Deep inside you know that holistic healing is the way to go. You recognize your body is interconnected with your mind and heart, your soul and spirit . . .
Yet sometimes holistic healing seems so vast—a fray of infinite modalities and techniques—that it can be hard to know where to begin. And, how do the pieces fit together within the big picture?
Those are the waters I swim in, sister. Over the last 30 years, I’ve taught various aspects of holistic healing to thousands of nature-loving women. I’d love to share 9 of my favorite tenets with you, from a bird’s eye view.
Look with me through the lens of the Wise Woman Tradition, where you’re at the center of your own self-healing journey.
Others may guide and support, provide tools and tips along the way. And ultimately, you’re reconnecting with the knowledge and wisdom that is your birthright.
The wisdom of your foremothers. The wisdom of yourself.
Let’s take a look at 9 key tenets of holistic healing from an earth-based perspective. The article is divided into 3 sections: Body, Mind, and Spirit—and within each section, you’ll find 3 key tenets.
Table of Contents
Our holistic healing foundation—Earth’s body, your body
First things first. In the Wise Woman Tradition, your body is considered sacred.
That’s a shift from the prevailing paradigm—today’s society insists on duality. There’s an either/or paradigm in mainstream culture—and even in much of the “alternative” sensibility and spirituality.
So often, it’s all about the “light,” and a predisposition to shutting out what is mysterious and “dark.” That darkness tends to include the Earth—which remains untamed despite all efforts to master her—and woman, whose body and its great mysteries are intricately intertwined with Earth’s body.
The prevailing paradigm tells you that you need to overcome your connection to your body and to the physical plane in order to achieve a high level of spiritual “purity.”
When you move from a perspective of either light or dark, to a configuration of both light and dark, you move away from striving to transcend your body. Toward a perspective where the sacred is something within your own body.
In other words, holistic healing from an earth-based perspective embraces embodiment.
You know you need to embrace, love and nourish your physical form–your body.
It sounds simple at first. But there’s a lot of cultural conditioning to un-learn. Today, there's a whole lot of societal messages women and girls internalize. Not only to pursue unrealistic standards of beauty—but also to deny your body’s needs.
Like the need to eat. Or to sleep.
It sounds simple, yet it can take time and attention to regulate your daily patterns of providing for your body’s basic needs, following your body’s natural rhythms.
1. Nourishing yourself with traditional foods supports optimum health
Your body needs nourishment. In a culture that glorifies emaciated models, it’s a radical act to move from self-denial (or even self-starvation) to a mindset of nourishing your body.
You might already be drawn to seasonal locally-sourced wholesome foods. It's a a way of walking gently on Mother Earth. I’m with ya!
Over the last 100 years, studies of pre-industrial societies worldwide have researched the foods of our foremothers. As you might expect, their nourishing traditional foods that supported optimum health included a wide range of fresh, whole foods—both cooked and raw, usually from a variety of plant and animal sources.
Surprisingly, those same studies by the Price Foundation also found that traditional peoples—with strong bones and extremely low disease rates—received 30-80% of their calories as fats.
Women of all ages especially need to consume healthy fats—like organic butter, olive oil, or coconut oil—to keep hormonal rhythms in sync.
The beauty of nourishment is that when you body is deeply nourished, with nutrient-dense foods, you’re no longer starving. So food cravings dissipate. Your body has enough—so you don't even want to stuff down more empty calories.
Your body naturally regulates to your optimum weight, as you receive the essential nutrients and healthy fats that you need to be strong and fit.
2. A healthy relationship with movement and sleep is an upward spiral
As you may have noticed, lack of sleep and lack of movement can easily become a downward spiral.
The good news is that the converse is also true—nourishing your body with movement and sleep are an upward spiral. As your body receives the rest you crave, you’ll naturally feel drawn to more movement during the day. This in turn supports you sleeping more deeply at night.
Moving and shaking
Your body was made to move.
As an earth-based woman, you probably feel drawn to be outdoors in nature. You may enjoy walking, running, biking or hiking.
Or perhaps your movement needs to be more gentle. Tending herbs or veggies in your garden. Or even just letting your spine sway and undulate while you’re sitting in a chair among the plants.
There are so many reasons to move to whatever degree is physically possible for you. Movement and exercise improve immunity, regulate the hormonal system, strengthen your lungs and heart, reduce stress, calm the nervous system and improve brain function.
