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Harmony Within: Navigating Your Elements of Life

It is all about integrated healing.  Professionals in the spiritual, medical, behavioral, and relational health fields are becoming more keenly aware of the necessity of integrated treatments and communication across disciplines.  


Integrated health approaches are not new, although they are becoming more thoroughly studied and accepted as common practice.  Professional communities have a responsibility to build more awareness, competent education, and opportunities for integration treatment. 


You actually have a great amount of power to use integrated health dynamics for your own well being!  The most important person to take ownership of this is you.  You can lead yourself through the search for health care and wellness support if you understand how integrative healing works.  You are your best advocate.  When you are equipped with awareness of your own elements and how they interplay, you will be able to navigate more holistically the road to healing and wholeness. 

 

There are 5 elements of the human life that hold every bit of your essence and experience.  The 5 elements include spiritual, mental, emotional, relational, and physical health.  Each element operates in specific ways and for intended purposes.  How you take care of each of your elements will have a significant impact on your overall experience of life and well-being.  




Because the 5 elements are interconnected, responding to trouble within one element can alleviate symptoms in the other elements in the 5 element system. When you ignore one element and favor treatment of another, all the elements within the system will likely suffer. 


You cannot separate your body from your emotions or your emotions from your thoughts.  You cannot separate your relationships from your spiritual well-being.  All 5 elements of your life are interconnected and very much affect the wellness of each other. 


The terms ‘differentiate’ and ‘separate’ describe concepts that are similar, yet with very important distinctions.   To differentiate means to isolate the functions of one element from another while also remaining connected within a system.  Separation indicates that one is no longer connected to the other.  You cannot 'separate' the elements, they are linked together for better or worse.  You can 'differentiate' the elements by recognizing the specific needs of that element and finding specialized treatment for that element. 


One of the most valuable skills to heal and grow is learning to differentiate each element and address issues of that element from a professionally researched method.  An everyday example of this might be seeking a nutritionist, while also committing to consistent therapy sessions, while also asking for a spiritual community to pray with you for wisdom, protection, guidance, healing, and wholeness.   Another example is to create healthy boundaries in some relationships while also seeking deeper connection in other relationships.


Because of the way the 5 elements are interconnected, it's important to learn the system of elements. You may need to focus and treat one element of the system for others to feel healthier.  For instance, many people come into my counseling office telling me they have an emotional or spiritual problem. We talk through the anxiety they feel. They recount how hard they work to tell themselves they are not afraid, read scripture, and pray. I hear all about how the people around them who mean well tend to spiritualize the problem and tell them that they just need to believe more or forgive. As I carefully and respectfully explore with them the origin of the anxious feeling, we discover it is actually a body problem!  Once we focus attention directly on the body, the client feels wellness spread to the other elements. Of course most anxious body problems are rooted in a chronic stress, traumatic events or relational experiences. See how addressing one element leads to also integrating other elements?


Responding directly to the needs of the nervous system can include spiritual integration, but technically it is what is called somatic in nature. Somatic treatment is learning to work with the body in response to trauma and chronic stress. All kinds of body interventions are available to try. In responding to the body, people are able to experience spiritual, mental, emotional, or relational growth and healing.  So much of the false sense of faith disappears and true spiritual connection is again felt by the person. What a miracle to watch!


Relationships affect every element of the human experience.  Remember that time you got into an argument with someone you really care about, felt nauseous and could not eat or had trouble sleeping that night?  How about the time a spiritual leader hurt you and you felt disconnected from church or even your relationship with God?  Or when grieving the loss of a loved one and attending church is too emotionally painful so you stay away.  Maybe you have suffered anxiety symptoms and were told you didn’t pray or read your Bible enough.  Come to find out that you actually have a body or relational issue, not a spiritual issue.  This kind of assumption affect relational and spiritual health. Problems with your thyroid, lack of sleep, nervous system, or gut flora are actually the issues anxiety is stemming from.  Maybe you have gone through something similar and you know what it is like to feel branded by people or put you in a category like spiritual defect, stubborn, or lazy.


All of this wasn’t a spiritual problem at all.  Although the sensation of anxiety in the body can impede your ability to feel all the spiritual benefits of your faith, it does not mean that you are spiritually deficient.  Well-meaning spiritual leaders led you to believe your faith was weak or your spiritual practices were lacking.  Spiritual promises and practices can be a source of your healing or a support in the process.  Also, you still need to attend to the needs of the other elements such as the body or relationships. 


Most people have heard that exercise is essential for mental and emotional health. I am a firm believer in this practice. Exercise makes anyone feel so much more capable of dealing with life. Have you ever experienced the mental fog lift after time exercising? What an amazing, free, and helpful tool. Exercise or focusing only on the body can also fail to address deeper causes of recurring mental and emotional stress. You might be using exercise as a way of avoiding dealing with emotions or running away from self reflection. You may need some good mental homework such as cognitive behavioral therapy in order to change thought pathways. You may need to discover core beliefs you have held unconsciously in order to think differently. You might be exercising to feel better, but end up just delaying the true issues. You do not know how to deal with your emotions or insecurities. What is needed in order for lasting change is learning how to identify your feelings, relate, and regulate your inner world with more skill and awareness.


These are examples of how the elements work in concert to alert you to the need for attention. You may need more expertise or professional interventions to support your healing instead of only your faith, fitness, and spiritual community.  Then comes the work of figuring out what needs to be addressed and how.  That might take some exploration and time.  It is well worth the effort!  People do experience miracles of healing in the body, mind, or relationships.  Miracles are incredible gifts that evoke awe, wonder, and praise to a mighty God.  Most of the time however, the answer is found in learning, growth, practice, awareness, and good treatment interventions. 


Take time right now. Reflect for 30 seconds on the 5 elements within you.  Ask yourself an honest question.  Have you ever thought about differentiating the elements and seeking help to treat the whole system?  What does that look like for you?  What might you need to learn about your own integrated health?  Do you focus care on one area and ignore others?


Thank you for finding Time To Restore! 

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