Before attempting to understand what “holistic health” is in relation to medicine and wellbeing, it is better to think about what it means.
This word is so much popular in theory and in practice that people are labeling anything with it to promote their products or services.
Yet what does it really mean?
The Word ‘Holistic’ Is In Use For Indicating:
- The wholeness – that the complete part is made up many parts each of which in turn is complete.
- Body and Mind Integrity – that our body and mind are interrelated. When something affects our mind, it would affect our body and when something affects our body, the mind will get affected in turn.
- Used for many of the alternative medicine system.
- Used to distinguish some system of medicine or therapy from conventional medical system.
- Suggests that other dimensions of our life like diet, exercise, prayer, attitude, lifestyle etc. should be considered during health and disease management.
I want to take some different approach toward understanding ‘holistic’. This approach is based on Yoga, Ayurveda, Spirituality. The concept of holistic health can be validated by our personal experience through the scientific and other means.
The Comprehensive & Wholistic Implications Of The Word ‘Holistic’
Holistic Health Idea No. 1 – Are We Just The Physical Bodies?
Of course all of us have a tangible physical body and that is the base of ‘all-that-related-to-I-and-me’. Besides the body there are energy based, psychological, social and spiritual basis of ourselves. All of this is doesn’t need any evidence. The sole evidence should be our own validation of these natures associated with us. The best and worst part of it is that God made them all as interrelated, interdependent. When we follow and live in accordance with the principles of holistic health, our lives become synergistic, balanced and harmonious and this is the good part of holistic health. When we live without their observance, either intentionally or without knowing, our lives are thrown out of balance in more ways that we can understand and this is the undesirable part.
You can see it in all the books of Medicine and Pathology. All the latest topics have in the end – there are this and that theory, there is this benefit with this and that benefit with that theory, more work is going on….. the final implication is that research is good but it should have some definitive part attached to it.
Holistic Health Idea No. 2 – Is There Anywhere Anything Through Which We Can Know And Feel And Experience Them Fully And Live In Accordance?
Yes, Surely there is! Jesus Christ – The Krishna of West – has pointed to it so clearly.
‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all things will be added unto thee.’ (The Holy Bible)
Krishna gave this advice to his disciple through Gita.
‘The senses are said to be superior to the physical body; the mind is superior to the sense faculties; the intelligence is superior to the mind; but the self or the soul is superior to the intelligence.’ (The Bhagavad Gita – Ch. 3:42)
Without the enlivening ten sensory powers, the body is inert matter. The effects produced by the sensory powers are relative to their perception by the mind. Perception is meaningful only in subservience to the cognition and determination of the intelligence. Intelligence borrows its power from intuition, the pure wisdom of the all-supreme blissful Consciousness.
The above two references point toward one of the way to know and realize our holistic nature. They clearly indicate to follow the inner path and that takes us to the inner journey from the gross to the subtle, from the all conditioned to the freedom.
The outer Or Analytical Way Of The Holistic Health:
This is the modern scientific approach based on PHEOC – problem, hypothesis, experimentation, observation and conclusion. There is nothing wrong in this approach. It is the objective approach. Here we consider the nonliving, inert matters as objects. The problem is that this approach is very limited to being objectivity governed. It almost fails when we consider it for the matters that are experiential or that can be known and realized.
|The modern research on Neurophysiology and Neuropharmacology is one of the deepest field. Scientists are doing great research in finding chemicals that are responsible for our moods or mental states. Wonderful chemicals are being discovered with the potential to alter our moods or mental states. On the other side, how vague is this research from applied point of view. Is not it clear that these chemicals are just the indicators of our mental state. The root is our psychology, our attitude, our thinking habits and our paradigms. Neurochemicals are the result of our psychology and not the cause of our psychology. The speed at which neurotransmitters can be produced and processed is in milliseconds and the quantity needed for such a change is in micrograms. Instead of pointing the direction of applied research in these fields and using the modern neruochemical research as merely the indicators, we can help the suffering brothers a lot, and in a lot earlier and easier way. But there are millions and billions of dollars for such researches and almost nothing for the other ones about the holistic health. This could be either the ignorance or the wrong priority or both.|
In Physics and Chemistry, we have covered a great distance in less than one hundred years. From Chemical bombs to Nuclear bombs. Definitely a great leap! We have added the comforts of our surroundings in superb ways. Is it giving us the control or taking away the control?
Some day, some Osama bin laden might capture them and we are finished. We are getting diseases in greater numbers as a result of manipulating and exploiting the holistic nature – pesticides and poisons in our food; pollution in the air we inhale in each breath, increasing crime despite being civilized.
Definitely, this is not the result of the Modern Analytical Scientific approach. We are responsible for it – our mind, our aims, our motives and our priority. Science is just the servant but the hands of the master could have used it for much better. So use the science and its tools.
The Synergy & Balance Of Two Basic Approaches of Holistic Life, Holistic Health and Holistic Medicine
The Inner Or Experiential Or Realization Born Or Synthetic Approach For Holistic Health:
In this approach of holistic nature, we adopt the inner path that is advocated by the spiritual masters of all land. And yes this one is also scientific in the sense that it can be verified and validated both in theory and in practice. There are no external tools required as Christ has advised. It is already assumed that we are whole and holistic. That is why we are able to tread this path and find our holistic nature and can live in accordance with holistic principles.
It is not essential for all of us to rise to the status of Christ or Krishna to live the holistic life. All of us have the latent potential to raise our consciousness to that level. Simply starting in practical and commonsense manner a little of it can lead us on the path of holistic living and wellbeing.
The fruits of this path can be what everyone desires – greater peace, happiness, satisfaction, balance, integrity, health, relationships, wisdom and much more that we can measure. Our cup of heart will be overflowing. The only thing needed is the right paradigm, patience, perseverance.
In ‘Upanishads‘ of Vedic literature – the two paths of lifestyle are describes accurately. The path of Shreyas and Preyas. Shreyas implies the path of benefit and importance. Preyas is the path of sensual pleasures. Aren’t most of the inventions are really for sensual pleasures. The ideal path can be the balance and synergy of the both path – adoption of the beneficial lifestyle in the pleasant way and the adopting the pleasing lifestyle in the beneficial way.
|This story from the life of Shri Shri Lahiri Mahasaya, the great master of Kriya Yoga Lineage clears the point, and the two path exactly. More information about Lahiri Mahasaya can be available by reading “Autobiography Of A Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda and Self Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, USA. There had been many disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya. One person, Mr. Paresha Nath, a renowned Ayurvedist of his time, was there in a meeting, showing his popularity and fame and great knowledge. Lahiri Mahasaya was also present and scolded the Ayurvedist about some wrong interpretation of the texts of holistic health. In a private meeting with the ‘doc’ and some other close disciples, the great master taught the enthusiastic herbalist about the deep secrets of holistic health. “The principles of Ayurveda and Yoga and the holistic health can’t be felt just by reading and outer means. When one does follow the inner path and advances, the subtle principles of the holistic nature of our body and this world is realized by the practitioner of yoga. By realizing these elements in the inner path, one not only knows them but has spontaneous control of these elements.” Only in the way advised by the master, we can verify, validate and experience and realize ourselves and help others in exploring and living the holistic life. After some time, this Ayurvedist became a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya and exalted in the practice of Kriya Yoga to the extent that sometimes Lahiri Mahasaya scolded him not to practice too much and seek the balance of the outer and inner world.|