Throw in regular stretching or yoga to support your body staying flexible and supple, and you can keep your body movin’ and shakin’ over the years.
Yet a word of caution, sister . . . let's tread gently with your relationship with movement and exercise.
Why? Because all too often, especially as women, we have a lot of "should" voices about exercising in order to conform to those unrealistic media images and internalized societal expectations.
So I invite you, dear sister, to hold movement and exercise hand-in-hand with loving your body as she is.
Sleep and rest
You are a creature of the earth. Just as the natural cycles move from summer to winter, full moon to dark moon, day to night, your body needs to downregulate.
Sleep and rest are foundational to self care.
So prioritize a full night's sleep. Hammock time. Afternoon naps. Your feet up by the fire. What is your body calling for today?
Sleep is medicine. Your body does 90% of its healing during your sleep. Overnight, you release human growth hormone, which supports your body’s ability to nourish and strengthen itself.
As a woman, you need more sleep than men. And during times of hormonal change, you naturally need even more rest—be it period fatigue, menopausal transitions, etc.
I’ve heard sleep be likened to health insurance. Personally, I think of sleep as self-healing. In any case, it’s a potent and powerful practice to set up your life to support your sleep.
3. Incorporating healing herbs into your life as potent food and medicine
Did you know that the Earth provides free, abundant food and medicine, right at your doorstep? Yup, common, local plants that are often considered “weeds!”
Foremothers around the world have used plants like chickweed, dandelion, yellow dock, burdock, violet, and plantain throughout the ages. These plants offer free and abundant calcium-rich salad greens, liver nourishment, respiratory support, and wound healing.
Many women learning herbs today notice a sense of reconnecting with cellular memories. Herbal medicines have long been part of the lineage of women’s wisdom, passed from mother to daughter through the generations—both as food and as medicine.
Wild edible plants
The lines between food and medicine blur as you eat wild plants. Your food becomes your medicine, your medicine becomes your food. Three favorite forms to bring wild plants to your kitchen table...
Wild foods: From soups to salads, wild edible weeds such as dandelion, chickweed, and violet add a nutrient-packed punch to your dinners.
Infusion herbs: Making water-based infusions by steeping dried herbs overnight makes a strong, medicinal tea that extracts nutrients such as chlorophyll and minerals. Wondering where to start? Try nettle infusion.
Herbal vinegars: Use homemade herbal vinegars as a condiment on cooked greens or in salad dressings. My favorite herbs for mineral-rich culinary vinegars are these three sisters: chickweed, nettle, and mugwort.
Medicine chest herbs
Rather than relying solely on the fluorescent-light drug store shelves, you can create your own medicine chest to turn to for many common ailments, from cuts or colds to menstrual cramps or hot flashes.
Your herbal medicine chest will likely include:
Herbal tinctures: Alcohol based tinctures extract many medicinal constituents—plus they're convenient and portable. Tonic tinctures for long-term use include vitex and hawthorn berry. You'll also want herbal first aid tinctures for day-to-day ailments such as echinacea, motherwort, usnea, and poke.
Herbal salves and oils: For external skin and wound healing, your medicine chest includes some herbal oils—or salves, made by melting in beeswax. You might start with plantain, for bug bites and cuts. And comfrey oil or salve is soothing and moisturizing for chapped lips, vaginal dryness, and pregnant bellies.
Connecting with the plants
You can make your own potent homemade herbal medicines. Herbs that are foraged fresh and harvested locally tend to be more potent than those shipped in by large companies from around the world.
And making your own herbal medicines is a powerful act in itself.
When you spend time with the plants, the medicine you get from harvesting is not only for your physical body—just being out there with the plants is feeding your heart and soul. I believe you get double the benefit when you're harvesting your own medicine—or even just clipping some of those wild greens for salad.
And remember, wild plants make wild women!
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The next area of holistic healing is usually considered to be the mind. How you think and feel. What makes you tick.
Let’s remember that the organs of the brain and the heart are inexorably intertwined in that dance.
In this section, we’ll address both mind and heart. Because healing your mind is also healing your heart. When you read a letter from a beloved old friend, your heart warms and opens. Hearing an unsettling news story, your heart may withdraw or tighten.
Sometimes those inner realms of mind and heart seem a little nebulous, hard to put your finger on. Yet how you think and feel has an immeasurable impact on not only your mental health, but also your physical body. That’s the beauty of holistic healing.
