The Four Quadrants of Holistic Health & Healing
By Dr. Martin Hart, DC, Senior Doctor, Biologix Center for Optimum Health
Holistic medicine, natural health, integrative medicine. You see these taglines thrown around in the alternative medicine world but often they don’t imply anything more than using herbs and supplements or maybe, at best, a bit of mind-body medicine. But what does it mean to be truly holistic? Fully integrative? This type of medicine requires an understanding of the Four Quadrants of Integral Theory.
Many philosophers have attempted to understand and organize our experience of reality. Ken Wilber, an American philosopher, does a useful job of that with his Integral Theory and the Four Quadrants. These quadrants are a way to understand our experience and patterns of life. Without overexplaining the entire philosophy, let’s explore these quadrants and see a truly holistic and integrated approach.
These four quadrants represent our experience as human beings. Essentially, we cannot function, nor to some degree exist, without all four quadrants. When you are chronically ill, all four of them play a role in that illness or at the very least, are impacted by this illness. A holistic approach then must look at all four quadrants.
This first section (upper left) is marked “I”, as it is the inner-subjective quadrant. It contains your thoughts, memories, emotions, and spirituality. Being subjective, it cannot be measured, I must tell you about my inner landscape. The second quadrant (upper right) is labeled “IT” and includes the physical body that can be measured objectively. Some aspects may not be perfectly quantifiable as of yet, such as subtle energies. Often, when a practitioner says they are holistic, they mean that they are working with the whole body. Which, to their credit, is a step above and beyond pieces and parts medicine. But it still misses three quadrants. Some practitioners will include mind-body medicine, which is another step in the right direction because now it includes two quadrants. That’s progress!
Quadrant three (lower left) is called “WE” because it is the realm of the inter-subjective. It is our culture, relationships, and the language we speak. It is important to consider, what does your culture say about health and disease, living and dying? How are your relationships, healthy or toxic? Research shows over and over that these inter-subjective factors heavily impact your health and healing. In quadrant four (lower right), we experience the “ITS”, our physical, objective environment. This includes our natural environment, infrastructure, system, governmental bodies, and technology. Things such as air quality, EMF radiation, mold, and government restrictions would all fall into this category.
When chronic illness manifests in your life, it forms a pattern across all four quadrants. Or maybe, the pattern in all four quadrants manifested the chronic illness…
Either way, true Holistic Health and Medicine requires us to look at all four quadrants and take the necessary steps towards healing.
Join us on November 2, 2021 for our monthly BioBites series. This month we will be joined by Dr. Hart to further explore the meaning of holistic health and healing and the implications for patient care. To register, visit https://bit.ly/nov2biobites