“Luminous beings are we; not just this crude matter,” said Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back.
Turns out he was right; more and more doctors and physicians are coming to the realization that health involves much more than just writing a prescription. People are increasingly turning to alternative approaches to traditional medicine, whether because they haven’t found what they wanted through the traditional channels, or because they just plain can’t afford health care at current costs.
When our bodies tell us something is wrong, whether through pain or sickness, it’s up to us to listen and discover the cause. Although it has always been known that our minds exert considerable influence over our health, the holistic health approach places equal importance on the emotional, spiritual, and mental state of a patient as well as the physical.
The Deepest Human Need: Connection
The emotional need for connection lies deep within the human psyche. People will do strange things because of their fear of loneliness. Wives stay with abusive husbands; adult children put up with overbearing parents; and any of a number of other seemingly senseless situations. For this reason, therapeutic counseling may be a part of a holistic healing approach to one’s health. Many times talking out our feelings can bring about a healing when nothing else could. Another technique which taps into the emotional health of a person is aromatherapy, using varying fragrances and their effects on the mind to bring about feelings helpful to healing.
Your Mind The Computer
An old computer adage goes like this, “Garbage in, garbage out.” Our minds are much like a computer in this regard. What we put into them directly affects our state of being, our happiness, and many times our health. Yoga, for example, is derived from a Hindu approach to keeping clarity of mind through various body postures and exercises. Ayurveda medicine, which many times involves Yoga as part of the treatment, incorporates a stringent diet and herbal treatments as part of a holistic approach to health.
East, West, And Everywhere Else
Many of the holistic approaches to healing have embraced Eastern ways of thinking and spirituality. Acupuncture is centered on the Traditional Chinese idea of tapping into energy within the body in order to relieve pain. The idea of energy within the body is also used in energy-based therapies, such as Reiki in which a channeler places their hands on another person’s body to allow healing energy to flow into them. Of course, holistic health is not limited to Eastern ways of thinking.
Western thinking also divides the person into body, mind, and spirit, and the type of approach to spirituality can vary from person to person. One may find that energy-based therapies may work for him/her, while another may find prayer, or prayerful intention, is more effective for healing as part of an overall healing treatment. The idea is that in a holistic healing setting, the spiritual is included in the overall treatment plan.
Diet, Exercise, And Herbal Remedies
Because holistic healing is about not only making someone better who is sick, but also preventing disease in the first place, a truly holistic health approach to living will include a diet that many times includes organic or natural foods. A holistic approach to physical health might also include an exercise regimen as well, hopefully one that the person can be faithful to and not just a New Year’s resolution that’s forgotten within two weeks of January 1st. And who doesn’t like a good massage? Deep-tissue, healing, and many other forms of massage can all be part of a mind-body approach to holistic health. A final approach to the physical aspect of holistic healing may be herbal remedies or homeopathic healing techniques over traditional synthetic drugs.
Complementary And Alternative Medicine
And wait, holistic healing doesn’t necessarily mean conventional medicine (the kind your doctor with an MD prescribes) isn’t used. The use of any of the techniques discussed above in conjunction with conventional treatment is known as complementary medicine. Alternative medicine, on the other hand, implies that conventional techniques have been forsaken in favor of natural or non-traditional ones. The two are usually referred to together under the term CAM (complementary and alternative medicine).
Of course, by no means is the above list all-inclusive. Rather, it’s meant only as a guide to help you understand the different aspects of a holistic health approach. The important thing to keep in mind is just that: the mind is sometimes the most critically vital part of the body to heal!