trying new and wise alternatives. Of course, listen to the advice of your primary healthcare provider, but it is quite alright to seek other opinions from trusted and experienced healthcare providers or professional resources.
Part Two of the article, A Journey to Enlightened Healthcare, will be available soon and continues with the story of how my early life experiences resonated with the journey of Brother Promise and his inspired work with his DWEP holistic health program.