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What Do We Really Mean by “Healing” in Complementary and Alternative Medicine?

Updated: Apr 8, 2023

‘Healing’ is one of my favourite words. It is a beautiful word with a beautiful meaning and it has a lot of positive energy attached to it because healing is happening naturally, all around us and inside us, all the time.

Healing means ‘to make healthy, whole, or sound; restore to health; free from ailment’ – Oxford Dictionary

The origin of the word is ‘restoration to health," Old English hæling, verbal noun from heal (v.) Figurative sense of "restoration of wholeness" is from early 13c.; meaning "touch that cures" is from 1670s.’ – Online Etymology Dictionary

Healing holistically, to become healthy in mind, body and spirit (whole) is a process. It’s a journey. It takes time. It can hurt. It is personal to you and only you can choose to heal yourself, nobody else can do this for you. Healing holistically is healing the ‘wounds’ of the mind, body and spirit, which collectively will lead to us becoming whole again. A lot of people have deep mental and emotional wounds that have not healed, even further back than childhood (gestational and ancestral). You may have heard of inner child healing. This is a form of therapy or self-help that takes your mind back to yourself as a child, so you can heal the wounds, and therefore heal the wounds of the adult self. This may also take some form of therapy such as psychotherapy.

I like to use the analogy of a jigsaw; when we heal our life, we are simply putting all the pieces of our jigsaw back together in the right place, thus making us whole and complete. Very often healing comes at a time when you do shatter into pieces, whether that is following a breakdown or a wake-up call of some sort. Each person that has healed their life will have a different story, and it will be something personal to them that triggered the entire healing process. Once you have healed the whole self, it is then much easier to heal as you go along. You will be more resilient and less resistant. You will get a sense of flow, ease and greater peace of mind. Your heart will fill with gratitude more easily. You will view the world differently. Healing can be likened to a spiritual path or awakening. They all tie in together making up a new way of life. I am speaking from personal experience, studies and the experiences of clients, friends and colleagues. “Healing” is something that is becoming more well-known and crossing over into mainstream medicine more and more, which is music to my ears. I heard a podcast recently with Dr Catherine Zollman, a GP and medical director at Penny Brohn UK, and she talked about various topics regarding the integration of holistic and conventional methods of medicine. It was inspiring and uplifting. You can find this on “The Doctor’s Kitchen” podcast.

Healing is something our body has the ability to do naturally, but only with the right internal and external environment. Often, we restrict the body’s capacity and ability to heal because we put so much strain and pressure on it physically (even down to posture) and with toxins and negative energy.

Emotional blockages can also prevent natural healing from happening because the built-up energy begins to ‘spill over’. Healing is positive flowing energy, so when it is up against a negative force, it has resistance to contend with, therefore making it more difficult for the body to reach and maintain a state of balance (homeostasis). It is important to note than when we are not balanced and our body is under stress, this can cause disease. It is much like anything and everything in nature; a plant or an animal needs the right environment to grow and flourish. If it doesn’t have the right environment, it suffers, wilts away, gets disease etc.

Let me put you at ease by saying resistance to healing is normal for the majority of people in western societies. If you think about the things we are faced with on a daily basis and what we put our body’s through (not necessarily by choice) is it any wonder we need some help and guidance in this area? We have been conditioned to think and behave in certain ways since birth without regard for the consequences, which is often to the detriment of our health and wellbeing. You may have seen my last blog on being ‘part of the global awakening’ which goes into more detail on this.

The mind body connection is very real, and thankfully science is finally catching up with what healers have known for millennia. When our mind holds on to stress, trauma and negative thoughts or experiences, this manifests in the physical body. So, while our body is working round the clock to heal and replenish itself, it almost becomes stuck at that point where the emotional self is clinging on (usually this is a contributor to anxiety and depression). Now this is not to say you can force blocked emotions out and let go of trauma easily. It can take time, guidance, awareness, nurturing, love and patience. Also, you may not be consciously aware of these blockages and when they manifest as illness you could be wondering “why me?”, which then leads to the wake-up call/find a cure state. We can learn to regulate, balance and actually feel our emotions so they never become stuck. We can learn to find balance using our own healing system and when it flows, we grow - in more ways than you can imagine! We build resilience and cultivate compassion towards ourselves and others.

