The Awe of Holistic Healing
By Irah, Dec 17 2015 03:10PM
Choosing to live a healthy life is no small task. From a holistic psychological perspective, it requires an openness to the possibility that not only is there more to a healthy lifestyle than we may think, but that we may actually be stifling our ability to access what is truly healthy. The level of awareness that is necessary for such a task is seldom developed in today’s ever-increasing pace of life, a world of instant gratification, emotional eating, a manufactured sense of what tastes good, and the most debilitating, a fear of change. Unfortunately, the majority of the advertising we see, in its own collective disconnection from what heals, exploits all of these weaknesses to steer us toward their wares and even further away from our mindful internal selves. It is here, in our core, where we can harness what the mind and body need for optimal health. It is possible that as we, one by one, shift our focus to one of healthy living, that the media, too, made up of individuals just like us, after-all, will one day also shift to presenting holistically healthy information.
We want to feel “better” as quickly as possible. This mindset has led to the development of drugs both prescribed and otherwise (alcohol, food, sex and hyper-social behavior to name a few) that suppress our symptoms rather than heal the cause of our ailments. The overuse of psychiatric medication is a wonderful example of the evolution of this model of instant gratification. You feel down or anxious, go to your neighborhood psychiatrist and pop a pill that will make you feel better. The plethora of side-effects not withstanding you may experience “relief.” Whether this can be considered an improvement is questionable since now you are dependent upon a medication for the stifling of an emotional reaction that if explored could assist in the improvement of your well-being. But no, the cultural and so collective preference is to shut down the emotion at all costs.
Let’s take a look at how a manufactured sense of what tastes good impacts our reality. We eat with our eyes. If we envision the beauty of an elaborately designed cake, it can seem as if we’re shopping for home décor rather than for food that will nourish and sustain us. The basic reality that most grimace at the sight of broccoli or brussels sprouts and light up at the sight of a well decorated pastry can help ground us. We are no longer attracted to the fruits and vegetables of the earth, but drawn at ever more alarming rates to food that is harmful to our health. Advertising and the development of unhealthy food cravings and habits fuels this disconnect. We are all affected and now struggle with the same need to extricate ourselves from the illusion of what food is and move toward what food is intended to do, to nourish and sustain. The beauty of freshly harvested fruits and vegetables is unparalleled once we free ourselves of our collective food illusions. The ever-increasing pace of life interferes in our ability to awaken to this reality and so we must slow down and make space to see what is real.
The role of food as an addiction is a powerful one. Food for all of us is where we go for nourishment, both physical and emotional. It comforts in times of sorrow and gratifies in times of celebration. It feeds us psychologically, when in actuality, these needs are there to be met by friends, loved ones, our own sense of self and our spirits. What it no longer does is feed our bodies optimally. And now we come to fear, the emotion that we ourselves embolden. Whenever there is a construct that is introduced to the human psyche for which there is not yet a schema, the mind experiences a period of uncertainty. When the construct is in contrast to views that are already held, there is dissonance and a desire to calm that dissonance as quickly as possible. Usually that means rejecting this new construct and thus holding on more strongly to preexisting ways of thinking. Growth and I dare say productive evolution lies in the ability to sit in this gloriously uncertain space and allow for the quiet of the unknown to enter. Fear often arises just under the surface, so all we feel is angst, discomfort, anger even, and once again, the desire for relief. Well, we need a new word here, a word that can represent the boundless possibility of the unknown, a word that is uncertainty without fear, a word for the emotion of the moment which is filled with wonder and yet a knowing that we are on a great introspective journey before we settle in to a false sense of understanding. Awe, perhaps. This is a pivotal and sacred moment.
There is a critical message that must be realized. We, each of us, within ourselves, hold the key to optimal health. This cannot be overstated. You have the ability to connect to what is healing all by yourself once you begin to proactively search for it. Holistic psychology, integrating meditation, yoga and organic living foods is a wonderful way to kick start this process. Growing psychologically and learning to sit in meditation are two ways you can begin to access your inner knowing self. It is the nuts and bolts of awakening to awareness. One patient, a woman struggling with anxiety, when directed through a few yoga poses and then ultimately a meditation posture, was struck by how uncomfortable her stomach felt. She had the average amount of belly fat that most Americans have, an amount that sadly is directly correlated with an increased rate of heart disease, however she was unaware of the damage it was doing. That moment of discomfort was her first step to seeing the reality within her and the beginning of listening to her body and moving away from illness and toward health.
What I have seen time and again is that when my patients are freed from the many psychological barriers that exist within all of us, they naturally gravitate to a lifestyle that is filled with organic local produce, water that is clean and filtered and exercise that enervates not just their limbs, as you might find while lifting weights in a gym, but their whole selves as they move outdoors and enjoy natural sunlight, fresh air and mindful exercise. Meat, dairy and processed food eating simply declines without intervention and health improves. It’s not surprising that as people heal emotionally, they eat less foods that are harmful to their health. For more on the detriment of eating animal products, read about the research of Dr. Esselstyn, MD at http://www.dresselstyn.com/site/articles-studies/ and Dr. Campbell, MD at http://nutritionstudies.org/t/plant-based-diet/. You might also enjoy reading about the work of Dr. Gabriel Cousens, MD at http://treeoflifecenterus.com/why-live-foods/ and learning about alternative health centers that are helping individuals improve their health with a plant based diet such as the Hippocrates Health Institute and the Gerson Institute. When considering the findings of these doctors it is important to remember that the goal is first and foremost the prevention of illness. A key lesson that I learned while studying at the Hippocrates Health Institute is that unlike attempting to cure an illness, we are creating an environment within that is no longer hospitable to disease.
I love this article. I agree on the importance to realized how detrimental to our health is to have a bad nutrition, and that combined to a poor and limited level of exercise is extremely negative to our well being. For some of us the first step that will conduct to a better lifestyle is to free ourselves from those psychological barriers, as you mention in your article. I understand how important is to achieve a new level of conscience that lead us to living a better and healthier life, and I think that holistic healing is a great path to achieve this purpose. Thanks again for a great article.