Lecture Four

May 31st, 2009

The Essence of Health:

The Seven Pillars of Wellbeing

by Dr Craig Hassed

Although modern medical science has made a great contribution to the fight against a number of illnesses, the greater contribution to wellbeing rests on what we can do for ourselves. The main elements of the wellness approach are encompassed by the Essence acronym, which stands for Education, Stress management, Spirituality, Exercise, Nutrition, Connectedness and Environment.

This presentation looked at these individual elements and then applied them to the prevention and treatment of important conditions like heart disease, cancer, poor immunity and mental illness. It was an opportunity to hear one of Australia's most in-demand speakers in the health field.

There was also an opportunity to ask questions.

To accommodate the high demand for this presentation, Craig's Lecture was presented twice on the day, at 2.00 and 5.00 pm.

About the Presenter

Craig is a general practitioner and senior lecturer in the Monash University Dept. of General Practice. He has been instrumental in introducing various innovations into medical education and practice with an emphasis on the application of holistic, integrative and mind-body practices. His aim is to connect the great philosophical and wisdom traditions with the biomedical, psychological and social sciences in a way that is grounded, balanced, scientifically valid and clinically effective.

Craig recently chaired a session and introduced His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Happiness and its Causes conference. He has been a regular presenter on ABC Radio and appeared on TV's What's Good for You. His publications include New Frontiers in Medicine: The body as the shadow of the soul (ISBN 978-1427096784), Know Thyself: the stress release programme (ISBN 978-0855723361) and The Essence of Health: The Seven Pillars of Wellbeing (published in September, 2008—ISBN 978-1741667042).

Further Information

During the lecture, Craig cited the following websites and books as sources of further information:

  • The PubMed website.
  • The Cochrane Collaboration website.
  • The book Taking Control of MS, by Professor George Jelineck.
  • The book Dr Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease, by Dean Ornish.

Craig has also kindly provided the following files for download:

In review

This fourth talk in the Lifestyle and Culture Lectures series was a great success. Some 240 people enjoyed Craigs's illuminating words on the Essence of Health, as illustrated by the following feedback comments below.

Craig delivering the Lecture

Craig delivering the lecture

The audience at tea

Enjoying the Convent gardens at tea

The audience at tea

Outside the lecture hall at tea


This talk received very encouraging feedback from the audience. The following comments are only a sample of the written comments following the presentation...

General comments

"Dr Hassed deserves to be given an award from the Australian medical faculty for placing the importance on where it should be... The most lucid presentation I have heard in years." (Phil Wollen, Australian of the year 2007)

"I could have sat through another hour it was so interesting."

"Cannot fault anything. An excellent afternoon."

"Nothing could be improved. Speaker is funny, interesting and engaging, and material is relevant and new."

"Found it all very interesting, especially links between areas. Loved the insights into Michaelangelo and Bottecelli."

"Very excted about the prospect of Western medicine opening up to different ideas."

"Something to take home to my family."

What did you find most useful?

"The Ornish treatment plan for my clients."

"Info and stats on research re: benefits of exercise/mindfulness re: depression/disease etc and placebo effect of anti depressants."

"The information regarding the impact of mindfulness on brain activity."

"Acknowledgement from a medical professional that holistic approach is backed up by peer reviewed publications."

"Stress Management/Cancer research."

"Self help ideas on health. I am a div I nurse still working but feel like giving up as 95% of my patients are 'self inflicted', take no responsibility for their own health and expect the medical profession to fix their problems. It was refreshing to hear this different approach and that it is part of a medical student's training."

"I found the depression element really helpful."

"The simplicity of the message—Essence."

"It was a general overview which made me think about what else I need to start learning about and Ornish program."

"Humour and information."

"Holistic approach to Health."

"Clearly outlined open minded sharing of current health information presented in ego less manner honouring the potential of body healing itself under positive attitudes."

"Interesting information re diet, exercise and well being."

"General information and reaffirming benefits of Meditation."

"New knowledge about benefits of healthy lifestyle."

"Knowledge of effects of stress and other lifestyle factors."

"Power point presentation integrated humour; research based."

"Confidence that it was empirically based."

"Great statistics supporting the wholistic approach."

"A lot of information brought together in a cohesive form."

"Simple and factual—not bogged down with too many details."

"Power of the mind/meditation in relation to health issues."

"Positive attitude and humour that individuals can alter individuals health."

"Acknowledgement of own belief systems, study and interest."

"That so much useful information was presented in such a short time-frame and in such an enlightening way."

"Importance of improvement of the individual."

"Its relevance to our current lifestyle."

"The relationship of Mindfulness on so many illnesses."

"A great reminder on what it means to be healthy. Very empowering."

Cover image of Craig's recent book
The Essence of Health

Craig Hassed