Introduction to Holism

Introduction to Holism
April 7, 2012 WoW admin

Welcome to Wellness on Whyte’s blog! I’m excited to be spearheading this blog because alongside holistic health, my other passions are music and the art of the written word!

At the outset of the exciting experience that is Roots on Whyte – a community of businesses that meet the needs of those of us who are holistically minded, I think it only appropriate to consider this word “holistic” and what it means. Upon what foundation have we built holistic businesses and what philosophies do we draw from to feel justified in calling ourselves “holistic”?

The vastness of holistic industry is based on concepts of holism. Holism is defined as the consideration of whole, integrated systems. With regards to health care, this means the consideration of all aspects of a complete person, including physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

It’s impossible to know precisely when concepts of holism emerged. We can, however, investigate documented information that relates to key contributors. Consider Socrates for example: an ancient Greek philosopher and valuable contributor to foundational concepts of holism.

A simple and unpretentious man, Socrates trusted his intuition above all else. His aim was to teach those around him to examine their own thoughts and feelings, not subscribing to any moral dictates out of line with personal values. Ridiculed by his counterparts for his modesty, Socrates roamed the streets of Athens bare foot, wearing tattered rags and never charging for his lessons. Though appearing poor, Socrates served the Greek army at least three times, purchasing his own armour – a great expense for infantrymen. This is indicative that Socrates wasn’t poor at all and willingly chose his meagre lifestyle. Socrates believed he was better off this way because it made him more grateful for nourishment, strength and health. One of Socrates’ driving philosophies was that happiness doesn’t arise from having more, it comes from wanting less.

Not as meek in expression, Socrates often challenged other teachers, leaders and lawmakers, thereby making enemies along the way. He exemplified his teachings by paying heed to only his own morals, refusing to simply accept the precepts of those in powerful positions. Certainly a rebel, Socrates followed his premonitions and remained devoted to his personal values even to the point of opposing the law. His vehement desire to respect his personal paradigms resulted in his eventually being brought up on vague charges inferring that he corrupted the youth and promoted unofficial gods. These charges were an attempt to force Socrates into exile but, aware that he didn’t actually break any laws, Socrates refused to leave Athens. He was sentenced to death by poison – a fate he gracefully accepted, leaving behind a wife and three sons.

 Socrates made his mark on the foundation of holism by encouraging each individual to intimately explore his or her own existence and principles, enriching the whole being by self-awareness and self-respect. Socrates exemplified physical prowess by his rugged life that he appreciated for its ability to bolster his strength and endurance. He nourished mental components of being by encouraging and demonstrating self-exploration, always searching for the truth according to his own conscience. His tribute to emotional and spiritual components of being was in his ability to hear and obey his intuition and express himself accordingly.

Our role as holistic health practitioners is comparable to the example that was Socrates’ life. We are responsible to share information (and appropriate treatments) that guide others towards achieving their highest expression of themselves. We are called to skillfully wield our intuition when supporting others, avoiding what makes us feel uneasy and what is outside of our scope of practice. Perhaps most importantly, we are in place to encourage our clients to only subscribe to that which is in alignment with their personal values. Each person is entitled to their own unique journey towards wellness. If these are not the foundations upon which we build our practices, then I think it’d be a far cry to call ourselves “holistic”.

Thank you for reading, thereby supporting me in what it is I love to do. Please comment and let us know what “holistic” means to you.

Roberta Shepherd for Wellness on Whyte