With more information coming out every day about the dangers and complications associated with mainstream allopathic medicine, it’s no wonder that people are looking elsewhere for guidance on what they need to do to stay healthy. Indeed, the holistic health movement is burgeoning, despite backlash and propaganda from “Big Pharma” and other mainstream medical outlets.
It is estimated that almost half of all Americans are already utilizing alternative medical practices, and this number is only expected to increase.
It’s worth asking, why? If the mainstream medical industry truly has the “monopoly” on health that they claim they do, wouldn’t people be flocking to them in droves, instead of the other way around?
Why would people be risking their lives experimenting with herbal supplements and bizarre Eastern treatments if the pills and surgeries of typical Western medicine actually worked as billed?
Well that’s just it. These “treatments” aren’t working in the slightest. Americans are sicker than ever. More pills are being sold than ever. Hospital bills are at record highs, yet more people are dying of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.
For the first time in decades, the average life expectancy in the United States has actually gone down instead of up. With all of these “medical marvels” and “the best doctors in the world” at our disposal, wouldn’t it stand to reason that we would be the healthiest people on Earth?
We all know that’s not the case, and that’s why holistic health techniques have been flourishing.
People are starting to wake up and realize that there’s more to health than pills and fad diets.
The countless success stories of alternative medicine and holistic living are testament to that fact, but not everyone knows how to begin. Just what constitutes holistic living, and what do you have to do to get there?
Here’s 5 key steps that will set you on the holistic health path.
1. Health Begins With What You Eat
If you are suffering from any kind of illness, be it skin rashes, digestion problems, thin blood, auto-immune issues, or even crippling diseases like Osteoporosis and cancer, you’re not going to find health in a chemical-laden pill or destructive allopathic medical surgery.
At best you will find intermittent relief from a few symptoms, at the cost of more bodily complications down the road.
To truly understand health and how to achieve a holistic balance in your life, you must understand the role food plays in the wellness of your body. Diet is without a doubt the most important factor in determining disease, even more so than genetics and environment. If your health is suffering, you need only look at your dinner plate for the answers.
If you want to start on an holistic path, you’re going to have to eat in accordance with your biology.
Holistic living is rooted in what’s natural. If your life seems out of sorts and you’re looking for the culprit, it’s likely because you have been living too long out-of-sync with the natural order.
This is a problem that is absolutely plaguing our society. Far too much of what we do is unnatural, and these actions transpose onto our health and happiness, leaving us sick and unfulfilled.
Part of this is our diets, of course. Instead of eating what we were biologically meant to eat, we have taken to eating meat, dairy, and processed foods, all substances that never should enter the body of homo sapiens. Unnatural physical action leads to a breakdown in overall quality of life, on every level.
You can’t live your purpose if your body is sick, your mind is muddled, your emotions all over the place. This is the result of eating what we were not meant to eat.
Humans are frugivorous apes. Our natural diet is comprised of fruits, vegetables, vegetation, and the occasional root and tuber. Though we can eat grains without much of an issue, they are not optimal for us. Fruits are by and large supposed to be our primary source of food.
How many people who claim they want to live a happy, healthy life can say that they are eating what they are supposed to eat in order to make their bodies happy?
This is where we have a huge disconnect. You can’t expect to live in balance and have an holistic life if you force your body to eat and digest substances that slowly kill us.
Meat and dairy, full of acidic animal protein, is a slow poison for us. Our bodies, alkaline in nature, must leech minerals from our bones just to dampen the acidity of meat when it is being digested. Add to that, it is full of fats that clog our arteries, and toxic energy from the act of slaughter, and you have the perfect recipe for disease and imbalances.
High Vibration Versus Low Vibration Foods
Despite how this sounds, it’s not some New Age mumbo jumbo or abstract concept. Let’s look at animal diet behaviors in the wild.
First of all, everything on Earth has adapted to a certain diet over millions of years. Bodily physiology evolved alongside different kinds of available food for different species, and thus, each animal on Earth is crafted for a specific diet.
Remember, biology dictates diet, nothing else. Not belief, tradition, taste, fads, or anything else. The only indicator as to what we should be using to fuel our bodies can be found by looking at our teeth, jaws, tongues, stomach acidity, intestinal length, and body chemistry. That’s it, period, end of story.
