Holistic, Integrated, Whole … when it comes to western medicine, these are new concepts. For those of us aware of alternative healing, this is literally, ancient news. Why? Because the ancients knew that to fragment the body into discrete ‘parts’ (and then separate emotions and mind as irrelevant to health) was simply ridiculous. We are whole beings – Spirit, Mind and Body – and true healing comes when we approach it from this perspective. Mary Kurus has written an excellent article I’d like to share with all of you. If you’ve got some confusion or uncertainty about the differences between main-stream medicine and holistic health, this piece from MK Projects is well worth the read.
Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual Health
By Mary Kurus
How Do We View Health Today?
We are taught in our western culture to think in terms of pieces of ideas or concepts rather than integrated complete ideas and concepts. We look at our bodies, minds, emotions and spirit as if each part is fully separate from the other rather than totally intertwined. Western society rewards specialization, the examination of a piece of the whole. We believe we can take things apart into small pieces and deal with these small pieces in isolation of the complete idea or concept.
This fragmented approach has lead us to look at health in a compartmentalized manner rather than as the management of a totality. We believe that our bodies, organs and systems are totally separate from our thoughts, emotions, energy fields and our spiritual selves. We need to look at how our thoughts can affect our behavior and ultimately our health. We need to understand how our emotions work and how repressed emotions can create serious illness in our bodies. We need to appreciate how our values and beliefs can directly affect our everyday health.
We separate our spiritual lives into a separate box or a specific time for worship or prayer. We do not integrate spirituality into our everyday lives. We do not realize that perhaps our spiritual lives or a lack of spirituality may be causing some of our health problems. Many of us do not known how to develop a personal spirituality so that we are connected to the greater universe. We fail to understand the difference between organized religion and spirituality. We do not appreciate the need to integrate spirituality with the practices of the religion to which we belong.
Our body, emotion, mind, energy body and soul together form the whole person. It is only by dealing with each part of the whole within the whole, that we can have vital and energetic health.
All organs, systems, thoughts, emotions, have their own specific energy or vibration. Each organ vibrates at an energy specific to it alone. Each piece of food or drink that we consume has its own vibration. Each emotion has its own vibration. Therefore what we feel, what we think, what we eat and drink, even what we daydream about, has a direct effect on our health.
The Mystery of Our Physical Bodies
We are comfortable when talking about our physical bodies and yet we know little about how our bodies actually work. Because we can touch our skin and feel our limbs we feel comfortable. Do we understand the functions our skin performs? Do we know how to look after our skin so it will be vibrant and healthy? We can feel our bones but do we know what to do to have strong and healthy bones?
Our body is the physical container for our organs, systems, brain, mind, emotions and soul. Our bodies are made up of organs, systems, tissues and cells. This book is not about anatomy and physiology, nor is it about disease; it is about your health. I will simply list the major systems in our body as a general reference as follows: the skeletal system of bones and joints; a muscular system; a nervous system; an endocrine system; a circulatory system; a lymphatic system; a respiratory system; a digestive system; a urinary system; and a reproductive system. We have a huge chemical factory in our bodies with many chemical reactions taking place. These chemical reactions are responsible for things such as memory and the movement of information between our minds, nerves and muscles.
Our bodies do things that we don’t understand. We crave a certain food and do not understand why we keep eating this food when we promised ourselves we wouldn’t eat it anymore. We can’t understand why we crave that piece of chocolate or bread. We don’t understand that it is our body which is asking for that food, that the craving is triggered by a chemical reaction. We may have an infestation of a parasite which feeds on a certain food such as sugar and is setting up a specific craving. Perhaps we use certain foods for comfort when we are lonely or afraid. Emotions create chemical reactions which trigger cravings for a specific food.
The medical profession has some knowledge of how our bodies work but this knowledge is limited. Ongoing research is providing us with new pieces of information every day. For example, we are more knowledgeable about the development of bones and how to heal broken bones. We have limited knowledge about what causes illness in our bones, such as cancer. Our knowledge about the chemistry of our bodies, and the production and effects of hormones in our bodies is limited. Hormones are products produced in our brains and throughout our bodies which circulate in body fluids and automatically command the cells to perform different functions.
