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Integral health

Integral healing — a personal perspective

Dr. Debabrata Sahani


Healing is not just a phenomenon confined to physician, patient and hospitals. Rather, it is an experiential reality of our very existence where survival and growth is always associated with injury and imbalance. This article explores few practical means which can be a part of our daily life. An attempt is made here to create a synthesis of different approaches of therapy to address multiple dimensions in our being, so that instead of a blind mix it becomes a conscious symphony. Above all, it invites the reader to start the journey towards health and harmony — right now.

Any attempt to describe or define integral healing will be incomplete as the human mind itself is incapable of understanding the entirety of existence of which healing is an ongoing mysterious dimension. It is available to human experience in many ways but it eludes our understanding. The moment our mind seizes one solution, the very next moment the solution creates ten more questions. Hence, instead of making an attempt to define or understand the concept with the mind, let us try sincerely to live it and experience it. This will be a much better approach for all of us who are serious about healing ourselves.

The very word ‘healing’ immediately brings a picture of injury or pain or disease. In our context, healing is predominantly associated with physical ailments. However, all modern discoveries are pointing towards a role of our psychological make-up and lifestyle in the causation as well as amelioration of the disease process. Almost every apex institute all over the world is creating space for non-physical therapeutic measures, commonly clubbed into the category of alternative medicine. In this scenario, the term integral healing is very apt and inclusive as it opens the door to new ways and measures not available now to the medical fraternity.


Healing implies that something is wrong, because if everything is fine and perfect there will be no role for healing. In the process an attempt is made to bring back a state to its natural position. Hence, we can say that integral healing is an attempt to bring back not only the physical but all dimensions of life or our existence to its normal position. And the touchstone for normalcy is pleasantness. In our body or mind or emotion, if the experience is not pleasant, it certainly calls for healing. On the other hand, anything which adds to the pleasantness is a healing process. Once we accept this, many ways open up to bring it into practice. Gradually we understand that healing is not only about medicine and surgery, it is not limited to hospitals and doctors. Many stakeholders come into play and participate in this wholesome process. Starting from the atmosphere at home and at work, food and drinks, friends and family — everything and everybody contributes or contradicts the healing process. When there are many stakeholders, possibilities for a favourable outcome increase, but the risk of recurrence will also be present.

Here comes another question. Which therapy is best suited for practising Integral Health? All therapies can be included in this path. As the human being is not a homogenous entity, one therapy may not suffice to address all the dimensions of imbalance. Moreover, the psychological and physical constitution differ from person to person, hence integral healing has to be customised for every individual. As the healer grows, newer and newer avenues will open up for him. What he practised in the past will change with time. Being so dynamic in nature, we cannot formulate a rigid framework for practising Integral Health. Yet we can fix a few guiding principles to address this issue.

The centre of the process is the healer himself. Hence he will formulate the plan of treatment based on his expertise and limitations. He has to evaluate the extent of imbalance. As each plane of our being responds differently to different modes of therapy, a combination of multiple modalities is inevitable. This does not always mean a combination of different systems, but it may be necessary at times. Hence it will be advantageous for the healer to learn the scope of all available systems in his surrounding and his ego should not get in the way if the situation demands help from some other system other than that of the healer. In fact, the real integration happens in the consciousness of the healer much before it gets into the patient. As we have already pointed out, integral healing is not about combining systems but understanding the disease-process in all dimensions of existence and dealing with it as completely as possible. As our existence is egocentric and the mind is extrovert, maximum focus goes on searching for the root of a disease in the physical body alone. All doctors encounter thousands of symptoms in their patients daily which they cannot explain on the basis of a chemical or physical change in the body. This observation constantly pushes us to look into the hidden dimensions which are a part of our being and they directly alter the condition of the physical body. Hence we must take into account the emotional and psychological make-up of the individual and its role in disease and healing. Then we can start creating a proper atmosphere for healing, involving the many stakeholders who have a role in the patient’s life. Integral healing becomes a team work, a labour of love, an orchestra involving a collective consciousness in its pursuit of a higher goal. It is not a passive process for the patient where everything depends on the medicine and a little bit on the doctor. Rather here, everyone contributes actively to the healing process. The beauty of this process is that not only the patient but all individuals involved here get an opportunity to grow.

