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Holistic Healing – taking a ‘whole person’ approach to health and well-being:

Posted on: 24 Jul

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What does the word ‘health’ mean to you? These days it seems that there are a large number of people who feel generally a bit below par (perhaps with mild fatigue, back pain or digestive problems) and that this has become almost the ‘normal’ state of affairs. After a couple of visits to their doctors and with no specific diagnosis or satisfactory treatment, people often start to accept that feeling ‘kind of okay’ is the best that they can expect. I used to feel the same. Experiencing chronic illness from my teens, the doctors were unable to help, told me that there was no real cure for what I had and that I would just have to learn to manage my symptoms. I finally began to realise that I must have some control over my situation, starting to explore a variety of natural healing methods in a quest to rebalance and heal myself. My own healing process has dramatically changed my understanding of the body and mind, and of what ‘health’ and ‘healing’ really mean.

Healing, in its fullest sense, means to ‘become whole’ – in other words, to become fully integrated, functioning and healthy in all aspects of our being – body, mind and spirit. These three aspects form the totality of human experience and all must be balanced for optimum health. Modern western medicine still tends to consider and treat symptoms in isolation from the person as a whole, with varying degrees of success. HRH Prince Charles, a strong advocate of complementary medicine, summed this up very well in a speech given at the British Medical Association in 1988: “By concentrating on smaller and smaller fragments of the body, modern medicine perhaps loses sight of the patient as a whole human being, and by reducing health to mechanical functioning it is no longer able to deal with the phenomenon of healing.” Complementary medicine takes a different, holistic approach to healing, considering the health of the person as a whole, treating the root causes of illness (whether they are physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, or a combination) and helping to rebalance the whole person.

As a Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Shiatsu and Reiki practitioner, my passion is helping and empowering people to create lasting health and balance on all levels – so that they are able to reach their full potential in all areas of their life. Treatments are gentle and non-invasive, reactivating and working with the body’s natural self-healing ability. The human body is a self-correcting, self-regulating and regenerative organism, with an incredible ability to rebalance and repair itself when subject to injury or illness. However, if we experience excessive physical or emotional stress: for example, a serious accident, trauma or long-term emotional stress, the body can become permanently contracted and its healing potential compromised. A symptom will then result – the body’s intelligent way of signalling that something is out of balance, which the person needs to heal in order to restore health and balance to their whole system. “The process of disease aims not at the destruction of life, but the saving of it.” – Frederick Treves (1905) The treatments that I practise all have slightly different focuses and techniques, however, in essence, all help to stimulate and connect with the body’s natural healing forces, and to gently facilitate release, realignment, reorganisation and rebalancing of the body’s tissues – wherever this is needed. In this way, the client actually heals him/herself – the practitioner is simply the facilitator. This realisation is enormously empowering and means that we have far greater control over our health than conventional medicine has led us to believe.

Treatments work on rebalancing the physical body (bones, muscles, fluids, fascia, internal organs, circulatory, immune and nervous systems, etc) and well as the vital energy of the person. They also help to heal mental and emotional issues, since the body and mind are intimately connected, and our psyche has a powerful influence on our health. Our feelings and attitudes directly affect our physical body: the way we hold ourselves, move, breathe and respond to life’s experiences. Our immune, nervous and hormonal systems are all interconnected, explaining why excessive emotional stress affecting our nervous system can lead to physical illness, such as stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, infertility or cancer. The body is a clear reflector of the person within: we literally embody our joys and our suffering. Unresolved emotional issues that we hold onto become stored in the body’s tissues, blocking our vital energy, and leading to areas of inertia, tension or pain. The same mental/emotional patterns then easily become reactivated, until they are consciously released. Working with the physical body is therefore a powerful way of accessing and healing any related mental-emotional issues. Paying attention to the sensations in our bodies and trying to understand what they mean can be an effective way of showing us what we still need to heal on an emotional level in order for us to reach our full potential. “We forget ourselves and our destinies in health and the chief use of temporary sickness is to remind us of these concerns.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882). Working with a complementary therapist can provide you with the guidance and support to safely release any emotional wounds and to regain physical and emotional health.

With both physical and emotional symptoms, there are two essential aspects to a successful healing process. The first, as discussed above, is the willingness to trust in your body’s own natural healing ability and inner wisdom: at the deepest level, your body and subconscious mind knows what is out of balance and what needs to happen for health to be restored. The second is to take personal responsibility for creating a healthy, balanced and fulfilling life for yourself – one that suits your individual constitution. This includes making any necessary changes to your lifestyle in order to restore and maintain health. Consuming a healthy diet, taking regular exercise, choosing work that you enjoy as much as possible, reducing your exposure to toxins, spending meaningful time with family and friends, making time to relax and do things you enjoy, to meditate or visit nature in order to connect with your deepest self and the world around you, and living in harmony with your family and community are all important for health and happiness. There is no ‘one way fits all’ advice that can be given in this regard since everyone is unique and has different requirements. Listen to your body and your intuition to find out what supports and nourishes you the most, and follow and trust in this – it is your most valuable guide. As you start to trust more in your ability to influence your own health, you may feel naturally inclined to make certain changes to your lifestyle, such as giving up smoking or taking up a form of exercise that you enjoy. Other people may feel the need to revisit and release unresolved mental or emotional patterns in order to restore healing and balance to their lives. Working together with a complementary health therapist, whether a nutritionist, cranio-sacral therapist or counsellor, can provide you with the support and encouragement to implement these positive changes and to create a way of life that allows you to reach your full potential – physically, mentally and spiritually.

The most valuable lessons that I have learnt in my own healing journey are the importance of taking responsibility for our own health and life, trusting in the body’s natural healing ability and inner wisdom, and living in harmony with nature and the world around us.

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