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Holistic Healing and Covid-19 (Part 1: Individual Healing and Transformation)

Updated: Jul 5, 2021

Holistic healing offers many insights and ideas for dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic at individual, community, national and global levels. This first blog post will deal with the beneficial role that holistic healing can play for individuals during this pandemic. The second blog post which is interconnected will deal with community, national and global healing and transformation. Covid-19 has brought a crisis around the world, but there has also been opportunities for healing and positive transformation (for more details see our holistic healing book).

Holism, Inuit Inukshuk, By Ola_p FreeJPG

Impacts of Covid-19:

Covid-19 has caused great pain, despair and deep sorrows. Plus, conflicts and disagreements have intensified related to this virus. Many essential workers including low paid service workers without adequate protection have had to put their lives on the line. A large scale human tsunami of hate has been unleashed with rising racism. Racialized communities are especially impacted by this virus including Indigenous peoples, Black, Hispanic, Asian and other individuals. In fact, Black, Latino, and Indigenous peoples are three times more likely to be infected with Covid-19 than other people and far more likely to be hospitalized and die from the virus. Many of these individuals experience poverty, racism and inadequate health care.

Community Healing, Navajo Nation, Photo by

People who are homeless, poor, individuals with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, women in violent relationships, prisoners, people in nursing homes, and/or millions of people out of work are being dramatically impacted by this situation. Indigenous peoples from around the world have described how the virus is having devastating impacts on their communities. For instance, Indigenous communities in Canada are having significant outbreaks along with those in the United States such as the Navajo Nation. Historically First Nations communities in North America have died in massive numbers from infections from settlers. They have experienced generations of diseases and being isolated and locked down in reservations/reserves by colonizing governments.

There are millions of people out of work with no hope of employment. Plus, women are about three times more likely to remain at home than men to take care of their children and not continue their paid employment. The burden of the reductions in daycare and schooling hours has fallen primarily to women. In addition, many small businesses have been closing and many of these closures are permanent, while many mega corporations are dramatically growing with higher profits and an expanded role in the economy. In the United States at over 40 million people lost their jobs at one point, while billionaires got $1.1 trillion richer.

Simultaneously there have been heroic efforts by many people. There are many examples of the best of our human spirit. In fact, our future depends upon our cooperation. Self-interests and divisions have led to disaster, while emphasizing cooperation and interdependence has led to success. Clearly there are deeper lessons that we can learn which can led to transformation.

Health Care Approaches:

There have been a number of health strategies for dealing with Covid-19. Each has its contributions including the approaches of holistic healing which includes: prevention, natural health care and broader health care concepts. These appraoches can work together to tackle this present crisis and help prevent future ones.

Public health: has utilized prevention and containment strategies similar to dealing with other pandemics. It emphasizes washing hands, respiratory etiquette and physical distancing along with early intervention, testing, contact tracing, isolation and lockdowns where necessary. These concepts of public health are very compatible with the emphasis of holistic healing upon prevention. Unfortunately, many nations were slow to act and to follow through collaboratively. There has been severe limits to testing, supplies and equipment. Plus, there has often been major conflicts within countries, a lack of coordination as well as strong pressure to end lockdowns too early.

Holistic Healing, Covid, Unsplash

Mainstream health care: has played a critical role in treating the symptoms of the disease and keeping people alive. Frontline essential workers have been the heros of these interventions not only the doctors and nurses. At the same time mainstream medicine has developed anti- viral medicines to reduce the symptoms of the disease. New vaccines offer great promise. Many feel that they are "a game changer" and are having major impacts. However, they are not 100% effective, have side effects and we are very dependent upon the success of vaccines in all countries. Unfortunately, rich countries are hoarding the vaccines leaving many developing countries without hope of getting any vaccine for years. However, we are all interconnected. New strains of the viruses are already emerging in poor areas of South Africa and Brazil. Unless every country has vaccines no one will be truly safe.

Natural holistic healing: focuses upon prevention and lowering the impact of virus by strengthening a person's immune system. Tools to strengthen our immune system include: reducing stress, having lots of sleep, drinking water, eating healthy foods and taking supplements. Mainstream health care practitioners generally supports these ideas, but many MDs have concerns with using natural supplements. Many natural practitioners are suggesting using Vitamin D and C, Zinc and probiotics as a minimum which can also help the body's anti-inflammatory state. These are not cures and it is important to consult with a health care practitioner. Vitamin D is receiving a lot of attention in its potential role in dealing with the virus and respiratory issues and is being researched in Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Europe, United States and the World (see summary). However, there is a great deal of controversy over the role it may play and further research is required although the latest research study from the University of Chicago indicates that lack of Vitamin D is associated with significantly higher rates of Covid-19. Other natural healing preventative approaches which may be helpful include: Ayurveda medicine which includes yoga and meditation to strengthen the immune system, Indigenous healing encourages connection with nature and healing medicines etc., Chinese Traditional Medicine stresses acupuncture along with many other treatments.

