What is Holism?


Aug 21

Body, Mind, Spirit

In the second edition of the Wellness Directory of Minnesota™, we published an article called “Beyond Medicine.” It touched upon things that influence all aspects of healing and go way beyond medicine such as prayer, meditation, and simple understanding and knowing. It also touched upon those things that are beyond the grasp of science because science cannot taste, touch, or measure them. If you are the type of skeptic who must debunk or dismiss everything that goes against your sensibility, then this page is not for you.

A little skepticism is always good. But the true, dyed in the wool skeptic is a breed unto themselves. They are someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. They are not focused on inquiry, because they just assume that anything they cannot accept must be bunk, and they see people believing in it religiously, even though you’ll hear them defend their religious beliefs in “science.” But again, a bit of skepticism is healthy, and any person with science leanings is no scientist if they do not look upon science with a critical eye. 

Life desires a bit of mystery. We need not believe to feel when the feeling comes first.

Let us start by discussing the body/mind aspects of healing with some references to spirit, since no part can be separated from the whole when we delve into Holism. And of course, we must define Holism. 


Holism, or Holistic Medicine, is one of the most abused terms today. If you take a vitamin or a homeopathic, have a regular massage, or drink herbal tea, you are not being holistic. The word holism comes from the word whole. In fact, holism can be spelled wholism.

We are body, mind, and spirit. If you are an agnostic or atheist, there is probably no room for spirit, and I don’t know what to tell you. Perhaps you’ll have an open mind and follow along, because there are things that resist explanation (unless you must supply one) that might interest you.

Modern medicine treats the body, but there is so much more to being human than having a body. The body, mind, spirit is a microcosm for the Christian beliefs in the Holy Trinity. To truly embrace our humanness, we must embrace the entirety of humanness.

Holistic Medicine treats the patient as an entire being without focusing on the current symptoms. If a person has cancer, that matters little to a true holistic physician; balancing the body’s systems, clearing the patient’s mind, and reconnecting the patient with a higher power are the goals.

In reality, there are no true holistic physicians (though I could be wrong). Absolute holism is a standard that we can only approach but never reach. Humans, doctors, therapists, and healers will always keep a focus on present illnesses of the person who came to them for help, just as your tongue continually returns to that chipped tooth. Human nature.

For discussion purposes, we can focus on one part at a time, so let us chose the mind first. But watch for overlaps to the spirit.

Thought is energy. If modern science doesn’t agree, it’s simply that they’ve not been able to measure it. Always keep in mind that we are much more arrogant than intelligent here in America. We laughed at Chinese medicine and acupuncture for a long time. But then, in 1994, using high tech instruments, our science discovered the energy lines (called meridians) that the Chinese had discovered some 6000 years ago using only their senses.

Prayer is thought. Prayer is energy. To improve their odds, people in an interesting study out of California brought friends and family and even their minister, priest, or rabbi along to their chemo sessions and everyone prayed for the chemotherapy. Not only did their odds of success improve, the patients did not lose their hair or experience the normal side effects.

We will discuss prayer further on because it works, and today, even science knows it works because someone decided to study it in a laboratory. Even in the laboratory, prayer has worked. I know this because I’ve read thoroughly the works of Dr Larry Dossey, MD. He’s been constantly attacked by skeptics, but his books are documented with real science. Two I recommend are Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine, and Prayer Is Good Medicine: How to Reap the Healing Benefits of Prayer. (Dr Larry was in Vietnam at the same time as yours truly.) 

Just as thought can heal disease, it can also create disease. Here and there in this world, some people have healed their cancers through hypnosis. The hypnotherapist is getting to the root cause of illness by clearing out all the unresolved issues, old emotional baggage, and stinking thinking. Steven Parkhill, a hypnotherapist with a history of healing cancers in people who were left for dead by their physicians, wrote a book called Answer Cancer – Answers For Living. His book is out of print but you’ll find it at that link. And here is a short review by the husband of one of Parkhill’s successful patients: “Parkhill’s methods work; he tells how: A stunning book, written as if Parkhill were simply chatting with you. He explains how the mind works, how a lifetime’s emotional baggage leads to disease, why diseases recur, and how to remove the causes permanently through hypnotherapy. Every patient needs this information. Dare your doctor to read it.”

PMA – Positive Mental Attitude. This one comes with a warning because it can backfire. Deepak Chopra talks about one of his patients who appeared consistently, nearly frenziedly high on her positive attitude. She never said one negative thing. And one day he questioned her about it and it turned out that the reason she was so positive was that she was terrified to have a negative thought.