In that regard, then, the human being is a plant-eater, specifically a frugivore, or fruit-eater.
We were not biologically designed to eat meat.
There’s simply no arguing this point. We can’t rend the flesh off of a live animal, we can’t bit through its hide, the thought of digging our snouts in warm bloody organs is absolutely anathema to us. We sweat like herbivores, chew like herbivores, digest like herbivores, even sleep like herbivores. No getting around it.
But there’s another side to this issue that is even more complex, and is at the heart of what it means to feed our bodies for health instead of modern trends or convenience.
The vast majority of all animals on Earth evolved / adapted to only consume living food.
What exactly does this mean? Living food? Well, think about it. In the wild, fruits are eaten right off the tree, when they are fresh, vibrant and alive. There is cellular activity. Electromagnetism. Energy.
Foliage is eaten right from the ground or from branches, roots are munched on while still growing and alive.
Even carnivores do this: they eat other animals alive, or just after they had been slain, when there is still cellular activity, nutrients existing in a living, digestible state. Few animals are true necrovores, or the eaters of the dead. Even a vulture eats a dead animal after only a few hours after it has been killed. Bacteria don’t so much eat as they do “break down” minerals and compounds.
Only human beings, in their present state, fall into the category of “necrovore.” We eat dead food. It’s no longer alive, it has no cellular activity, no movement, no electromagnetic processes, just inert compounds in a form that is barely digestible for our bodies.
Is it any wonder why we are so unhealthy?
Even most of the nutrients present inside a given fruit or vegetable become extremely difficult to digest after a certain point, because all of the living compounds that surround them are dead. There’s no way for the body to assimilate this dead hunk of matter.
It can only digest to the best of its ability and extract what it can. Hence the reason why most of the West is severely vitamin and mineral deficient, with Vitamin supplements being one of the all time best selling health products.
And yet, disease is still rampant.
If you consume death, what can only possibly follow is disease.
The terms “high vibration” and “low vibration” refer to both the physical electromagnetic cellular activity present in a food, as well as its subatomic activity. This is an essential component to food: the point of eating is to fuel your body.
There are many kinds of “fuel” that we need in order to be healthy on an holistic, not just base physical level.
This includes calories, vitamins, fats, minerals, phyto-nutrients, and water. Animals have adapted over the course of millions of years and came to depend on the electro-chemical energy that a living food offers.
On the other hand, processed, preserved, cooked, and stale food is what we call “low vibration,” or dead food.
There are no beneficial electro-chemical processes occurring in it. The nutrients are inert, and many become putrid and extremely difficult for our bodies to digest and make use of.
The longer something has to sit on a shelf or be “preserved,” the more “dead” and useless it becomes. Also, foods that were never really “food” to begin with, such as processed foods derived completely from enriched bleached wheat and synthetic chemicals, are nothing but filler. You will destroy your body eating this kind of food over time.
If you want to start impacting your health and your overall quality of life in order to strive for an holistic balance, begin with what you eat.
There’s no way you can expect balance in your life if you consume what is unbalanced to begin with. This much should be obvious.
2. Herbal Remedies For Sustained Wellness
One of the most interesting and powerful relationships that ever formed on Earth is the one between plants and animals. Most people, even many scientists, have no idea how deep the bond is between these two kingdoms of life.
Virtually every living thing on this planet evolved with at least one symbiotic relationship to another living thing in its opposing kingdom.
Plants and animals help each other in a myriad of ways, from shelter, to seed propagation, to protection, to cleaning, and everything in between. One of the most powerful ways this symbiotic relationship has benefited animals is that of the potency of plant compounds and how they are able to heal the body.
Somewhere along the line, many plants took it upon themselves to develop compounds that could greatly benefit animals, including us.
Plants produce potent pain relievers, bowel cleansers, blood thinners and clotters, anti-bacterial and anti-septic substances, and even ways of fighting of the signs of aging and cellular decay.
We know these natural chemical compounds as herbal remedies.
Though they are not necessary for our health, it should be noted that in the wild, we wouldn’t so much be making the distinction between plants that “feed” us and plants that “heal” us.