Let us take an example of integral healing to get our ideas together. A patient comes to us with complaints of weakness, weight-loss and increased frequency of micturition. After investigation, it is found that his blood sugar has risen. In traditional medical care, a few more investigations like blood-pressure, kidney function test, lipid profile are ordered. Medicine is prescribed, starting with oral hypoglycemic, along with a calorie-restricted diet and some physical exercise. If the sugar does not come under control, insulin is given in titrated dosages till we achieve the desired level. After that, the patient is put on a regular follow-up, where the physician orders the investigations at regular intervals and adjusts the medication accordingly. This is supposed to be the end of the process.

Planes of the being

And here starts the process of integral healing. The healer accepts the intervention with modern medicine and makes no change in the initial period. He spends time with the patient to understand and evaluate the extent of disequilibrium at different planes of his being. Starting with the physical, he may evaluate the physical constitution as per Āyurveda looking for predominance of vāta, pitta or kapha. This becomes the guiding factor in formulating his diet-chart, the aim being to bring a balance in these humours. Of course, he will respect the opinion of a dietician who will calculate the calories according to the body-weight. The former decides the quality and the latter determines the quantity of food. As we move forward, he will work on the endocrine glands by suggesting a combination of āsanas suitable for the age and physical build. For this, he may send his patient to an expert in yogāsana for a methodical training.

After taking care of the physical dimensions, he would venture into the vital. This can be dealt at two levels, energy and emotions. Energy imbalance contributes greatly to causation of any disease. In this case a combination of a few prāṇayams can open up the channels in the vital body which can stimulate the pancreas. This opening of the channels can be augmented by use of acupressure and acupuncture too. If we know a person having expertise in these, we can seek his or her help. In this area, reiki and prāṇic healing can help us out too. The other aspect of vital life where true imbalance builds up is disharmony in the emotional being and any unfulfilled desires. Unless this aspect is taken care of by repeated counselling, we cannot move towards a cure. In fact, the healer will give much more attention to address this area himself. A powerful contribution to the vital body is made by homoeopathic remedies if the right rubric can be clinched. And we must realise, there is no harm in combining them with allopathic medicines as they work at completely different levels of consciousness. The only problem that comes is with the faith of the patient or the rigidity of the physician. With correct understanding, these two systems of medicine can do a great job in reinforcing harmony by augmenting the action of each other.

The next step to address in integral healing is disharmony at the mental plane. The healer enters into the psychological domain of the patient to understand the patterns of his or her mind. This includes beliefs, concepts, doubts, dilemmas, repetitive thoughts, past memories especially unpleasant ones, fear and anxieties. Most of the time, the disease originates in the inner psychological space as a conflict or unpleasant formation, prolonging for a very long period or suppressed without resolution. The healer has to deal with this problem by counselling and changing the patient’s view towards life in general and disease in particular. One has to deal with the behavioural pattern, especially the reaction to daily life situations. To train the mind one has to use logic, facts, examples and proofs. Once realised, the patient can correct its course and that can bring about a paradigm shift in healing and health.

The core

The most important dimension in integral healing is to reach the core of our existence, our inmost being which is the source of peace, light and love. Once contacted, even for a moment, all other mechanisms of healing become spontaneous. The healer uses the disease as an opportunity to bring this entity to the surface of our consciousness. This is the true seat of all harmony, the gateway to permanent health. In addition, Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga opens up the possibility of an evolution of consciousness which can hasten the process of healing. With this perspective, disease is no more a calamity, but a springboard to rise into a higher level of harmony — a harmony of the soul.

In summary, integral healing transforms disease into an occasion for the body to consciously approach the soul so that matter can reveal the face of the spirit.

Dr.DebabrataSahani, an editor of NAMAH, runs a centre for integral eye care and research at Keonjhar, Odisha, India.

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