Throughout the world there is an evolution in consciousness beginning to manifest in many areas of life. There are many aspects of this evolution actualizing everywhere: the increasing interest in spiritual and liberational pathways, the movement towards a harmonious ecology, planet wide organizations which transcend narrow national and hemispheric limitations – to name a few of the cornerstones. Foremost amongst the many facets of this consciousness evolution is the growing holistic health movement which has many of its main roots and branches in America.
What are the essential elements of holistic health and medicine? The following list addresses this important question:
1.) Each person is his or her own best healing source. The ultimate responsibility for feeling good and being well cannot depend on another person. If a practice, system, particular healer or physician makes one depend upon that system or person, then holistic medicine is not being fully achieved. The old model of the health practitioner doing something to a person results in dependence on the outside person. More and more in holism there is a trend toward the healing practitioner being a teacher or guide, helping a person develop inner awareness and outer abilities.
2.) While it will always remain necessary to have curative practices, techniques and systems, the emphasis in holism is on prevention rather than cure. In this way a person can become accustomed to concentrating on being well rather than removing sickness. This concentration itself and all the processes necessary to develop this concentration are powerful healing forces.
3.) One will want to learn to look at symptoms as friends to be appreciated and understood rather than as enemies to be disliked and thereby destroyed. In this way, symptoms, which are the effect of an imbalance or disease, will become the true signals they are – ready to help one focus attention on the source of the symptom, rather than on the symptoms themselves.
4.) It is a trap to become enmeshed in an overly emotional reaction to what are usually conceived of as various disease states. Just as symptoms can be viewed as signals, so-called disease states can be viewed as potential correctional purifications. Often in progressing from a relatively unhealthy to a relatively healthy state of being, a transition period forms the bridge. During this period, if one takes a narrow view, this state can be experienced as negative. If one takes a larger view, it can be seen that one is in a state of adjustment to a new way of being. The only difference here, then, is in point of view.
5.) As one takes a more encompassing view of the presence or absence of health or well-being, one begins to realize that all events inter-relate. Amount and quality of physical stimulation and practice correlates with emotional states, which correlate with communications coming in and going out, which correlate with mental processes, which correlate with relationships to other people, etc. One begins to become aware of the wholeness of one’s entire sphere of activity.
6.) The broadening experience of appreciating and attending to the entire sphere of life’s activity deepens the awareness of the unity underlying all parts of being: physical, mental and spiritual. Connections are noticed everywhere. Unity rather than separateness becomes the background to all experience. This is a great healing force in itself and leads to behavior which in turn brings healing energies into one’s entire circle of existence.
7.) Various treatment modalities should help to increase the state of wellness and neither directly nor indirectly make matters worse than they were before instituting the treatment regimen.
8.) Diet is a central part of any holistic system. But in using the word diet, the emphasis is not necessarily on the gross food level. In this context, diet is defined as anything that comes into a person whether it is food, thought, a particular person and his or her concepts, atmosphere, habit, etc. If all that comes in is seen as material for scrutiny and attention, then a person begins to order life in such a way as to decide which elements will be influential. This practice begins with being attentive and eventually helps to develop the pure attention space which, again, is a powerful healing energy itself.
9.) The underlying basis for being healthy and well – and all the abilities, processes and energies developed in becoming so – relate to the primary emergent reality of holism, Self-Realization. Throughout the entire process of learning to be well and healthy, one begins to encounter the awakening experience of experiencing the experiencer. This not only leads to an ever sharpening ability to focus on one’s place in the world, but also to harmonize this entire process with each and every moment of one’s existence.
In Meditation for Healing, Justin Stone repeatedly incorporates all of the essential elements of holistic health and medicine mentioned above. In sharing these various meditative healing practices, the entire work emerges as a readable whole, engrossing and inspiring. But with the aid of the clear and succinct “Meditation For Healing Chart,” one can refer to a particular health goal and its corresponding practice, concentrate on this chapter or chapters alone, and still gain much of the sense of overall unity involved in the entire work. This chart represents a summary of many helpful suggestions throughout the book as to how all people, including different health practitioners, can make the best use of which practices.
The application of Zen and Satipatthana practices to the broad range of psychological inquiry from sudden recognition to ongoing insight, is a valuable connection for all psychotherapists. The great, consuming and unifying aspects of Tibetan Dumo Heat practices are beautifully and personally described. This chapter is inspirational and challenging, displaying the need for perseverance, pure motivation and intelligent reflection when engaging in powerful practices. The power and scope of this practice can be appreciated by noting a comment about Dumo Heat by Lama Govinda: “The image of the flame is however, as we must emphasize again, not merely a metaphor, but the expression of real experiences and of psycho-physical processes, in which all properties of fire, in their elementary (tejas) as well as in their subtle effects (taijasa) can make their appearance; warmth, heat, incandescence, purification and consummation by fire, fusion, upsurging flames, radiation, penetration, enlightenment, transfiguration, and so on.” [From Lama Anagarika Govinda’s Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism, which was first published by Rider & Co. in 1960. This American edition (with a quotation from page 165) was published in 1969 (as the seventh edition), by Samuel Weiser, Inc. N.Y., N.Y.]
Another particularly useful and brief section of this work is the section on “Dangers in Meditation” and the helpful corrective antidotes.
There is a broad scope to this work without voluminous over-descriptions. Philosophy and instruction of a wide range of meditative healing practices including mental, devotional, energizing and movement techniques – all written in a warm and personal way from Justin’s depth of practice, experience and ability – combine to give the aura of fullness and completion from which one can continue for many years to derive healing energy.
– Harold A. Cohen, M.D.
This article is published in Meditation for Healing.