In part one, What is Holism? We discussed what holism meant. This brings us to our next section, the practice of holism, or rather, living holistically and what that lifestyle might look like.
To live in harmony, or to attempt to live harmoniously and in balance, is a very difficult venture. To have a lifestyle that fosters good mental health, good physical health, and good spiritual health is one that many people already do without even thinking about it. Conversely, some people may only focus on one aspect of this triplistic health cycle, which then causes dis-ease. And a cycle is what are state of health is.
Mental health effects both your body and your spirit. Being depressed or anxious all the time effects hormone & chemical levels in your body, which can cause a slew of physical ailments. Furthermore, being depressed or anxious can cause one to either lose faith in themselves, relatives, friends or the Universe entirely. It can also cause one to go in the other direction and focus on finding spiritual answers for one’s ailments so much so that you lose sight of the actual physical cause that is manifesting. However, if you are mentally sound and happy, you tend to draw more happiness to you, or are at least better suited to defend against naysayers, black clouds, and even help others who may be going through hard times.
Physical health affects your state of mind, i.e. your emotions, dreams, hopes, etc. and also your spirit. If for example you have a debilitating cancer, anyone can understand how this would affect a person’s state of mind and create feelings of worthlessness, depression, etc. And could again call into question one’s faith or break a person’s hold on their reality in general. However, if you are in good physical health, one can see how this would help urge a person to do soul searching, to go out and find and do things that would bring them joy.
Spiritual health also affects both your body and your mind. If your spirit is happy it will help manage your level of physical and mental happiness as well. A happy heart is great medicine. If however if you feel like you are lost this can affect your immune system to the point where one could even become immuno-compromised, which also goes in hand with poor mental dis-ease as well.
The key to living holistically is to try to keep all of these things in check. Plain and simple by:
- Cherishing your body by eating, drinking, sleeping and exercising your physical body for optimum good health.
- Cherishing your mind by studying, learning, and promoting stress relief for your head for optimum good health.
- and cherishing your spirit by praying, soul searching, helping others, and devoting yourself to a good moral code for optimum good health.
Anyone who wishes to live holistically can create their own set of rules. There is no dogma. There is no one true way. Each person is different, and everyone will have their own way of doing things. Which is incredibly beautiful.
I began to live my holistic lifestyle by doing a different thing every day. It can be a gentle process.
“Most people shy away from any mention of a holistic lifestyle, simply because they are unsure what exactly it means. Living holistically, means that a person is living their life in a way that is both natural to them and the world in which they live. Living a holistic lifestyle means that you are committed to living a meaningful life to the best of your abilities.” (1)
For my body, I try to shop at the co-op as much as possible, and eat fresh and local organic whole foods. Likewise, I try to as much as possible drink plenty of water, herbal teas instead of coffee, and 100% juices with low or no added sugar. Choosing nutrient rich foods over processed is far healthier than simple fast food. You are what you eat. Whole foods consist of fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, whole grains like brown rice, millet, wheat, rye and oats, and beans like pinto, mung, lentils and garbanzos. (2) I try to exercise by hiking, doing yoga, and by going for neighborhood walks and runs several times a week. I don’t pollute my body with bottled water, unless it is contained in glass, plastics, pharmaceutical drugs (unless I have to), excessive alcohol, or pollutants such as air fresheners or tobacco smoke. I recycle anything that can be reused, deposit or not. My recycling always outdoes my trash can on garbage night. I try to think in terms of preventative care rather than reactive care. I take use of alternative medicine therapies, and also try all-natural remedies to restore, rejuvenate and heal myself or others when illness or dis-ease takes a hold.
