Holistic Health – What is it and what types are there? – by Venerina Conti MA, BSc
I’m sure that all you readers out there have, once or twice, come across the terms Holistic Healing, Holistic health or Alternative Therapies. At some point, I’m sure some of you, or someone you know, may have practiced some form of it. However, for those who are a little unsure of the different kinds of Holistic Therapies available, and what they entail, I am going to try to give a brief explanation of what the most common alternative therapies consist of and what you can expect during a treatment.
The term “Holistic” comes from the word “whole.” In this regard, when it comes to healing, Holistic health therapies treat the body, mind and soul as if they were one; working in unison. Holistic Health is based on a philosophy of natural, and balanced, living. In Holistic tradition, prevention is better than cure. In fact, alternative therapies aim to prevent disease and not just to heal physical conditions as they arise. Holistic philosophy works on the principle that each individual is the sum of his/her parts and for all of them to be functioning properly, they need to be properly balanced and working harmoniously together.
You’ve heard the saying Corpus san is Mentes san is, which translates from Latin into to “A healthy body is a healthy mind.” As long as you feel healthy, your mind is positively set, you are at peace with your inner being and anything is possible. We all get days where we wake up full of the joys of spring and ready to tackle the world. Then, we have others when we feel sluggish, we’re not as productive, we sleep badly, we suffer indigestion and the slightest thing sets us over the edge.
Holistic Health Therapies advocate that “full of the joys of spring feeling” all year round and not just when the sun is shining.
There are many different types of Holistic Therapies around and sometimes, choosing the right one can be a daunting task. In my experience, I’ve also found that not everyone will respond the same way to the same treatments. So, it’s up to you to choose which alternative therapy (ies) resonates best with you, which works best for you and how you may apply one, or more, into your everyday life in order to be healthier and happier.
Here, I introduce you to just two of the most popular alternative therapies and my personal favourites:
Reiki – Being a Reiki Master, I never underestimate the power of Reiki. Aside from QiGong Medicine, I believe Reiki is one of the most powerful healing tools to have ever existed. It penetrates the mind, body and soul in ways that can never be predicted. In fact, everyone reacts differently to Reiki sessions. I have witnessed people healing physically, mentally and emotionally by having regular Reiki sessions.
In traditional Eastern Medicine, a human being not only consists of a physical body made of organs, limbs, blood, skin etc. but also of a more subtle energy system, which is responsible for our thought processing, our emotions and, ultimately, our health. Furthermore, eastern medicinal philosophies believe that disease in the body is nothing more than a manifestation of disease that has been afflicting the energy body for quite some time. You may have heard of chakras. Metaphorically speaking, they are likened to wheels that, when functioning optimally, turn in our 7 core energetic centers (base or root, spleen, solar plexus, heart, throat, brow and crown,) with the energy that flows through us. Should there be a problem within our energetic system, one or more of the wheels will stop turning, imbalance is created, and when untreated, disease sets in.
Reiki works on the basis of cleansing negative energy from the subtle energetic body and reactivating the chakras; restoring balance. Once restored, the physical body can begin to heal itself. The person who conducts the process of energy cleansing is known as a Reiki Master who is skillfully trained, and experienced, in channelling energy.
What to expect during a Reiki session:
There are two ways of having Reiki treatments. One is “hands on” and the other is “hands off.”
It’s a Reiki Master’s personal preference; according to the necessity of the client. However, personally I like to use the hands on approach during massage when people have a particularly stubborn lower back or shoulder pain. The hands off treatment can be long distance or in person. The Reiki Master’s hands hover over the body of the client, usually within the energetic field. No direct physical contact is made with the client.
Clients’ response to Reiki will vary. Some people feel a deep sense of relaxation. Some people cry as the build up of blocked emotions unravels and get released. Some people fall asleep, which is a sign the body needs time to heal at a cellular level. Nobody can predict what type of response they will have to a treatment.
Reiki is particularly recommendable for cancer patients and people recovering from chemotherapy. In my 7 years experience, working with all types of hospitalised patients, I have seen dramatic results. Obviously it is not a cure nor a miracle, however the benefits are indisputable. Reiki is non invasive, deeply cleansing, healing, truly relaxing and a form of unparalleled comfort.
Aromatherapy; Aroma derives from the Greek word meaning “spices”, but in the case of the therapy, in question, it refers to a “therapy by use of fragrances”, (or scents, if you prefer.)
On the contrary to popular belief, aromatherapy is not just about massages using scented oil. Coincidently, the word massage derives from the Arabic “Mass or mash’s” – meaning to press gently and it is a practice that can be dated back as far as 2700 B.C.
However, aromatherapy can also be used, carefully, in the home, to alter one’s state of mind at any given moment in time. You might recall one of those days when you were feeling less than in top form, yet suddenly came to life when you smelt the sweet sent of citrus like a lemon or orange. Unwittingly, you were experiencing the power of aromatherapy.
The benefits of aromatherapy don’t just stop here. When I have a client, for massage or deep tissue massage, who has a particular back problem, or a sports injury, I love using a therapeutic blend of peppermint, lavender and black pepper essential oils with my carrier oil. The reason I choose this blend is because peppermint is an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic – just to mention a few of its properties. Lavender is soothing, anti-rheumatic, analgesic and relaxing – among others. Finally, a few of black pepper’s properties include warming, antiseptic, antispasmodic and antitoxic. Thus, during the massage, this blend will relax the client physically and mentally. It will, more deeply, relax and warm the muscles so that I can manipulate the problematic area without leaving the client distressed or in pain. Finally, it relieves the client of any potential “next day post massage” pain; especially when deep tissue massage has been used .
All essential oils need to be carefully dosed, blended and used in conjunction with a carrier oil. The only essential oils safe to use neat and directly onto the body are lavender and tea tree oil. However, before you use any essential oil on your skin, you should carry out an allergy test, which is very simple. Just put a drop of the oil onto your wrist and wait to see if you have an allergic reaction. If you do, wash the area very quickly with cold, fresh water. Some essential oils are photosensitive, which means that after you use them, on your skin, you need to wait a minimum of 4 hours before you expose yourself to direct sunlight.
If you would like further information or if you would like to book any treatments, please do not hesitate to contact me on tel. 0034 646760028. I am based in Estepona but provide a mobile massage service along the entire Costa del Sol and in Gibraltar. I am happy to travel outside these areas but, to make it viable, it would have to be for a minimum of 3 hours worth of treatments. For a full list of treatments and a price list, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org