‘Holistic’ is a term that’s thrown around quite a lot these days, but is everyone certain about what it actually means?
More than a specific practice, holistic health is a lifestyle. Compared to conventional medicine, which focuses on the treatment of illness, holistic health is a mind-body lifestyle commitment that supports health and well-being, prevents disease, and helps people find physical and spiritual balance.
Holistic health is achieved only when all aspects of a person – the body, the mind, and the spirit – are working in harmony.
History of Holistic Health
Holistic health has actually been the norm for most of history. It was only recently that modern scientific advances changes the way that people think about health. Nowadays, most people consider good health to simply mean ‘disease-free.’
Traditional health sciences, such as TCM and Ayurvedic medicine, believed that health was much more than simply avoiding diseases. These systems all encouraged people to take care of their mind, their body, and their soul, and believed that a person was truly healthy only when all these parts were harmonized.
Nature was often used as a model for holistic health. Nature, which is composed of interdependent parts, is greater than the sum of its parts. The human body operates in the same way. As the great Socrates said in the 4th century B.C., he said of the body that one part “can never be well unless the whole is well.”
This approach to health continued until the late 19th country when scientific advances flipped our understanding of health on its head. When germs were identified as an external threat and medicines were developed to fight them, people began to neglect their health. It became easier to cover up the symptoms of unhealthy living with medicine, rather than to care for the body and prevent these illnesses from arising in the first place.
Holistic Health Concepts
As mentioned above, nature serves as a good model for understanding how holistic health works.
A natural ecosystem, like a forest, is composed of many different parts. There are animals, plants, rivers, microbes, and many other components that all share deep relationships with each other. If any of these parts are taken away from the whole, the entire system suffers and could eventually fall apart.
The same is true with the human body. All the parts of our bodies have intimate relationships with one another. Not only that, but our body as a whole is deeply connected to our external environment. For example, sharing a flat with an angry couple who are always arguing would cause you stress, which in turn could lead to stomach issues or heart problems.
As such, holistic health is a constantly evolving process that involves harmonizing your internal and external environments. Holistic health is basically a commitment to constantly make choices that push you in a direction towards better health, and acknowledging that if you’re not doing that, you’re moving in the opposite direction: towards disease.
Holistic health is a lifestyle commitment. Holistic health allows people to prevent disease and live a long, healthy life by balancing all aspects of their mind, body, and spirit.
Written by Nigel Ford