When the body is energetically out of balance, it is important to access what is causing the imbalance and how to remedy it. The Body is comprised of your Physical health – a state of heightened energy and vitality; freedom from pain, disability, and disease; the ability to perform challenging physical feats. The body is also attune to your Environmental health – living in harmony (neither harming nor being harmed) with and feeling nurtured by your environment; a condition of respect and appreciation for your home, nature, and the earth. Take action by discovering healing therapies and remedies for bringing the body back into good health. Next, it is important to start learning good nutritional health and following a full spectrum approach to eating right. The body needs physical activity. Especially as we age. Start creating an exercise plan. Sometimes the body can be so out of balance from living and eating poorly, that bad habits must be reformed as you help the body to detox more naturally. Making needed changes in your environment and taking positive steps to have a clutter free home will make a huge difference. The most reliable way to invite change is to awaken your respect for life! (3)
For my mind, I take notes and analyse my dreams, use a visionary board to stay focused, meditate, and practice mindfulness. I try to keep a positive and optimistic attitude. Even in the face of adversity, I always know deep down that it will soon pass. I have cut away unhealthy relationships, and practice compassionate detachment from the horrors of the day, which may range from a troubling and selfish relative to a world crisis. I only subscribe to good news, and try to not get sucked into media propaganda. I read. I listen to lectures to keep my mind working. I take photos on instagram. I play my singing bowl. Whatever positive outlet I have at my disposal at the time for stress, I do it. Whether it’s listening to or humming a favourite tune, making art: cooking, singing, playing an instrument, photography, collage, sketching, dancing, etc., journaling, mindful breathing, meditating, sniffing a pleasant essential oil. You have to find what works for you. Holistically enough, all of these things simultaneous feed the soul too.
Keeping our energy positive and enlightened can help to encourage our wellness, just as negative thought patterns can continue to make us sick. Since the main cause/instigator of illness is stress, understanding how to control your stress levels is imperative. The Mind is comprised of your Mental health – encompasses peace of mind, optimism, work that you love doing, the ability to forgive, and a sense of humor. The mind is also your Emotional health – identifying, expressing, experiencing, and accepting all of your feelings. The mind can lead us to greatness on every level. Therefore, it is our priorities of life, which defines who we are and how we can live a life that celebrates more peace, unconditional love and ultimate happiness. (3)
For my soul, I look to several of my spiritual teachers for guidance when I feel uncertain about myself. Rumi, John Kabat-Zinn, Joanna Powell-Colbert, Starhawk, Dr. Jane Goodall, The Dalai Lama, Brene Brown, Maya Angelou, Thich Nhat Hanh, Santa Claus. Kwan Yin. My Ancestors. I create. I write poetry. I do random acts of kindness. I show gratitude. I do simple ritual. I use Tarot. Runes. Bibliomancy. I listen to the whispers on the winds, and look into the eyes of the animals I run into. I go to nature for peace. I laugh and share time with friends and family. All of this feeds my soul.
The spirit is our deepest healing resource. To recognize a power that is greater than our own is to recognize our Spirituality. When we are spiritual we consciously strive to live with awareness, love, faith and devotion. Our Spirit is comprised of Spiritual health – a condition marked by a diminished sense of fear and the daily experience of unconditional love, joy, gratitude, and a personal relationship with your God (or an awareness of an inner source of infinite power and compassion.) Our Spirit also comes through Social health – and consists of a strong, positive connection to others in community, family, and intimacy with one or more people. One of the best ways to connect to our spiritual selves is through a practice of love and awareness. There are many ways to find spirituality and that can be through meditation and/or prayer, with a yoga practice or religious study. Through your finding spirit and a higher sense of purpose, you can gain a broader perspective in self-awareness. No matter what religion you practice, like any religion, these tools can be a bridge to enhancing your spirituality. It is important to commune with nature. Nature connects us to the treasures of the earth and the seasons of our lives. Embrace the intangible spirit through metaphysics and understanding divinity. It can show us what is truly important in life. (3)
1. How to Live a Holistic Lifestyle, 2009. http://www.naturalwellbeing.com/blog/how-to-live-an-holistic-lifestyle
2. Staying Healthy with The Seasons, 21st Century Edition, Elson M. Haas, M.D., 2003, 1983.
3. Your Mind, Body Spirit Journey. Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.A, 2011. http://www.peacefulmind.com/holistic.htm