One of the most important principles of holistic health care is that the body and mind have every ability to heal themselves. When symptoms of disease are present, it is because for some reason the person's ability to correct the difficulty is not functioning correctly. The practitioner's work is to catalyze the person's own powerful healing abilities. In holistic care, all healing is self healing performed through the grace of the Creative Force; and quite literally, the person's own vital force cures them. Through this manner of healing, some peoples' recoveries can seem quite "miraculous" and unexpectedly far-reaching.
The understanding of the process of disease from the holistic point of view includes the belief that disease emerges as a result of imbalances of natural, internal forces or as a result of trauma. The direction a disease follows occurs from the outside, in...from top to bottom...and backward in time. This phenomenon is often referred to as "Herring's Law of Cure," named for Constantine Herring (1800-1880), leader in the American homeopathic movement.
In this model, the spiritual, mental, and emotional planes of being are respectively deeper than the physical plane. Disease progresses through each plane in degrees, moving from less serious physical complaints to more serious ones, and then inward to deeper levels. For example, a disease may first manifest as a skin problem which eventually seems to clear up over time. The disease may progress inward to become asthma. Perhaps the asthma retreats, but depression may develop later on, growing more severe over time. This is a process that often happens gradually over a long period of time.
Holistic practitioners maintain that minor ailments are often driven deeper into the individual through the use of drug therapy, which acts to suppress symptoms and weaken the body's defense mechanisms. So, for instance, the cortisone ointment used for a skin problem may clear up the symptoms, but later deeper problems may occur, such as asthma. In turn, bronchodilators may control the asthma but set the stage for depression.
Increasing an individual's health reverses the disease process. Because of this, many people may experience old symptoms -- some which may not have been present since childhood -- or an aggravation of current ones as the healing process progresses. When healing occurs, the course of illness is reversed and the person moves through previous states of health. It is during this process that old symptoms may crop up, occurring in the reverse order of their original appearance. This can be seen to occur in either a literal or metaphoric way, where, for example, a person's emotional rigidity may be expressed as a period of intestinal constipation some time during the healing process.
It has come to be my view that it is the role of the practitioner to help the client put their healing process into perspective, helping them see that what they have experienced on all levels of their existence has been meaningful, even descriptive of who they are and how they feel. It is important to explore the idea that illness and discomfort are not just some randomly ascribed events or symptoms. For me, the above model is a very useful tool for understanding and explaining how disease and wellness come to be. It is a common cultural viewpoint that we understand that feelings, such as depression and anger, come as reactions to life events. It is not common, however, to understand physical ailments, too, create illuminating patterns. Even more rare is the understanding that the state of both the physical and emotional aspects are completely interdependent: physical events create emotional states and visa versa, or that symptoms on both levels may occur simultaneously without one causing the other. I like to tell clients that their symptoms are a way they have to communicate with themselves...get their attention about something which needs to be healed within. If, every time we experience disharmony, we took action to right ourselves, there would be much less need for us to create symptoms at all.
It is in this way that people's symptoms themselves serve the purpose of putting them on the path of healing and growth. If I am able to help the person decode the suffering they are having into understandable text about their world experience, then they may come to be more inquisitive about and accepting of their symptoms and of themselves.
Most people's experiences with conventional medicine do not prepare them for what they experience when treated with holistic methods. The focus of conventional medicine first and foremost is to cure the symptoms and to relieve discomfort. Holistic care is determined to get to the roots of the disharmony, even if it means experiencing temporary discomfort. It is vital that a good practitioner help reveal overall patterns of improvement where the more natural tendency is to focus on only what hurts.
Deborah is the founder of Whole Energy Essences, a company which makes fruit, flower and gem essences. She is the founding editor of the World Wide Essence Society.
Deborah is an internationally published writer on the topics of food, health, and healing and holds a masters degree in counseling psychology.
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