Wholistic Healing

body        emotions       mind       relationships       spirit

Wholistic healing addresses the whole person on every level of her or his being. I define wholistic healing to include spirit, relationships (with other people and with the environment), mind, emotions, and body. Each level can contribute to the development of dis-ease and disease and can provide wholistic approaches for treatments. Each of these five levels may need attention individually for healing to occur, and at the same time each is intimately related with all of the others – so that several levels may need to be addressed in order for insights and changes to occur.  In Western society we have subdivided the house of our being in which we live into rooms that are, in truth, completely interconnected.

I define wholistic healing with a ‘w’ to distinguish it from the more commonly used term, ‘holistic healing.’ Holistic with the ‘h’ has come in common usage to mean that someone is offering a holistic medicine (often referred to as a complementary medicine or alternative medicine) approach such as acupuncture, energy healing, homeopathic medicine, herbal medicine or any of numerous other modalities. Often, these are applied as methodologies, without an awareness of the wholistic spectrum of levels that are the full human condition. My wholistic definition is intended to broaden both the awareness of how problems arise on various levels of our being, and to open doorways to achieving wholeness through each of these wholistic healing levels. Ideally, we will eventually come to a place where integrative care is offered – to include conventional medical wisdom with holistic modalities that are used with wholistic healing awareness.

The functions and interactions of these wholistic levels are enormously complex. The poetic and humorous counterpointing quotes below help to bridge these complexities – which are to a great extent artifacts of our left-brained, analytic ways of describing the full essence of our whole beingness. We have subdivided whole people into various sub-categories that are convenient for discussion, research and therapeutic sub-specialties, but which distort the underlying wholistic realities of our existence.

                  When you pull one blade of grass, you get the whole field.
                                                                – Chinese proverb

Click on the coloured bars for discussions of each level of wholistic awareness, and of how each one is related to the others.


bodyis subject to problems from many causes: congenital, infectious, metabolic, traumatic, allergic, toxic, neoplastic, degenerative, emotional, mental and spiritual.

Wholistic care can address the physical body with touch, massage, bioenergy interventions (allopathic (conventional Western) medications, hormones, surgery, and genetic manipulations.

Wholistic care can address the biological energy (bioenergy) body with spiritual healing, acupuncture and its derivatives, homeopathic medications, flower essences, craniosacral therapy/ cranial osteopathy and other bioenergy interventions.

Physical conditions may influence psychological states and alter relationships.

Physical problems often lead us to spiritual awareness through prayer and healing. Peak experiences during sports may open our spiritual awareness. Particularly around the end of physical life, we are moved to seek spiritual explanations for our physical existence.

                  Spirit is matter seen in a stronger light.
                                                               L. P. Jacks

Our striving for body comforts and physical safety lead us to seek to control our environment.

                  If it’s war between man and nature, I’m on man’s side
                  But must it be war?

                                                                – Ashleigh Brilliant

Body may influence relationships with other people through changes in hormones, pain and other symptoms.

                  Changing the body directly without intellectual understanding
                  is the fastest way to help a person change.  When the body changes,
                  the mind, emotions and social ways change in a few months.  

                                                                – Jaentra Green Gardener

Body participates in expression and storage of emotions, through the brain and nerves, hormones and musculoskeletal system.Body speaks to mind through symptoms and illnesses, often calling out for attention to tensions and stresses that are buried in the body and festering. We may swallow down our feelings to avoid suffering, but then they give us bodymind indigestion.

                  A stomachache is a message from the stomach to the brain saying,
                  “Don’t send down any more garbage!”

                                                                – Philip Yordan

Body is our home during the visit of our soul on Earth. When we treat it well, it will usually serve us well.

                  Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing.
                  This is the ultimate.

                                                                – Chuang Tzu

More on healing our body…


emotions are responses to inner and outer experiences, particularly our relationships. We may feel hurt, anxious, fearful, angry or sad in response to negative events in our lives; we may feel joy, happiness, peace, compassion and elation.

Wholistic healing can help mind and emotions through counseling/ psychotherapy, self-healing, spiritual healing, homeopathic medications, flower essences, craniosacral therapy/ cranial osteopathy, acupuncture and its derivatives.

