What exactly does ‘holistic’ mean?

By Beth Hinden, LMT, BS

The beautiful thing about the human language is that every word has meaning based on the person using the word and the context of the use of the word.  Holistic, per Webster, means relating to complete or whole systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts.  Holistic refers to the treatment of both the mind and the body as good ole Webster understands it.

I think there is a whole lot more to the word that just the idea of the ‘whole’ of the body instead of dissection of parts.  When I talk to clients, analogies often help them to understand sometimes complex ideas.  In this case, I love the analogy of a bicycle.  Most everyone can relate to how a bicycle operates.  There are two wheels, handlebars, breaks, and gears connecting or operating the wheels.  We can compare our body to the bicycle.  If one wheel is considered our physical body and the other wheel is our physical mind, then the gears control the chains connecting the two wheels.  In our body, this is the nervous system that connects and communicates between the two wheels or the physical mind and body.  Some bicycles are equipped with various levels of gears to help facilitate the ease of communication.

So, how do the brakes play into these happenings inside of us, you may be wondering???  Well, if you think of the brakes as your thinking brain— they help you to slow down, or allow the nerve signals leeway while traveling from the mind to the body.  The handle bars are the brain that helps guide and lead the rest of the bicycle or body.  Just as all the parts of the bicycle must work in synchronous harmony, our body has that same goal of homeostasis or harmony.

One can’t forget the impact of the external environment on both our body or the proverbial bicycle.  Whether we travel uphill or downhill, on roadways or dirt paths, all the external factors impact the ease with which the bicycle can move fluidly through its environment.  The same is true for our body.  The therapies we engage in as well as the intention with which we pursue those therapies influences our body’s ability to perform at the highest level.  It is therefore important for us to make intentional choices for the betterment of our body’s wellbeing.  This happens best when we consider all aspects of health…Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  They all influence the whole or holistically converge to make the person.  I have learned this lesson throughout my 24 years in the health industry and continue to try and make a positive impact personally and professionally, so my body can continually operate at peak performance.  So, I invite you to consciously make intentional choices to live a holistic lifestyle, allowing you to flourish and be well!

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