Our bodies respond to different thoughts and emotions
The chemical processes in our bodies change depending on which types of emotions we are feeling. When an individual thinks about comfort and pleasure and feels hopeful about life, the body changes into a relaxed state where certain chemical changes occur and healing can occur. When an individual is angry different chemical reactions occur in their body creating stress on various organs, especially the liver and pancreas. If these emotions continue for extended periods of time illness can result.
A good example of the mystery of our bodies is the relationship between our nervous system and our mind. In our bodies the central nervous system executes orders both automatically and at times through the command of the mind. For example, our hearts operate automatically without any orders from our mind. But an individual can change the functioning of their heart, either slowing or accelerating their heart beat through visualization exercises in their minds. If an individual becomes frightened his heart beat accelerates. If they meditate their heart beat slows down. Certain automatic body functions can be adjusted by the mind.
Traditional and Alternative Medicine
Traditional medicine treats the body as if the mind and emotions do not have any effect on bodily functions. For example, when arteries get clogged treatments are prescribed to unblock narrowed passages. Changes are recommended regarding the type of food to be eaten. But the emotions which were part of the cause of this illness are ignored. Until recently, traditional medicine separated the treatment of the body, mind and emotions as if they did not affect each other. The medical profession is just beginning to look at the relationship of body, mind and emotions and their effect on health.
A 1997 survey at Harvard University showed that 42 percent of adult Americans with cancer had tried alternative or complementary medicine in the treatment of their cancer compared to 34 percent in 1990. They spent $US21 billion on it, $US12 billion out of their own pockets, as per Dr. David Rosenthal, the immediate past president of the American Cancer Society. Dr. Rosenthal also stated that “less than 40 percent of patients disclosed their use of complementary or alternative medicine to their physicians”. Alternative or complementary medicines usually combine the mind, emotions and body in the treatment of cancer. Traditional medicine uses drugs to kill the invading tumor in different ways, treating the body alone. It has become very clear that mind matters. It is not simply mind over matter but mind and body integrated. The following is a simple example of the relationship of body, mind and emotions …
“Feelings are neither good or bad, they just are”. I’m certain that many of you have heard this statement. Why then do the majority believe that some feelings are good and some are bad. Why are we afraid to feel our feelings? We know little about our emotions or feelings and even less about how to live with them, deal with them and process them out of our bodies.
We cannot chose which feelings we will or we won’t have. They’re automatic. They give us immediate feedback about how a particular person or situation is affecting us. Often an emotion we are feeling in the present moment is linked not only to the present situation but to a situation which occurred a long time ago. Past emotions that have not been dealt with, have a direct effect on our emotional reactions to situations in today. Emotions that are denied or suppressed stay in our bodies in our tissues, glands, muscles, organs and systems. They leave when we re-feel them or truly feel them for the first time, and release them.
There are two basic underlying emotions in all human beings with varying degrees of intensity. They are love and fear. Desire, joy, pleasure, contentment, acceptance, hope, peacefulness, excitement, self-esteem, assertiveness, and generosity are a few examples of love-based feelings. Anxiety, anger, sorrow, apathy, bitterness, jealousy, irritability, depression, rejection, pity, grief, aggressiveness, powerlessness, passiveness, loneliness, and irritability are examples of fear- based emotions. Different chemicals are produced by our bodies when we feel these two groups of emotions.
Working with Feelings and Emotions
What is an emotion or feeling and how can we work with them. An emotion is a reaction to a person, situation or object in our lives, real or imagined. It is a reaction to what is before us or to a memory of a similar situation in the past. Many of us are afraid of our feelings, afraid that if we really feel them we will lose control. Or, we fear that if we begin to feel a feeling this process will never stop. We often deny our feelings and pretend they aren’t there. We deny them, repress them, squelch them. We think that by pretending they’re not there they’ll go away. But feelings which are not faced and owned never go away. They are buried alive, ready to poke their heads out and come to the surface the moment they have a chance. I will speak later in this book on the different ways of processing emotions out of the body.
