The definition of “holistic” according to the Cambridge Dictionary is:
“Relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts; holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease.”
I am a holistic health coach. How I explain that is that I consider the whole person, spirit, soul, and body. In the very simplest terms, it is a simple, yet elegant approach to life that addresses the whole person.
For myself personally, as well as when I work with clients, I don’t focus on an illness, disorder, or specific body part alone. I address the person as a whole knowing there is a very strong connection between spirit, soul, and body. There’s a scripture in the Bible that says, “You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body.” (1 Cor. 12:12 Msg.)
There is a theory that’s been around since the time of Hippocrates, even before Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic healing traditions, that says the parts of any whole cannot exist or be understood except in their relation to the whole. Ancient healing traditions going back thousands of years stressed living in harmony with nature. In the 4th century BC, Socrates warned against treating only one part of the body “for the part can never be well unless the whole is well.”
I’d say that describes holistic wellness perfectly!
We are created as three-part beings. We are eternal, living, speaking spirits, who contact this physical world through our souls, mind, will, and emotions, and we live in a physical body. If any aspect of a person’s being is not functioning optimally, it will affect the other aspects.
Your emotions impact your physical health and your physical health can impact your mental and spiritual health. When one part is not working at its best, it impacts all of the other parts. Let’s take this a step further. Each person, including all of his or her parts, is constantly interacting with everything in their surrounding environment. That includes air and water quality, relationships, social interactions, and more.
Think about it. If you have a splitting headache, do you feel like sitting down to read and study? Do you want to deal with an angry boss or a fussy toddler? Of course not. If your back aches or your stomach is upset, do you feel like meditating or praying? I would be willing to bet you would not.
If you’ve just had a terrible argument with your spouse or significant other, is it difficult to concentrate on a complicated project? How easy is it to then just eat junk food or overeat to “comfort” yourself? For example, when someone is anxious about an exam or a job interview, his or her nervousness may result in a physical reaction such as a headache, hives, a rash, or stomachache. When people suppress anger at a parent or a boss over a long period of time, they often develop a serious illness like migraine headaches, emphysema, arthritis, or even cancer.
During the 20th century, holistic wellness took a back seat to scientific medical advances and synthesized, pharmaceutical drugs.
Unfortunately, many people began to believe they could get away with unhealthy choices and habits as long as there was a drug or pill that could “fix” the problem. As we are learning daily, many of these drugs and “cures” have proven to be worse than the disease itself!
Just watch TV in the evening, and there will be a parade of commercials touting the benefits of the newest drug. But if you listen all the way through, you’ll hear a list of potentially dangerous side effects much longer than the benefits of the drug.
Thankfully, many people are returning back to the holistic approach to health and wholeness.
There are simple choices we can make on a daily basis that contribute to our overall health and wholeness. Keep in mind all our cells are constantly being replaced. Those new cells are being built from the raw materials we make available and are damaged from toxins, both physical and emotional, that we ingest. So, providing the highest quality nutrition is a great first step.
The way I describe this to my clients is to choose the highest quality (organic, grass-fed, wild caught, or pastured), one-ingredient foods in a form as close to how God created them, and also that agree with your particular metabolic makeup. You can apply this to your spirit even though spiritual wellness means something different to everybody. Simply choose the highest quality spiritual food that nurtures your spirituality daily. Mentally and emotionally you can be intentional about what you allow in through your eyes and ears. Watching the news constantly is definitely not what I would consider “good nutrition.” You want to watch, read, and listen to things that build you up, encourage, and nourish you.
Daily exercise and activity as well as adequate, restful sleep, finding purpose in your life and learning effective ways to deal with stress such as prayer, meditation, and EFT, are also important pieces to this holistic wellness puzzle.
Health is more than just the absence of illness. It is wholeness.
Wellness is intentionally cultivated and requires consistent input and vigilance. However, it is definitely worth the effort to reap the benefits of health, vitality, and wholeness.