Healing the Mind, Body, and Soul

Do you need healing? Besides the usual stuff happening in our lives, these past several years of the pandemic and forced isolation have made mental health a top concern for many.

Many of us are struggling -- whether or not we admit it to ourselves or others -- but happily, many of us have also sought healing and peace... and this work is a direct result of our healing.

If you are struggling right now, here are five ways to start trying to heal your mind, body, and soul.

My Favorite Modalities of Healing

1. Mindfulness. This tool is all about actively focusing on the now, the bigger picture of life, and observing our thoughts and feelings -- but without worry, concern, and judgment. It's about acceptance -- and being focused on the present, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.

Mindfulness helps get us out of that dungeon where too many concerns overwhelm us. Yes, we may be facing multiple issues -- finding a new job, breaking up with a friend, trying to find our purpose -- but these issues and others can crush us if we choose to obsess over them and don't take time to step away from them.

Mindfulness is designed to help us snap back to the present -- to be fully aware of who we are, where we are, and what we're doing -- and to not be overly reactive and/or overwhelmed by the problems we perceive are swirling around us.

When we sit in a quiet place and focus on the here and now, it calms us -- helps us see the bigger picture, reducing stress and often providing key insights. It also helps us see ourselves and others in a different light.

2. Nutrition. You are what you eat, so if you are eating processed foods, fast foods, and junk foods -- all truly fake foods -- you need to stop. These foods can trap us in a downward cycle of shame and guilt, as well as wreak havoc on our immune systems and our bodies.

Food has the ability to make us healthier and happier, but only if we are eating real (unprocessed) foods. And real food is something that can be cooked/baked by all of us; we do not need to make five-course meals -- just meals made with real ingredients, real food. (Read more about real food.)

Nutrition is not about a fad diet, but about a lifestyle of eating more nutritious foods -- typically fresh and organic fruits and vegetables, as well as meats and fish. Eliminate as much sugar and simple carbohydrates as possible (which will stop the energy highs and lows). Cook with grassfed butter or olive, avocado, or coconut oils only. Whenever possible, you should be buying organic (which blocks harmful pesticides and herbicides from getting into our food) and from local farmers and ranchers; avoid factory foods as much as possible.

What we eat affects our mental health, physical health, and overall well-being.

3. Exercise. Nothing helps shake some of the negativity and frustrations more than exercise... and that exercise does not need to be excessive -- just creating muscle, joint movement.

My favorite form of exercise is walking, followed closely by riding my bicycle. I don't jog or run, nor do I do crazy intense workouts. For Jenny, my partner, get her to a Jazzercise class and her mind and emotions get back in the good range from the dancing.

Exercise -- even moderate levels -- have been proven to be extremely beneficial. So many of us live a sedentary lifestyle... sitting in a chair all day for work, then sitting on the sofa streaming shows, calling on Alexa to do things for us so we don't need to get up and move.

Exercise is proven to improve attention/focus, anxiety, stress, and depression -- while improving our psychological, physiological, and immunological functions.

Exercise also helps us sleep better -- and sleep is a critical factor in our healing.

4. Meditation/Prayer. Prayer has always been a part of my life -- and prayer is especially helpful when things seem overwhelming. But for those who are not religious, meditation has those same benefits: stress-reduction, calmness, peacefulness, acceptance, relaxation, focus, quiet breathing, and emotional well-being.

I had the misconception of meditation as people sitting around on mats chanting "ummmmmm." But meditation is more about quiet reflection and thought -- and being in the moment with your thoughts and feelings. All one needs for meditation is a quiet and comfortable spot to just be. My wife Jenny taught me the joy of meditating during summertime on our deck, as the sun slowly sets, feeling that last warmth and light from the sun.

Meditation has been proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in some people -- as well as lowering high blood pressure, easing digestive issues, and facilitating better sleep.

