What is holistic health?
Holistic health is the principle of looking at your health and wellbeing as a whole. It incorporates your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional needs.
If one of these areas in my clients is off balance (their 'presenting issue') I will ask about other aspects of their life, delving deeper into what the root of the issue may be. Like working through a puzzle to identify the best healing modality for it.
Another way to visualise this: picture a hanging mobile over a cot with separate dangly bits. If one section is knocked it affects the others as the balance of the whole is affected by individual parts.
A common example of this is depression and pain. Research has shown that people suffering painful conditions experienced their pain less intensely or less frequently if they were mentally / emotionally happier compared to those diagnosed with depression.
Similarly, if you're carrying years of unresolved, unprocessed anger and resentment towards a person or situation, this can result in debilitating back pain that conventional physical analysis alone will never resolve.
Or to flip it around, if you are feeling anxious or shy about a presentation, standing in the “Superhero” pose for several minutes will help you feel more confident. Stand upright, hands on waist, shoulders back and chin up.
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy's famous TED talk popularised this concept. She posited that standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don't feel confident, can boost feelings of confidence, and might have an impact on our chances for success.
Body and emotion are so intertwined and once we look through this lens of understanding, we open up to more possibilities of solutions to enhance our lives.
Throughout much of my life and in particular the past 5 years I have found the holistic health model especially helpful in understanding my wellbeing.
Western society likes to compartmentalise health, often separating the body and the mind as if they operate completely independently from each other. I have rarely read or heard a Western based clinician mention the soul or emotional bodies.
To me this is so limiting and will leave a person lacking. Their rash might clear up for 6 months but the pills and cream they use every day make them have a poorly tummy and an aversion to sunlight. Is this healing? Or is it just replacing one issue for another one?
I initially trained in Psychology and Sociology, and hold a Masters in Relationship Therapy, incorporating Psychodynamic and Systemic theory. I thought I had a pretty rounded understanding of what makes one tick and how to help a mental or emotional issue.
There was very little taught of psychosomatic issue though - physical illnesses or other conditions caused or aggravated by a mental factor such as internal conflict or stress.
I was then drawn, pulled, nudged by forces greater than myself, into the world of Reiki.
Reiki is a healing technique whereby the therapist channels life force energy into the patient, to activate the natural healing processes of the patient's body and restore physical and emotional well-being.
After experiencing it myself as a client, I trained to become a Reiki practitioner.
This was one of the best decisions I've ever made. It not only helps me every day but it opened the door to energy, to the universe and its meanings.
It taught me about about chakras, energy bodies (aura) and so much more. I started to see connections to ailments and disease in a greater way. I also witnessed first hand the amazing things Reiki can help with; mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
I then got pulled into the world of hypnotherapy. My hypnotherapy teacher is very into the holistic approach and open to incorporating energies into the work.
I see hypnotherapy as a perfect mix of counselling, psychological therapy and Reiki. Through this work I have seen the power of the mind (our intention and imagination) on our bodies and wellbeing.
The benefits of using more than one healing modality
Working holistically often means combining conventional / Western medicine with complementary methods such as Reiki or Hypnotherapy.
It may include working alongside some treatment set out by your GP or consultant, a medication regime or upcoming surgery.
This makes sense to me. Why have just salsa on your nachos when you can have sour cream, cheese and guacamole, right?
Each can be enjoyed on its own. But equally each brings a unique beneficial quality that complements the others.
I identify strongly with the ever growing movement to incorporate both 'Western' and 'Eastern' approaches. For too long the 'either/or' mindset has been prevalent, excluding years of experience and research in other modalities, which could be detrimental to someone.
To explain this a little more, I am going to discuss the connection between mind and body.
The connection between mind and body
Every thought creates a biochemical reaction that then is picked up by a cell receiver in the body.
The emotional receptors for anger reside in certain areas, sadness in others etc which explains why each chakra (spinning vortex of subtle energy in our bodies) is associated with different emotions.
Candace Pert's excellent book, the Molecules of Emotion, explains this in much more detail.
In the foreword by Deepak Chopra:
“Her pioneering research has demonstrated how our internal chemicals, the neuropeptides and their receptors, are the actual biological underpinnings of our awareness, manifesting themselves as our emotions, beliefs, and expectations, and profoundly influencing how we respond to and experience our world.”
If these biochemical reactions are not 'processed' and released / transmuted / raised higher, they can stay in the body and cause blockages, which can lead to mental and physical illnesses.
By “processed” I mean bringing the root of the issue to the surface to be witnessed, understood, and perspective changed. This takes the intense emotional charge out of the issue. It can then be changed so it does not have the same hold over you anymore.
Another meaning for this is learning to recognise what is going on in your body and mind and being able to put certain coping mechanisms in place so that the issue shifts and you work towards a happier, healthier self.
What is the right therapy for you?
Disclosure: I am unashamedly biased (see My Journey above).
Whilst I initially trained as a counsellor, after receiving reiki and hypnotherapy, I was so enamoured of the way they worked and their effect on me that I went on to train in them and now offer them as services (counselling for the NHS, and all three privately).
My secret not so secret goal is to be able to incorporate them all into the NHS at some point.
Whatever you feel drawn to, research it
How do you feel in your body when you read it - do you get tingles and goosebumps? Do you feel at ease and curious for more? If so, give it a go!
Or do you tense up, do you shut down, grimace or just feel nothing? In this case, perhaps it's not for you, or the timing isn’t right yet.
Timing can be crucial
For example, you’ve just experienced a sudden death of a really close friend, your heart is in pieces and you feel like shutting down and hiding away forever.
This is not the time for grief counselling - you need time to process and work through the numb and shock.
Reiki, however, can be really helpful here - speaking from experience, it just helps take the edge of the rawness and helps with sleep and relaxation.
Then further down the line, if you are still really struggling with it all counselling can help.
If it doesn't gel
If you try something and you really don’t like it, you’ve learnt more of what you want instead, so nothing is a waste.
It may be you didn’t vibe with the practitioner. We're only human, and not everyone is going to be your cup of tea. So it might be worth trying with someone else - ask around for a recommendation.
Holistic healing is a journey
We are layered like an onion. We think we have dealt with something then some time later, we may find triggers are coming up again.
This is quite normal - it means we are ready to journey a little deeper with the wound.
As we grow and evolve so does our capacity to process and think about issues, emotions and behaviours. We don't start with a marathon if we show an interest in running. Our healing journey is often the same. We start with less intense things until we are ready to delve into more painful, difficult areas.
Wherever you are on your holistic healing journey and whatever modality you choose to help you with it, I wish you hope and belief in yourself that you will work through it.
If you would like me to help with your journey, please get in touch. I offer free consultations to help understand if I am the right fit for you. You can find out more by browsing this site, or book online at my Keia profile.
With Love and Blessings,