I had the honor of being involved in a panel discussion on Holistic Integrated Health last week. Our keynote speaker was Dr. John Patterson, a local family physician who has championed integrative health for the past thirty years. I was joined by three of my colleagues at Centered, Lauren Higdon, Joshua Saxton and Matthew Higdon, who have expertise as master masseuses, yoga instructors, martial artists, cranial sacral therapist and as a birth doula. Attending were health practitioners and interested people of every kind. It was a wonderful foray into a community conversation on the importance of sharing, collaborating and integrating our knowledge in the health field to be more holistic.
While I can’t cover the full range of discussion from all the panel experts, I would like to share some of my responses to the questions we were asked. It gave us an interesting opportunity to share our thoughts on the importance of creating a new world of health care where we each take more personal responsibility. That means realizing we are our own best health advocates and as a health provider, advocating for the person as a whole.
Since my perspective comes from being a licensed mental health professional and more recently a transformation life coach, I spoke about the integration and health of mind, body and spirit. It’s a different viewpoint from traditional mental health treatment, where the focus is on negative symptoms which have to be continually substantiated for services to be provided.
How do we take responsibility as a Holistic Health provider? Here are the questions we were asked and my responses:
WHAT DOES HOLISTIC MEAN TO YOU?
By way of introduction our moderator, Matthew Branstetter, a colleague professor, gave us the historical definition noting that it springs from the same linguistic root as the words healthy, whole and holy. Treatment of the whole person is provided with the belief that we are greater than the sum of our parts.
I said my view of holistic is to integrate our mind, body and spirit. You cannot treat one without it having an effect on the other. There is also reference to the word holy. When we honor our spirit or soul, by considering its bigger picture perspective, we are better able to bring our thoughts and how we treat our body into alignment. To treat one without consideration of the others doesn’t always address the source of a problem.
In the work I do all three are explored at the same time. In transformational life coaching the mind, body and spirit are considered the “three intelligences” *. Each has its own language to communicate distress. Negative thoughts, physical symptoms and a sense of being disconnected from your truth are ways the three intelligences indicate difficulty. A holistic approach looks at them together to treat the whole person, not just the symptoms.
WHAT OPPOSING FORCES DO YOU SEEK TO BALANCE?
Tai Chi is a symbol of wholeness, and as a style of martial art practice, it seeks to balance opposite forces. In Holistic health, finding ways to help a person create greater balance in their life is a focus of teaching and intervention. The question was what common themes do we find in our work as we seek to help people obtain balance?
I talked about the frequent struggle between the soul and the ego*. Our cultural focus on the active, doing aspects of the ego rewards accomplishment, competence and success. If the work drive becomes too strong, creating a treadmill of frenzied doing, it literally separates us from our soul. When there is a lack of alignment between the two, we often feel out of balance with our purpose.
In reality, we can’t be effective without aligning both the soul’s sense of purpose with our action oriented ego. The ego is the arms and legs to do the soul’s work. Just as it takes female and male elements to create life form, the soul brings in the feminine creative inspiration for the masculine planning and organization of the ego’s work. We need both in balance to be satisfied and purposeful in our life. Personal crises can come when they are out of balance.
WHAT DOES THE BUZZ WORD “SPEAKING OR STANDING IN YOUR TRUTH” MEAN?
This is a great question. There is an interesting contrast when we are standing in our truth vs. when we are out of alignment. Since we are literally energetic bodies, along with everything else in creation, when we are not in balance our energy level is light and off balance. The idea of “standing in your truth” is actually a reference to being in energetic alignment with our mind, body and spirit. When we are aligned our energetic body fills and radiates. That sense of purpose and joy can light you up from the inside out – it’s like you’re shining. You can feel it and see it and so can everyone else around you.
It is common in our culture to be so locked in our thoughts that we are not grounded in our body or connected to our soul. The thoughts are like a driver that keeps us moving forward reacting to everything that comes in front of us. This is a form of disconnect that over time will create depression, anxiety, physical symptoms and a sense of existential crisis.
When someone seeks to change this pattern, it is helpful to understand the contrast between where they are now and where they want to be. In transformational coaching, this can be created by imagining “what wants to happen”*. What would make their situation better? There is energy in the idea and it can be magnified through the details of the imagination to the point that it can be physically felt. By stepping into their energy of greater potential, someone can have the experience of “standing in their power or truth” before they even take action. The experience and contrast is often a stunning way to motivate a person to make the changes they seek.
These answers are my perspectives on how Transformational Life Coaching can help a person begin a holistic healing process. Our other panel experts offer services that also assist in this change. Through different types of massage, yoga, martial arts, meditation, alternative medicines like acupuncture and infrared sauna, natural birthing and child health services, art, and music therapy, Centered offers a range of holistic healing options. Its mission is “Supporting, educating and inspiring our world through the moving, visual and healing arts”.
If you’d like to know about the services offered at Centered, check us out at http://www.centeredlex.com/ . Services can be scheduled directly from the website or a call to the center will answer your questions. If you’d like to experience a change process through coaching, I welcome you to contact me here or at Centered. *You may have noticed the asterisks indicating references to Transformational Coaching concepts. These come from the work and training of my mentor, Alan Seale, Founder of the Center for Transformational Presence. More details can be found on-line or in his book, “Creating a World That Works” 2011.