Edwin’s wellness journey started at home growing up in a close-knit family, with a commitment to regular healthy meals, a lot of physical activity, plenty of time outdoors, spending time with each other, and always a good night’s sleep.
The day started early, when that his father would ensure that the whole family got up at 6am to do exercises which included aerobics, stretching and what was known as ‘deep breathing’. With five children, they made good use of their back veranda and garden for this morning routine!
Mealtimes were non-negotiable – the entire family came together, no small undertaking given the number of children plus at least two or three adults. Edwin recalls that the time spent at the dining table nourished them in so many ways – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It was thanks to Edwin’s mother that the family ate well. They would have a well-balanced breakfast and a hearty cooked lunch, rather than a late dinner. Edwin remembers that his father also came home from the office at lunchtime so that the family could share a meal together.
As a Seventh-day Adventist, there was the steadfast commitment to keeping Sabbath. This mean that Saturdays were set apart for worship and rest, and to having time together as a family. Whilst Edwin remembers his desire as a child to be doing what his friends were doing on a Saturday, he came to understand the rich blessing of dedicating a day to restoration, community and spirituality.
Advancing into adulthood – and faced the intense pressures of medical studies and then training – Edwin valued the sacrosanct nature of Sabbath. “On this day, I knew that I had only one priority – to honour my spiritual path. Whatever else was happening in my life, I could set it down for the duration of Sabbath, without feeling guilty or anxious.” Coming together with others in a shared experience of worship was also very important, he adds. “To connect with others who have similar values and beliefs is incredibly supportive. No matter where I go in the world, I know that I have an extended family.”
Seventh-day Adventists are also committed to a healthy lifestyle involving a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains complimented by sunlight, fresh air and time to commune with nature. For Edwin, this health message was emphasized and integrated into his worship experience from his early years. He has vivid memories of health-related sermons, including by the then Chief Medical Officer at the Andrews Memorial Hospital (where Edwin now has his consultative practice). “Health and spirituality go hand in hand for me. They are inextricably interwoven within the experience of life itself.”