Wellness: Holistic Health

What Is Holistic Health?

Holistic healing means taking an holistic approach when seeking treatment for imbalances and choosing to live a more balanced lifestyle. What primarily distinguishes holistic healing apart from alternative medicine, complementary medicine, and integrative medicine, is that physical health is not necessarily the main focus.

Health Holistic Wellness
Holistic Health

And it is true that our pains and other physical discomforts demand our attention. This is where the saying “sticking out like a sore thumb'” originated from. Common sense tells us that we should seek help to alleviate our discomforts.

Holistic healing is not an “alternative” to conventional medical care. Sometimes going to a medical professional is the best solution to addressing a dis-ease.  Physical illnesses are the symptoms of a greater imbalance that may or may not have a root cause in the physical.

Holistic or “wholistic” healing addresses all parts of the individual, not just the physical aspect of a person where manifested illnesses are most apparent. Holistic healing is not intended to serve as a band-aid or a one time fix. It is an ongoing journey of discovery in search of more answers and ultimately; living better, being healthier, and striving for wholeness.

Holistic Healing Goes Beyond The Mind-Body Connection

Holistic healing is really a lifestyle approach. The holistic approach goes far beyond the Mind-Body connection of finding and maintaining wellness. All parts of a person’s life (physical healing, mental health and wellness, emotional well-being, and spiritual beliefs and values) are considered. Taking a holistic approach involves seeking the tools that will help us attract our desires and find personal power.

Wellness and Holistic Health
The Lotus of Wellness

Likewise, a person who embraces the desire to find wholeness within his own being soon learns the importance of tending to relationships, caring for the planet and our environments, having compassion for humankind in general, and accepting and tolerating differences among a diverse population of people.

The holistic healer recognizes that our discomforts or pains are merely symptoms of an imbalance. The imbalance could be a physical issue, the result of abusing the physical body through an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, or too little sleep.

Or, the imbalance may be the result of mental, emotional, or spiritual needs not being met. Therefore, no aspect (mind, body, spirit, or emotions) of a person is overlooked when an holistic treatment is sought.

While people are living longer today they also are experiencing chronically high levels of stress and fatigue, are consuming nutrient depleted foods, and are exposed to hundreds of potentially harmful chemically through our air, water, cleaning, and personal care products daily. So to say that holistic health is important would be an understatement.

For many living with chronic disease and undiagnosable symptoms, the modern-day healthcare industry has failed them, and it is time that a more holistic, whole-body solution became a standard part of the way we treat and support the health of the billions of people living on this planet.

Holistic health also takes into account the many external and environmental factors which could be supporting or impacting our overall health and wellness.

The types of holistic therapies available are extensive. Among them are:

It is a fascinating look at wellness from many different angles. Here’s a cool PDF I found on my PDF source site: It’s a free download, and NO, there is no spam or anything unsafe about the download. It’s coming from my WordPress database, so enjoy!

In Recovery:  Part 5 – Jamaica Plain

From jail, to the end of my treatment in 3 different V.A. Treatment Centers, this part of My Story uncovers the journey of my recovery. I vividly, and candidly chronicled my day to day struggles with recovery, mental health, amends, and dealing with the V.A. empire on my blog from October of 2016, to the end of 2017. You can find these musings in the Archives. However, in the coming weeks, I look back at those experiences and give you a more coherent story of my life In Recovery. I look back on that year with more insight as to what was happening, and share with you the principles and actions that built the foundation for my ongoing recovery.

Before RecoveryPart 1: A ProblemPart 2: Jail TimePart 3: Reality CheckPart 4: VA Program
Two Sides of a Coin
VA Treatment Jamaica Plain

I was in the recovery program at the VA in Jamaica Plain Massachusetts from the time I got out of jail (10/7/16) until December 16th, 2016. Up until that point, the only formal treatment I ever received for my alcoholism was a stint in Rehab back in October of 2011. I was unused to going to Group Therapy.

I had tremendous difficulties acclimating to my new surroundings. This was partly because about 15 men were crammed into a double-wide trailer home. It felt like everyone was on top of one another all the time. I also found it very difficult to share in the groups.

A Blog Is Born
Smoking Area Sarrtp Trailer

So, I decided to create this blog, determined to chronicle my life before, and in recovery. I decided early on that I had to be brutally honest. As the days wore on in the program, I devoted myself intensely to sharing my thoughts and feelings. I also began writing poetry after a long absence from it, and shared my poems as well. During my time at Sarrtp, I never took one pass or met anyone outside the Veterans and Staff; I had no family in the area and my so-called ‘friends’ were nowhere to be found.

Also, shortly after creating my blog, I engaged in a tumultuous online relationship that took its toll on me emotionally for a couple of months. Romanticizing a relationship with a woman with serious CPTSD, who had been commenting on my poetry wasn’t helping. My emotions went haywire when, after about three weeks of mutual engagement, this woman suddenly freaked out and broke off contact. I was crushed. It dramatically affected my day to day functioning and I realized that I had serious emotional issues and needed help.