4. Updating your psyche for self-valuing to move beyond the old stories
As a woman, you've likely internalized messages to put others before yourself. And if you speak up for yourself, you may have been told you’re “too emotional” or “too needy.”
Perhaps you've been told it must just be your time of the month. Or it's just your menopausal mood swings.
Let's shift that lens.
For starters, you’ve been blessed with a hormonal cycle that connects you to your truth. The veils between the worlds thin and you have more access to your emotions—it becomes harder to keep them at bay, stuffed out of sight.
Your truth comes out during your moontime and pre-menstrual days. And also during pregnancy, if you so choose to become a mother.
And your truth comes out in menopause.
Your truth comes out whenever you find the courage to move beyond the old stories and speak up for yourself.
Whether you’re in or beyond your menstruating or menopausal years, holistic healing includes updating your internal landscape for self-valuing.
Embracing your emotions
Healing your psyche means reclaiming your birthright of expressing all of who you are.
Maybe you’re ashamed that you still struggle with processing feelings such as rage, resentment, hurt, or anxiety. So you subconsciously try to suppress them.
Yet those feelings still live in your body, and can manifest in various issues within your mental and physical health.
Did you know that your feelings can help you identify what’s going on beneath the surface? That your feelings connect you directly with your intuition?
It’s true. Your feelings are your friends, even the rough or painful ones because they point back to underlying needs that are met or unmet.
So let those feelings flow, and take the opportunity to notice where they lead you, below the surface. Back to yourself.
Wondering where to start? Grab my free guide on 5 Steps to Create a Space for Self-Healing (pdf) to support your journey of healing and wholeness.
Updating your thought patterns
Your most ingrained beliefs were probably formed when you were a girl and then reinforced by societal messages over the years. As women, most of us have internalized beliefs based on some variation of the theme that “something’s wrong with me.”
Maybe you were told explicitly or implicitly that you’re "too much" or "not enough." Whether it’s too loud, too strong, too big, too tall, not tall enough, too smart, not smart enough. . . the list goes on.
Unfortunately, heard often enough, these messages affect how you view yourself.
So how do you update your beliefs in a happy, healthy way?
Awareness is the first step. When you become conscious of some of the old voices that have been running the show behind the scenes, it’s easier to transform them through self-loving affirmations (choose ones that your brain can actually believe!) and other self-healing techniques.
As you update those ingrained old thought patterns, you come to recognize that you're beautiful and lovable just the way you are!
5. Authentic relationships are central to your thriving
Your relationships are naturally a foundational aspect of your mental and emotional health—whether they’re with chosen family, blood family, neighbors, or co-workers.
As mammals, we are innately relational beings. So it’s natural to want and need belonging, love and connection in our lives. Yet it can be a lifelong learning to cultivate healthy, mutually supportive relationships.
Sadly, countless women today are walking around with hearts that are aching or broken–from relationships romantic or otherwise. All too often, that old pain affects your current relationships.
Addressing heartache and heartbreak can be a powerful opportunity for deeper healing, understanding the patterns and underlying beliefs that may have played out for you in various relationships over time. You then have an opportunity to reset and cultivate a healthier future for yourself.
Healthy loving relationships
Healthy, mutually respectful relationships calm and regulate your nervous system.
All too often, relationships can bring up self doubt or anxiety—especially if there are dynamics of criticism, obligation, guilt, or intimidation.
As studies at Jean Baker Miller Institute have shown, "growth-fostering relationships" leave you with a sense of zest and clarity about yourself—rather than feeling drained or confused by your time together. Cultivating those healthy, loving relationships heals your mind and heart.
You may think boundaries are for keeping others out. And sometimes they are, sister, for your own health and sanity.
Yet even within a healthy relationship, clear boundaries are essential for creating a space for you to thrive.
Letting your loved ones know what you need to be true to yourself serves both of you.
Ultimately, healthy relationship boundaries support authentic intimacy in relationships grounded in mutual respect, safety and trust.
6. Healing trauma digs down to the roots
Most women today are probably healing from trauma. Whether it’s classic PTSD—an incident that stopped you in your tracks, that marks “before” and “after.” Or whether it's complex trauma (aka CPTSD), usually rooted in prolonged neglect or abuse.
