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8 HOLISTIC HEALTH
To sneer at “reflexology” as “unscientific”
is simply to misunderstand the holistic
nature of health, and importance of
relaxation to one’s wellbeing.
I have heard radical disregard for
completely harmless practices from yoga
to juicing to qigong. These diatribes
often completely defy common sense.
How is following a good diet crackpot or
charlatan? Or taking kelp supplements
harmful? How can green smoothies
cause such derision! How many people
have died doing a liver detox?
The harsh judgment of that which is
less understood, is actually absurd. It’s a
completely disproportionate response to
wellbeing practices, some of which have
been used for thousands of years.
I am not promoting irresponsible
behaviour, just basic respect for all
viewpoints, and the creation of a level
playing field. Spending millions on drug
trials that profit major pharmaceutical
corporations is not evidence that a
simple Qi Gong practice, used in China
for thousands of years for health and
longevity, is to be rubbished. Lack of
evidence is not evidence of lack.
Quite the contrary in regards to
practices that have been perfected
Belittling natural practitioners is a
sign of fear and weakness, not strength.
Whilst not everyone may understand
long-practised systems and philosophies
like Aryuveda, TCM, Homeopathy and
Naturopathy, they have their place,
and these systems have helped many
Natural practitioners focus on
supporting health – their focus is not the
study of disease. Western-centric disease
focus has its place. It can be vitally
important to have an accurate diagnosis,
and lives can be saved by urgent
mainstream medical treatment.
For the majority, it is lifestyle diseases
that are the product of long-term poor
habits. All of these habits are well
documented and scientifically proven,
from stress as being the greatest cause of
disease in the West, to the importance of
sanitary hygiene, clean food and water,
dietary factors and exercise.
As thinking people, we should be
open to any pathway that can improve
health and happiness and reduce the
suffering of humankind. It does not
serve the common good to label things
we don’t understand as ‘quackery’ and
people we don’t understand
In language and in all things,
relativity is alive and well – each person
has their own perception, their own
unique truth, and their own story to
tell. That is the magic and mystery, the
knowable and the unknowable.
Whilst one person suffering from stress
or illness may resonate with yoga, another
may resonate with meditation, and another
with counselling by a friend of the family,
and another still may find comfort from
a family doctor. Truth is unique to each
person and the search for truth is endless.
The belief in something is often its
most powerful harbinger. That is neither
a grand evil promoted by charlatans, nor
something to be feared. The primacy
of the “placebo effect” has been shown
repeatedly in the gold standard in
science, double-blinded studies. So much
so that often the so-called medicine has
little or no benefit beyond the placebo,
with far fewer “side effects”.
Mainstream medicine does not
claim that doctors who prescribe these
“placebos” are snake oil salesmen.
That’s rather unkind. The placebo effect
has been alive and well in healing and
medicine since the dawn of time.
In any case, lack of evidence is not
relevant to whether something actually
works or not.
Just because the money and power is
behind Western pharmaceutical companies
worth billions of dollars does not mean
that a humble reflexologist is ineffective.
Eastern wisdom has a more developed
contemplative tradition and openness
for mystical exploration. Some Eastern
traditions have admittedly been somewhat
ambiguous and amorphous – arguably, it’s
the quirky and obscure parts that make
for a relevant philosophy for life.
In “mainstream” Western Medicine
and Science, a grain of arrogance and
tendency to dismiss that which is not
“scientifically proven” has developed.
So-called science can even turn nasty and
morph into bullying.
When that which is not understood is
ruled out as hogwash, snake oil or worse
(even when frequently these ridiculed
practices are completely harmless), one
must pause and take notice.
There are many modalities that use
mind-body interactions (well proven by
science) and relaxation therapies (most
diseases and dysfunctions are empirically
linked to stress). The ‘placebo effect’ is
well documented and has been part of
our understanding of medicine for a long
time. Yet in the West, it is frequently
the subject of mockery. The effect of the
mind-body complex is not to be scoffed
at. Placebo or mind-body interactions
come when one thinks one is healing or
getting better, which in turn creates that
healing. It is simply ‘positive thinking’ as
applied to health outcomes.
The combination of relaxation and
optimism are potent forms of healing, and
deserve complete respect and admiration.
s Western society, we seem all
too quick to judge based on
the critical thinking we learnt
early on at school and in higher
institutions of learning.
It’s very natural that we become
invested in our worldviews and
understandings. Even our beliefs can
become “religious”. Is it human nature to
be this way?
The Buddha taught, “Believe
nothing, no matter where you read it or
who has said it, not even if I have said
it, unless it agrees with your own reason
and your own common sense.”
What if instead of investing
wholeheartedly in our beliefs, we
invested in flexibility and openness?
Imagine if instead of left-brained
judgment being parodied, we became
sovereign creators, unique belief makers,
truly dynamic human beings dancing
with truths, beliefs, fantasy and reality?
This is to be multi-dimensional in scope,
comfortable living in uncertainty.
The mistake of Western “scientific”
thinking is that there is a singular truth,
a singular answer that can be broken
down into composite parts. The building
blocks of Western civilisation have been
‘reductionist’ thought forms in their
observance and attitude.
‘Reductionism’ is a practice of
describing complex phenomena by
reduction to their fundamental parts. As
a thought practice, it tends to lend itself
to ‘black or white’ thinking. It’s not to
say that reductionism is good or bad,
only to say that it has its place. Yet it is
not the whole picture, the big picture
(that which incorporates all perspectives
‘ The combination of relaxation
and optimism are potent
forms of healing, and deserve
complete respect and
‘Lack of evidence is not
evidence of lack.’
the Holistic Way
When our society
true value of holistic
wisdom, we all
stand to gain, argues
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