Spirit moves us towards quiet awarenesses or to epiphanies of resonation with the transcendent, as we respond through our emotions to inner and outer experiences in our lives. Spiritual upliftment may make difficult emotional problems more tolerable. We tacitly acknowledge this in our language, as the origins of the word heal are in the Germanic and Old English roots of haelen, “to make whole.” This is the same root for “holy.”

May my heart protect my mouth from criticizing myself and others and may the light shine upon me and guide me on the path of the heart.

Rather than finding solutions for understanding and controlling this heart, we may have no recourse but to honor its mysteries.

The heart is a mystery – not a puzzle that can’t be solved, but a mystery in the religious sense: unfathomable, beyond manipulation, showing traces of the finger of God at work.
–  Thomas Moore

Nature speaks to us of spirit. The beauty of nature and the pathos of erosion of natural resources and environmental devastation stir our feelings and call to us for our healing.

I who am the beauty of the green earth and the white moon among the stars and the mysteries of the waters, I call upon your soul to arise and come unto Me.  For I am the Soul of nature that gives life to the universe.  From Me all things proceed and unto Me they must return.  Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices, for behold-all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.  Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you. And you who seek to know Me, know that your seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without. For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.
– Charge of the Goddess: Traditional prayer adapted by Doreen Valiente and Starhawk

Emotions color our relationships with other people. When we are in harmony with ourselves and others, we experience positive emotions. When we are in disharmony with others, our relationships with others move us to awareness of our emotions and theirs. Strong emotional responses are stimuli to explore our past emotional experiences and our inner rules about relating to people – often exposing inner fears that block us from being in the now; awakening us to see and hear others as they really are; and leading us to reassess how we may be behaving according to inner rules we established long ago for handling our emotions.

I’ve seen and met angels wearing the disguise
Of ordinary people leading ordinary lives
Filled with love, compassion, forgiveness and sacrifice
Heaven’s in our hearts

–  Tracy Chapman

Emotions may influence mind to respond according to mind’s beliefs and habits. Negative emotions are often buried in our unconscious awareness. Though emotions are buried, our unconscious mind is very much aware of them. The Unconscious acts in ways that distance us from anything that might rattle the emotional skeletons in its closets. For instance, we may stay away from angry men or even from all men as a way to avoid awakening buried feelings of hurt from negative experiences with a man in the past. The challenge for mind is to identify and to deal with distorted or exaggerated emotional responses.

Modern civilization can survive only if it educates the heart, which is the source of wisdom , for modern man is now far too clever to survive without wisdom.
                           –  E. F. Schumacher

Emotions are also stored in the body and may be expressed through the body. This is why we may literally develop a pain in the neck when we are suffering from a relationship with someone whom we call a pain in our neck, or may develop stomach problems when we are always swallowing down our feelings.

Much illness is unhappiness sailing under a physiologic flag. 
–  Rudolf Virchow


mind organizes our perceptions and understandings of the world. Most of mind’s basic assumptions are laid down by a child, and these become our default beliefs and operating systems for the rest of our lives. Mind is challenged to sort out beliefs that separate us from the ALL, to find truths that serve our highest good individually and collectively, and to guide us to the path that is of highest good for all.

Mind contributes to spirit through prayers, intent and dedication to healing of the All. Mind seeks to understand what life is about and may learn through linear reasoning or heart wisdom. Spirit informs mind, for the most part through whispered intuitions but sometimes through the thunder and lightning of major revelations, as in near death experiences.

Yes, my child, go out into the world; walk slow
And silent, comprehending all, and by and by
Your soul, the Universe, will know
Itself: the Eternal I.
– Jane Goodall, The Old Wisdom
(This entry recommended by Christopher Stanley-Stevens)

What is arising now is not a new belief system,
a new religion, spiritual ideology, or mythology.
We are coming to the end not only of mythologies
but also of ideologies and belief systems.