Though an herbal remedy is often prepared differently than food, such as in a salve or lotion, or even a powder, its role is to supply our cells with substances that holistically heal the body in some manner.
Sustained wellness can be achieved by listening to the body and researching the compounds of certain herbs that are known to provide a solution.
See, it greatly benefits plants to provide both “food” and “healing” to us, thus the distinction can be blurred.
For example, we typically refer to blueberries as food. They are tasty and provide us with calories and nutrients.
We can also digest them very easily – they are in a sense our optimal kind of food. However, a blueberry also contains numerous kinds of healing compounds that can be turned into so-called herbal remedies.
A blueberry itself possesses numerous antioxidants, which balance and heal our cells. They also promote healthy digestion and brain function. Indeed, the vitamins and phytonutrients inside of plants are what make them powerful healing instruments, because we evolved in such a manner as to make use of them.
In this respect, herbal remedies are part and partial to the holistic lifestyle.
If you are seeking to live a more holistic life, incorporating herbal medicine into your life follows naturally.
It should be noted that in most cases, herbal compounds only aid the body in what it is already doing or supposed to be doing when healthy. There is a misconception out there that herbs somehow just “cure” diseases.
This is the result of false perception generated by our mainstream medical industry, which just sees everything in black and white: diseases and cures. The subject of medicine and illness is far more complex, and as any holistic heath practitioner knows, ALL health is on a spectrum.
Illness and disease are the result of poor nutrition, first and foremost, and thus introducing the right plant-based nutrients and compounds automatically combats the illness.
This is why holistic health is so powerful. It analyzes health and disease from the proper angles, and treats everything accordingly.
An herb is not administered to miraculously “cure” a disease (which most people only know as a collection of symptoms anyway), but as a means for the body to repair itself and do what is necessary to fix the underlying issue, so that the symptoms (the manifested labelled disease) vanish.
3. Physical Activity is Crucial For a Healthy Body
When on the topic of life balance and holistic health, it’s impossible not to talk about physical activity. In our society we tend to look at “exercise” as some kind of optional hobby rather than an essential need, but if health and happiness are the goal, your body is going to require the same kind of physical activity it would have in nature.
First of all, we have nothing in common with the more “sedentary” animals. It’s clear that we were originally from a tropical or subtropical climate, we don’t have the inclination or biology for extended hibernation, and unlike carnivores and omnivores, we are not required to sleep for most of the day in order to conserve energy. Indeed, like other monkeys and apes, we were biologically designed to stay moving and use all of our muscles in tandem on a regular basis.
No matter how hard we might think we can try, you can’t fight millions of years of biological progress just because “the gym is not for you,” or “exercise isn’t fun.” These are mentalities that tend to arise when unbalances are present in the body and the metabolism is slowed unnaturally.
You will notice that the vast majority of all people who are continuously fulfilled in life, always inwardly happy and content, and physically well, exert themselves physically on a regular basis.
Our bodies are meant for movement and muscle use. Without physical exertion, the body breaks down.
When exercising and using the body, you push its limits and encourage growth of new cells. You expand the muscles and encourage new cellular growth, you keep the “fire” of your metabolism at its peak, which aids in fast digestion, absorption of nutrients, the release of toxins through sweat, as well as organ toning and mental wellness.
Many of the compounds that the body uses to regulate mood and our sleep patterns are tied to physical activity.
Without regular stress being put on the body physically, depression, anxiety, lethargy, insomnia, and other mental and emotional imbalances are likely to occur. In my own personal findings, upwards to half of all people who suffer from chemical imbalances like the kind that result in depression can “cure” their ailment simply with the introduction of more B Vitamins and exercise.
The body breaks down when it doesn’t get what it needs, and that includes on the emotional and mental levels.
In order to illustrate this phenomenon further, let’s look at animals kept in captivity. It’s a widely known fact now that most mammals and many other kinds of animals do not do well when living a sedentary, confined life.
They become depressed, develop diseases, and can even get mood swings and lash out.
