Consciousness and Healing: A Path to Whole Person Health

July 14, 2016
Marilyn Schlitz, IONS Fellow

If you’re like most people, your life is complex and sometimes challenging. It’s easy to feel the stresses that come with our busy days and diverse demands on our time and attention, mass distraction that pull us off our soul’s inner compass often bombard us.

Out of this complexity you may feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and distressed. These experiences can lead to dis-ease, moving you away from living into optimal health and well-being. Illness often represents a turning point for people, leading them to seek out new sources of comfort, strength, and purpose. Out of suffering can come profound transformation; It can deepen and strengthen our life purpose. But it is best to find a path to optimal health that can help us remain healthy and in right balance, even in the face of illness or disease.

The good news is that great strides have been made in whole person health care. The integration of body, mind, and spirit has become a key dimension of health education and disease prevention and treatment. Despite many advances in a wide range of holistic approaches, however, our health care system remains primarily disease-centered rather than addressing the well-being of our whole being.

To thrive as individuals and as members of healthy communities, we are called on to develop our inner wisdom, derived from direct personal experiences of illness and health, and transformative practices that promote our health and well-being—allowing us to move from surviving to thriving.

IONS has long been a leader in whole person health, researching the inner mechanisms of the healing response. In the landmark book, Consciousness and Healing: Integral Approaches to Mind Body Medicine, my colleagues and I identified a number of dimensions that must be addressed to create optimal health. These include 7 key tenets.

7 Key Tenets of Consciousness and Healing

  1. An integral approach to healing involves a whole-systems approach based in healing and the restoration of wholeness. We are part of an interconnected whole that includes biological, personal, cultural, and transpersonal dimensions.
  2. Understanding consciousness and awareness helps us understand and experience health and well-being, including our will to live, grow, and die with grace.
  3. Our interpersonal relationships are a vital part of our integral nature and they impact our health and well-being.
  4. It is hard to be healthy in a sick society and we have different levels at which we are part of the social fabric in conscious and unconscious ways. Social healing offers a path to mend present and historical wounds that have been created by conflict, collective trauma, and large scale oppression.
  5. Our connections to our and other’s culture and worldview opens us to our connection to tradition and diverse ways of knowing and being in the world and to a wide range of complementary healing systems.
  6. Much of standard medicine, with its high tech and low-touch approaches, removes healing from its ground in nature. Moving from a view of separation from nature to one of fundamental interconnectedness and our ability to perceive the beauty and sacred language of nature.
  7. Spiritual interconnectedness. Life is the great teacher. Our ability to see the way to a new approach to health and healing requires deep humility in the face of wonder and mystery. Gratitude, love, and compassion are essential tools to an inclusive and whole-hearted healing system

By living into these tenets, we can move from surviving to thriving. Embracing healing becomes about the restoration of our wholeness, individually and collectively.

Marilyn Schlitz, PhD ( is a Fellow and President Emeritus at IONS. She will be teaching a telecourse on Consciousness and Healing with the Shift Network. Join Marilyn for a free introductory conversation entitled: The Science of Consciousness and Healing: Exploring the Hidden X-Factor in Creating Radiant Health on Wednesday, July 20 at 5:30 Pacific and for a 7 week course August 3-September 14.


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