The change goes deeper than the content of your mind,
deeper than your thoughts.
In fact, at the heart of the new consciousness
lies the transcendence of thought,
a newfound ability of rising above thought,
of realizing a dimension within yourself that is infinitely more vast than thought.
– Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth, p. 21-22

Mind and emotions are activated and motivated by relationships – through the feedback of feedback nurturing and positive interactions or hard knocks. Relationships shape our mind. During childhood, we acquire our rules for living from our family, community and culture. In many cases these rules are healthy and nurturing, but in some cases they are counter-productive and self-defeating. The vast majority of mind’s capacity is unconscious. Mind has the observing capacity to realize that its rules for living may be faulty, and to learn new ways of dealing with inner and outer worlds.

Great ideas, it has been said, come into the world as gently as doves. Perhaps then, if we listen attentively, we shall hear amid the uproar of empires and nations, a faint flutter of wings, the gentle stirring of life and hope. Some will say that this hope lies in a nation; others in a man.
I believe rather that it is awakened, revived, nourished by millions of solitary individuals whose deeds and works every day negate frontiers and the crudest implications of history. As a result, there shines forth fleetingly the ever-threatened truth that each and every man, on the foundation of his own suffering and joys,builds for all.

– Albert Camus

Mind has sought forever to understand the mysteries of Nature. Mind, distanced from spirit, fears death, and the unpredictability of Nature heightens these fears. In recent centuries, mind has turned itself towards dominating Nature, in the belief that human understanding would lead to better control over the unpredictability of Nature. Mind must open again to the oneness of all sentience within Nature – humanity being but a small part of the whole of Gaia and the universe beyond.

The fact that…humanity does not understand nature is the prime reason for humanity’s failure to exercise its option to attain universally sustainable physical success on this planet … I am confident that humanity’s survival depends on all our willingness to comprehend feelingly the way nature works.
– Buckminster Fulleer

Mind works closely with emotions. Mind may help sort out emotional responses for decisions on how much we allow of our feelings into conscious awareness; how much external expression to give them; whether we ask for help in dealing with them; and in learning lessons about ourselves through our emotions.

There is a wisdom of the Head, and . . . a wisdom of the Heart.
– Charles Dickens

Mind is strongly linked to the five senses of body and may have a difficult time conceiving of, much less experiencing its connections to the All beyond the body. Body participates in memory, storing responses to experiences in muscles, tendons, the immune system and in other cells and tissues.

While conventional medicine and science view the brain as the origin of mind, and spirit as a product of mind’s beliefs, wholistic healing perceives the brain and mind are a radio/ TV receiver for cosmic spirit, and transmitter for the pixel’s participation on the ginormous screen of the All.

This pure Mind, which is the source of all things, shines forever with the radiance of its own perfection.  But most people are not aware of it and think that the Mind is just the faculty that sees, hears, feels, and knows.  Blinded by their own sight, hearing, feeling, and knowing they do not perceive the radiance of the source.
– Huang-po

Something inside me has reached to the place
where the world is breathing.

– Kabir


relationships with our environment include the land, waters, air, and all the animal, plant and other sentient inhabitants thereof. Each of these elements is a conscious, living part of Gaia, the geobiological being that is our planet Earth. When we are in a healing relationship with Gaia, we are constantly aware that our uses of the land and waters and air always require careful considerations of the consequences of our interventions – not just immediately, but for all time to come. We must be wise neighbors to the wildlife, and compassionate shepherds to the domesticated animals and plants on our planet. When we act irresponsibly, we are like a virus or a cancer in this environment, even threatening its continued existence as we know it.

Gaia has survived for several billion years and has transcended crises that were apparently greater than the threats that humanity is posing to her existence now. She will survive our depredations, even though humanity may not survive – certainly not in the form of the industrial society that is ravaging our planet so irresponsibly – and possibly without most other living beings that may be eliminated in any of several ecological disasters that humanity is perpetrating.

Environment informs us of spirit, reminding us to that we are intimate parts of a larger collective. In the same manners that we contribute to healing or harming the environment, so we can become aware that we are parts of a vaster reality. As below, so above.

If you listen,not to the pages or preachers
but to the smallest flower
growing from a crack
in your heart,
you will hear a great song
moving across a wide ocean
whose water is the music

connecting all the islands
of the universe together,
and touching all
you will feel it
touching you
around you. . .
embracing you
with light. 

