“Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos – the trees, the clouds, everything.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Holistic health is the idea that our health is more than just a physical state. It encompasses more than what is going on in the body, on a physical or material level, and includes what is also happening energetically, emotionally, and spiritually in order to address the whole being.
Though some people would like to classify this approach as ‘new age’, this is not a new concept. In fact, it incorporates many ancient traditions of healing. What is actually more recent is the scientific idea that the body is an organism that operates like a machine and responds only to physical interventions. In holistic health care, we can see the body as an expression of ourselves and everything that is going on in our lives. What the body brings to our attention is always an opportunity for growth.
Illness is not a sign of something being broken that needs to be fixed. To understand holistic health, we need to shift our perspective of dis-ease as something to ‘get rid of’. Perhaps it is a gift. Perhaps it comes into our lives, regardless of what created it or why, to teach us something.
One might ask, “But don’t we all want to feel our best and be healthy?” Yes, many of us do and that allows for a lot of growth. And some people may not truly want to be healthy. They may have a belief, likely an unconscious one, that they do not deserve to be healthy. They may not be able to visualize themselves as healthy. They may be holding onto the idea of being ill if it is creating a secondary gain in their life – such as getting the attention or love they are lacking. It is easy to assume everyone wants health, but this is not the case. From a holistic standpoint, we look at these thoughts and know that they impact the being on all levels, including the body. As quantum physics has proven, thoughts create reality. Looking at unconscious beliefs can be very rewarding and help open up new levels of health for the being. These may be beliefs that were passed down from parental figures, or created due to traumas, or even brought in from other lifetimes. It does not matter how they arrived, they are opportunities for expanding your self-awareness and understanding. Beliefs that are no longer serving you can easily be removed from your being or, in other words, cleared.
This is not to suggest that we are at fault for our dis-ease because of our thinking, or to say if we were ‘enlightened’ we would be free of illness or suffering. Our thoughts are one factor, but there are other factors that influence our health, some beyond our current understanding – our minds, karma, God, the Universe, or whatever else you may call it. In holistic health, we are not interested in blaming something or someone for causing the situation, so we are not focused on the cause in that way. What we are looking for are ways to heal ourselves, ways to grow.
The reason for this is that it actually does not matter why we are sick or why we are healthy. When we focus on the ‘why’ we are lost. Knowing why will not lead us to a solution, but rather take us further away from the present moment and the opportunities that are right in front of us. We can move forward into healing when we can accept that wherever we are in the present moment and state of health is perfect, whether we understand why or not. This is a type of faith that has a powerful healing effect.
Maybe you are wondering, “well, isn’t it important for science to understand what causes certain illnesses so we can prevent them?” Yes, it is. This is different from an individual wondering, “why is this happening to me?” – which is not the best use of one’s energy. Look at what your situation offers you and what thoughts (like that one) come up. If you find a way, such as hypnosis, to allow your unconscious mind to answer those questions for you, you can gain insight and self-realization.
As we shift our perspective on health, we can realize that there does not need to be a ‘war’ on cancer or AIDS or any other disease. We do not need to evaluate these experiences as battles that are being lost or won, though that is often how it is presented to us. This is influenced by our relationship with the concept of death. If death is something to be feared and avoided, staying alive becomes a fight against death. Perhaps we can shift this thinking as well. Perhaps in time we will be able to understand even death as a form of healing and transformation.
In holistic health, we are not separate from our bodies and we honor our bodies. This is how we are manifesting on this planet and what allows us to experience life through our senses. The idea of healing expands from simply curing disease to include anything that can support someone and increase well-being. Though there are some practicioners in holistic health care that get into the dogma of certain diets, rules, and restrictions, this is not truly in alignment with this philosophy. Instead, each individual should be seen as unique and whole and what is healing to that person is whatever expands their health on all levels. Francois de La Rochefoucauld summarized this idea in the 1600’s, writing, “Preserving health by too severe a rule is a worrisome malady.”
What heals in holistic health care is what feels right for your self. It may be the ocean, love, a good meal, the proper medication, herbs, affirmations, surgery, a dream, light, energy work, a new diet, a change in career, yoga, a new food, an animal, anything that adds to your health. There are choices beyond what allopathic medicine has to offer and choices that can support traditional types of treatments. We are all self-healing and always healing. What is amazing about the holistic concept is that there are so many ways to nourish your happiness, your health, your joy, your experience of life.