The Program Grind

Many of the Mental Health Records I have access to via the VA’s My HealthEVet (which would prove extremely valuable to me as I will share down the road) website, spoke not only to those difficulties, but also the difficulties I had practicing my social skills. Well, that’s because I essentially had none.

Without booze to fuel my comedy and aggressiveness, I was painfully self-conscious and shy! Now that’s not a word anyone would use to describe me before. I was considered abrasive when I talked, a loner when I didn’t share in the zeal of reliving my drinking days with the residents in the evening. Moving right along…

SARRTP (Substance Abuse Recovery and Rehabilitation Program) was pretty much Group Therapy from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.. There were several beneficial groups, but I have to admit: listening to some of my fellow Veterans drone on was taking its toll. We also had Discharge Planning sessions, bi-weekly meetings with our treatment teams, medical appointments. Looking back, I realize it was the best possible arrangement. I was ill-prepared for sobriety outside the walls of jail. I needed this kind of structure just to make it through the day.

The following is the schedule we had, as best as I can remember:

Time v & Day >MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday
8:15 – 8:45House MeetingHouse MeetingHouse MeetingHouse MeetingHouse Meeting
9:00-10:45Relapse PreventionMindfulnessRelapse PreventionMindfulnessRelapse Prevention
11:00 – 11:45AcceptanceLife SkillsAcceptanceLife SkillsAcceptance
11:45 – 12:45 LunchLunchLunchLunchLunch
1:00 – 2:45CBTSeeking SafetyCBT12 StepCBT
3:00 – 4:00RelationshipsWorking in RecoverySpiritualitySleep EdWrap Up

As you can see, they kept us busy. We even had two meditation sessions per weekend. Not to mention the countless homework assignments that were due on a constant basis. Yup, the VA was going to get their money’s worth out of me, and mine out of it. The programs were mostly very appealing. However, my recovery would not have suffered if I did not have to attend the Spirituality and Sleep Education Groups. I think those were really just filler for the end of the day, when they probably sensed most of us were tapped out from the heavy duty classes that came before.

A Snapshot of VA Treatment

Listed below are most of the groups I participated in almost from the very first day I was brought to Sarrtp. The descriptives are from my MyHealthEVet records.


Relapse Prevention: Veteran will identify personal relapse triggers and develop skills to prevent relapse.

Mindfulness Group: Veteran will use mindfulness skills such as: Please Skills, ABC Skills, Three Minds, Distress Tolerance, and Emotional Regulation to maintain sobriety.

Acceptance & Recovery: Veteran will explore thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are related to internal conflicts and external stressors and their impact on substance abuse and recovery. (The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy by Steven C. Hayes, Ph.d and The Language of Letting Go by Melodie Beattie- treatment protocol).

Life Skills: Anger Management. Establishing good social supports. Establishing good supportive relationships. Handling Stressors. Money Management

Seeking Safety: Veteran will be able to use specific strategies to effectively reduce or regulate uncomfortable emotions.

Relationships in Recovery: Veteran will explore thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are related to interpersonal relationships, interpersonal difficulties, and their impact on substance abuse and recovery with the Relationships in Recovery (Green, unpublished manual) treatment protocol.

12 Step Group: This continuing group is designed to facilitate participation in Alcoholics Anonymous or other Twelve Step groups such as Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous in order to maintain sobriety. Group members will explore and discuss various aspects of the Twelve Step process such as Spirituality, Principles, Not Personalities, Sponsorship and Living Sober.


CBT Group: Veteran will increase his awareness of his cognitive styles and their influence on his emotions and behaviors. Veteran will learn strategies for restructuring his cognitions to reduce relapse risk and improve his mood.

Working In Recovery: This group focuses on what intrinsic benefits of returning to work are, Vocational Rehabilitation Compensated Work Therapy programs (Transitional Work Experience and Supported Employment), and the barriers faced with trying to obtain and maintain employment while in recovery.

Spirituality: Veterans will learn ways to expand their capacity to understand themselves, others and life from a spiritual perspective in order to become more equipped to prevent relapse.

Therapeutic Work

In addition to all the groups, I also had lots of health appointments, therapy sessions with VA Psychiatrists (who were assembling various diagnoses), and individual therapy with Molly, my therapist. As far as therapists go Molly is at the top. I have been in and out of therapy since my early teens. I used to joke that I was a professional patient. Molly had a way of cutting through the veil and identifying the true issues at hand, to startling effect.

Me at VA Jamaica Plain
October 2016

In 2013, when I first came to the VA for medications, I did get assigned a therapist by the name of Dr. Anna Ticlea. Up until I met Molly, Dr. Ticlea had been tops. She was the first mental health professional to diagnose me with Bipolar I Disorder…but that’s another story. However, Dr. Ticlea was primarily my psychiatrist responsible for overseeing my medications. Molly was a Board Certified Psychologist.

