Does the term “wellness” have any specific meaning to you?
Depending on which area of medicine you approach it from (alternative, or western), it has two contexts.
In the alternative medicine world, wellness means taking care of yourself so you don’t get sick in the first place. It’s about finding ways to avoid cancer, heart disease, mental illness, you name it.
We can do this through:
* Changing our diet
* Exercising more
* Changing our energy fields.
In Western medicine, you wait until you get one of these diseases, then you rush to seek treatment to “beat the disease.” In Western medicine, the term wellness also means “early detection” of disease or diseases.
If you walk into a “Wellness Center” in a hospital, you’ll see:
* Mammogram screening rooms
* MRI machines
* Other tools to scan for the existence of a disease.
Is that wellness?
To me, it’s not.
Wellness is about staying well and avoiding disease in the first place.
When a person is told they have a major disease, it is a major blow to their psyches and their lives.
Why go through that if you don’t have to? Why not do whatever you can to avoid such a terrible day?
Alternative vs Western Medicine
The major difference between alternative medicine, or what some call holistic health, and Western medicine, is in approach.
A Western doctor, or MD, sees his duty as searching out disease, diagnosing it, and treating it. If he does that correctly and effectively, he’s done his job. Most often, this means the doctor will prescribe a pharmaceutical drug or a surgical procedure to remedy the situation.
The patients are passive in all of this.
A holistic health practitioner sees their duty as someone who educates and facilitates in order to prevent disease.
They feel that the body can heal itself, and it doesn’t necessarily need outside influences (drugs, surgery) to heal from an illness or to prevent illness.
In holistic health, the patient is an active participant. This is the best and the worst thing about holistic health!
Everything you know about your body should tell you that this is the right approach. It makes so much sense.
That’s the good part.
The bad thing about this is that it is HARD WORK for the patient.
In most cases, the patient must make changes to their lifestyle such as:
Changes to diet, doing more exercise, stop using sugar, stop negative thoughts, meditate twice a day, etc.
Making such lifestyle changes after years of conditioning is immensely difficult.
The only time it’s easy is when you are faced with something like a life-threatening disease.
When you find out you have lung cancer, for example, it’s pretty easy to quit smoking, right?
However, it’s far too late by that time.
Lifestyle changes need to come before the illness becomes manifest and this is where alternative treatments often come to play.
Let’s examine another difference between holistic health and western medicine: holism versus reductionism.
This is a major shift in perspective.
Taking a holistic perspective means that you cannot understand a single problem with a single part of the human body without looking at the whole person.
We use the term “mind, body, spirit” to refer to the whole person.
This is not how a Western doctor is taught to see a patient.
He sees the patient as the disease.
“This is an epileptic,” it is not a whole person who has epilepsy.
He feels that he can administer a drug or perform a surgery that will cure a person’s liver without making any difference to the rest of the person.
Of course, this is never possible, so when the inevitable “complications” arise, the Western doctor deals with those one at a time, often causing additional problems for the person, whether in body, mind or spirit.
Even those three parts (mind, body, spirit) of the person are treated by separate people in Western society.
The body is the domain of the medical doctor.
The mind is the domain of the psychiatrist.
Spirit is left to the priest, rabbi or pastor.
There is no overlap in roles, except for referrals from one to the other. In our bodies, of course, there is tremendous overlap.
A loss of connection to God or the universe will cause no end of mental and physical problems. Mental stress causes many physical diseases, as we well know.
Who can coordinate between these in the Western system?
Problems falling “through the cracks” between mind, body, and spirit is a common failure of Western medicine.
A holistic practitioner understands the interconnections between mind, body, and spirit.
They work on the connections, and, although the practitioner may not be an expert in all three, they focus on the overlaps rather than ignoring them.
In my opinion, a holistic approach is better in almost every case for almost every person.
Understanding the linkages between mind, body, and spirit is essential to understanding how to stay well and how to heal.
Western medicine can play a part in the scope of holistic health by offering emergency solutions to problems that arise quickly and need to be fixed immediately.
Western medicine treats the “pre-detection” part of life as a kind of random soup of nothingness. You can’t really do anything about any of these diseases, you just get them or you don’t. No rhyme or reason to it, it just hits you, and then you deal with it.
Genetics is a big factor in the Western medical model. If you get cancer, ah, well, it was in your genes that you’d get it. You see, your great-grandfather had cancer, so it was inevitable that you’d get it too.
Unfortunately, Western medicine can’t explain why siblings get or don’t get diseases supposedly passed on from their parents. One sister dies of cancer at a young age (because of genetics) and the other sister lives to be 100 (genetics).
For my part, I’m going to take the best care of myself possible, and not play a silly waiting game for the disease.by