Humans use many means to keep feelings stuffed down and suppressed. We smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol excessively, use recreational drugs and hard drugs, overeat, and participate in compulsive sex. These activities are used to stuff down feelings. Staying constantly busy is another way to keep from feeling our feelings. Individuals who are always busy and have difficulty sitting quietly by themselves usually have difficulty feeling their feelings. Individuals are more comfortable intellectualizing or talking about their feelings rather than feeling their feelings. We analyze them, turn them inside out and upside down and break down our feelings to the smallest detail. But we go to great lengths to avoid feeling our feelings.
European and North American culture is uncomfortable with feelings. This is the age of being politically correct and that means that you should never show strong emotions to others at work, at home or in your social lives. Our culture teaches us to pretend that nothing really matters, to smile regardless of what is happening. What you do is not as nearly as important as the spin you put on what you do. It is unspoken, but in today’s’ world, fear or fear based emotions are a sign of weakness and vulnerability and should not be admitted to or exhibited at any time. To be vulnerable is to be weak. It’s important in our society to hide weakness and vulnerability. These attitudes and practices are a recipe for disease and illness.
Ignoring them doesn’t make them Go Away
Repressed feelings don’t go away. They can distort your present behavior and create illness and disease in your body. If you don’t deal directly and honestly with yourself and your emotions you eventually become so disconnected from yourself you are not present to yourself or to anyone else. Eventually when you ask yourself who you are you don’t know anymore. You have allowed major parts of yourself to leave. The good news is you can bring them back.
Many books have been written in the past few years concerning the direct effect emotions have on our health. Emotions are the direct cause of all illness in our bodies. This body of literature includes Deepak Chopra, Ann Louise Hay, Barbara Ann Brennan, David Roeland, and so many others. I strongly encourage you to read these authors to fully understand the breadth and depth of the impact our emotions can have on our physical health.
What is a human mind? What is our brain? How are thoughts created? What is memory and where are memories kept for future recall? These are questions men much wiser than me have asked finding very few real answers. Webster’s dictionary defines the mind as “the element or complex of elements in an individual that feels, perceives, thinks, wills, and especially reasons”. It speaks of “intention and desire and the conscious and unconscious adaptive mental activity of an organism”. What does a mind do? Is the mind contained in the brain? Do we have another mind elsewhere which deals with our emotions and deepest intentions and intuition? Are electrical impulses and light waves part of the thinking process?
In his book The Message of the Divine Iliad, Walter Russell states that man’s actions are a direct result of his thinking. Human beings manufacture their own physical and mental agony by unbalanced decisions and actions regarding personal, business or social relations. Our brains are electric storehouses for memories recorded upon them as a result of the experiences of our senses. The brain is the nerve center of all parts of the body which motivates the body to perform various functions. The brain of man is not his mind. The mind is Cosmic.
Are you Thinking or Reacting?
Very few people think at all. I will say that again. Very few people think about anything at all. They simply react in response to their senses and do very little original planning, assembling, designing or creating. The majority simply imitate the thinking and behavior of others. People act automatically. The herding instinct is still strong in the human race. In their need to belong to a group and their fear of being alone, people imitate the behavior of the majority, without thinking of their actions and the impact on themselves or others.
The mind/brain stores, organizes, retrieves and analyses pieces of information. Western culture tends to be “head-centered”, using mind/brain-centered functions as the means to solve problems, collect information, analyze this information, and make decisions based on this analysis.. The mind/brain used in this manner is an incomplete tool. It does not include the intuition or deep intention that is contained in every human being. It does not include that moment of knowing, when we just know something, that moment of inspiration, directly from the Cosmic world. How often do we ask ourselves after having completed a mind/brain analysis what does the heart say. It often says something completely different from our mind/brain conclusion. I will give the following example to illustrate this concept.
James is discussing a possible change of employment with his friend Harry. He has analyzed the situation completely looking at the advantages, disadvantages, future upward mobility and financial returns of this potential change. His analysis has shown him that this new job has great potential for him, with huge opportunities for future advancement. He is reviewing his analysis with his friend Harry. Harry notices there is some hesitancy in James even though this job offer is such an exciting possibility. James agrees there’s something bothering him. He should be so excited but he is lukewarm to this potential change and he doesn’t understand why. What’s wrong?