Large animals that are kept in zoos and farm often become despondent, detached, and angry. Their lifespans are often a fraction of what they could be, and they tend to develop “human” kinds of illnesses, such as bone density loss, heart problems, and cancers.
This is because they are not able to properly work their bodies.
Larger animals such as elephants and whales are especially prone to these kinds of issues, because often they are not able to be given the proper sized habitat when kept in captivity. The same can be said for many reptiles and amphibians, who are kept in extremely small, confined, and dirty living conditions.
There is no better description of modern human living than “captivity.”
We spend the vast majority of every day cooped up inside, never exposed to the sun, and never using our bodies. We eat a lot of junk and hardly burn the calories we intake. This results in a slowed metabolism over time, and the eventual breakdown of the body.
Mood imbalances and disease are the only possible result.
This “modern day captivity” is very real. Just because you go to the gym for treadmill exercise 40 minutes a day and take an occasional jog around the block, doesn’t mean you aren’t in a self-inflicted captivity. Animals are often given little bits of “open space” time, but it does very little for their body or their psyche.
What Constitutes Proper Physical Exertion?
Clearly, you can’t expect to mimic what we would be doing in nature by doing a 20 minute aerobic session 3 times a week, or playing around on a couple “exercise machines” when the mood strikes every once in awhile.
In order to give your body what it needs, and truly reclaim your health and live a complete, holistic life, you’re going to need to build you body.
And that means using and tearing muscle. Actually toning your body.
This is the part of holistic living that turns some people off.
Changing to a plant-based diet, limiting negative thoughts and people, even drinking exotic herbal teas and meditating. These are things people willingly adopt, but they don’t want to cross into the land of physical exertion. “It’s too hard,” “I’m too lazy,” “I’m not built for it,” are just some of the many excuses we tell ourselves.
The honest truth of the matter is though, holistic health can’t be achieved if your idea of physical exertion is walking your dog or your 10-minute morning blast of yoga. Yes every bit does help, and statistics do prove that even as little as 15 minutes of exercise at a gym a few times a week can increase your lifespan.
But if you want the full, holistic experience, you have to take it to the next level. There’s more to exercise than increasing heart rate.
Your goals should be to challenge your body, tear and build muscle, strengthen your bones and joints, stimulate your brain, connect with yourself, sweat, and get your body to release the right compounds.
Natural, holistic living means your body is more than just a vehicle that gets you to work and let’s you watch Netflix. True health is about so much more.
It is for this reason why many paths of holistic living, such as yoga and martial arts, stress the importance of “the Way of Work,” or activity as a way of challenging and balancing body and mind.
Physical exertion is a tool of mental focus, and allows the body to burn calories, sweat out substances it doesn’t want, and keep the “fire of the furnace” (your metabolism) at peak burn. You want your core to be a blaze, able to digest and absorb anything you throw at it rapidly without any chance of gaining weight or having digestive issues. You will achieve this by working your body out every day.
Don’t let your goal to be weight loss, weight gain, muscle gain, or anything else.
Just challenge yourself. Life bigger weights, and do so consistently every day. Do pushups and dips, especially if all you are used to are aerobic workouts. Take up yoga, real yoga, and get into the habit of stretching your limbs, balancing, and supporting your body in complex poses for extended periods of time. Learn to enjoy running and biking, and take up some kind of martial art.
Even if you start small, the important thing is that you challenge your body. Don’t workout for arbitrary goals like weight loss. People that do this count a certain amount of calories while they are on a treadmill and then call it a day. That can hardly be called a workout. That’s not mimicking nature, it’s actually making a mockery of it.
We were not designed to be sloths.
Think about it. We are an animal that by design would be living at home in trees.
Every waking minute we would be climbing, swinging, balancing adeptly.
We would be using our raw upper body strength to hoist ourselves up through the boughs of trees. We would be moving a good portion of every day, playing around, searching for food, exploring. This is why chimpanzees and bonobos are so outrageously strong for their size and stature.
If you notice, most animals, even small ones like raccoons, seem to possess an “animalistic” strength to them. They can wrestle away from us, move much faster than us, climb trees at will, even push us around.
Most men are a match for large dogs, for instance, and they are domesticated.
No human is much of a match for an adult chimpanzee.
