Updated: Jan 11, 2019
Healing is not linear. God, I wish it was. As most patterns in nature, it is instead cyclical. What needs to be healed may circle back to us again and again, asking us to heal the wound on a deeper level with a new perspective.
Why is it important to understand the benefit of a holistic approach to healing?
Because we really want to get it the first time. But chances are we won’t. We won't because we refuse to consider all aspects of ourselves. The expectation of a quick fix can lead us to massive disappointment. And disappointment is where hope goes to die.
Healing really is a journey.
Healing is a road where the dark shadow aspects of ourselves must make themselves seen, and lets face it, nobody, I said nobody, wants to look at the ways in which we personally add to our imbalances. We want quick fixes, so we can remain on the surface, self protected.
We resist looking at the real reasons we eat an entire tub of ice cream, or pound back an entire bag of chips, or drink a 6 pack on Friday’s just to forget our week.
We rarely want to look at emotional pain and chronic stress as contributing factors to our well being. We have created an entire life out running uncomfortable feelings. This escape promotes a linear projection on healing. This perspective fuels a shallow embrace of healing. It also implies that our emotions are separate from our experience of transformation.
Why is it so important for us to heal anyway? Why do this uncomfortable work?
Well, because there is no separation between our thoughts, and our physical health. We can’t separate the mind from the body. We cannot separate our addictions, patterns, trauma, from our physical health. It is impossible.
We are a cohesive being. The triad is real.
We are made up of mind, body, and spirit, and avoiding an aspect of ourselves, is just that, avoidance. Avoidance causes resistance and resistance causes stress.
We often throw around the word stress like it is just a mental concept, or rather a mental experience. Connecting stress to the body, usually is only recognized when it manifests as a panic attack or worse, a chronic disease or a heart attack.
Actually, we can learn a lot from a panic attack. It can be a wake up call.
The experience is calling us into the present moment. It requires us to be with ourselves, and if you've ever experienced a panic attack you know that is it only worsens when you try to make it go away. If you resist the panic attack it will grow in size. Trust me, I know. I use to have 20 or so a day back when I was 16. I had panic attacks everyday until I was 19. I never told anyone. I should have, but I didn’t. I thought people would think I was weak. And back in the 90’s no one really talked about panic attacks. When I cured myself of panic attacks, it as only then that I told a few people close to me that I once struggled to get through the day. They were surprised as I hide it so well.
I was once the passenger in a car speeding down the highway, and low and behold I felt a panic attack arising. My first thought was to resist it. I had always resisted it, resisting the attack never much helped in the past, so this time I tuned into my intuition and I gave myself permission feel uncomfortable. I gave myself permission to be scared. I allowed the panic attack to come, and I allowed the panic attack to bring me into the present moment. To my surprise, the panic attack didn't last as long as it normally had I was able to breath a little deeper.
I continued this practice until I stopped having them altogether. I also made some changes in my life. I started putting myself first, just little bit more then I had done in the past. I stopped looking for others to save me from myself. But that is a whole other story.
Practicing awareness around the uncomfortable nature of my panic attacks, allowed me to see the 3 D version of myself. How I interacted with my thoughts, my body and my mind made a difference in my experience with stressful situations. It also allowed me to wake up a little more to how my lifestyle choices, past traumas, and hurtful experiences were living inside me, altering my nervous system and begging to be seen.
It was the resistance to the unseen that would amplify my discomfort. It was causing massive stress.
We often do not connect stress to imbalances in the body. We see ourselves as separate from the interplay happening at the cellular level within us.
Our thoughts and the way we navigate life affects all aspects of our being-ness.
Even the bacteria in the microbiome(bacteria in the gut) is negatively affected by chronic stress. Our nervous system is reacting to everything that is happening in us and around us. The Nervous system is interwoven with the Endocrine system(hormonal system) and this interplay between the systems make a bold impact on the immune system, oh right and every other system the body!
We are not separate systems. We are one system.
Our mental health is dependent on what has happened to us, how we see ourselves, what steps we take to nourish ourselves, including macro and micro nutrients. Our bodies react to what is mentally going on, all the time, and this is seen in the interplay between the body systems, so you can see there is no separation between your experiences, your perception of those experiences, the willingness to the be present with the emotional imprints of those experiences on our mental and physical health
What we resist will persist.
And unfortunately resistance leads us to avoidance practices, and addiction. Eating the tub of ice cream, is a practice of avoidance. We can only avoid ourselves for so long. The body will present us with an opportunity to stop and come into the present. And that opportunity may not be pleasant.
How we perceive stress, how we manage it, and how we view healing matters. Holistic healing considers the whole person.
As individuals, we have the power to consider all aspects of ourselves when it comes to healing. For instance, if you have an autoimmune disease, it may be helpful to look at the ways perfectionism is at play in your life. It may be wise to witness your self talk around success, and body image. With autoimmunity there is almost always a connection between our willingness to attack ourselves for not being enough. Autoimmunity is when the body attacks itself. So one could ask themselves, how am I mentally or spiritually attacking myself? There is a ton at play when the body, mind, or spirit is in a state of imbalance. Start getting curious about yourself.
Healing requires us to become present with our experience.
It calls us to see ourselves as a whole being, with every aspect influencing all the other aspects of self. When we consider this perspective we start waking up to our personal patterns that either aid in our wellness, or contribute to our dis-ease. From personal experience, I can tell you that it can be ugly. I woke up to my self sabotaging ways. I saw my self hatred. I witnessed my need to be loved, and seen and how those needs were not met by the most important people in my life. I saw and continue to see how every event in my life shapes my health and wellness, or lack there of.
And that my perspective and willingness to be with what is, is the olive branch needed to make peace with myself.
The cycle of healing is like a stinky onion. It makes your eyes squint with tears sometimes. Involuntarily shutting down until you can regain your sight. And just when you think you are done with the watering stinging uncomfortable experience of being present with the onion, another layer gets peeled back and there is a new perspective to witness.
People often wonder why they can’t seem to make long lasting change. I think it's because there is a shallow perspective on healing, a linear, get er done attitude that just prolongs avoidance. Welcoming healing is the same as welcoming awareness. In my mind there is no difference. We must be willing to see the healing journey as just that, a journey. One that has no quick fix. A journey that requires us to go into the cave of our personal unseen, and witness what is in there.
It is a journey that requires us to love all of ourselves. Even the parts we don't like. There is no bandaid for healing. There is only a welcoming of awakening. In that pure act of being present with what is, we communicate to the body, mind, and spirit, that we are willing to finally be with ourselves.