By Sean Meyer
Melissa Dodge knows full well what it’s like to be so caught up in the everyday goals that someone can forget about their own wellness out of the belief they don’t have the time to take even a moment for themselves.
Melissa spent more than 20 years in a corporate job, one that caused her so much stress and anxiety she would eventually find herself unable to function at her “optimum level.” She wasn’t breathing properly, wasn’t being active, and wasn’t living life the way she wants.
So, almost 20 years ago, she took up yoga, which helped her understand what her body could feel like when it was less stressed.
It put her on a path to a healthier way of living, which others would eventually come to her seeking advice.
“Between yoga and meditation, I later added Reiki (a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation), because energy healing modality was something my naturopath told me I needed because my anxiety was so bad,” she said. “Then I moved, organically, into helping other people with this. When I left the corporate world, it was natural for me to step into this.”
Melissa has now been a yoga instructor for about seven years, is teaching Reiki, and is basically utilizing all the items in her the toolbox she adopted as her own way to get through life in the corporate world.
Now the owner of OMhale Wellness, Melissa has brought her talents to Innovation Works as both a volunteer and facilitator with Wellness Works.
Wellness Works is a collective of facilitators connected by the desire to bring their skills and teachings to the community. The committee organizes events for both co-tenants and the wider community that focus on multiple levels and aspects of wellness.
For example, every Thursday morning, Wellness Works hosts a yoga class for 45 minutes, 8:30-9:15 a.m. In addition, the committee also coordinates mental health events such as this year’s Wellness Day.
“The whole idea of self-care is foreign to people. I firmly believe you cannot look after anyone else unless you are looking after yourself,” Melissa said. “Too many people are getting completely burned out. They’re getting sick, they’re getting health issues, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and they’re not able to function at their optimum level.”
Being able to offer wellness activities at Innovation Works makes perfect sense, Melissa explains, because the space is “such a community hub,” with so much going on.
But while the committee is working to keep people well, Melissa said she is worried not enough of the entrepreneurs within the space are embracing the idea of wellness.
“I’m an entrepreneur, I’m just starting out, and the other day I spent the whole day at my computer. Then I realized I wasn’t breathing properly,” she said. “I’m super aware and just taking a break and getting up and moving — you need to move things out of your body — a prioritizing things differently. You have to prioritize movement and self-care and breathing and yoga and whatever else it needs to be.”
Melissa is quick to add she’s encouraged by an overall growth in an acceptance around the importance of wellness. She also said that if most people within Innovation Works were asked, they would acknowledge that reality.
Unfortunately, she adds, they often aren’t prioritizing it.
“I’ve lived both lives and I know exactly what people are going through,” Melissa said. “It is frustrating in a sense because I see it and know what it is like to not look after yourself. It’s interesting to me that people don’t understand what they are doing to themselves until it is too late.”
For more information, visit www.innovationworkslondon.ca/programs/wellness-works.