This is all due largely to our disconnection from nature. We have let our bodies waste away. And we wonder why we are depressed, anxiety-ridden, confused, apathetic, and lost. We’re not living how we’re supposed to live, it’s as simple as that.
Work the body, build it, make it strong.
Your mood will be much higher, your health will soar, and you’ll never look back.
4. The Body Reflects The Mind: Meditation and It’s Link to Living Holistically
You can only live holistically if you are “holistic” on the inside.
By that I mean, are you happy and content? Are you healthy not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well?
One of the biggest roadblocks people have toward living an holistic lifestyle is that they believe they must chase some kind of happiness or fulfillment outside of themselves. Some kind of New Age club, a particular diet, an enlightening book series, a religion.
They believe that they need to “find” something and live through it, in order to get where they want and be truly happy and content.
This is not the reality, however. No matter where you are and what you are doing in life, happiness and contentment can only ever be found by looking inside yourself and tearing down the ego, so as to associate with your Self at all times.
What exactly does this mean? To tear down the ego?
Though this isn’t a topic much discussed in mainstream channels, it is the ego mind that is responsible for all of our hangups and discontent. Be it emotional trauma, jealousy, anger issues, false beliefs, passive-aggressiveness, narcissism, or arrogance, these issues all arise from an association with the ego.
Hence the reason why deep spiritual traditions place such an emphasis on “destroying the ego.”
This is just a fancy way of saying, “get rid of your hangups.”
Meditation is a tool that has been used for thousands of years to help people cope with themselves.
As you learn to quiet the mind and associate not with your errant thoughts, but with your Self, you get a clearer picture of who you are and thus can work through your emotional and mental problems. And to be sure, most people have ego-related hangups that need to be worked through.
Everyone benefits from meditation – there are very few people on Earth that can say with a straight face that they are without ego.
It takes years of chipping away at societal constructs and false perception, as well as the beliefs we hold about ourselves that are wrong: that we are not worthy of love, that we are weak, that we are sinful, that we are dirty, that we are selfish.
These “embedded” beliefs are imprinted on us from an early age, and we carry their burden with us into adulthood. These false perceptions then guide our actions and emotional responses, resulting in wrong-thinking and discontent.
In order to live an holistic life, the stigmas and constructs of the ego must be relinquished. It isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s a must. How can you be truly happy and at peace when you always have a little voice in your head trying to sabotage everything?
That is the best way to describe it: the ego is the arbiter of sabotage.
Everything could be apparently fine in your life: nice home, lots of trinkets, loving spouse, and yet you feel unfulfilled. You chase highs and entertainment. You wake up apathetic. You feel confused and even afraid at times. You get moody for no reason.
These are all typical signs of modern day discontent, and arise because the ego has its own wants and needs apart from your own.
You will never truly find peace in your life if you allow the ego to call the shots.
It is for this reason that meditation is basically a must.
You can start simple, by sitting upright in a quiet, dark place and allowing your mind to still. By breathing deeply and evenly, you can search for peace and give your mind time to work through its tangled mess of thoughts and emotions.
Over time you may increase the length with which you attempt stillness of thought, and you can work on suspending your breath and performing more complex, enriching meditations.
One thing is certain, however.
Mastery of the body, and therefore your everyday life, cannot be achieved without mastery of the mind. You can’t allow errant thoughts and the whims of circumstance and emotion dictate your mood or distort your perception. This is a recipe for discontent and even malaise in your life.
You can have health, and even success, but without that inner peace and contentment, you’re always going to be chasing something, longing for something. This is what leads people into corrupted religions and bizarre groups, cults, associations, and vices.
The seeking of fulfillment outside of oneself, when the answers are always within.
5. Clean The Clutter From Your Life
This final key to living holistically may seem unimportant, but you’d be surprised how it can transform your life.
Part of living holistically is not having hangups and attachments, and many of us are guilty of being far too attached to menial objects that really don’t have any value. Guaranteed there are hundreds of objects in most homes that we could live perfectly fine without.
It might seem harmless to keep them around, but what many holistic professionals have found over the years is that, a cluttered house is often indicative of a troubled mind and heart.
