Wholistic and Healing Integrity
Daniel Benor, 2017
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Wholistic healing addresses every level of our being – individually and collectively – including body, emotions, mind, relationships (with other people and the environment) and spirit. Healing that is truly wholistic includes all of these as a unity which is indivisibly interlinked. Integrity within ourselves is marked by specific or vaguely perceived and understood feelings, thoughts and intuitive/spiritual awarenesses which guide us towards our highest good and the highest good of all. People who are in wholistic integrity frequently have a very deep sense of rightness and wrongness that are difficult to define about their states of being in any situation, as well as in their perceptions, feelings, intentions, actions and relationships with other people, the world at large, and spiritual aspects of themselves. This discussion brings together observations within a wholistic framework that helps to explain these issues.
Wholistic healing addresses every level of our being – individually and collectively – including body, emotions, mind, relationships (with other people and the environment) and spirit. In the Western world we generally discuss each of these aspects of ourselves separately, or perhaps in pairs and sub-clusters (as in the body-mind connection), or in our beliefs about spirituality). However, healing that is truly wholistic includes all of these as a unity which is indivisibly interlinked (Benor, 2004; 2005).
Being in integrity is defined as:
- firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: incorruptibility
- an unimpaired condition: soundness
- the quality or state of being complete or undivided: completeness
(Merriam Webster’s Dictionary)
To this I would add:
- When we honor and respect each wholistic level of our being, individually and collectively, we are in a place of wholistic unity. We are in a place of wholistic integrity when we adhere to the highest moral, ethical and spiritual standards we perceive and understand for each level, individually and collectively.
Integrity within ourselves may be marked by specific or vaguely perceived and understood feelings, thoughts and intuitive/spiritual awarenesses which guide us towards our highest good and the highest good of all. These lead us to want to engage more with people and situations that feel right, in ways that feel right, and to avoid others that feel wrong. People who are in wholistic integrity frequently have a very deep sense of rightness and wrongness that are difficult to define about their states of being in any situation, as well as in their perceptions, feelings, intentions, actions and relationships with other people, the world at large, and spiritual aspects of themselves.
Awareness of one’s integrity varies greatly between different people. I have observed in a very general way that those who are more connected with their feelings and intuitions tend to have stronger senses of personal wholistic integrity, while those who relate to the world more through their thinking and outer-world senses tend to be less aware of their degrees of integrity in their personal wholistic spectrum.
Particularly worthy of mention here are people who manifest the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) trait, identified by Elaine Aron (1996). HSPs have sensitivities that are often considerably above average for any or all of their senses, including vision, hearing, smell, taste and/or touch. They also process their sensory perceptions in great detail. HSPs are also strongly connected to their emotions – both within themselves in in their interactions with others. They enjoy processing their emotions and emotional nuances of situations in conversations with others who have similar awarenesses. While 15-20 percent of the population are HSPs, a much higher percent of HSPs are found among those engaging in psychotherapy. This is because they are generally more prone to introspection, self-analysis and to working hard at developing, maintaining and improving relationships than non-HSPs (NHSPs) are.
HSPs are born with particularly keen awarenesses of their integrity, because their heightened sensitivities are often stressed and they are challenged to find ways to remain comfortable and centered. They often need to actively explore and develop comfort zones within which they feel they are safe and in places of integrity – in a world that may not recognize or acknowledge their sensitivities which require special attention. For this reason I will focus a lot on the experiences of HSPs in these regards, as there is much we can learn from their experiences and observations. Others have expanded on the HSP trait (Jaeger, 2004; Zeff, 2004; 2015)
In many cases, we become aware of issues of integrity when we sense that some person, organization or government is acting in ways that are out of integrity. While the behaviors in question may be in line with principles that are stated and promoted by these individuals or groups of people, so that they have the appearance of integrity within the limited focus of their spheres of responsibility and influence, they may be out of integrity when considered in wholistic perspectives that include the wishes and needs of others who are outside the spheres of influence of those whose integrity is being questioned. The rationales and behaviors of the Nazis are probably one of the clearest cases in point. Within their spheres of control, they believed they were in a place of integrity with their stated goals of ‘purifying the German race.’ From the perspectives of those who were attacked and murdered by the Nazis they were clearly out of integrity. Short of such extreme examples where the lack of integrity is grossly obvious, there are many instances where questions about integrity are more difficult to define and delineate.
Let’s consider how our sense of our personal integrity manifests on each of the wholistic levels of awareness.
Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.
– Carl Jung
Proper diet and exercise contribute to building and maintaining a body’s physical integrity. Given good ongoing maintenance materials, a body will generally maintain its own integrity. The challenge in North American society is to select foods that are not contaminated with herbicides, pesticides, hormones, preservatives, genetically modified food flavor enhancers and cheap fillers that increase the manufacturer’s profits but are unhealthy or even toxic – all of which are threats to the integrity of our bodies.
Finding and maintaining a place of personal sensory integrity is often a challenge. HSPs, who have very keen senses, need to learn to attend to their personal needs for being in comfortable sensory surroundings. Initially, as children, or in new surroundings, they may not be clearly aware of the particular stimulations that make them irritable. They feel out of integrity with uncomfortable noise levels, visual distractions, intense lighting, fluorescent bulbs that have a subtle flicker, smells, and uncomfortable bits of their clothing (such as labels and cloth textures), or any other negative perceptions that lead them to feel they are out of integrity.
Sensory overload may be experienced as irritability with overstimulation from noise, too much commotion, or intensity of emotionality that feels somewhere on the spectrum of too intrusive, to annoyingly strong, to insufferably intense, or possibly becoming overwhelming to the point of being intolerably distressing. HSPs usually withdraw from such situations and learn to avoid them as much as possible.
In situations such as a workplace, busy streets or public transportation it may be impossible to avoid the over-stimulation or intensities of emotions that feel somewhere on the spectrum of too intrusive, to annoyingly strong, to unbearably intense, or possibly becoming overwhelming to the point of being intolerably distressing. HSPs usually withdraw from such situations and learn to avoid them as much as possible.
Non-HSPs (NHSPs) may have difficulties understanding and accepting the sensitivities of HSPs. When NHSPs belittle, tease, criticize, pathologize or even bully HSPs for expressing such sensitivities, the HSPs may begin to question whether they are weak, wimpish or in some other ways abnormal. This is where they may lose their integrity, wanting to conform to the expectations of the majority and doing their best to minimize or deny their own sensitivities and feelings of who they really are.