by Julia Scalise, DN, PhD
Many years ago, I read this quote:
“If the head and body are to be well, you must begin by curing the soul.” ~Plato
Somewhere deep inside my being, that resonated with me. I truly believe, no matter our state of good physical health, emotional well-being, or how healthy our thoughts and perceptions are, unless our soul (spirit) is content and feeling fulfilled or purposeful, we can never achieve the truest and highest state of health.
My education exposed me to many disciplines – human physiology, the sciences, courses in psychology, traditional medical theory, alternative, holistic disciplines, even business and marketing (which included a section on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). I also studied many non-traditional and non-physical courses dealing with the various causes of illness. My studies opened my mind to consider not just the physical aspect of health, but the impact and importance of health of the spirit also.
Dis-ease (lack of harmony) can begin in our spirit and can then dense down into physical manifestations. When I work with my clients, based on what is going on for them, I dig deeper to also help them uncover where or how their spirit (soul) got injured, wounded, or broken, and I stress the importance of healing those aspects as well.
Maslow’s Theory is usually depicted as a pyramid with the hierarchy of needs from bottom to top listed as: Physiological ( survival needs of food, shelter, clothing), Safety ( personal and financial security, health and well-being), Emotional (feeling and giving love and having a sense of belonging), Esteem ( self-esteem and self-respect), Self-Actualization (realization of one’s full potential and contributions), Self-Transcendence ( the giving of self to a higher goal, the good of humanity, or spirituality).
This same hierarchy of needs should be recognized if one wishes to be truly healthy and live the fullest and most purposeful life. I have learned through my own life and experiences and in working with my clients, that in order to cure or heal the soul (successfully attaining the tip of the pyramid), a parallel hierarchy must be met to do so. This is what I call the Hierarchy of Health.
Hierarchy of Health
The Hierarchy of Health begins with addressing physical issues first, for if someone does not feel well, not much else will get the work or attention needed. Good nutrition, adequate water intake and sleep, physical activity, and promoting various suggestions to address stress and feelings of security and safety come into play. Emotional well-being is important, just as is stated in Maslow’s Theory. One must feel valued and loved. One must feel safe in relationships and in expressing feelings which allow for vulnerability. Likewise, one must find what is necessary to heal wounds of abuse, betrayal, and loss of trust.
Mental health improves when one feels better physically and when one starts to heal emotionally. Self-esteem, self-respect, and self-confidence increase and a more positive outlook and perception about life in general can manifest to a higher degree. But as one approaches the next level in the Hierarchy of Health, many people don’t know or understand how to start working on their soul for self-actualization or self-transcendence.
Working with hundreds of clients who stayed the course, I’ve truly listened to what worked for them when they arrived at this point in their journey, or path to health. I have found 6 specific and core concepts that are collectively shared by those that were successful.
The 6 Core Concepts to Cure the Soul
1) Live Authentically – Each person that achieves self-transcendence realizes, pursues and allows what they inherently know is their unique gift and then finds a way to share it, either to a single person, group, community, or to the world.
2) Trust Your Intuition – It is important to learn to trust your intuition, even if it is in direct opposition to what you think is practical or what those around you believe. More often than not, you know what is best for you. When you follow that intuition, life has an easier flow that enhances spiritual well-being.
3) Seek Moments of Joy – Life is full of lessons as we all know, but it is also filled with moments of joy. Knowing what brings you joy, and actively seeking out what warms your heart and makes you smile deep within (as long as it’s moral and in no way harmful or abusive to anyone or anything) brings a healing to your spirit.
4) Seek Moments of Peace – In a very busy, 24/7, non-stop chaotic world, finding time to unplug, disconnect, embrace and listen to silence, or just sit in a quiet setting in nature adds a tremendous amount of healing and rejuvenation to a weary soul.
5) Assess Your Perspective – It’s hard to not take some things personally, but when you have experience that feels like an intentional hurt, lack of abundance, or any other negative aspect or challenge, step back and try to see it from a different perspective. Look at the big picture and do what is needed to adjust your viewpoint when possible.
6) Be Compassion – Compassion is defined as sympathetic pity or concern for the misfortunes of others, but just feeling the emotion sometimes helps no one. Be Compassion is not only sympathy and pity, but empathy and actively doing what you can to help. The exponential healing and euphoria from all the “feel good” chemicals that get released from participating in acts of kindness and compassion have brought many a person out of the doldrums of a broken spirit that feels their life has no purpose. And that is the tip of the pyramid, self-transcendence, the actualization of living life to your fullest potential for a higher goal, or the good of another or all of humanity.
As Plato said, “If the head and body are to be well, you must begin by curing the soul.” As Maslow theorized, there is a Hierarchy of Need for all humankind. And I believe there is a Hierarchy of Health, with each level playing its own part. But just like a symphony needs an orchestra to play for the full resonance and full beauty of the music to be heard, so each level and aspect of well-being needs tending.
To heal the soul, begin incorporating the 6 core concepts, basically find YOUR music, and as William Shakespeare wrote in Twelfth Night, “Play on.”
Wishing you health, what you need to cure your soul, and living your best life.