The term “holistic medicine” is used daily with reference to herbs, herbal products, alternative medicine and various other systems of healing. What does the word holistic mean?
How can we be confident that any system or any product is holistic in nature?
I am a native Indian who has been practicing holistic medicine all my life leading up to becoming a holistic healer. This is what I know!
Where does the word “Holistic” come from?
The root of this word holistic is holo. It has two meanings in English language. First one is with relation to Philosophy it says that ‘the whole or the complete’ of something is regarded to be greater than their individual parts.
Second meaning relates to Medicine. Holistic Medicine means that we should treat the whole person and not the symptoms alone. Both are true and easy to grasp in practical sense.
Suppose you build a house for your family. You know – the bricks, sand, stone, cement, iron and all other material that is used to erect a house and later you paint it and do the interior decor.
These individual materials are essential to build a house but you can certainly feel the wholeness of the house that after proper use of these materials give it the sense of house. That feeling or essence of wholeness gives it another existence in physical, emotional and spiritual sense.
And when we construe our feelings around that house with our family! Then a whole new, seeming to be abstract yet living and tangible sense of home comes into existence.
The above concept of holistic nature is described in a very deep, spiritual and integral manner in Ayurveda and Yoga literature by the ancient and modern saints the persons of spiritual realization. So we can consider this literature as the earliest literature of Holistic Medicine.
What Really is Holistic Medicine?
It is the convergence as well as divergence point of all system of therapies or medicine. This is not only the ultimate therapy or personalized therapy or the therapy of the whole person. This is what every therapy should be or at least strive to be.
The holistic approach might be new phenomenon to medical world but ayurvedic principles uphold this approach for millennia. Ayurveda is actually in the capacity of being a platform where all the therapies of the world – whatever you can count, have their seed in Ayurvedic principles.
It is this approach with which we present Ayurveda, Ayurvedic Medicine and its principles. When I analyze and see Ayurveda’s classical texts or scriptures, I find there principles of following therapies or lifestyle in seed form or in relatively advanced form – herbal medicine, minerals, naturopathy, homeopathy, water therapy, mud therapy, therapy with toxic chemicals, allopathy, yoga, pranic therapy, reiki, energy medicine, chakra healing, astrology, gem therapy, unani medicine, diet therapy, fasting, psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, behavioral psychology, clinical psychology, epidemiology, preventive and social medicine, hygiene, pathology, genetic therapy, embryology, surgery, orthopedics, pediatrics, plastic surgery, toxicology and jurisprudence, spirituality, obstetrics and gynecology, geriatrics, vastu and feng sui and many others. You will find some links to these therapies in one way or another way on this page of holistic medicine.
Holistic Medicine is not theoretical
It relates in a practical sense to our complete life – to our lifestyle, our attitude, the clinical practice, the causative factors of diseases, the process of development of disease or pathogenesis and also the remedial measures as well.
This yogic knowledge is ‘realization born’ realized in deep states of trance when ancient sages realized the oneness of everything in Divine Spirit. This is also coming into light in the modern scientific world after the discoveries of Quantum Physics. This knowledge of Holistic Medicine can be verified directly by anyone who can enter that deep trance state.
As one doesnt require knowing the deep intricacies of how the DVD player does work, yet anyone can enjoy the songs, music and movies just by inserting the DVD and playing it. In the same manner we can work with and feel the working of this holistic nature of our own bodies and of this world. This is subtle and experiential i.e. self-evident in nature.
Ayurveda Holistic Medicine
Ayurveda is the realized knowledge of life, the earliest Holistic Medicine. Life is the combination of body, mind, intellect and soul. This life is divided into four types of lifestyle based on the purpose, motive and our living.
First is Beneficial and righteous way of living. Second is non-righteous and harmful way of living. Third is happiness and sense pleasure centered living. Fourth way of living is centered around unhappiness and lack of sense pleasures.
Our life is always a mix of these four living styles. The ideal way is to do the beneficial and righteous activities in pleasurable ways. And to do the ‘happiness and sense pleasure yielding’ activities in beneficial and righteous ways. The proper and dynamic balance of beneficial and righteous lifestyle with happy and pleasurable way of lifestyle is the ideal way to live.
It will help to maintain and strengthen the holistic nature of life in us. A little example will make it clear. Everybody knows that exercise is useful for health. And there are many ways to do this beneficial act in a pleasurable way some will do yogic postures, some will go for a morning walk, some will go to gym, some will opt for other outdoor games literally there are so many ways to accomplish the beneficial activities in pleasant manner in Holistic Medicine.