The ego tends to place a lot of “weight” on arbitrary things: old books, stuff that comes in the mail (this came for us, have to keep it!), knickknacks, broken things, old appliances.
Keeping these useless objects around is a sign of attachment, which means the ego is dictating your actions and placing value on things outside of your Self. This can only ever lead to imbalances and emotional issues down the road.
For example, what happens when that arbitrary box of junk gets water damaged during a storm? Some people may write it off and shrug, but others with more attachment will cry, eat themselves up, hold regret.
They may even be angry and let the event dictate their future behavior, by seeking to hoard more objects in a “safer location,” or resort to “water-proofing” their basements or attics, costing money and unnecessary drama.
Do you see the connection between attachment and emotional upset?
The two are intimately connected. Indeed, attachment almost necessitates emotional imbalances, because the act of being attached to something outside of yourself is in and of itself a symptom of a weak and troubled mind.
One of the most power acts of personal healing is to take the physical clutter in one’s life and do away with it consciously and happily. For some this can be difficult, especially if some of the objects had some kind of sentimental value, but almost invariably, the person feels better after the deed is done, because it is one less thing to subconsciously “worry about.”
The ego is always toiling in the background, finding ways to sneak its tendrils of emotion out and wrap them around concepts, objects, events, people, and other emotions. By proxy, the fewer “things” there are to arbitrarily cling to, the better.
Cleaning out the clutter in your personal space also seems to have other, less tangible benefits. Clean, minimalist spaces have long been associated with meditative peace and “lighter energy.” Let me explain.
In spiritual traditions all over the world, a holy place or spot for meditation and ritual would typically be “cleaned” physically before being blessed spiritually. While the latter is a topic for another time, we know that physically cleaning a space gives it a lighter feeling.
This is due in part because it rids the space of excess subatomic dross (that may or may not have negative charges), as well as it “lightens” the person doing the cleaning, by allowing them to let go of attachments. The process of physically cleaning out a space is an altogether holistic one.
You may notice that it is standard practice for many places of meditation and deep holistic practice to be very minimalist. The fewer things for the mind to focus on, the better.
This has the secondhand effect of making actual physical cleaning and maintaining of a home easier.
The fewer things to arrange, dust, look after, fix, and put away after use, the better. It’s less “busy work,” less aggravation, and less mental lifting in general.
Hence, the cleaning of your personal space can be said to be the “icing on the cake” of living an holistic life. The practice seeks to reflect outwardly what you are developing on the inside: a peaceful place devoid of clutter.
Starting the Holistic Path
Making dramatic life changes are not as difficult as you may think.
Cut back on meat and dairy, eat more fruits and vegetables, get outside more, do fifty pushups every morning before breakfast (then go to 100 when you feel stronger!), meditate every night, have a yard sale and get rid of all the excess junk in your life.
These small changes DO add up.
You may notice results in only a few weeks.
Even merely switching your diet from a typical Western one, to a vegan or mostly vegan one, can skyrocket your health and allow to feel much happier and fulfilled simply because you’ll be less worried about and attached to the state of your body.
Don’t think that because you’ve been discontent and searching for that inner peace and fulfillment all your life that it is out of your reach.
It doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or 50.
Yes, senior citizens adopt vegan lifestyles and start doing yoga and see dramatic changes in their health and well-being for the better.
Anyone can take a stand and live a happy, fulfilled life, it just takes making the conscious decision to do it. No excuses, no delays.
And remember, even the smallest steps forward are better than remaining where you are.
Think about trying meatless Mondays, visit an animal sanctuary every now and then and begin to connect with nature, make a conscious effort to think positive and not let daily events dictate your mood.
You have the ability to live holistically at a moment’s notice. Just take that step forward and you’ll be surprised where you end up if you stay on track.
This essay was adapted from my book, Fundamentals of Holistic Health. If you are interested in truly taking your health to the next level and living a life of abundance, I strongly recommend picking it up and absorbing all the information provided. Remember, you have the ability to live a healthy life anytime.
The founder of Digital Sages, Matt has an extensive background in self-mastery and has authored several books on the subject. His goal is to demystify important esoteric subjects and help people transform their lives through self-awareness and personal empowerment.