Healing through holistic health: Link the body & mind

Healing through holistic health: Link the body & mind

With today’s high stress world and numerous electronics, many of us may forget the basic laws of nature when it comes to our health. Holistic living takes into account the interaction between the body and the mind. Too many people, according to John Hopkins’ Heath and Wellness Center’s Bryant Murdoch, focus on the ailments of the body rather than those ailments’ effects on the mind and soul.

“If someone hurts their back, for example, they typically rush to their doctor, look for some prescription drugs and lay around the house until they feel better,” Murdoch says. “But holistically, there is a different way to treat such an injury. Sure, the doctor visit is important, but through natural supplements, warming and massage therapy, better, healthier solutions can be found.”

According to Murdoch, the growth in patients turning to holistic living to improve and maintain health is growing. He says the LGBT community has been a big supporter of the lifestyle since the 1970s in Western cities like San Francisco.

“It’s only in the last decade or so that you’ve really seen the holistic lifestyle take off throughout the country,” he says. “It’s hard to find any major city without a gay massage therapist.”

One ideal, when it comes to health and wellness, he says, is to look at the big picture, and how all of the different parts of you interact. A holistic approach includes your body, mind, emotions, and spirit.

“Ask yourself, ‘What does your body need to be healthy?’” Murdoch says. “Some of the ways you can look after your body include: good nutrition, natural medicines, comfort, physical activity, sleep, relaxation and self-care.”

Listening to your body, according to Murdoch, is an animalistic instinct that many humans suppress. He believes that too many of us “work through the pain” rather than allowing ourselves time to heal.

“If you have a pet, and that pet is sick or injures its paw, you don’t see it trying to go out for a morning run to chase a rabbit,” Murdoch says. “That pet knows it needs to listen to its body and focus on healing. Humans don’t always approach an illness or an injury in such a way.”

One advantage we have over our pets is our ability to seek wellness through our minds, Murdoch says. By focusing on what we’re thinking about—as in “Is the glass half-empty or half-full,”—we can determine if we’re obsessive or worried about things we can’t change.

“It also allows you to see if you get enough mental stimulation and challenges, like reading, problem solving and allowing yourself creative outlets,” he says.

Expressing oneself is another area where holistic living can improve the link between mind and body, Murdoch says. Wellness in Emotion is especially difficult for me, Murdoch says, because at a young age many men are trained to not show emotion.

“From grade school on we’re called little girls if we shed a tear,” Murdoch says. “We’re primed to hide our emotions and to avoid showing any vulnerability. That is actually very traumatic to the psyche. It’s natural for us to want to cry, to laugh or to seek comfort.”

A good way to begin emotional healing, Murdoch says, is to begin a journal or another way to create an emotional outlet.

“All of these things are very important in finding full bodily health,” Murdoch says. “But I think one of the most important—and most difficult areas for the LGBT community to find wellness within—is within the spirit.”

Too often finding wellness with spirit is confused with religion, Murdoch says. Finding wellness within the spirit, however, is not linked to organized religion and is more about staying in and enjoying the moment.

“Do you spend time alone in quiet reflection?” Murdock says. “Do you enjoy nature? Believing in a higher power or simply being in awe of every day wonders can help to nurture your spirit. Enjoy your surroundings and you will connect with the deepest part of your spirit and find happiness.”

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