Monday, July 11, 2016

Merging Buddhism with Holistic Health: Seeing physical health challenges as a journey to wellness rather than a struggle with illness

Both Buddhism and holistic health have the belief that there is a purpose for everything we experience, including the stuff that in the moment is awful or even full-blown tragedy. Every death, illness, life transition, challenge at work, and relationship struggle is an opportunity to learn something new, to create value in our own lives and learn to help others who are undergoing similar challenges.

For me, Nichiren Buddhism has proved to be the missing link that has enabled me to begin to fully apply what I’ve learned over the past few years from my holistic health specialist, Cindy Dillon. Holistic health involves fully synthesizing your mind, body, spirit, and emotions, and understanding that we need to create harmony on all four levels to be truly healthy. Adding to this the idea of being the master of my own karma (rather than an instrument of some larger being from whom I have passively received a destiny I must make the best of) has proved to be the glue I needed to really integrate these four levels into one cohesive system.

Through my synergy of holistic health and Buddhism, I’ve progressed more in the past year and a half than I had in the previous ten years of my life. This has been exhilarating, while at the same time it has come with a great deal of pain.

Grief has been a major theme for me this year. Through my grieving process, I’ve been able to develop a stronger sense of gratitude for the positive influence the people who physically left my life lately have had on me, and I have grown closer to some key people I’d been taking for granted for a while. On the flip side, how I’ve physically handled the energies of my own grief and stress this year have contributed to another major theme of 2016: Illness.

Late last month, I finally spoke with Cindy about the gradually-increasing amount of pain I’d been in since late April, which until then I’d just assumed was a prolonged response to this year’s stress. Cindy identified an imbalance in my gastro-intestinal system, which was creating a lot of extra waste products my body was not handling properly, thus causing me pain and a general sense of not being well.

If I’d gone to a medical specialist, I would have been given diagnostic labels, put through expensive tests, and given pharmaceutical drugs that probably would have created new problems for me, in addition to the dehumanizing effect of treating my body like a malfunctioning machine. Cindy instead recommended a combination of Standard Process supplements, including nutritional and probiotic support. Since my body had been out of whack for so long, this did not provide a quick fix—Instead, my digestive system freaked out in a different direction, leaving me feeling worse in the short-term, as my body works hard to create a new norm.

Instead of feeling disheartened and frustrated, I’ve decided to treat this as a journey to wellness rather than as a struggle with illness. Imbalance in one system is echoed in the other three systems, so I know that my journey is about far more than improving my physical health.

I’ve been diving deep into my soul-depths and my own karmic storehouse in my past few posts, and I’ve decided to continue this momentum for a while. Through this process I have been gradually increasing my courage to talk about things I’ve always had difficulty sharing outside of one-on-one conversations, and even then often with much self-consciousness and unnecessary shame.

When we’re going through upsetting health challenges, it’s easy to feel like our issues are unique, and that people will misunderstand and judge us—leading many of us to suffer in silence. My intention is that by reading about how I’m confronting my old fears and shame regarding health on all four levels, you will learn something that can help you in confronting your own demons, whatever they are.

If you’ve stuck around to read more than one of my posts, that probably means you already resonate with some or much of how I see the world, so I’m confident that you will find some value here.

"If you light a lantern for another, it will also brighten your own way."    (Nichiren Daishonin)

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Image: "Blue Halflight Surfer" by Karla Joy Huber, 2007; Berol Prismacolor marker and Sharpie marker

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