I remember when I was going through graduate school working tirelessly on my Master’s degree and then on for my Doctorate in the areas of nutrition and medical science, all in one long 7-year trajectory. It wasn’t easy, but, fortunately, I enjoy learning. I quickly became full up on information by reading scientific publications, working in the lab, writing papers, running clinical trials to test hypotheses, memorizing biochemical pathways, and presenting case studies. While I loved becoming super-saturated in the facts, along the way, I was missing a sense of the whole of the human body, and how everything interrelated. I could catch just glimpses of this big picture in between my smaller, compartmentalized classes.
I couldn’t keep my mind corralled into only scientific data, so I was already well down my exploration path as it related to yoga, personal growth, philosophy, psychology, the arts, and spiritual studies. For example, at the same time I was taking an anatomy & physiology course, I was also enrolled in classes on world religions, psychology, philosophy, literature, painting, and even ballet. Feeding my right-brain’s creative curiosity with the artistic side of human nature helped me to put my pre-med world of physiology, biochemistry, and organic chemistry into a more relevant, larger context – the landscape of living. When I was done with school and made my way out of the tunnel of academia, I eagerly began working in the ‘real world’ of food and dietary supplement industries. I came to understand what drives peoples’ food choices and how foods and nutritional products are formulated for maximum effect. From there, I continued to go deeper with eating and the study of food working from the inside of product manufacturers, while at the same time, having a private practice and teaching others about nutrition. The combination of these two seemingly disparate worlds helped broaden my perspective on food.
The swirl of my decades of experience has culminated in what I call Food & Spirit – connecting the staple of sustenance (food) with the soul of the individual (spirit), or allowing for the essence of eating and living to coalesce through a unique interface that is based in the seven aspects of self. I didn’t make up these “seven aspects” – rather, they have been long recognized in spiritual traditions as the body, emotions, ego, heart, expression, mind, and spirit.
I believe that we need more integration of these personalized facets within modern medicine – otherwise, we are missing out. Often, an individual is treated as only the body by quelling symptoms with drugs. Within this paradigm, the body is divided up into bits and assessed as parts rather than as one unifying organism. Other times, we address the emotions through psychotherapy, pharmaceuticals, journaling, or other means. And then there is the mind, that is dealt with in its array of thoughts, behavior, and moods, through a similar composite of therapies. Basically, there is a rotating wheel of standard-of-care therapies for body, emotions, and mind — but are we just on a merry-go-round? Are we truly getting somewhere?
What isn’t always accounted for in mainstream medicine is the other pieces of the collective of who we are and how they pull equal weight to body, emotions, and mind. Moreover, even when these parts of us are addressed, we don’t generally get to hear about how they interrelate and interact. Typically, someone handles the mind issues and they are separate from those dealing with the body.
The other aspects of the self are important, too. The spirit, or the essence of someone – their life purpose, calling, connection to the Divine and something greater – is incredibly essential to acknowledge in the healing process. Life purpose has been shown to be one of the elements of longevity. We may satisfy our spirit through our religious and spiritual practices, but it has only been fairly recently that we have started to see more scientific studies on the impact of practices like prayer and meditation on well-being.
What about the ego and will power as we think about stress and even changing our lifestyle and behavior? How much are we invested into maintaining a lifestyle of hustle-and-bustle rather than moderating our sense of power? And of course, what about our sense of expression through our creativity, voice, body, and words? Are we on intellectual overdrive rather than dipping into our playful, childlike self which enjoys expression of their true nature?
It would be wonderful to have a discussion with all of you on how these areas of our being, well-recognized by ancient medical and spiritual traditions, all dance together in the journey to health and wellness. Until we can get at the full underpinning of who we are as complex individuals, we may be missing the root of what needs to be healed. By unearthing many aspects of who we are in relationship to a facet of our lives, like food, we can learn about the visible and invisible onion-like layers of ourselves. It’s not usual to see the science of eating being bridged over to the entirety of who we are to fuel the path of personal growth, but there is a natural fit. Who we are is what, how, and why we eat.
As a healthcare professional, you may be looking to have a wider lens and a personalized toolkit when it comes to your patient’s journey to wellness and continuation on to optimal health. In all my travels while giving seminars and workshops, I can’t tell you how many of you want cutting-edge scientific credibility but also find it essential to embrace the artistic, softer side of the therapeutic encounter that is soulful, nourishing, and creative. Some of you have told me that you feel like the Food & Spirit philosophy and teaching give you permission to have both, because one or the other has been emphasized in your training and you don’t feel like you have a complete picture. Although they have been typically separated from each other, it is now the time to leverage both science and the arts in healing.
With you in mind, I recently launched the Certified Food & Spirit Practitioner Program to give you the option of this full-spectrum approach, enabling you to effectively address the beautiful, dynamic, personalized “kaleidoscope” of the whole person. You may need special assessments, plans, and metrics to get there, so I have harnessed not just my academic training in nutritional biochemistry, but also the layer of study and application of Functional Medicine including the specialties I’ve carved out in phytonutrients, women’s health, metabolic detoxification, herbs/supplements, and mind-body medicine.
Additionally, I have brought in my passion for subtle body science, or select ancient medicine and spiritual practices embraced in Asia and elsewhere, such as yoga, energy, chakras, meridians, and medical intuition. With these diverse threads of knowledge, I have developed a program for health care professionals like you and put it together in a streamlined, “simplex” way through a systematic toolkit encompassing the new and the old and the left-brain logic with the right-brain creativity, for effective, results-oriented, introspective-learning and healing at the innermost core.
I hope you will join me on the journey as a Certified Food & Spirit Practitioner. You are needed by many and there is no time like now for transformational health care rather than “disease care.” Here’s the link to sign up: http://www.foodandspiritprofessional.com/enrollment!
You are the one to make the shift we so need in the 21st century towards collaboration, the collective, and congruency in health…we’ve been waiting for you!
Dr. Deanna Minich