As a person of faith, I pray much more than meditate, though I feel my meditations are also prayers. Finally, as a Christ-follower, I take comfort in reading and repeating certain Bible verses, such as this one: Philippians 4:6-7: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

5. Plant Medicine/Psychedelics. The current psychedelic revival is both stunning, amazing, and encouraging because of the power of intentional psychedelic use to assist in healing people with a variety of issues. More than 50 years after President Richard Nixon rashly decided that all psychedelics offered no medicinal benefit, new research is clearly showing the error of his decision. There's mounting evidence of the power of psychedelic plant medicines (such as ayahuasca, psilocybin, ibogaine, mescaline) and other psychedelics (MDMA, LSD, ketamine) to help people with a variety of conditions, including: anxiety, depression, addiction, post-traumatic stress, obsessive-compulsive disorder, cluster headaches, and more.

People find healing by using psychedelics in one of two modalities -- or both. First, by ingesting a large dose to induce a healing journey; second, by microdosing a small dose to promote well-being and avoid the full-on journey of a larger dose. (Some people start with microdosing to build trust with the medicine before deciding to complete a full-on macrodose journey.)

These psychedelic medicines are not cure-alls nor magic pills, but they offer many exciting possibilities -- especially as a much better alternative to conventional pharmaceutical drugs, which often mask symptoms rather than solving the underlying problem/trauma.

People who are seeking healing through psychedelic medicines need to be committed to working on themselves prior to the medicine, then taking and experiencing the medicine, followed by weeks and months (even years) of integrating the psychedelic experience into their lives and well-being.

Read more in one of my other articles: Five Things to Consider Before Jumping into Healing Through Plant Medicines and How to Prepare for Your First Psychedelic Experience.

And while not a psychedelic, cannabis is a plant with many healing qualities, and many people use it to help heal. Learn more in this article: Five Healing Benefits of Cannabis.

Other Healing Modalities

Looking for more/additional ways for healing? Here's a quick look at five other methods.

  • Stretching: A focus on flexing specific tendons and muscles to increase flexibility, alleviate pain, improve coordination/posture. Read more.

  • Breathwork: For many, this technique brings mental clarity and a reduction in pain and stress; it involves different types of breathwork that range from gentle practices to ones that feel more intense. Read more.

  • Massage: Massage also supports healing by helping clients shift from a sympathetic nervous response (fight or flight) to a parasympathetic response (relaxation). Read more.

  • Acupuncture: Comes from traditional Chinese medicine, in which pins/needles are used to trigger specific points on the skin; these pins are then activated through movements of the practitioner's hands or with electrical stimulation. Read more.

  • Yoga: Originated in ancient from India, and includes physical, mental, and spiritual practices to still the mind and spirit and help improve muscle strength, flexibility, and range of motion. Read more.

Final Thoughts on Healing Your Body, Mind, Soul

The key to all these practices is healing. We all need to heal; we all have trauma.

We need to quiet the stress, fear, anger, anxiety, and other negative influences affecting our well-being. Another tool for healing is readjusting our perspective; shifting perspective from micro-problems and stressors to seeing the many good things in our lives. (See my related article, Gratitude: A New Year Requires a New Perspective.)

Consider trying as many of these healing modalities that resonate with you -- and try more than once if the first time was not as successful as you hoped.

For all of these practices, I suggest adding the calming benefits of nature to your experience -- so sit on a park bench and practice mindfulness, take a hike in the woods, find a quiet place in nature to sit and meditate or pray.

Healing Mind, Body, Soul Resources

Dr. Randall Hansen is an advocate, educator, mentor, ethicist, and thought-leader... helping the world heal from past trauma. He is founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com.

He is the author of the groundbreaking Triumph Over Trauma: Psychedelic Medicines are Helping People Heal Their Trauma, Change Their Lives, and Grow Their Spirituality and the well-received HEAL! Wholeistic Practices to Help Clear Your Trauma, Heal Yourself, and Live Your Best Life.

Dr. Hansen's focus and advocacy center around true healing ... healing that results in being able to live an authentic life filled with peace, joy, love. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.