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Holistic – A Way of Being

I’m often asked by clients and students, what the word “holistic” means. The dictionary defines it as; “to include all of someone’s physical, mental and social conditions, not just physical symptoms, in the treatment of illness”.

We tend to think of holistic only alongside complementary or alternative therapies. A good doctor or healer of any kind, whether sporting a stethoscope or a bone through the nose, works holistically. All traditions, including our Western one, have caring, wise and empathic people who meet those who come to them in distress with an observant eye, a listening ear and an open heart.

Holistic is not a technique but a way of being. The right questions can be asked but if the relationship of trust isn’t there, how can the client allow themselves to be healed? A holistic practitioner makes the patient feel comfortable and asks gentle but leading questions that inform him or her of the patient’s interactions and lifestyle. He will observe the patient’s body language and listen to the silences between, so as to sense unuttered fears or worries. So a wrenched shoulder or an unhappy digestion can be the physical expression of immense loss or an intolerable but unvoiced anger.

Neuroscientific research is discovering extraordinary connections between the immune system and the emotions. Stress can no longer be seen as solely physical or emotional, because our emotions have such an effect on our bodies. For some of us, working with the body holds an enormous fascination as the phenomena we encounter become understood.

It seems no longer reasonable to see illness as mental or physical, it is far too limiting. We must address the whole person to treat the complaint.

Simonetta Logan

Article Published in Big Issue 5th October 2007

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