– John Squadra, This Ecstasy

Beyond our atmosphere, we can see in the night skies that we are part of a vast universe. Our relationships with the planets of our solar system and with the stars beyond – that are only imagined with our minds – can be sensed with our intuitive, inner knowing.

If you don’t become speechless on a clear night when looking up into space you are not really being aware of the totality that is really there.
– Eckhart Tolle

Environment informs us of the importance of relationships with others through requiring that we collaborate in social collectives in safeguarding, maintaining and restoring the land, waters, air and all life-forms on our planet.

New and cautious calculations by the New Economics Foundation’s (NEF) climate change programme suggest that we may have as little as 100 months starting from August 2008 to avert uncontrollable global warming.
Nothing short of the rapid and wide-scale re-engineering of the economy will be sufficient. Radical change, though, is needed anyway because of the credit and energy crises; the latter driven significantly by the imminent peak and decline of global oil production.   

– Andrew Simms

Environment informs us of ways in which we can think wholistically and conceptualize ourselves as part of the larger systems in which we are an integral part. Nature teaches us patience, persistence, selfless service and timeless healing. Nature invites us to waken to the universal energies in sacred places, trees, and remedies based on elements from nature that resonate with our ills in ways that clear and stimulate us to heal them.

I… as the conductor of an orchestra… was responsible for pulling together all the individual parts into one harmonious whole.  That was my role… and this was what was working toward as a co-creative scientist… Nature told me that I would have to learn to use my power in balance with all that was around me, thus establishing the co-creative partnership.  I had to learn that if my power became out of balance with the whole, I would then be working out of manipulation rather than in co-creation.  They told me that one of the main reasons Earth was suffering from its present ecological crisis was because of man, out of ignorance and arrogance, wielding his power as manipulator of all around him… 
– Machaelle Small Wright

Environment teaches us love as unconditional acceptance, joy in service, and timeless healing.

The harmony and beauty of the face of Nature is, at root, one with the gladness that transfigures the face of man.
– Ken Wilbur

A healing environment can promote physical health and enhance healing; a toxic environment can be detrimental to the body. Nature teaches us natural healing approaches and offers us remedies for our dis-eases and diseases.

Beauty saves. Beauty heals. Beauty motivates. Beauty unites. Beauty returns us to our origins, and here lies the ultimate act of saving, of healing, of overcoming dualism. 
– Matthew Fox

More on Environmental Healing…

relationships with other human beings provide lessons – through each of the five levels – in offering and giving of ourselves; and in asking and receiving on all levels of our being. We are born into a family and develop further relationships with others who are friends, colleagues and opponents in this spiritual dance that we call life. Our lessons are endless in their varieties of content and form, but the common denominators are the overcoming of negative, angry, hateful, vengeful relationships and the establishment of positive, loving, caring, forgiving and accepting ones.

Relationships awaken awareness of spirit. Spirit grows in experience and wisdom as we learn ever more deeply about ourselves. Spirit guides us in creating and processing relationships, in concert with other spirits in our soul group and higher levels of guidance, on our paths of learning and serving our higher purposes. Synchronicities in relationships – meeting the right person at the right time or having the perfect solution to our problems arrive unbidden – are invitations to consider the plans of the Infinite Source and our collective consciousness.

When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we are spirits – not animals.
– Winston Churchill

Relationships with our environment invite us to work more closely with others for the common good.

We’re in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyone is arguing over where they’re going to sit.
– David Suzuki

Relationships with other individuals are mirrors, helping us perceive, experience and understand ourselves better. Points of friction and points of harmony in these relationships invite us to consider contributions to our present experiences that are made by residues of earlier experiences in our current and past lives – the journey of our spirit through many lifetimes, each of which is a course of learning.

We generate our own environment. We get exactly what we deserve. How can we resent a life we’ve created ourselves? Who’s to blame, who’s to credit but us? Who can change it, anytime we wish, but us?”
– Richard Bach

Relationships stimulate us to emotional responses that arise from habits born of previous relationships. These reactions may be grossly out of line with our current-life experiences with others. Such exaggerated or inappropriate responses invite us to delve into our emotional past (in this life and previous lives) to clear old patterns of responses that are no longer appropriate.
Our individual emotions also join in a collective consciousness that contributes to collective, species-wide and planetary-wide experiences. For instance, when many humans have suffered traumas – leaving residues of hurt, fear, grief, anger, betrayal and other feelings – there can be a collective post traumatic stress disorcer (PTSD) that leads humanity a a group to be abusers of each other and of our planet.

