March 26, 2010

Becoming Whole Again

A holistic approach to healing is becoming better known as people increasingly take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. Some folks are disappointed by the limitations of surgery and medication or just weary of living in pain, either emotional, physical, or spiritual. I wouldn’t knock surgery and medication, as they can save lives, help us through intense pain or the surgeries themselves, and bring us out of acute trauma. But they are overused and abused when they are bandages for deeper issues. Then they become part of the problem.

Last week an acquaintance had knee surgery. I asked if she had seen any holistic practitioners before deciding on surgery. Yes, she had seen four doctors. I replied, “I mean holistic practitioners, an acupuncturist, any type of natural healer...” Her brow furrowed and she looked puzzled. I decided to write about it.

A couple of days later I was asked to write articles on holistic healing but not include “spiritualism” and instead stick with scientific studies. I declined the request, indicating that holistic healing includes an integrative approach to wellness. That means the body, mind, emotions, spirit, subtle energies. It also means the heart is involved, something incongruent with modern science unless we are talking about the individual, fist-sized human heart. There are excellent scientific studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture, homeopathy, meditation and other holistic modalities, all of which deal with subtle energies and help you heal from the inside out, but it is important for people connect to their whole essence, which is not the focus of most scientific research.

Holistic healing means taking responsibility for your own wellbeing. It means you are aware that you are a wholly integrated being, not just a physical body with unrelated parts. One part of you cannot be separated from another. You are also a matrix of subtle energies that are not simple to prove through the scientific method, but are empirically validated through thousands of years of practice, testimonials, and first-hand reports.

Fortunately the mind-body connection is widely researched so we are aware that our physical symptoms cannot be separated from our thoughts and emotions. We already know that over 30% of us, on average, will feel better when we are told we are being given something that will make us feel better. Enter the power of the mind to affect change in the body.

In my own empirical studies, pain in the body, growths, discomforts of all kinds are associated with a combination of lifestyle issues, emotions, belief systems, and unconscious elements. I have also seen soul pain linked to disease. In other words, the truth, passion, and purpose of the soul has been neglected, avoided, or buried. This condition often emerges as a physical malady that begins subtly and grows until we can no longer avoid it. We often hear of people who change their lives entirely after a troubling illness. The illness itself becomes the wake up call to get back onto one’s unique, fulfilling life path.

So if we are holistic beings, meaning no part of us exists in isolation, then why do we treat our bodies, our painful knee for instance, as if it exists on its own, in isolation? Partly because doctors study the body in this fashion and treat us in the same model. Insurance companies pay for treatments that agree with this model. But also, on a personal level, as years pass by many of us begin to feel disconnected in some way. This comes from ignoring emotional signals, not maintaining the integrity of our minds, and shutting off the whispers of the soul. In many ways, I think our societal structures encourage these separation behaviors. But your physical self cannot be separated from your thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. This is why adopting a holistic perspective toward your own well-being is important. It helps us to view ourselves as whole, helps us get to the root cause of our ailments, and makes us aware of when we are being treated just as a “knee” or a “heart.”

We are integrated human beings keeping the balance within what we might consider to be our own unique orchestra. When all the instruments are in harmony, there is a symphony. When one element is off, the entire orchestra knows it and the experience is one of dissonance. Similarly, your body also knows when one element is off and it will send you clues to warn you. As soon as you hear the first clue, bring yourself back into balance. Ask what aspect of yourself is needing attention. The pain might be in your knee, but the cause might be in your shoulder, your mind, your emotional reactions, a lack of flow of subtle energies, or all of the above. This knowledge is where true healing is found.

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