In this article I wish to give an introduction to Holism and Wellness as they are important and can greatly influence the quality of our lives and health.
The concepts of holistic practices and the wellness movement have recently risen to fame after almost a decade of development and have been able to massively impact people’s lives.
Such practices have been able to fill in the gaps where traditional Western and Chinese medicine failed to give answers and that resulted in providing solution, nurture, closure and peace for all patients in search of pain relief.
Unfortunately, with all its fame and results, holism also was an entrance to many practitioners who claim to have tools to heal but their sole interest lies in making money out of the misery of others. This is something that I am totally not OK with.
In order to provide some more clarity on the subject of holism, let’s take a look at what it really is.
Table of Contents
The Concept of Holism
Holism (from Ancient Greek holos, ὅλος – all, whole, entire) is the idea that natural systems (physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) and their properties should be viewed as wholes, and not as collections of parts.
Even though the term “holism” was originally coined in 1926 by South African statesman Jan Smuts, holism dates back almost 2500 years ago, when the father of medicine Hippocrates actually taught that ‘Health is the harmonious balance of the 4 humors in the body’. He also taught that disease appears in the body when one of the 4 humors is in excess, is missing or is isolated from its other components.
To quote Hippocrates:
“The body of man has in itself blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile; these make up the nature of the body, and through these he feels pain or enjoys health. Now, he enjoys the most perfect health when these elements are duly proportioned to one another in respect to compounding, power and bulk, and when they are perfectly mingled. Pain is felt when one of these elements is in defect or excess, or is isolated in the body without being compounded with all the others.”
As you can clearly see, holism is not a new concept and its central idea is that in order to protect yourself from disease and to be able to live a healthy life, you need to look at your existence as a whole.
The problem with not-so Holistic practitioners
It saddens me to see holistic practitioners using the term when they are actually focusing on only one aspect instead of the whole. For example: some look at the physical, others only at the emotional etc. and yet claim to be a part of the holistic movement.
In order to better explain the model of holism, I will use a simple example. A car has 4 wheels and is a sum of a vast collection of metal, plastic, internal and external, electronic and mechanical mechanisms. In order for the car to be in top shape, all these systems must co-work in harmony. When one part gets too much electricity or is isolated, then that system does not work. Depending on the system in crisis, this might result in a light malfunction, which still allows the car to properly function or a major malfunction which will render the vehicle immovable and thus worthless for its purpose.
The complexity of our bodies is similar. Our ‘body’ is a brilliant combination of 4 systems (bodies), the spiritual (our higher self), mental (the mind), emotional (the heart) and physical (the body as we know it). All of those are independent and yet work with other sub-systems to form a complete and whole. (Note: According to other spiritual teachings, our Spirit is considered to be separate from our 4 “lower bodies”.)
The concept of Wellness
Wellness is a wider area that encompasses holistic models of healing. More specifically, we function as an extension of our complete body and we are also single units in a more vast system that is called Society. People need to understand that our interaction with this system affects one or more of our 4 bodies and is also responsible for our well-being or lack thereof.
I think that all of us, since we are integrated parts of a society, feel its weight which causes stress. That in turn, creates imbalances in our 4 bodies and affects our coexistence with other members, especially our close and loved ones in the sub-system we call family.
Unlike traditional forms of medicine, wellness is not perceived as a corrective state but is more like a hunt or a quest to discover the balanced combination of a person’s dimensions that will help him/her achieve a harmonized existence. An existence which will consequently be linked with living a happier and disease-free life. These dimensions of wellness include our physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, social, professional (occupational) and environmental states of existence.
It is our duty as human beings to pursue the vision of perfect wellness for ourselves, our loved ones and everyone else who happens to be in our close or extended ‘environment’.
I hope that you will come to understand the importance of holism (i.e. seeing things as a whole) and how each small unit can interfere or influence another and in the long run, can make us or break us.
Avoid “Holistic Experts’ who tend to focus on fixing only one aspect of your wellness while completely ignoring everything else. You will be able to recognize them quite easily, as they will present you with a product that will solve your problem. Instead, look for true experts who understand the connection between your physical, emotional, mental, spiritual bodies and aim to help you get better by making your whole stronger.
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by Nick Sigma
CWC, EH, E-YRT200