Creating a PMA is more difficult than you can imagine. If PMA were the be all and end all, no one would ever get sick and those who did would quickly cure themselves. As you look around, you can see that this ain’t happening. So, there must be more to it.

I’ve have talked about in the past a database (created by the Institute of Noetic Sciences) that consists of cancer patients who reversed their own cancer against the odds given them. Call it spontaneous healing or just call it just healing, they all had something in common: they transcended (went beyond) their fear of cancer, their fear of death. There is a bit more, but we shall focus on this for now.

Cancer is only a word, not a sentence. If you cut your finger, unless you are a bleeder, you do not think you will bleed to death. You know you have to wash it, care for it, keep it clean and it will heal. If you catch a cold, you do not immediately assume that it will progress to pneumonia and you will be pushing up daisies in no time at all. No, you assume that you’ll suffer for two weeks or so and get better. Even if it hangs on longer, we don’t normally assume it will kill us.

Then why the big fear over cancer? Well, for one thing, we are taught to fear it.

It’s like getting old. We don’t have to get old, but we see others doing it and we believe we have to do it too. Did I tell you about the acupuncturist who died in a freak water-skiing accident? He had a spill, hit the water wrong, his heart started to fibrillate and by they time they got him in the boat, he’d drowned. Could happen to anyone. But he was 89.

As I mentioned in a newsletter years ago, 30% of all cancers go away on their own. Imagine if you did not have any knowledge of cancer. You’d never heard of it before. And your doctor says you have cancer, take care of yourself, and it will go away. That 30% might easily jump to 60% if this were the case. But it is not the case. We all believe that cancer is a death sentence, especially when your white smocked physician looks deep into your eyes and hands you the news.

When an elephant is small, they chain its leg with a very thick chain to a very large, sturdy tree. As the elephant grows, they use smaller chains and smaller trees. When the elephant is an adult, a slight rope around its leg attached to a sapling will hold the elephant in place. The absolute reality of a huge powerful animal attached to a tiny tree does not matter to the elephant. What matters is what the elephant thinks. The elephant feels the tug and THINKS it is securely fastened. The elephant is chained in its mind. That’s all it needs. Mind chains.

It has been said, “You must be as a child….”

Let me tell you a story.

Two boys went ice-skating, and one of them fell through the ice. His friend, who was quite a bit smaller, saw him flail around in the water and then disappear under the ice. Desperately, he tried breaking through the ice with his skates and his fists to get to his friend, but it wasn’t working.

Then he noticed a huge tree limb lying at the side of the pond. He ran to it, pulled it over to the spot where his friend was trapped, and amazingly, lifted it up over his head and drove it through the ice, creating a hole so his friend could get air. He then pulled his friend out of the water.

People wondered how such a small boy had been able to lift such a big limb and save his friend. So they asked, “How did he do it?” Several explanations were offered, but the best one came from the boy who had been rescued. He said, “He did it because there was no one around to tell him he couldn’t!”

If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you won’t. This is why Chopra recommends meditation: “to slip between the cracks of reality and drift into the unlimited possibilities of the universe.”

Here is another of my favorite stories:

A young man during an advanced math lecture fell asleep in class. The professor meanwhile wrote two problems on the blackboard as illustrations of equations that had no solution. He explained their history and discussed some of the great minds that had been up against them only to fail time and again. When the bell rang, the young man awoke, looked at the blackboard and, thinking the two equations were his homework, he copied them down and ran to his next class.

The following Monday, the young man came to class and, before class, he pulled his professor aside showing him his homework. He told him it was the toughest assignment he’d ever had, and that he just wasn’t sure about the second one, but that he’d gotten the first. Sure enough, he had solved one of the impossible problems, because he’d been asleep and didn’t know it was impossible.

Sometimes it is not what you know that counts, but what you don’t know. Sometimes we learn more by forgetting than by remembering. I know that in healing my own life, I’ve had to learn from others. One book that brought a huge positive shift into my thinking and advanced my healing immensely is Teach Only Love by Dr Gerald Jampolsky.

From the Publisher: In 1975, Jerry Jampolsky cofounded the Center for Attitudinal Healing in Tiburon, California, where people with life-threatening illnesses practice peace of mind as an instrument of transformation. Based on the healing power of love and forgiveness, the 12 principles developed at the center, and explained in this book, embrace the idea that total giving and total acceptance are crucial to the healing process and that attitudinal healing can lead to harmony, joy, and life without fear.

