How Holistically Healthy Are You?

I have been interested in alternative healing most of my adult life and I wrote this article back in 1995.

How Holistically Healthy Are You? by Joan Holman / copyright ©1995 Joan Holman


In his great classic book on homeopathic medicine, The Science of Homeopathy, author George Vithoulkas outlines the basic laws of health. He states that there are laws and principles according to which a disease arises in a person, and that there are laws and principles governing a cure. 

The homeopathic approach is a holistic approach seeing human beings as having three main levels for the manifestation of health or disease: the mental/spiritual, the emotional and the physical.

Complete health is health on all of these three levels, the mental/spiritual, the emotional, and the physical. Vithoulkas's definition of health of the whole being is as follows: "health is freedom from pain in the physical body, having attained a state of well-being; freedom from passion on the emotional level, having as a result a dynamic state of serenity and calm; and freedom from selfishness in the mental sphere, having as a result total unification with Truth."

Now, there are very few people in the world today who experience complete health. In fact, we see disease at every level, the physical, emotional and mental/spiritual. We see selfishness, emotional fanaticism and turbulence, anger, rage, hatred, anxiety, depression and an epidemic of chronic physical diseases causing untold suffering in the lives of millions.

At the same time, we see an increasing interest in fitness, health, wellness, self-help psychology, and the interaction of body and mind. People are striving for better health, physically and mentally and emotionally. We also see what has been called a spiritual revolution, with more and more people actively seeking spiritual meaning in their lives.

We live in a time which reminds me of what Charles Dickens stated in the opening of his great novel, A Tale of Two Cities "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

Amidst the crime and violence, the terrible diseases, and the suffering, we live in a time of great enlightenment and positive self-development.

According to the great psychologist Dr. Alfred Adler, men and women are goal-striving organisms, and the striving is for perfection. Since we can never perfect the human this striving never ceases. Consequently, when we are truly alive, we are in a process of change and self-transcendence.

We overcome one problem only to find another. We move onward and upward in growth. We seek health and well-being on all levels. As Dr. Scott Peck stated in his best-selling book The Road Less Traveled "It is through the pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn." He also stated that the "tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human mental illness." Discomfort and pain at any level can be the prods to move us forward in our growth, forcing us to change when we would rather not. The human resists change. However, when the pain or discomfort becomes great enough people become receptive to making changes in order to get themselves out of the pain. It has been said that the only thing constant in the universe is change, and it has also been said that the only difference between a rut and a grave is a matter of a few feet. Think about it, if you are in a rut, do you really feel truly alive?

As we strive for health, the homeopathic view of health can help us to evaluate our condition on all levels.

Health On The Mental Level
The mental state of being is the most crucial in the existence of an individual. One should have the following qualities in order to be considered mentally healthy: clarity, coherence and creativity. If any of these qualities are missing or reduced, the person is ill at the mental level. A completely diseased mind is characterized by confusion, disunity and distraction.

Health On The Emotional Level
A person is ill on the emotional level to the extent he or she continually experiences, is trapped by, and expresses negative feelings such as anger, jealousy, sadness, hatred, fanaticism. All human beings of course, experience negative feelings. However, there is a difference between a person occasionally having these negative feelings and identifying them and then processing and releasing them, and a person who continually contains and/or expresses negative feelings.

Health On The Physical Level
Health in the physical body is freedom from pain, discomfort, and weakness. None of the organs are limited and there is no sense of negative awareness of the body.

It is important to use mental discipline to stay positive no matter what obstacle, catastophe, hardship and sorrow comes our way; although this takes determination and self-control, it is an essential habit for maintaining mental health.

As a once practicing psychotherapist, I know the importance of acknowledging and not suppressing negativity at the mental and emotional levels when they manifest in us. However, we can immediately replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. I do not advocate suppression. I advocate the development of mental, emotional and physical habit patterns that lead to health. We know in order to be physically fit, we must exercise regularly. To be emotionally and mentally healthy we must use the same discipline on the mental and emotional levels as we do on the physical level.

These are just a few of the keys to health:

  1. Exercise regularly.
  2. Have a disciplined diet, eating foods that are healthy and nutritious.
  3. Be open to the many alternative methods of healing that are available today.
  4. Also value the contributions of traditional medicine.
  5. Don't suppress negative thoughts, but replace them with positive thoughts.
  6. Surround yourself with positive thinking people, and people who are striving to be positive. You can do this through friendships, groups, books, audiotapes, and with carefully selected television programs, videos, and movies.
  7. Get in touch with your feelings. Be able to identify what you are feeling, positive or negative.
  8. Don't suppress negative emotions, but don't vent them inappropriately either. Learn to process these emotions and release them in therapy, in support groups or with good friends. Do not condemn and judge your negative emotions, they are normal to the human condition.


I heard recently about the results of a survey of people who say that they are very happy and fulfilled in life. These people had four common characteristics: self-esteem, self-control, optimism, and extroversion.


Self-control (or self-discipline) is not only foundational to happiness, it is foundational to health on all levels. On the physical level, we can witness the beautifully contoured and fit bodies of those who use self-discipline in body building. The same results can be obtained on the mental and emotional levels through self-discipline. It is very uplifting to be in the presence of someone who is truly positive and optimistic. And I think that many of these people will tell you that they have had to make an effort to stay positive when bad things happen in their lives. This requires discipline. It is also very uplifting to be in the presence of someone who is truly serene and at peace. I know people who have used great discipline to develop these qualities, using such techniques as meditation, prayer, or conscious effort to work on their emotions in therapy. 


In conclusion, health and disease exist on all levels of being. Optimum health is achieved through honest self-examination, striving, self-discipline and self-improvement. We seek health to better be able to express ourselves creatively at all levels and contribute to the community each in our own unique way. By cultivating optimism and serenity, even though we may have physical health problems that are hard to change, we can reach a level of health on the mental and emotional levels. This, in turn, will help us to live gracefully and positively even with physical limitations. 


Joan Holman is a marketing and public relations consultant and independent television and video producer. She works with individuals and businesses helping them achieve success. Joan has a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology from the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Minnesota. In addition to her background in marketing and producing, Joan has experience as a psychotherapist and college psychology instructor. She gives free advice for business and personal success on her web site on the Internet ( Her latest project is getting her clients to market themselves on the Internet. 

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