Holistic Health – A More Careful Definition
For at least the last sixty years, Western medicine has been dominated by pharmaceutical medications. And regardless of your views on prescription drugs, no one can really call that a holistic approach to medicine. The whole concept of pharmaceuticals is to manipulate a chemical response in the body without concern for what is causing that response.
This is why people seldom get well when relying on prescription drugs, and why the drugs themselves are often more dangerous than the chemical response they are attempting to correct. In some instances, of course – as with antibiotics – we have seen some life-saving results. But even in these cases, the approach by definition is not holistic.
Holistic health refers to considering the body as a whole when trying to maintain health or use corrective health solutions. Now, I don’t know that any holistic health treatment, remedy, nutritional solution, and so on, could ever address every aspect of the body at once. You might deal with inflammation present throughout the body, or might get a broad spectrum of nutrients into cells throughout the body, but these or any other solution wouldn’t provide all things needed by the body.
So a holistic solution doesn’t mean providing everything needed at once, and it doesn’t mean correcting everything at once. It only means that you’re considering the needs of the whole body at once. So when you’re providing a holistic service, remedy, nutritional, etc., it will benefit certain aspects of the body and will do no harm elsewhere in the body. And of course by correcting one aspect of the body, that aspect then starts to do its job correctly, which affects other aspects of the body, and there is a positive spill-out effect.
Again, comparing this with pharmaceuticals, an antibiotic may kill certain bacteria in the body that are causing symptomatic problems; but it’s also going to kill beneficial life in the body, which leads to other problems. A holistic approach to bacteria would be to find the cause of the bacteria and to remove that cause (while possibly strengthening the body’s ability to kill off the harmful bacteria in its own way).
A true holistic approach would also recognize the body as more than a mechanical device. It would look at physical health from both the chemical and quantum perspectives, as the quantum (sub-atomic) biofield directly affects chemical interactions occurring in the body. It is also my belief that this biofield is the medium through which our thoughts and emotions affect our physical bodies – and both thoughts and emotions need to be considered in the holistic approach.
(This is one reason, incidentally, why certain remedies or techniques are more appropriate to some people, while other approaches are needed for other people; clients of holistic practitioners should feel comfortable with what is being done and should have as much mental understanding as they want to have about what is happening. No one should be pressured by friends or practitioners into trying a technique.)
Finally, most holistic practitioners and clients will believe a spiritual aspect to the individual, and this also needs to be considered as part of the holistic approach. A few things need to be said on this, however. First, a balanced holistic practitioner would never feel the need to force a certain spiritual viewpoint on a client because of the negative effect this would have on mind and emotions, and thus potentially on physical health.
Second, a practitioner who doesn’t believe in spirituality still needs to be open to the client’s beliefs if only because those beliefs affect the person’s mental and emotional well-being. To ignore these beliefs is to not look holistically at the person.
Third, we need to be careful in talking about “spiritual healing” and “energy healing” in the same way. They are different. Reiki, for instance, is an energy healing technique in which the “life force” energy (ki, or chi) of the client is manipulated in order to bring about self-healing. The force that Reiki is supposed to work with is the pervasive quantum field (an aspect of which is an individual’s biofield), which is part of the physical world. (This is why it’s studied by quantum physicists rather than theologians.)
Spiritual healing, on the other hand, is meant to be based on spiritual life from God and/or the soul passing into the quantum field and thereby vivifying one’s health. This would include techniques such as esoteric healing, and should be used for those clients with the appropriate belief system.
Just as any one technique for the physical (chemical) body will not directly address all aspects of the body, but will indirectly affect many, any physical technique will affect the quantum field, the emotions, the mind, and perhaps the soul. Any emotional technique will affect the physical, quantum, mental, and perhaps the soul aspects.
A holistic viewpoint, then, understands that every object and every event affects every other object and every other event in some way, no matter how subtly. When we keep this in mind, we better grasp the extensive power of each choice. And when we look to holistic health techniques, we can know that every positive choice is simply a step in the overall scheme of things. But it’s a step toward better health in the end.