Another example, for Diabetics, sugar is harmful, and they love sweet taste the better way is to take sweetening pills, to chew the bread properly while eating, to strengthen the mind, to eat wholesome fruits as apple, pears, and sometimes to take a little of so called sweet items to get the mind free from limiting consciousness, or ideally, eat a little of a bitter taste herbs (e.g., a pinch of neem on the tongue), removing the sugar craving.
Your Holistic Nature
Explore your holistic nature to understand Holistic Medicine and live the balanced life with these verities of life and health.
According to the description of Integrated Medicine in Ayurveda there are three bodies attached with our soul our essential and pure nature, our Consciousness. The same applies to Universe.
The Physical Body
The first one is physical component of the body, the anatomy, the physiology, the biochemistry, the pathology of our body. Modern scientific and medical tools are doing a wonderful research with this physical aspect. While dealing with body alone, we can adopt the approach of Holistic Medicine.
The Subtle Body
Second one is Subtle and Pranic body the field of vital energy that is subtler than the electron, proton and neutron of atomic realm. This part would emerge to be the foremost front of Holistic Medicine in the coming centuries.
People are accepting and using this field in recent years. Reiki, Pranic healing, Distant healing, Homeopathy, Ayurvedic bhasmas, Chakra healing, Gems and Crystal healing, Astrology, Vastu, Feng Sui, Aromatherapy and so many other systems are gaining acceptance. These are the emerging fields. In Modern Medicine we are using CT scan, MRI etc. where we use the energy and magnetic fields for the purpose of diagnosis.
The Causal Body
Third is Causal body the body that is the root of the physical and pranic body. As genes are to a cell so Causal body is to the two other bodies. It is the subtlest. This is in the form of packed consciousness or bhavas or ideational or intentional consciousness. At the present level of development of humanity, very little is known about this field. Where else can we find these deep intricacies in medicine and transforming it into a holistic approach to medicine?
Despite this, it is functioning in each of us and we are aware of its functioning our thoughts, our feelings, our emotions, sunshine of inspirations, willpower, inner resolve, prayer healings, our sattwa or spiritual psychological nature all this is self evident.
Pure Consciousness (essence)
Beyond the three bodies is our essence, our pure consciousness, our soul. This pure Self presents itself as identified to these bodies in the form of ego. The awareness of this deep reality was before the great saints when they laid down the holistic principles of Ayurveda’s Holistic Medicine.
On the level of body, we have to have the dynamic balance of the three bodily humors (Vata, Pitta and Kapha), the tissue layers and the excretory waste of our body. Our health depends upon equilibrium of these body parts and their functioning.
Working together Holistically
All these parts and functioning are in constant interactive mode with themselves and with so many other factors as our diet, timings of day and night, timings of seasons of year, our age, our disease, our mind, sleep, climate, the direction of flow of wind, pollution, chemicals, radiations, our society, our surroundings, our ecosystem, our planet earth and other astronomical planets, our individual physical and psychological nature and so many other things.
This is yet another aspect of unique holistic nature our body. And Ayurveda works with all this. Even modern physiology accepts this concept of dynamic equilibrium as Homeostasis. Every tissue, cell and biochemical plays its role independently and within the constraints of homeostasis.
Otherwise we all know what would happen when heart tells kidney or brain that I wont supply you the blood! Each and every component and functionality in our body while occurring or happening itself individually is a part of some broader system of components and functionality. This ultimately merges into what we call life. So it is clear why the holistic approach is essential to Medicine.
Benefits of Ayurvedic Holistic Medicine
The holistic nature of Ayurveda is its integrity of theory and practice and the resulting benefits. We consider and use this holistic nature when we consider the etiological or causative factors of diseases; when we pursue the pathogenesis or the process of development of disease in the body; when we consider and choose the remedial measures and when we consider the health promoting factors in the already healthy individual.
This holistic nature of Ayurveda is applicable simultaneously in analyzing as well as in synthesizing situations. This is as intricate and complex as we find life. This is as simple, direct and practical as we live life. Whether we consider this holistic nature or not, this remains holistic.
Our nature doesn’t change with our considerations or beliefs; yet we are surely affected by those considerations and beliefs. Whatever system of healing or lifestyle attunes to this holistic nature of our body and of this world is essentially holistic. Ayurveda is already offering its blessing on us with its holistic and integral nature.