How much do you know about “holism”?
The dictionary definition provides a loose understanding of the concept: According to Merriam-Webster, holism is “a theory that the universe and especially living nature is correctly seen in terms of interacting wholes (as of living organisms) that are more than the mere sum of elementary particles.”
In my experience as a holistic therapy practitioner, juggling with the notion of how the parts differ from the whole is key to understanding holism and holistic treatments.
For starters, and on a philosophical level, holism mirrors the concept that the parts of the whole don’t equate to the whole itself. Or in other words, that if you break down a human in their most basic building blocks, while the parts are materially equivalent to the whole, the interaction with each other creates drastically different results. So, the holistic method emphasizes looking at things with the perspective of the overall – or the whole.
Grasping that holism signifies a belief where the sum of the parts does not equal the whole, we can expand on this philosophical concept to medicine to get a better understanding of what holistic treatments entail.
Because holism highlights the significance of a diverse range of considerations, I believe it incorporates different treatment techniques to cover and unify various factors that relate to our health.
Holism – a History Lesson
Jan Smuts coined the term “holism” in 1926. The concept of holism has its roots in ancient Indian Vedic culture (“Veda” in Sanskrit means knowledge), which existed thousands of years ago. In Sanskrit, the word “sarvah,” which is defined as the whole, intact or uninjured, was used to describe the nature of human existence as an integral part of the universe.
The more modern philosophical definition weaves in a lot of these earlier definitions. For example, the human body consists of body, mind, and spirit, integrated into a whole, whose parts are inseparable.
In other words, all of this represents a dynamic interaction within the human being in self, among other people and the universe as a whole. And when all of the parts are balanced and harmonious, our well-being is maximized.
While health can be defined in several ways, including physical, social, emotional, cognitive and spiritual health, if someone is truly healthy, they must experience a sense of well-being. And an imbalance within a human being, or a disharmony, human to human, and human being to the universe can ultimately disturb the benefit of your health.
How Our Energetic Matrix Relates to Holism
Western medicine has come to embrace what Eastern medicine has known about and worked with for thousands of years – the part of our beings commonly referred to as energy. Some of our “energetic” aspects have come to be known as the meridians, chakras, subtle bodies and the aura.
Our life energy continuously flows through the framework of these channels and structures to nourish and maintain all facets of our being. While more systems are being revealed through the study of energy medicine, I typically focus on the particular systems that I specialize in my practice as a holistic nurse.
It’s important to understand that all of our nonphysical components are as vital to our existence as our heart, lungs and blood supply. Each of these components, together with our physical body and our spiritual consciousness, comprised of our multi-dimensional human form.
What’s key is that our health, wellness, and happiness come when all of our subtle bodies are functioning at their highest capacity in harmony with our spirit. In the course of our everyday challenges and lifestyles, any one (or more) of these systems can become damaged, congested, blocked or depleted.
Some of these subtle bodies may not have formed correctly in the first place, perhaps as a result of childhood trauma. Unfortunately, if injuries to these parts of the bodies are severe enough, they carry into adulthood—into our relationships with friends and family, as well as in our workplaces. These traumas to our energy bodies affect our physical body, and these injuries often manifest themselves as symptoms attributed to burnout, namely depression, anxiety, and chronic pain or illness.
Using Holism to Heal
By understanding the role of each dimension of our bodies and exploring the ways they may have been injured or harmed at a young age, we can begin to identify areas where we need to heal. Our subtle bodies require nourishment and healing, just as our physical body does.
To me, holism is like Morpheus unplugging Thomas Anderson from The Matrix so he can go through the process of awakening to the higher level of understanding of himself as Neo, “The One.” Here’s another way to explain it: part of the process of holism involves change – and change is usually an uncomfortable journey along a lumpy and bumpy road where we will meet ourselves 1,000 times over. As the healing journey is always for our highest good, it will then be for the highest good of all concerned. As we heal, others around us heal, the end result is always worth it.
As human beings, we are multidimensional, and we need a multidimensional holistic approach to healing. As such, this is the time for awakening and the realization that there are multifaceted, holistic healing approaches available to help.
My Passion for Holistic Healing
Far too often, especially in Western medicine, we try to treat only symptoms or heal from the outside in. I assure you there is no medication out there that can fix what’s hurting you from the inside out. Ultimately, to fix our problems, we must understand why we are sick, injured or suffering in the first place.
I view holism as your own way of healing and reaching out to a higher level of self-awareness and being, in your own unique way. As we awaken, we feel the injuries and issues that we’ve been carrying around. We are healing, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically into our whole self.
By facing our fears, seeking the true expression of ourselves, learning to let go of self-destructive behaviors, and aligning ourselves with a holism-approach and perspective, we can learn to heal ourselves. Ultimately, by following this holistic path to healing, we can create a life based on creativity, confidence, trust, and love.
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