A couple of months ago, I conducted a workshop for a group of senior citizens. Like most of the workshops I offer, it was based upon concepts of healing and wellness and how they relate and can be applied to everyday life. Since this particular group was associated with a local church, the topic was healing and spirituality.
I must admit that, in preparation for the presentation, I wondered if I could properly convey concepts of holistic health and wellness to a generation that would have most likely been thoroughly marinated in the medical model. After all, I’d heard the statistic that the average person over fifty is on several medications, and I’d seen the proof of this on the intake forms in my office as well. Something I hadn’t considered, however, turned out to be my biggest ally. When I got to the seminar, I quickly realized that people that have been around for more than a few decades tend to have a great deal of life experience.
Throughout our lives, we are constantly gathering information. Some is gathered first-hand and experiential, and some is what I would call intellectual information, since it is incorporated into our belief system after we read about it in a book or periodical, or learn about it from another person. While intellectual information can be an extremely valuable it can be a hindrance at times, especially if the information we’re getting is incomplete or false.
For example, people tend to think something is true if they read about it on the internet, but we must consider the source of the information we are receiving before we can determine if it is true. For instance, we’ve always heard that milk is a good source of calcium for strong bones and teeth. What we may not have heard is that this information comes directly from the milk and dairy association. Since their profit margin is directly affected by whether we accept this information as true, there is a high possibility of bias in their reporting of the “facts.” It is likely that they neglect to mention that anyone over the age of three lacks the proper enzymes it takes to actually extract the calcium from dairy products and utilize it in the body.
Another thing to consider is that information is always changing, particularly when it comes to the human body. It’s mind boggling to me when I hear that each year scientists learn more about the human body than known in all the previous years combined. If that’s true, then conclusions drawn at any one time, including the most recent reporting, may also be incomplete.
If you ask ten different nutritionists about proper diet, you will likely get ten different answers. It all depends upon where they attained their information and how accurate it is at the time. Since we are all different, there may not be any one diet, exercise program, treatment or relationship that is right for everyone. Plus, what works for us at one point in our lives may not work in another.
Then how do we know what to believe and what to do?
A holistic practice helps us learn how to approach health and life from a place of wisdom and understanding as well as intellect. Since a belief is a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing, and beliefs change and may or may not be true, wisdom can only be gained through experience. If we can learn how to listen to our body and be guided by it, then we will not be at the mercy of our beliefs or someone else’s. For once we have experienced something, we move from the realm of belief to one of knowing.
I love holistic concepts because not only do they make perfect sense, they apply to every aspect of life. Instead of thinking about them just as holistic concepts, we could refer to them as principles of life. This gave me just the gateway I needed to talk to the folks gathered at the seminar, for who would understand principles of life better than a group of seniors?