Complex trauma is especially common for women, often beginning as childhood trauma, although it can also begin or be compounded in later years. The roots of complex trauma are generally a painful environment with no apparent way out, usually as the result of difficult or painful relationships. In essence, complex trauma is considered a relational disorder.
Trauma healing is a complex and multi-faceted process—which is why it's so important to call on the multiplicity of holistic healing.
Yes, trauma is a mental and emotional issue. And trauma also impacts the body. It can show up in many ways, from chronic health issues or auto-immune disorders to adrenal fatigue, anxiety or sleep disturbances.
So how do you find your way out? Through your unique holistic healing journey nourishing your body, heart, mind—and soul.
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The third area of holistic healing is perhaps the most ephemeral and difficult to grasp of all—spirit, or the soul. By whatever name you call Divine, Goddess, God, Universe . . .
What does spiritual mean, anyway, if we peel back the layers of religious dogma?
At the heart of authentic spiritual experiences, is connection. This can include connecting with yourself and your own body; connecting with nature and the Earth; and connecting with your sisters.
Let’s take a look at the fabric of some of those spiritual connections in the context of holistic healing as an earth-based woman.
7. Self-healing through connection with your sacred self
You may long to weave a deeper connection with yourself and your spirit. Yet there may be many other voices pulling at you—from within and without.
As a girl and/or a woman, you may have received mixed messages spiritually:
“It’s your job to find yourself—but don’t get self-absorbed.”
“Take responsibility for yourself—but serve others before yourself.”
“Become who you truly are—but don’t get full of yourself.”
As you connect with the core of who you are, you will become naturally and beautifully full of yourself! And you’ll also want to connect with and contribute to the world and those around you.
Connecting with yourself is sacred. It’s self-healing.
Connecting with yourself often comes through your experiences of embodiment. Embodiment is being fully present in your body, tuning into the shifts within your body, and embracing all that your body is.
While both mainstream and alternative sensibilities today often impose a separation of body and spirit, as women we know and experience the sacred within our bodies.
Embodiment embraces the spiral of light and dark.
It may not feel easy or appear pretty—especially on those hard days and nights when your body pulls you down through menstrual cramps, hot flashes, menopausal mood swings, or the other deep and difficult times many women walk through.
Through those embodied experiences, as raw as they may be, you connect with the core of who you are. Your sacred body is home to your inner knowing.
As art therapy and music therapy have long demonstrated, giving yourself opportunities for creative expression is a powerful way to allow your inner self to emerge. What is it that your soul longs to give voice to?
Perhaps it's creating artwork, whether with pencils and pastels or glitter and glue. Remember, we're all artists. Keep it simple and messy and fun.
For many women, simple sounding or toning can be one of the easiest ways to find your voice. In a safe place outdoors, home alone, or driving in your car . . . let your voice out!
Of the many modalities of creative expression—from drawing or writing, to song or dance—which most resonates for you today?
Healing across the veils of time and space
There are various ways to access your wisdom beyond the veils of ordinary reality.
Every night your inner self emerges in the mystical world of your dreamtime. As you remember and write down your dreams, exercising your muscles of recollection, you strengthen the linkages between your subconscious and conscious mind.
And as you reflect on the messages your dreams offer you, you can access guidance from your internal self beyond the bounds of time and space.
Psychodrama and shamanism alike have also discovered the power of healing by going back in time and rewriting your stories.
Whether through journaling, play-acting, or ritual, engage your imagination.
For example, you might go back to an earlier time in your life, with new awareness, insights or guidance for your younger self. As you do so, you shift the storyline—a potent way to heal yourself backward and forward through time.
8. Connection with Mother Earth as spiritual sustenance
As an earth-based woman, you understand that Mother Earth nourishes and sustains you physically. You likely also find that time outdoors in nature brings you solace and spiritual sustenance. How might you feel called to deepen your spiritual connection with the Earth?
Being out in nature
Connecting with the Earth can be as simple as getting outside in a state of curiosity and openness. Your spirits lift just by taking a walk, or laying on the earth. By tending your garden, or connecting with the plants. By gazing at the wonder of the night sky, or marveling at the ocean waves.
As you witness the miracle of Earth’s body, you see reflected the miracles of your own body. The microcosm within the macrocosm.
You see her storms, and her calm. You recognize it’s not always a sunny day. The Earth has her rainy, cold, dark times just as you do.
