What does ‘Holistic’ mean?
‘Holistic’ stems from the term ‘Holism’ from ὂλος holos, a Greek word meaning –
ALL – WHOLE – ENTIRE – TOTAL
I choose to live Holistically and I wanted to write about what this means to me and as a preface to forthcoming posts about how to understand and cope with emotional feelings and health issues.
How can I understand this term in relation to me and my health?
When we apply the term Holistic to our physical health this ‘ALL’ means that we understand that our Mind, Body and Spirit are the three important dynamics that add up in order for us to feel our own sense of balance.
We are made up from the physical, mental and energetic, and without considering that they all work together then we can’t fully understand our own balance or understand how to look after ourselves properly.
I always use the term ‘Balance’ to refer to how I am feeling. I try not to label myself with some type of sickness and instead recognise that I feel ‘off balance’ and from there I can then find our where that is stemming from. Part of living in a holistic way is to understand that when we feel well, we are in balance, a like to homeostasis, part of our holistic balance is when the body’s internal environment is kept stable. The other part is acknowledging that our external environment will also contribute to this overall holistic balance.
I was always interested in types of Holistic therapies but it wasn’t until the last few years that I took it on as it’s own lifestyle, realizing that the term spanned much more than as a physical health choice to for instance see an Acupuncturist instead of or as well as a GP. One of the reasons that I feel we sometimes still have a divide between traditional medicine and therapies that are called ‘Holistic’ or ‘Alternative’ is because of a misunderstanding of the meaning of this term. When we really understand Holistic-ism then it makes perfect sense how the two can happily work together and do not need to be separated.
By noticing our holistic connection we start understanding what our body is telling us. A new sense of relief comes from being able to be present with those feelings and know how to respond to ourselves with love and consideration.
How do I start to notice this Holistic connection?
Chances are that you already do, but in a moment of pain or stress you possibly forget leading to anxiety or self punishment. I will use an example for the types of connection so you can then apply and understand within your own life.
Firstly remember that our body, our mind and our energy are all connected. If you have a physical feeling or pain then it will also affect your mental mood and your energy. Equally if you are experiencing a certain mental thought process you will also notice a change in your physical body. Finally if you are thinking about your self energetically you will know that it links in with the mind and body also.
The Body connecting to the Mind.
A physical pain is going to change your mood. We are all aware of that. If we have a headache, it becomes hard to concentrate, we feel like we can’t focus on conversation, we can feel confused mentally, we may be agitated or angry.
Another example when we are in chronic pain or more long term pain, for instance regular back pains, or even when we break or injure a limb it will also be reflected in our mood. Common feelings to experience are feeling anger towards our bodies, a low mood or depression because of not feeling ‘normal’ and even jealousy towards people who we perceive to be well.
The body connection also includes what we put IN our bodies. For instance how a medication can have physical and mental side effects. This will also be a further post but an example is the connection between caffeine, sugar and anxiety. If we have had a lot of sugar and we feel very anxious, there is a holistic connection there.
The Mind connecting to the Body
As I will explore further in the next post, feelings are stored in the brain and the body.
The best example in this case which most of us will be able to relate to is the feelings of sadness, betrayal or anger. We usually store these feelings in the centre of our chest.
Example, when we experience cross words or an argument with a friend, family member or partner, we will notice that pang in our body, it usually will continue to come up until the particular feeling or incident has been processed.
Another familiar mind/body connection is that when we feel nervousness and excitement in our stomach area, when we have overcome the fearful moment the feeling usually processes through our body.
Your energetic self connected to your Mind and Body.
As explored in my Energy series we have an energetic body as well as a physical body.
An example is if you become ungrounded due to something in your environment you may also feel a lightness in your body, a lack of concentration and a ‘spacey’ feeling in your head.
You can see how these all work together.
The next step
By being mindful of these connections we instantly open ourselves up to be mindful of the balance within our selves.
This awareness enables us to start living more in the present moment as we notice our mind, body and spirit feelings as they happen and become aware of them as they shift.
We are able to be more forgiving of ourselves because instead of punishing ourselves for what we are feeling, we have a sense of awareness to what we are experiencing.
For instance we don’t create a separation between the parts of ourselves because we know they are connected. You don’t have a particularly difficult emotional experience and then wonder why you are physically tired, you know they are because of each other. In the same way you don’t expect to be mentally and energetically balanced when you are experiencing influenza.
Our holistic awareness then means we can move into treating ourselves in a holistic way. One of the reasons that holistic therapy is so relaxing is that you have a therapist who is considering everything that is happening in your holistic wholeness to be a possible reason for your symptoms.
Beyond this simple awareness we then are able to start thinking holistically. This means that we choose to make our decisions and thoughts from a holistic place, considering how they will affect our mind, body and spirit. Within this we become better at making healthy choices in the present moment and less likely to mindlessly move ahead and then feel regretful.
Our goal is to live in a continuous moment where we are aware of our internal and external environment, how it affects us and how we move ahead in love and forgiveness towards ourselves and others.