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Your Four Rooms of Wellness – How to Live in Them

April 30, 2010

The Four Rooms of Wellness – How to Live in Them


There is an Indian proverb or axiom that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but, unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.                                                     

 Rumer Godden. A House with Four Rooms 


The Four Rooms metaphor has had a powerful impact in our workplace seminars.  It initiates lots of questions, inspires thinking and leaves a lasting impact (just today we received an email from someone who attended a seminar several years ago who mentioned the quote still lingers in his mind).

What does living in the Four Rooms mean?

What are the Four Rooms – and how does  “visiting” them add to the quality of our daily life?

We’ve used the Four Rooms concept to create a model and a program for wellness – but the metaphor can stand alone to increase our conscious awareness  to honor all parts of ourselves so that we can  deepen our experience of life.  The idea is based on the principle that when our mental, emotional, physical and “spiritual” selves are in alignment – we can more fully manifest life’s richness and meaning. .

Wellness, stress and  mindfulness are buzzwords that have entered the mainstream lexicon of our culture. They can mean very different things to different people.  We are inundated with information every day about the latest research on mind and body.  And while we are grateful for the knowledge, we must take what is useful and meaningful for us personally in order to reap the benefits.

But the Four Rooms speak to something deeper than just information, however useful it is.  First we must define what a state of wellness is for us – and what it means to us.  Once we gain greater clarity about what each room means for us – and how we can actually live in them – the commitment to visit them must be regularly renewed.

“Wellness” is an active state which must be practiced daily to realize the on-going benefits.  Activating wellness requires conscious awareness, focused attention and a commitment to personal accountability.

Ultimately, each of us must accept responsibility for what we think,  how we feel and what we do.  Living in the Four Rooms helps to balance and deepen that connection.

The Four Rooms

Room 1 – The Mental Room

We place the mental room first because we believe that our individual thought is at the root of every emotion, action and experience. Thought is our greatest creative asset and the actor in every thing we do.

To really live in the mental room we need to become more self-aware, which neuroscientist V S Ramchandran refers to as the “Holy Grail” of neuroscience.

Developing our ability to be self-aware, to “bear witness” to our experience opens the doors to all of the rooms.  In the mental room dwells the beliefs, assumptions and expectations that drive our experience. Becoming more intimate with how they work – holds the key to greater mobility and choice in moving through our four rooms.

The thinking process (and its branches of beliefs, assumptions and expectations) forms the basis for how we perceive our own well being and our power to change it.

Ways to Connect and Renew our Relationship to The Mental Room

  • Develop Self-Awareness                                                       
  • Seek out Silence
  • Understand Your Thinking Process                               
  • Focus on one task at a time                                                                
  • Practice Positive Imaging                                                       

Room 2 – The Emotional Room

This is the room where our feelings reside.  Neuroscience has shown that our feelings do not simply emanate from one part of our brain (the limbic system), so we can imagine that this room is vast. It encompasses our entire body. You have more neural networks for feeling in your stomach and heart than anywhere else in your body.

Some of us really ignore this room. It’s like the extra back room, filled with clutter, that seems like just too much work to organize.  Others spend way too much time in the emotional room, reacting on auto-pilot to life’s events, rather than using the knowledge of the mental room for balance.

The tools of emotional intelligence can give us a whole new level of freedom in which to explore this room.  We tend to think of this room as a messy place filled with anger, anxiety, resentment, impatience and frustration.  While there should be a welcome sign on this room’s door for all of our feelings, remember that this is also the room where calmness, confidence, contentment, satisfaction, love, joy, empathy and compassion live. There is room for all.

The Guest House by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Ways to Connect and Renew our Relationship to The Emotional Room

  • Expand Your Emotional Literacy     
  • Practice Developing Your Senses
  • Cultivate Bringing Emotions that Heal You (like Gratitude) into Your Daily Experience
  • Make more Connections Between Your Thoughts and the Emotions they Trigger

Room 3 – The Physical Room

This is the room where the physical body lives, our precious vehicle for experiencing life through our senses.

There are lots of experiences of life in our physical room. What we are talking about goes beyond eating less junk food and working out (though that can make for a healthier physical room).  Our focus in the physical room is about developing a much deeper relationship with our bodies as the source for our experience of being fully alive.

To accomplish this, most of us need to make greater connections between our mind and our body. We tend to think of stress as the inevitable culprit that attacks us from the outside, describing it in almost “viral” terms.  While stress can definitely be felt in the body and can wreak real havoc there, its trigger source is in the mental room. External events happen constantly that can be experienced as stress, but it’s the mental room that opens the door for stress to take up residence in the body.

Ways to Connect and Renew our Relationship to The Physical  Room

  • Meditate/do relaxation techniques often                 
  • Rest often/get the sleep you really need
  • Get in touch with the messages of your body language                                                                                                  
  • Eat consciously/drink enough water
  • Move, dance, play, exercise, laugh                                                                                
  • Focus on your breathing as a critical support system for your body awareness

Room 4- The Spirit Room

The spiritual room is not about religion or ideology. Living in it doesn’t require a particular set of beliefs or faith.  Visiting this room is about identifying what makes us come alive, how our “spirit” (regardless of how we define it) expresses our deepest values and the meaning and purpose of our life.

Living in this room requires that we more closely define what inspires and brings us joy. Whatever the experience –  being in nature, working with passion, being with those we love, sharing ideas, caring for those in need, painting a picture, creating a wonderful meal, traveling to places we love – bring us into alignment with the spiritual room.

Whenever we visit this room, we integrate all four rooms in harmony. In this room, we find new sources of creativity, energy and peace. Here we discover what truly feeds us – the source of the real needs behind the endless quest for self-expression.

Ways to Connect and Renew our Relationship to the Spirit Room

  • Meditate/Reflect                                                        
  • Be in silence
  • Serve others                                                                  
  • Practice self-compassion
  • Spend time in beauty
  • Do what you love to do                                        
  • Stop judging yourself & others

Living in the four rooms does not require a great deal of your time. It requires your presence and awareness of their existence.  It is the acknowledgement of your greatness, complexity and simplicity. Visiting the four rooms can be a source of perpetual wonder.  You as your own reservoir of delight!

So – What is the concept of the Four Rooms for you?

Are you living with the awareness that your mind, feelings, body and sense of spirit are one integrated whole?

Which room do you spend most of your time in – and how would it enrich your life if you visited the others more often? How would your work, relationships and wellness benefit from it?

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, subscribe, share, like and tweet this article. It’s appreciated.

Louise Altman, Partner, Intentional Communication Consultants

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 30, 2011 1:46 am

    Hmmm…..very interesting…….. 🙂 Thank you…love and light

  2. January 5, 2012 7:05 am

    Thank you. I am a psychotherapist in private practice in Phoenix. This is concise, beautifully-written and useful for my clients. 🙂

    • January 5, 2012 9:25 am

      Hi Kavita,
      Thanks so much for the comment and your appreciation for the post. It is especially meaningful to me that you are sharing
      this with your clients. You may also want to look at the recent version I did of the 4 Rooms

      Best wishes to you and your clients for a peaceful and healthy New Year.


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