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Respecting the Holistic Way

NOVA Magazine, Australia's Holistic Journal

When our society understands the true value of holistic wisdom, we all stand to gain, argues David Arenson 

As Western society, we seem all too quick to judge based on the critical thinking we learnt early on at school and in higher institutions of learning.

It's very natural that we become invested in our worldviews and understandings. Even our beliefs can become “religious”. Is it human nature to be this way?

The Buddha taught, "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."

What if instead of investing wholeheartedly in our beliefs, we invested in flexibility and openness? Imagine if instead of left-brained judgment being parodied, we became sovereign creators, unique belief makers, truly dynamic human beings dancing with truths, beliefs, fantasy and reality? This is to be multi-dimensional in scope, comfortable living in uncertainty.

The mistake of Western “scientific” thinking is that there is a singular truth, a singular answer that can be broken down into composite parts. The building blocks of Western civilisation have been 'reductionist' thought forms in their observance and attitude.

'Reductionism' is a practice of describing complex phenomena by reduction to their fundamental parts. As a thought practice, it tends to lend itself to 'black or white' thinking. It's not to say that reductionism is good or bad, only to say that it has its place. Yet it is not the whole picture, the big picture (that which incorporates all perspectives and understandings).

Eastern wisdom has a more developed contemplative tradition and openness for mystical exploration. Some Eastern traditions have admittedly been somewhat ambiguous and amorphous - arguably, it's the quirky and obscure parts that make for a relevant philosophy for life.

In “mainstream” Western Medicine and Science, a grain of arrogance and tendency to dismiss that which is not “scientifically proven” has developed. So-called science can even turn nasty and morph into bullying...

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Nova View:
Respect is due for holistic therapies

Ever since as a young woman I first dipped my toe into the fascinating world of holistic therapies, when I sought out homoeopathy to treat my persistent hay fever, I’ve instinctively known it was my path

Looking back now over quite a lot of years, I recognise nothing else was ever an option for me. My first cookbook was Margaret Fulton’s Wholefood Cooking and it’s still on my kitchen bookshelf.

As I browse through its much thumbed pages, the grease spots give away my favourites and I remember my quiet joy in serving up Lentil Rissoles and Cheese and Onion Oat Flan for my beloved, thankfully a man open to experimentation! My first career choice was nutrition and I was very disappointed when I found I couldn’t find a way to travel to the one university then offering the course in Perth.

Such physical limitations seem crazy now with so much accessible online. Financial limitations are another thing altogether.

Acupuncture, massage, yoga, Tai Chi, naturopathy and meditation have all added richness to my life and, I strongly feel, good health and wellbeing as well.

The reason for my little trip down memory lane is the growing pressure that’s being brought to bear on this wonderful form of medicine.

In a climate of cost cutting, anything holistic or alternative is seen as an easy target - to strip away rebates, to belittle as worthless or even more unconscionably as somehow dangerous, to devalue as “unscientific” in an official climate that appears to value only scientific rationalism.

So I’m delighted with our lead story for you this month - David Arenson’s “Respecting the Holistic Way”.

David is a very thoughtful healer based in Perth who has also been drawn to the Eastern way, which, let’s face it, has sustained such societies as China, India and Japan over thousands of years.

The Eastern approach is to see the whole person - hence holistic - and to focus on the maintenance of good health rather than focusing on curing whatever part of us has gone wrong, as we do in the West.

He, too, is very disturbed by what he calls the “rubbishing” of so many holistic therapies and points out, very astutely in my view, that spending vast sums on drug trials to profit major pharmaceutical corporations is not evidence that Qi Gong, for instance, practised in China for thousands of years for health and longevity, is worthless

Margaret EvansRead the Nova View
by Nova Editor
Margaret Evans

Margaret Evans
NOVA Editor
April 2015

Bring Back Nutrients

When we focus on nutrient density, we shift attention from diets back to healthy foods, says health researcher Peter Dingle PhD. 

In the beginning there were healthy, whole foods packed full of nutrients. Today, half the world is plagued by starvation and the other half from too much nutrient-depleted, calorie-dense food. Times have changed and so must the way we look at food, nutrition and our health. 

The modern day processed “white foods” such as sugar, bread, white rice, seed “vegetable” oils and processed breakfast foods are full of empty calories and low in nutritional value.

Unfortunately, these foods now make up a large portion of the average Western diet.

Meanwhile, most people rarely consume their required intake of fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans and other nutritious food. When they do consume vegetables, often it is in the form of over-processed potatoes without the nutrient-dense peel, and deep fried in “cholesterol and saturated fat-free over-processed vegetable oils”.

The average American, British person or Australian eats only one or two vegetables serves per day, a couple of pieces of fruit and a lot of over-processed and nutrient-depleted foods.

These nutrient-depleted foods often require nutrients in order to be digested, absorbed, utilised and eliminated from the body. The cost of this may actually deplete the body of nutrients rather than provide them.

It is generally recognised that our bodies require some 90 essential nutrients that include 16 vitamins, 12 amino acids, three essential fatty acids and 20 or so minerals or trace elements. In addition, we need a growing list of phytonutrients such as antioxidants. 

Rising rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses continue to be linked to a growing consumption of refined grains, added sugars and “empty calories”, as well as major nutritional deficiencies. Refined grains, processed vegetable fats, and sweets are inexpensive, palatable, and convenient.

However, they can also be energy-dense and are low in vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. The World Health Organisation has found sufficient evidence to link high consumption of energy-dense foods to the global obesity epidemic and chronic illness. 

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