Insights come. Whether you’re directly talking to a tree, or just quieting your mind through connecting with the stillness and power of nature. Answers to questions you may have been pondering, naturally emerge.
Engaging the seasonal cycles
You marvel at the cycles of growth, death, and rebirth—watching the plants move from seed to leaf to blossom, fruit, and then back to the back to the roots.
Seasonal cycles reflect your internal landscape and provide a natural structure and opportunities for healing.
Throughout time, foremothers around the world honored the seasonal markers of the Wheel of the Year.
This includes the solstices and equinoxes, and the halfway points in between—such as Imbolc, between winter solstice and spring equinox; and Samhain, between fall equinox and winter solstice.
Do you love moon gazing? Throughout all your ages and stages, the cycles of the moon also offer you opportunities to engage the natural energies for your own growth and healing—such as setting new moon intentions.
When the pace of modern life feels hurried and harried, tuning into the natural cycles of the Earth and the moon slows you down and reminds you of your innate spiritual connectedness.
9. Lifting one another up through sisterhood connections
On a physiological level, connecting with other women promotes your body's production of oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone." Oxytocin stimulates relaxation, trust and altruism. Connections with other women also support your spirit.
Be patient with yourself as you shift your internal paradigm from ranking yourself against other women, to linking arms in authentic sisterhood.
Cultivating sisterhood today is nothing less than a paradigm shift. Competition between women is a construct of patriarchal culture. When you set aside that distraction, you're free to join arms, empower yourself and your sisters, and rise up!
Honoring both commonalities and differences
One of the reasons listening to and sharing your heart with other women is so powerful is the opportunity to recognize commonalities.
You come to realize that your struggles are not just your isolated issue—your own storyline, your past, your problem. You recognize that the common experiences of women. Such as absorbing messages that you’re not enough, too much, doing it wrong, and so on.
At the same time, honoring the differences among women is also essential.
As a white woman, I feel strongly that I have a responsibility to educate myself about understanding racism and privilege. The Wise Woman Tradition is rooted in traditional ways throughout the world, and we also recognize that our experiences are not the same.
Of course, the variety of backgrounds that impact our experiences as women also includes age, class, sexual preference, gender expression, mothers and not mothers . . .
So find ways to connect with sisters in gatherings large and small—whether a cup of tea with a friend, a sacred sharing circle, or a women’s conference.
Cultivating your relationships with women galvanizes a sense of belonging, inspiration and strength. And by embracing and honoring other women, you come to more fully love and value yourself.
Flowers do not diminish one another's beauty
What makes a meadow full of wildflowers so captivating and beautiful?
Not the appearance of one, but the abundance of many flowers with different colors, shapes, fragrances, sizes, and stages of development.
The beauty of one flower—say a curvy, purple violet, does not diminish the beauty of another—perhaps a bright, golden sunburst of a dandelion
If I appreciate your beauty, or intelligence, that need not diminish mine!
Thick or thin; black or white; busty or hippy or leggy, we are each our own unique, lovely flower.
Competition between women is a construct of patriarchal culture which keeps us separated from one another.
Women of all shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors each have our unique expressions of beauty and style to share with the world and one another.
When we look at each other in this way, we discover that we are all reflections of the divine!
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Which holistic healing tenet is calling you today?
As a woman, embracing the wholeness of your body, mind and spirit isn’t always easy.
You may feel alone at times, navigating a difficult turn on the spiral of your life's journey.
You may fell overwhelmed at times with the deep and difficult internal work of loving your body, setting boundaries, or breaking free of societal expectations of what a woman “should” be.
Yet this is the work of becoming who you are. Who you came here on this planet, in this body, to be.
One step at a time.
Along your unique journey, which step is calling you today?
Perhaps you want to focus on nourishing your body—turning to the earth for food and medicine, or honoring your body’s natural calls for both activity and rest.
Or you may be drawn to focusing on loving yourself, mind and heart. Or cultivating healthy, authentic relationships to heal old wounds.
Or maybe right now you want to focus on embodying your spiritual self through connections—with yourself, with the natural world, or with sisters.
The beauty of holistic healing is that any one of these tenets you choose to focus on, is interconnected with all the others. Think of them as a web of support for your own health and well-being, at your fingertips when you feel so called.
As you embody your wholeness, you feel more alive. More you. More free to be all of who you are—body, mind and spirit.
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