Instead of dismissing this feeling he takes the time to do some real thinking and soul searching. James finally admits to himself that his heart isn’t in this type of work. If he could find the resources, he would like to return to school and study biology to eventually work in wildlife parks. He’s afraid of such a major change in lifestyle. He’s anxious that he may not succeed in his dreams. He’s afraid his friends will laugh at his dreams. He doesn’t tell anyone about his dreams. James now has to make a broader and deeper type of analysis. James would never have come to this point in his analysis if he had only listened to his mind/brain. His other minds or heart gave him the signals and information not contained in his mind/brain.
The Mind and Heart Question
Another way of looking at the mind is looking at the process used to make a decision. Ask yourself if you’re making it with your mind or with your heart. Since we can separate feelings from the mind/brain function we can eliminate love centered emotions to affect our behavior. You can ask yourself what would my mind or sense of logic want me to do and then what does my heart want me to do. Often they are two different decisions or sets of actions. The mind/ brain is said to override our emotions, our nervous systems, and most of our physical needs. We can control many functions in our bodies with our minds. Biofeedback is one method used to have the mind control what the body does. But we need to learn to think with our hearts as well as our heads.
Using Mind Power
The power of the mind is beyond our imaginations. Since thought always precedes action we come to the conclusion that if we can change our thinking we can change our behavior. And we can. The foundation of our thoughts are the beliefs and values we have developed over time. These beliefs and values must be identified, reviewed and changed if we want to change our thought patterns and subsequent actions.
Thoughts and ideas can be transmitted over distances and can be used to affect the behavior of others. The American, European and Russian military have been researching and experimenting for years with the power of thought and time dimensions. It’s unfortunate this research is classified for military purposes since this information could be used in the betterment of mankind. Native Australian Aboriginal Tribes have been communicating telepathically using mental pictures for many years. So, why are we so afraid to use the power of our minds?
Visualization is a powerful tool in using the mind to have a positive effect on the body. A great deal has been written on various ways to use the imaging process. Imaging commands the body to respond in a desired direction. A number of therapists use imaging to affect progress towards health when working with conditions which were deemed hopeless. Dr. Martin Tatz of Ottawa, Canada is well known for his use of visualization for the management and elimination of chronic pain. But an individual’s limiting beliefs have to be shifted for visualization to work as a healing agent.
The mind and emotions are constantly responding to the condition of the physical body and the physical body is constantly responding to the meanings and perceptions of the mind and the emotions. This is why when dealing with illness and health the mind, emotions and body must be dealt with in a integrated manner.
Mind over Matter and Psychic Surgeons
One example of the power of mind over matter is well represented by the group of psychic surgeons who originated in the Philippines. They are able to place their hands and penetrate an individual’s physical body and perform surgery without any anaesthetic or pain for the patient. Their hands literally go through the skin, organs and tissues. They perform surgery on cancer patients who are deemed to be inoperable. Some of the adjustments include spinal adjustments, removal of tumors or cancerous growths, the alignment of bones, the adjustment of internal organs including the ovaries, kidneys, liver, pancreas, heart among others. This is truly the power of high vibrations. And yet some of these same individuals find a recurrence of their malady in another part of their body leading many to speculate that thoughtforms that were not changed are continuing to create energetic blockages which in turn create illness.
In a book titled Healing and The Mind by Bill Moyers, MD, various physicians speak of their experiences related to the mind rather than the body and the importance of dealing with the mind when dealing with health and illness. One stressed that we need to “think about our medical system as a health care system rather than a disease treatment system” and goes on to say that this ” would mean looking closely at medical education and our public funding priorities.” If we are to deal with health and health care, a complete rethinking of health is required by the medical profession.
We do not understand completely how the minds of children are developed. We are told that the beliefs of children are set at an early age. Can adults change belief systems? It’s an interesting question. Children today are exposed to information at an amazing rate. This information comes from many sources including day care centers, the formal educational system, and various mediums of communication including the Internet, television, movies and magazines. Children are being exposed to positive knowledge about nature, the earth, science and technology. They are also being exposed to images of cruelty, violence, racism and intolerance. Media is barraging children with excessive advertising, developing materialistic demands in children. The world needs to think seriously about the impact of this exposure on children. Perhaps our educational systems need to develop new courses to help young people develop the skills to analyze, accept or reject what they view and hear through the media.
