family health: the four pillars

 The four pillars of health,

of our life.

Family life is one of these pillars.

But it actually is more than that.

I love this family photo, taken for my Dad's 80th, not long before he passed away. And it's only half of my family - there is all of Mum's side too. Sadly, as time goes on and we get our own family, we do tend to lose track of everyone.

p.s. I'm the lady with dark hair and bright red top, sitting next to Dad. My top was made by my sister Lorena who is sitting on the other side of him. She was Trelise Cooper's runway seamstress for many years. 

One of the very lovely aspects of living in New Zealand, is the emphasis on people being of utmost importance. All of us. And this is what this pillar is about. These four pillars, or dimensions, of health, are Maori in origin.

Family in this context, includes:

  • family and relatives
  • friends
  • work associates
  • neighbours (community)
An importance of all of us mattering, and everyone else being of some connection to each of us. Even our social welfare system is very family orientated. Lucky us.

This dimension is an area of our life where we can get it so right, and so wrong. The thing is, as you go through life - which I have been doing for a l-o-n-g time, it truly is people that are the most important. We are a family of humankind, all so similar, yet each so unique. Our lives are interwoven with each other. Sometimes for a short period. Othertimes it's life long. We leave deep impressions on each other. Happily, much of this can be love. 

Naturally, there are always people with whom we do not wish to associate, for some reason or another. And, in adverse situations, such as people who are abusive to oneself - this is definitely part of family health. For, we are healthier and happier when we remove ourselves from such persons.

So, what can we do in our lives to enhance the stability and strength of this pillar? Without it being steadfast, then how can we be complete?  How can our children feel safe when this pillar is not given the importance it deserves? 

I know that as we go through a lifetime, things happen. Often not good. We cannot undo them, but we can rebuild as best as we can, the loveliest of the threads which held us all together.

One of these ways is with aroha, which means love. Love is at the heart of this pillar. And it is such a powerful force. 

Another is manaaki. This has a range of meanings but if we think of it as hospitality to one another, and to oneself, this is powerful indeed. Another meaning is "embrace". I love this. It's not just about hugging, which is fantastic, too. In our hearts and by word and action we can embrace one another, with love. And embracing all of oneself too. For how can we have a strong four pillars, if we do not include oneself? 

Looking at this pillar, do we need to strengthen it? What have we been forgetting to do? It is such a hearts and minds area of life.

** link to a small piece about my learning Te Ao Maori (the world of Maori) here
** links to the four pillars of health: herehere, and 
** a heart based post here
** and of course my yoga blog with a pose which is a real heart-opener here


  1. I am glad that "family" includes friends, colleagues, and neighbors, too, because, in my experience, they, too, form a big part of my support group!

    1. I agree with this 100% Bless. You sound such a warm caring person, reading your blog xxxx

  2. Beautiful post, my friend. Family and community are so very important. I was just having a conversation with my next door neighbor the other day about how it really does take a village to raise a child and I was expressing to her my gratitude for our little village. Her children and mine spend every free moment together and we really do have to parent and raise them together. And for me, it is so much better that way! I have been blessed with amazing neighbors who really all work together to keep our community safe and pleasant. Thanks for sharing this inspiring message, my friend!


    1. Lucky you and your boys having such a neighbour - and lucky neighbour!! I find it quite sad that so many families do not have back yards to play in nor friends-next-door. Life has so changed.

  3. Beautiful post, Ratnamurti! I have been preaching this love approach to life and everyone in it for years on end. Can you imagine if we all focused on love as the foundation for all things in this life? If we all practiced kindness and gratitude all the time? So I have been making efforts to surround myself with only people who are kind and loving and know gratitude. These are the kind of people whom I count as my family and community. It is so important to have the strong foundation of loving support! The more support we get, the more we can give, and a beautiful cycle is created that is beneficial to all!


    1. I so agree with you, Shelbee. One of the things that covid has done for me, is to quietly remove myself from toxic people and situations (The non-love aspects.... ). I do so believe in love.

  4. This is a deeply beautiful post, Ratnamurti. We are Muslims and one of the fundamental aspects of Islam is being kind and compassionate to everyone. The role of family, relatives, neighbors and friends is crucial in this aspect. However, extending care, compassion and charity towards the downtrodden is especially encouraged and forms the basis of virtually each and every chapter in our holy book. My friend, we may be taking different boats but we all are eventually sailing towards the same destination - Pleasing the Almighty.
    Thank you for sharing with us at Meraki Link Party.
    Much Love

    1. Naush - that is so beautiful. What a heart-fulfilling way to live. I so admire you.

  5. Very important and wonderful post here. This post is very helpful for every visitor. I hope you will soon share your next post about this discussion. Thanks for sharing and keep sharing.

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