Whole-self healing is the attention, care, and support we need for all parts of ourselves to heal: body, mind, emotion, and spirit.

Healing is about much more than just healing physical illness and injury. In fact, you can heal without having complete physical healing. You can even heal in the process of dying.

With my clients, I often use the example of a child with a skinned knee. You can’t fix it, you can’t make it go away, so what do responsible caregivers intuitively do? They hold the child. They allow the child to process the pain, insult, and disruption. It’s obvious that what they are doing helps the healing process. And the child is the one who does their own healing, attended to by the patience and care of a loving support person.

It may not help the physical healing of the broken skin, but it helps the whole-self healing of the child.

And we all have needs at multiple levels. When we have the time, space, and support we need to do our own healing, the journey can be profound.

Conveniently, these four dimensions of healing and wholeness correspond beautifully with the four elements of astrology (and certain spiritual traditions).

They line up more or less like this, with each element representing our need for:

Earth/body – physical integrity, functionality, protection/safety

Air/mind – mental processing, problem solving, language and communication

Water/emotion – feelings, love, belonging, going with the flow

Fire/spirit – action, movement, decision-making, self-expression

Think of a time when you or someone you know was ill or injured. You or that person did not just need to become physically well. Your/their needs were specific to the situation and likely included complicated feelings–possibly feelings of failure or rejection, feelings of embarrassment or self-consciousness, grief or regret over a loss, or perhaps fears of mortality.

The whole-self healing process includes a consideration of our human needs to process the complexity of the experience. And when you look at healing in this way, it doesn’t even need to be a physical illness or injury to require healing. It can be a traumatic event, fears or anxieties, overwhelm, or any difficulty with the realities of life.

You can even experience healing in the midst of loss or death. There might be an opportunity to remember what you are grateful for, to reconcile old conflicts, to get clarity about what is important, to forgive a loved one, etc.

The process is complex and whole-self healing is best served when we honor our needs in each of these dimensions of any healing process. The ability to heal and feel “all right” can be recognized as the elegant, complex, and holistic process it truly is.

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Marina Ormes RN, HN-BC is a holistic nurse and evolutionary astrologer. She is the author of Cycles of Healing: Personal Transformation in Relationship to a Living Cosmos.