We need to research the impact of this bombardment of information on the development of young minds. When a crisis occurs and a child goes into school and guns down fellow students there is an immediate outcry of concern. But governments are not funding the research which is required to fully understand the impact of all this imagery on children. What is the impact of this imagery on the mental, emotional and physical health of children? What are the factors which are alienating so many of our children.
Our Spiritual Selves
What is spirituality? What is the soul? Many learned and brilliant men have written volumes and volumes about the elements of the soul and spirituality. The problem is their writings are difficult to understand. Do we understand that each soul is the essence of each individual? The soul contains the complete blueprint for each individual on this earth. Do we appreciate that spirituality is the relationship of each human with a power greater than any human power on earth, with the Cosmic world? Do we understand that truth, dignity, integrity, faith, hope and love are the main ingredients of spirituality?
Religion or Spirituality?
Many individuals confuse organized religions and spirituality. Organized religions are grouping of individuals who usually have a defined set of doctrines or beliefs along with regular practices of worship. Spirituality is the practice of love-based attitudes which are integrated into an individual’s everyday life. Spirituality is practiced by the individual. These attitudes can be shared with others but do not require organized grouping for their practice.
About 25 years ago many individuals found their experience with organized religion left them feeling empty and hollow. It didn’t address their needs in relation to a Universal power, nor did it give them a sense of being connected with that Universal power. I will use the word God to describe this power. Others use the words Allah, Buddha, Great Spirit, Universal Spirit and many other names. It doesn’t matter what word is used. What matters is that human beings are connected to a Universal Spirit who gives them a sense of purpose, values and beliefs and makes people feel loved and wanted and needed. It has been said that atheists are often individuals who have serious unresolved father issues. Therefore, they cannot have a concept of a Universal power which is often referred to as the perfect fatherly love. The beliefs expressed in this paper inherently integrate a belief in a Universal Power as central to its philosophy.
The religions many were brought up with were fear-based, with concepts of reward and punishment at the center of their philosophy. They described God as vengeful and at times barbaric. They made this Cosmic power into a God of fear and not love. Acceptance of the human condition, and the imperfection of man was not seen as something to be accepted but as something to be changed because of shame. The development of self-esteem and the God within was not a priority. These religions stressed the negatives rather than the development of the positives.
No More Fire and Brimstone, Thank You
In the past 25 years many have abandoned organized religions. The old fire and brimstone could no longer frighten people into being good and they stopped active participation in organized religion. As a result, many new religious practices began and many cults were initiated to fill this void. Old religions have sought to revitalize themselves, to become more involved in the daily lives of their members, providing love, comfort and support. Some have succeeded and some have failed. For many individuals today, spirituality has become a direct and personal connection with a God of this Cosmic universe without membership in any organized religion.
We see God in many ways every day. We see God in nature, in the birds and the flowers and the trees. We feel the spirits of nature, of mother earth and their sacredness. Many relate closely to the spiritual beliefs of native peoples who honor the spirits of nature, the animal spirits, plant spirits and rock spirits.. Many see God in loving and caring people. Many see God in the miracle of a newly born baby, so perfectly formed. Many see God in the face of a beautiful old woman all crinkled and creased and gently smiling. Many see God in the stars at night and in the sun and the moon. When some listen to the wind and let rain fall on their faces, they feel God. For some God is everywhere, in all people, in works of art, in melodious music and in sacred writings.
The Need for Worship
Humanity needs to worship, to give thanks and pay homage to this Universal Spirit. I believe in the power of prayer. Spirituality needs to be lived actively. It is the generosity for those who have less, it is the caring for those in need, it is the sharing of a joy or sorrow. Mankind has a basic need to worship and the result of ignoring this need can be poor health. A life lived without spirituality needs more and more of the material life to keep the sense of emptiness at bay.
Worshipping can be very simple and can be done alone or with others. There are many practices which can be used as forms of worship in living a spiritual life. Some meditate, others daydream, others walk in the forest, others hike and canoe in the wilderness. Others make special novenas, say the Stations of the Cross, or worship in temples, mosques and monasteries. Other burn candles, incense or sage to dissolve negative energies and purify their surroundings and themselves. Others face Mecca and say special prayers five times each day. Some fast during certain periods of the year. Some chant and others sing. There are so many ways to worship and each has its own special beauty.