Holistic healing offers a larger role in addressing far reaching health issues. It supports the concepts of social determinants of health which address poverty and the inequalities of health care that impact many marginalized communities around the world. To reduce the impacts of any future viruses we need to invest dramatically more in health care infrastructure, provide health care to all and address structural racism as well as the economic inequalities in the world. Indigenous authors emphasize that we need to go even future and decolonize the world and connect with mind, body, emotions and spirit. It is time to bring balance to our natural world that we continue to exploit. In addition, we need to build healthy relationships and promote our interdependence with a collectivist vision. We need to view health in a much broader way (see Holistic Healing).

Suffering and Possibilities:

Jack Kornfield, a leading Buddhist scholar, explains that there is a great deal of suffering in the world and we are all touched by it in our lives. He outlines that we can turn this suffering into gold, by reflecting upon what lessons we can learn from it. What is the gold in this situation (Covid-19) and what can it teach us? One of the main focuses of Buddhism is to learn how to better deal with our suffering which includes slowing down to reflect, feeling the feelings including the peaks and valleys of emotions, letting go and learning from our life lessons. Otherwise we will continue to repeat them until we do things differently.

We do not realize that the straw all around us is our gold...

Jack Kornfield

Our world is in chaos with growing climate change, increasing violence which could lead to nuclear war, inequalities, racism, human rights violations and continuing colonialization. We need to collectively learn to do things differently or we will continue to repeat our mistakes. It requires both reflection, a new paradigm and collective action. Holistic values of connection, interconnection, linkages, reciprocity/mutuality, wholeness, balance and harmony, and change/social change offer an alternative to egoism, accumulation, exploitation and capitalism.

Individual Practices:

We can confront our vulnerabilities, discomforts and ultimately bring balance, peace and calm to our lives during these challenging times. We can use this time to shift our patterns, come back to ourselves and create more healthy lifestyles. It requires strength and courage. Holistic healing offers a path for deep individual transformation by addressing our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs. It is a time for reflection, to restore calm, peace and inner balance. It is time to acknowledge loneliness, pain and vulnerabilities and connect with gratitude and hope. There are many individual holistic practices that people may utilize which can led to transformation. Julianne Raye explains that this time can trigger all sorts of reactions, but we can learn skills of mindfulness that can be truly transformative. Jack Kornfield offers a whole range of pandemic resources and even how to establish your own free mediation retreat . The key is to be consistent with one or more practices. Most of these practices can be found on the internet. It may be useful to reassess during the different stages of the Covid-19 pandemic which ones are working for you and what changes you may wish to make. Here is a list of a few examples of individual practices which may vary considerably by culture and other lived experiences.

  • Smudging

  • Ceremony

  • Connection with Nature/Animals

  • Giving Thanks and Appreciation

  • Dance

  • Chanting/Singing

  • Meditation

  • Yoga

  • Yoga Nidra

  • Exercise

  • Breathing Exercises

  • Journaling

  • Art

  • Reading

  • Etc.

Marginalized populations use these healing practices extensively. In fact, many traditional cultures from around the world emphasize holistic healing practices. Plus, some of these practices are being increasingly utilized in prisons and other institutions. At the same time there is a great need for individual and collectively advocacy to ensure adequate income, employment and health care for all. Ultimately physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs must be addressed.

Transformation and Boarder Social Change:

This is a period that can bring transformation. It is calling us to reflect more deeply on ourselves and our world and do things differently. We are being asked to stop, re-evaluate and take action. We have a great opportunity now as we are propelled by a crisis with wide scale human suffering. We need to transform and connect more fully with ourselves, each other, our environment and the world in a more interconnected and constructive manner. It may be useful to reflect upon how to use this time for more individual transformation, connections with family, friends and community and to refocus efforts for broader social change.

This first blog has focused primarily upon individual healing since there was not enough space to deal with details of broader holistic practices. The next blog will focus upon community, national and global healing and transformation. The broader roots of individual oppressions must be addressed including systemic racism, colonization, patriarchy, sexism, ableism, homophobia and other forms of injustices. Individual and collective advocacy and mass collective movements are even more important than ever during this crisis and beyond, so we can emerge better than before.

What are your views and reactions? Please kindly share below.

January, 2021 Blog by Peter Dunn, PhD

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