Alula Abadi

Khul’s founder Yoftahe leading a session

As human beings, the one law we can never deny is unlimited wants, limited resources. This primal instinct has led to a point in our civilization where chaos and turmoil rule the radio waves. And so it isn’t a surprise when most people search for comfort in calmness and a slower pace in their lives. Things like stable energy and being mindful of our spiritual health have been practiced thoroughly around the globe. While this might be a normal practice in the rest of the world, it is fairly new to places like our continent. But we all have to start somewhere… and so we have in the form of Khul Wellness Center and its overseer Ato Yoftahe Manyazewal.

We sat with Yoftahe in his wellness center’s compound at Frank Addis to explore this topic more.

Before we went into the details of his work, we first felt that we had to understand the basics. Small things like… what is a wellness instructor? Or what is a wellness center at all? Yoftahe Went on to explain that a wellness instructor, in more direct words, actually practices a very new field known as wellness engineering. A field of study which revolves around knowing one’s self in and out. And that this is where the concept of a wellness center stems from. He further explained that a wellness center is a place for physical care where you can explore who you are and find your center. A normally slow and easily-lost focus can be constantly maintained and regenerated as you practice with like-minded individuals and people striving to better themselves through self-exploration. “In the fast-paced world we live in, it can sometimes be hard to find the right rhythm. Like a toddler attempting to walk for the first time, we may stumble and fall in aspects of psychological, emotional and physical growth and development.”

During my time with Yoftahe and the other people attending his program, I noticed that words like spirit and mind keep coming up. Almost too many times. This begs the question, “Is this just another form of therapy?” And so I asked if this practice is just Counseling wrapped up in yoga and meditation? Yoftahe underlined that it is far from it. “Granted, there are some similarities. However, wellness coaching isn’t just about the mind. It’s much deeper than that. It goes beyond the things that cause you stress and helps you investigate not just the problem but your inner self as well. Unlike therapy, which starts and ends at some point, this process is more of a lifestyle than a singular practice. It can help athletes physically; it can help doctors ease their stress; it can help mathematicians focus, and so on. It is not a singular focus on Past trauma or pain but a larger one that can be applied to anything and anyone,” he explained.

All of this seems like a great process but like all things worth accomplishing, it’s not all hunky-dory. There must be some challenges, and that is exactly what I asked, and as this is a relatively new practice in Ethiopia, there would be more than just a few. So I gave the floor to Yoftahe as he went on to explain some of the challenges. “The main challenge would be the lack of awareness. The major problem is that what we do is not only a spiritual process but also a highly scientific one. And living in a religious society such as ours makes it a hard truth to swallow for most people. And that’s pretty much it. In time, we seek to make the people more aware of what the practice is all about, and we hope to have more and more practitioners and volunteers in the future.” Yoftahe also explains that despite the fields growing prominence, there currently is no policy framework that recognizes wellness programs like the ones at Khul as a major part of the health care system.

The human brain is one giant maze – a maze that needs to be cracked and completed. What Khul Wellness Center does is precisely that. They help an interested individual, dive deep into who they are and the fabric of what makes them human. Self-understanding and knowledge are of the utmost importance and these institutions offer the opportunity to search for it. And if my opinion means anything, in all my dealings with Yoftahe and his students and after the sessions that I have been part of I have observed that…it works.

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