Holistic is not an Esoteric or Mystical Perspective of Life

In preparation for the Health Benefits of the Creative Process capstone course for Physical Therapy that I have the privilege to teach this coming fall at Quinnipiac University, and as personal interest as well, I’ve been reading a lot about the connection of the cognitive, physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the human experience and how these are intertwined in a connection between the abstract and the concrete. My interest is to see how different academic fields approach the subject and how the theory is reflected in practice. There seems to be “an awakening” to develop a holistic view of people and the human experience. Holistic is not an esoteric or mystical perspective of life, but a concept of completeness based on the interaction of all its parts. This concept is something we explore in the other class I teach on Inquiry Based Learning. We try to see issues and concepts from different perspectives with the goal of seeing as many aspects of the subject as we can. We explore issues through the eyes of natural sciences, social sciences, art, and humanities because each one of these and their subcategories provide different answers and perceptions of the same subject.

Looking back through the history of learning and exploration of what it means to be human, we land in Ancient Greece where every part of the human experience was connected. Religion was a science, philosophy was an art, art was a religion, architecture was a scientific art based on religious views, and living was about exploring the known and the unknown and finding explanations for life. No wonder St. Paul the apostle praised their devotion and passion when he visited Athens (Book of Acts in the Bible). It was commendable how they poured themselves into connecting the world we don’t see with the one we see in a complete and coherent experience.

Natural sciences, art, social sciences, and humanities are now trying to revisit this holistic vision, especially when it comes to health, well being, and quality of life. These are all interesting and abstract concepts that may mean different things for each individual based on their experiences, beliefs, understanding, hopes, goals, and life circumstances. That is what makes it so vast and interesting, since we all can agree that each person will develop a unique perspective of life because each one of us is unique and different. However, this same unique and different experience was somehow designed for us to live in community and relationships allowing us to make sense of life, and to grow, to have empathy and compassion, and to show love for one another.

I am looking forward to a very interesting semester this fall and guide a new generation of students to find answers through questioning and exploration, and to promote critical thinking which leads to the kind of creative thinking that can change their lives and the lives of those surrounding them. The kind of thinking that is not about accumulating information, but understanding it and transforming every aspect of life covering human experience from multiple perspectives and seeing people in their completeness. I am looking forward to see students conceive ideas that motivate them to pursue their careers as much more than a job, but as a life mission.

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