To be vital and healthy you need to have a spiritual life. We need to have values and beliefs which we live by and strive to achieve. These values must be integrated into our work lives, home lives and social lives. In the final analysis it’s how we treat ourselves and others when no one is looking and no one knows about which tells about an individuals spiritual life. Its the respect and love of mother earth which is a true reflection of the respect and love for oneself and others. An individuals spiritual life is reflected in their relationship with themselves, their families, their friends, their co-workers, their community, and the world at large. Those without spiritual lives or fragmented spiritual lives tend to be more fearful, anxious, angry and depressed. The lack of a spiritual life can lead to illness and disease.
Our Energy Bodies
We feel comfortable and safe believing in what we can see, touch, feel, taste and smell and become quickly uncomfortable with concepts about things we cannot see, touch, feel, taste and smell. As a result we have difficulty with concepts about energy and the energetic properties and fields of individuals, objects and nature. And yet everything on this planet with a life force is made of energy. Humans are made of energy. Plants, animals and rocks each have their own life force. Solid concrete objects are surrounded by and permeated with a fluid world of radiating energy. Thoughts and emotions have their own energy and vibration.
Each human being and each object on this earth and in the universe is surrounded by and permeated with an energy field which is a electro-magnetic field. We call this energy field an aura. Auras are made up of different colors or shadings of colors and are the unseen patterns of energy around people and objects. Many things can change the color and size of auras including emotions, thoughts, food, drugs, and electric or magnetic emissions from human or natural sources. Therefore our energy fields or auras are constantly changing in color and shape.
The vital energy of individuals and objects is called many different names including Ch’i by the Chinese, Prana by the Indians, and astral light according to the Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical theosophy. Over the century, teachings of many countries, groups and beliefs have written and recorded descriptions of the human energy field. It is only recently that this type of information is being presented for discussion in North America.
In Europe and Asia homeopathy, a vibrational form of healing, is common place and practiced regularly. It is used to complement the traditional medical treatments providing individuals with enhanced forms of healing and health. Many drug stores sell homeopathic remedies over the counter and average individuals are sufficiently knowledgeable in their use. It’s unfortunate that North Americans have had limited exposure to vibrational forms of healing. Today, flower, tree and gem essences are on the leading edge of vibrational healing, with their capacity to address the imbalances created by the stresses of modern living.
There are individuals who can see the energy fields around people and other objects. Barbara Ann Brennan teaches that most people can learn to see these energy fields if they take the time and effort to do so. In her books The Hands of Light and Light Emerging, Ms. Brennan provides us with a historical summary of many individuals who have researched and documented important information about these energy fields. This includes Albert Einstein, Dennis Gabor who received a Nobel prize in 1971, Dr. Karl Pribram, Dr. George De La Warr and Dr. Ruth Brown and so many others. She thoroughly documents the history of the scientific investigation into the human energy field. She states that by 1975 the University of California at Los Angeles was able to measure auras with great accuracy.
In her books she describes in detail the relationship of illness with thought, feelings, will, emotions, and physical functioning. Illness begins with a blockage in an individuals energy field and eventually, sometimes two years later, becomes a disease in the physical body. She provides a thorough and detailed description of the chakras, or centers that bring energy into our physical bodies. Ms. Brennan describes the illnesses that can develop when the chakras are blocked or not working properly.
Even though the majority of individuals cannot see energetic auras or chakras they are there and have a real effect on how we feel every day. They can become blocked with all sorts of debris and need to be cleared and opened, so that energy can flow easily and vibrantly. Our energy bodies are crucial to vibrant and energetic health.
If we want to feel truly alive and open to life’s opportunities we need to look carefully at our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. We need to identify our shortcomings and make those changes we need so that we are truly vibrating at the highest level and enjoying life to the fullest.
Where in your life do you feel the need to more holistic integration? Do you need more nurture for your Spirit, Mind, Emotions or physical Body? Share with me in the comments below.