Well, let me just say that, by the end of our first session I was reeling with concepts of myself that I wasn’t too sure I wanted to pursue. But Molly had opened up a Pandora’s Box of sorts, and I was left thinking about them just days before my move to a new VA Treatment Program called REACH, in Brockton, Ma.

Of particular note: my self-concept was challenged, and my approach to relationships may have been grounded in a deep fear of abandonment. There will be much more about my sessions with Molly in future posts. You can count on it!

Because of the facts that I had no money, nowhere to live, and nobody I could rely upon to help me, I decided to take advantage of another VA treatment program. Called REACH, this program focuses on group therapies, but also adds a work component called CWT (Compensated Work Therapy). CWT enables Veterans in early recovery to work for minimum wage. The program is also heavily geared towards enabling Veterans to transition safely out of a domiciliary program. I was excited to have an opportunity to earn some money, for I had none for the duration of my treatment at Jamaica Plain.

However, I almost didn’t get to go there because of another Veteran named Bill. I’m not going to get into all the details here, the posts about that whole incident can be found in my Flipbook below. Suffice it to say, I dodged a bullet that never should have been shot at me in the first place. The incident drew many of my fellow Veterans away from me, unfairly I might add, and served to isolate me further from them.

Read About My Recovery As I Lived It

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Onwards and Upwards

I was ready to move beyond VA treatment at the Jamaica Plain campus. The close quarters, the rigorous schedule, and the treatment by some of my fellow Veterans was wearing me thin. The two months at Sarrtp gave me a great foundation for my recovery.

Time For Brockton Reach Program!

I had endured some gut-wrenching sessions in group therapy, as well as with my private sessions with Molly. What I wasn’t prepared for, was that my emotions would continue to wreak havoc on me in the coming months at REACH, the VA treatment program in Brockton Ma: the city where I lived with my psychotic ex.

Part 6: Brockton Reach

Poetry: This Art

Poetry This Art

Poetry that I have written for my lovely wife, Rebecca. Presented today for the first time anywhere! Visit her blog at My Faces of Life.

Whisper to me
share your essence
speak in earnest
under the moon
mutely it gazes
as silent witness
stoic its promise
even as your
hypnotic voice
wondrous words
falls in shadows

where I worship
silently in wonder
in adoration of
such deep secrets
where I kneel
spent in rapture
over pictures
drawn by you
painted by you
etched by you

this art bleeds
silently beside me
laid before me
impressions of you
in the abstract
all these realities
reflections drawn
mirrors of images
which echo beyond
your sighs explode
like distant stars
that break away
escape and hurl
so far and fast
into the dark cosmos
oh the wonder!

Spirituality: Sum of Parts

Spirituality Sum of Parts

Recovery Retro: Self Condemnation

Recovery Retro

Recovery Retro features posts from my archives 2016-2017, my chronicles of recovery from alcoholism, mental health issues, and substance abuse. After 35 years of chaos, my life in several VA Treatment Programs was anything but boring. Join me as I share with you my most intimate posts about spirituality, living in the now, acceptance, gratitude, mindfulness, and the lessons I learned that keep me sober to this day.

Published 10/31/2016 at 5:00 am – Day 14 of Treatment
Recovery Retro Self Condemnation

As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I love Notes To Myself, By Hugh Prather, it was one of the first books I read about self introspection.

Somehow over the years the lessons he shares in his book went by the wayside.  The book helped me to come into focus with the messages. They keenly pinpoint the flaws within which the mind can bring us discord both in our heads, and in our relationships with those around us.

It is a book you can pick up and read any passage at any time, as his thoughts are written not in a linear way, but sort of happenstance.  Bring this book into your life!

One of my favorite quotes in the book is:

“The criticism that hurts the most is the one that echoes my own self-condemnation.”

How Often Do We Fixate On Our Mistakes?

How often do we carry guilt, shame, anger, disappointment over something we have said or done?  I am learning just how much guilt I have been carrying over the years. How it has crippled my sense of well-being. And certainly how it has kept me living in my head.

I hold the belief that many of us have a very difficult time letting go, moving forward, forgiving ourselves.  What Prather is saying is that we drift so far away from just being, that to live in one’s head is not honoring the peace we all richly deserve.  If we can just let ourselves off the hook and live today in the knowing that we are perfect. That we are the greatest creation and we didn’t have to do anything at all, then I truly believe we set ourselves back on this path.

Along the way, the “yes” of our birth-right was clouded by who we thought we were supposed to be based on the experiences without ourselves that turned our existence into “no.”  That is to say, we lost the wonder of ourselves and the love of just being the miracle we are.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Today I will meditate on this and probably experience painful memories. However, in meditation I am learning how to connect with my soul rather than my mind.  I can’t remember who exactly said “The mind is a powerful wish-fulfilling machine.” It is a powerful statement that illustrates this danger of self within the mind.

Along these lines is the concept of “self-fulfilling prophecy.”  Self-fulfilling prophecy is defined as “a false definition of the situation evoking a new behaviour which makes the original false conception come ‘true’.”

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