I talk more about this and guide listeners on their own healing journey in podcast episodes 3, 4 and 5 of season 1. These make up part of the free remote healing sessions I created due to my face to face therapies being limited during the pandemic. They each have some self-reflection opportunities and a guided meditation, so definitely check them out if you want a deeper understanding and some guidance with your own emotional health and inner healing. See what you discover about yourself.

Emotional Health is Often Overlooked

In scientific terms, our internal healing system is made up of the parasympathetic nervous system (part of the autonomic nervous system) and other body systems such as the immune system and endocrine system, which are all integrated to bring our body into ‘rest and repair’ mode, regulate hormones, balance emotions, cleanse the body of toxins and protect us from disease. Stress is the number one cause of disease because it shuts off the parasympathetic nervous system (the internal healing system) and keeps the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) active. I just want to add a bit about retreats here because when you go on retreat, you escape stressors. This is a great way to force yourself into a mode of healing if you struggle to do this in your everyday life, or on a conventional holiday. UHE retreats are led and structured in such a way that they encourage you to let go and heal, without resistance. This is the sole purpose of our retreats; to facilitate holistic healing, which in turn helps you to reach and maintain a state of wellbeing.

I need my own holistic therapies and space for inner healing, and for me this is not a luxury. It is absolutely an essential part of my self-care. I need to bring my body back into balance regularly to counteract the stresses and strains on my body, and I work in this industry where I am surrounded by positive energy. So, if I need that for my own health, then it is safe to say that you do too. Working in a field where you are lending an ear to others, you have to be careful that you don't become a sponge soaking up other people's problems. This is a daily practice too, through mindfulness and meditation. May be like me, you have learned the hard way with this.

It usually takes something like a physical injury to give us a wake-up call. But why do we wait for the call? Why not be in a constant state of prevention rather than cure? Why don’t we allow healing to flow like nature intended? It's all about allowing ourselves the space, and time away from distractions and this super busy modern way of life.

I am believer in the saying “know better, do better”. This doesn’t mean we need to strive for perfection, but at least we can do the best we can for ourselves to allow us a chance at the healthiest and happiest life possible. Who is with me on that?

Holistic therapies and yoga facilitate healing, but so does…

· Getting adequate, good quality sleep and rest.

· Connecting with nature by walking outside, meditating, sitting on bare ground (earth, not concrete!) and breathing in fresh air in a place that is as far away from pollution as possible.

· Eating a healthy, balanced ‘rainbow’ diet full of nutritionally dense wholefoods whilst limiting toxins such as refined sugar, alcohol, GMOs and processed foods.

· Drinking lots of water to stay hydrated and mentally alert.

· Meditating daily or practicing mindfulness throughout the day. Taking time to ‘just be’ so you can relax and focus on your breath, clear your head space and recharge.

· Connecting with others that uplift you and do not bring negative energy to you. Allow yourself to say “no” if you don’t want to be around someone that makes you feel depleted and negative.

· Laughing. Need I say more? It really is the best medicine. You can never overdose on laughter and joy!

· Moving your body to stimulate the lymphatic system and boost feel-good hormones (as well as countless other benefits).

· Being creative. When we are creative, we are usually free of time and we let go of stress and overthinking. Being creative boosts wellbeing as it gives us a sense of purpose, focus and accomplishment.

The benefits of walking out in nature are enormous

In our recent stress management course, I introduced the learners to a daily practice of 3 ‘wellbeing breaks’. This is just one of the practical solutions I advise for stress management and it works out at only 2% of your day in terms of the time investment – it is absolutely possible to maintain. To find out more about how I can help you remotely, drop me an email at and I will be happy to help.

Hoping to connect with you soon!

Much love, Rebecca

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