What counts in making a happy relationship is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.
– Daniel Goleman

Relationships with other people may influence the body, calming it or stimulating stress reactions. People who are in nurturing relationships with other people and with animal companions heal more quickly from illnesses and injuries and life longer. Touch, massage, emotional support and encouragement contribute to relaxation, body harmony, and healing.

At first, it seemed the only thing they had in common was heart disease. But over time we began to realize that many of them had something else in common: an emotional or spiritual heart disease. By that I mean the sense of loneliness, isolation, and alienation that I think is epidemic in our culture.
– Dean Ornish


spirit is that part of ourselves which incarnates aspects of our soul and serves as our continuous connection with our higher self and the All. Spirit brings with it life purposes and lessons, which are expressed and learned through all of the levels of our being. Spirit is experienced as intuitive knowing of rightness and wrongness in our lives; as inspirations; awakenings; and transcendent awareness that comes through communing with nature, with spiritual teachers, and through meditation and prayer; through synchronicities – those wonderful ‘coincidences’ that hint to us of a transcendent choreography in our lives; through challenges in our lives that waken us to ask questions about the meanings of life, to ask for help, and to marvel at the miracles of healings that are given to us.

Spirit supports life and participates in each and every aspect of our lives – individually and collectively. Spirit may contribute to health and to illness, always with lessons for our self, Self and the collective consciousness.

Diseases of the soul are
more dangerous
and more numerous
than those of the body.

– Cicero

Spirit is experienced by many through their religious practices. Each religion offers deep wisdom through its own insights. The Infinite Source speaks all languages. Even within a single religion, each person may hear for themselves the Voice of the Infinite Source and perceive the IS as a uniquely experienced Voice and Presence.


Spirit participates in relationships with the environment on many levels. Everything in nature is alive and participating in the wondrous lessons of physical existence. Nature spirits and angels guide and nurture the form and functions of everything in existence. Humans can participate with nature in spiritual stewardship of the environment.


To see a world in a Grain of Sand,
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

– William Blake

Spirit participates in relationships between people as we incarnate from spirit existence into earthly life, bringing us into a family constellation and society in which we are learning personal, individual lessons through our relationships and at the same time are parts of a group soul that is learning and growing as a collective consciousness. Spirit is available for healing as we encounter challenges in relationships and open to the spirit level of awareness.


Ramakrishna’s image of God’s grace being like the wind; it’s everywhere, but you have to raise your sails to catch it.
We can now recognize that the fate of the soul is the fate of the social order; that if the spirit within us withers, so too, will all the world we build around us.

– Theodore Roszak

Spirit participates in mind as intuition, creativity, inspiration, healing of negative thoughts and beliefs, and as collective consciousness.


As long as I can remember I feel I have had this great creative and spiritual force within me that is greater than faith, greater than ambition, greater than confidence, greater than determination, greater than vision. It is all these combined. My brain becomes magnetized with this dominating force which I hold in my hand.
– Bruce Lee

Spirit participates in emotions through the love and healing we allow into our hearts, to transform the negative emotions in our lives. Spiritual cravings may be masked as physical, mental and relationshal cravings.


I did not then recognize the symptoms of metaphysical malnutrition. I was hungry for a kind of food that I could not even name. Therefore I began to overeat the foods I could name, especially junk food: candy, potato chips, cookies, soda.  
– Joseph M.Felser

Spirit participates in body as we listen to body messages and as we invite energetic and spiritual healing for the hurts that are buried as symptoms within our body. Religious affiliation and practice (presumed to include spirit) are good for our physical health. Spiritual perspectives may make difficult physical problems more tolerable.


We must no more ask whether the soul and body are one than ask whether the wax and the figure impressed on it are one.‰
– Aristotle


The meaning of life is to embody the Transcendent.
– The Dalai Lama


More on spirit…


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