Reading this book was truly transformational. I learned that my attitude needed healing before my body could heal. Shortly afterwards, my body found its path to healing all on its own. (And as I write these words in 2019, Dr Jambolsky is 95 years old and vibrant.) 

Western medicine tells us that disease is a mechanical process. The germ theory of medicine sells antibacterial soaps and sprays. But what accounts for those individuals who are never sick a day in their lives? They’ve come into contact with just as many bacteria and viruses as anyone else, but something in their makeup does not allow the bug to catch hold.

Even if you say, this too is mechanical; it’s their immune systems, can you be so sure? Many scientists today feel the immune system is actually a circulating consciousness. This is discussed in our article: Your Immune System – The Rest of the Story. (I’m sorry, but this is not yet published at this website.)

Before we leave this discussion of the mind, let me ask you: Where is the mind? Do you believe it to be restricted to the brain? Is the brain the mind? Other organs in the body also produce brain chemicals. Is the entire being the mind? What about those moments when people receive messages from a loved one. Time Life Books has even dedicated a set of books to a discussion of the paranormal, E.S.P., and other unexplained phenomena such as the mother who gets a feeling her daughter is in trouble and rushes to her home just in time to save her life. Are our minds interconnected?

The feeling that the mind is not local, not restricted to our brains or, for that matter, not restricted to our bodies and that it exists in connection with a mass unconscious is starting to gain favor among thinkers. Proof? You won’t find proof; many examples and experiments, but proof?

Here is one story from the book I am about to recommend. 

A group of mice were put in a maze and the length of time to learn the maze was measured. Then another group, that had been in another room was brought in and their times to learn the maze were recorded. The result was that they learned the maze much quicker, on average, than the first group. So a third group was brought in, that were purchased from far away, and they were put in the maze. They learned as fast as the first group. And, of course, one more group was brought in that had been in an adjacent room, and they learned faster than the first group and the group that had just been tested. 

Years earlier, Jung had written volumes on the collective unconscious.

If you want to read more about this non-local mind and many the experiments and revelations involved with it, one of the best books I’ve ever found is written by a medical doctor, Dr Larry Dossey, called Recovering The Soul. Avoid reading the introduction, as it will really put you off the book.

More References and Links:

Editor’s Note: The links here are to Amazon. We used to have an affiliate program through them, but the state of Minnesota suddenly required sales tax be paid on sales from Amazon and they dropped us. The links still work, we just don’t get paid a commission (which was about $15/month).

Mysterious Light: A Scientist’s Odyssey: The personal story of a scientist as he discovers spirit.

The Spindrift Experiments: Prayer is taken into the laboratory and using our Western style science “proving” its existence and power.

Conversations With God (Volumes 1, 2, and 3): These are life changing books, translated into 28 languages and on the NY Times best selling list for over 3 years.

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, by Eckhart Tolle. One healer once told me, “We live our lives 60% in the past, 30% in the future, and 10% in the present. Do you have any doubts as to why we get sick when so little of our energy is focused on healing which can only take place in the present?” This book, if you follow its advice, take time to absorb its content, can not only heal your life, but it will bring you boundless joy that no disappointment can ever erase. I’ve not only read the book, but I often listen to Eckhart Tolle read his book The Power of NOW on 7 CDs.

Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work: A Book About Instantaneous Transformation. This is one amazing book. Along with The Power of Now, you can change and heal your life, today. Simply written, simply understood, there is magic in these pages.

Recovering the Soul: A Scientific and Spiritual Approach by Dr Larry Dossey. This book will open your eyes to things undreamt of. Just avoid the introduction; it is unreadable.

Staying Well With Guided Imagery by Belleruth Naparstek. This is a great introduction to how to use guided imagery to do some very deep healing or to simply stay well while all around you are dropping.

Health Journeys: A Meditation to Help You Fight Cancer by Belleruth Naparstek. This tape will amaze you. It is a very hypnotic tape, just sit back and allow Naparstek’s wonderful, healing voice to flow through you. If there are two tapes every person should own, every person who wants to take back their health, it is this tape and Louise Hay’s tape Cancer: Discovering Your Healing Power. Warning: do not listen to these tapes while driving!

Love, Medicine and Miracles: Lessons Learned about Self-Healing from a Surgeon’s Experience with Exceptional Patients by Dr Bernie Siegel. This is the audio tape version. We live in a fast paced world and if you find yourself spending more time in your car than in your home, then this is the perfect companion.