What is holistic health?
Balancing the spiritual and physical. Body, Mind and Spirit
When we ask what is holistic health we must always remember that our physical body, our mind and our energy (see section on chakra and prana) makes us who we are and will determine how we feel. This triad is always connected and must be therefore be in balance and nurtured if we are to remain in peak condition. For example a physical feeling of pain does not occur without also affecting your mental mood and your energy. Similarly if you experience any emotional upset you will also notice this has an impact on your physical body, grieving a loved one may cause stomach upset, low energy and cause otherwise healthy areas of the body to feel physical distress. Finally, your energy centers, if you are low on energy this manifests through having impact on your physical body – being unable to do tasks that normally would be no problem and also impacts your mental state by bringing about negative self-image and low self-perception.
Chronic illness, pain or mental health
We need to know how we can balance and connect body to mind. As described any physical pain is going to change our mood. A headache impacts our mind and it becomes hard to focus or concentrate, we feel like we can’t focus on conversation or we can feel confused mentally so could develop anger and then impact negatively on those around us. This is even more important for those with long term chronic illness or chronic pain. Those who have these conditions must be even more mindful how their pain may impact not only upon their mental health but also on those around them.
No one with chronic pain wishes to impact negatively on themselves or others but with long term pain it is common to begin to feel anger towards our bodies, leading to low mood or depression because of not feeling ‘normal’ and even jealousy towards people who we perceive to be well.
How does the emotional state impact on body and spirit?
Our thoughts and feelings about ourselves are stored in the brain and therefore affect the physical body and our energy/spiritual centers. Take for example the feelings of sadness, betrayal or anger. These feelings are emotions, the way we sense them is individualistic, and they are different for everybody dependent on our experiences in the past. However when we experience these emotions they usually manifest physically in very similar ways – usually as a heavy weight or feelings of tight pressure in the center of our chest.
When we experience cross words or an argument with a friend, family member or partner, we notice that tightness and heaviness in our body, these sensations in our physical usually will continue until the particular feeling or incident has been processed and dealt with.
Another example giving evidence to our energy centers and emotions impacting upon the physical is when we feel nervous or excited. This physically is usually felt in our stomach area, when we have overcome the fear or the excitement passes then so does the physical impact or feeling within our body.
How do we know if the imbalance is our energy centers/spiritual self?
Our energy body is as real and as easily imbalanced as our physical body. It is important to accept that this body of energy centers is real and therefore must be looked after in the same way you would look after your physical body or mental well-being.
To clarify the differences we often refer to imbalance in the energy body as being ungrounded or not fully in the present. If you become ungrounded due to something in your environment you may feel a lightness in your body, a lack of concentration and a ‘spacey’ feeling as in being light-headed. You will be aware that there is no problem or issue with your physical body and that you are unable to allocate an emotional label – you simply are unsure why you feel lightheaded, spaced out and lacking energy.
Balancing the three brings Mindfulness
By being aware of these connections means we instantly open ourselves up to be mindful of the balance within ourselves. This is referred to as Mindfulness.
This awareness enables us to start living more in the present as we notice our mind, body and energy/spirit feelings as they happen and become much more aware of what is normal for us and able to quickly notice any shift or deviation.
As we become aware of what is a normal balance (when everything is well for us and we have peace and harmony in our lives) we are then able to be more forgiving of ourselves when balance is disturbed. Instead of punishing ourselves for what we are feeling, we understand why this is happening and we are aware of which of the three aspects is impacted and able to do something about it. Often just knowing and recognizing the issue is enough to help regain our holistic balance.
The major shift allowing us to regain balance and become grounded is we no longer create separation between the parts of ourselves we now know are connected, for example, if you have not had a particularly difficult emotional experience, nor have you exerted yourself physically but you are drained and tired, you know that there is an imbalance within your energy centers and need to focus on giving yourself some nurturing. In the same way if you were suffering with the flu or heavy cold you would be aware that you cannot expect to have alert mentality or be full of energy and vitality.
Through this holistic awareness we can move into treating ourselves in a holistic way. This is one of the reasons that holistic therapy is so relaxing and has so much benefit to us. You have a therapist who is considering everything that is happening in your life, taking a holistic view and looking at you as a whole, therefore looking at all the possible reasons for your symptoms.
By being aware of the three different aspects of ourselves we then are able to start thinking and living more holistically. This means that we can 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.
The Goal? – Holistic Balance
Our goal is to live in continual holistic balance where we are aware of our internal and external environment, how it affects us and how we can move ahead both in good times and those when we must accept difficulties and still move forward with love and forgiveness towards ourselves and others.
Our bodies were created by nature and designed to be balanced and in harmony with our surroundings. Our goal is to get to this holistic balance and keep that way. When it comes to health we often think of exercise and what we eat. This is important and should remain of importance however we must continue to be aware that it is not just the type of food or the exercise we take that influences our balance but how we also look after and think about our mental and energy/spirit bodies.
As we nurture our physical body with healthy natural foods we are also feeding our emotional and spiritual body. Therefore we need to think holistically and have a similar healthy attitude and range of techniques for factors which impact on other areas of our health i.e. the physical symptoms of stress, enhancing focus / concentration, working through self-limiting beliefs and behaviors which may cause imbalance in our system.
These areas we will look at in further detail in the next posts on Natural Balance.