Holistic Psychology

A Holistic Approach to Religion

This is a guest post by Victoria Ellis, Lesley University student and my intern this semester. ;-)  

Since my freshmen year at Lesley University, I have spent Easter with my teammate and fellow colleague Sarah Bassett.  This year her mom picked us up and brought us back to her house in Clifton Park, New York for the weekend.  Sarah’s family is Catholic so we went to the St. Edward the Confessor Roman Catholic Church down the street from her house on Easter Sunday.  I was raised going to a Presbyterian church but have been heard many Catholic services as well, but the homily I heard this Easter was unexpected.  I expected this Easter homily to be about the resurrection of the Lord and how all things done in the Lord’s name will be victorious, but the pastor had a different agenda.

After a few hymns, the pastor came forth and began by saying that this Easter homily will be a little different than usual.  He explained how he debated within himself for a while about what he would say on that day.  The church was packed full of people who attend church every Sunday as well as those who only go because it is Easter.  In my opinion, the pastor made a bold move and took this very busy day to explain to the church the relationship between science and religion.  He was addressing the arguments that atheists make towards religion and respectfully refuting them.

I could tell that this pastor was a very well educated and open-minded individual by the way he was making his argument.  He used Albert Einstein’s belief on religion throughout the homily.  Einstein stated that “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind” and the pastor (and myself) agree with this assertion.  He explained that some people are not religious because their minds do not understand it.  They cannot grasp religion because it is not tangible and that is very hard for people to overcome sometimes (some people always need scientific proof).  Science needs religion as much as religion needs science.  Science is necessary for critical thinking and spirituality nourishes the soul so there must be a balance between the two for us to function.  Religion must be taken in holistically (this is not the exact word the pastor used, but I made the connection that it was basically what he was describing).

Just because one's mind cannot grasp religion does not mean that the body and soul do not.  This is where I think faith steps in.  No matter what religion you believe in (unless you are an atheist), faith is necessary.  My religion creates a feeling inside of me that I like.  It affects my thoughts and actions, but I do not fully understand it.  I cannot see it or touch it, but I feel it.  My faith comes from the feeling religion creates inside of me, not from the things that I can prove about my religion, hence why they are called beliefs not facts.

As I was listening to his homily, I felt almost as though I was in one of my Lesley classes, specifically my Holistic Psychology class.  Living holistically means that an individual is taking into account their mind, body, and soul and creating a balance in their life.  This homily was about seeing religion and science holistically as well.  Take into account ones mind, body, and soul when trying to apply to religion and science to ones life.  It does not have to be one or the other.  Religion and science work together and are necessary for balance in everyone’s lives.

Update from Emily and Jillian, Lesley University Rockstar Interns!

Emily Scolaro: My update: the only word that can I use to describe this experience this far is unreal.  I choose unreal because it is exactly that.  How many people get the opportunity to intern and learn from such an amazing person in their undergrad?  Not many!
Throughout this journey I have learned skills and gained knowledge that I could not have gotten from just reading a book, or going to a class.  Working with Dillan on a weekly basis has opened my eyes to a variety of opportunities. Engaging in a professional environment has made me become more self-aware.  I have learned how to place limits in certain aspects of my life, which has helped with my overall health; mentally, emotionally, and physically. The constant feedback of positive affirmation and constructive criticism from Dillan has driven me to be more passionate about everything I’m learning. I can see my future more clearly now and I’m hoping that one day I will be in a job where I feel so inspired and self motivated.

Dillan encouraged Jillian and I to attend a talk that was held by the Integrative Health Collaborative of Boston. They were hosting “an evening of networking with integrative health colleagues and a presentation from Dr. Darshan Mehta.” He talked about mindfulness as a tool for healing and staying healthy and how practitioners at the Benson-Henry Institute use and teach mindfulness as a treatment strategy.  After seeing his presentation I was in awe, mostly because I could not understand a good portion of the words he was saying.  Aside from that, the networking and knowledge I gained was amazing.  Jillian and I were probably the youngest people there, but we were treated as if we were just as equal as everyone else (whether one was a doctor, medical student, pharmacist, cook, health coach, etc.).  I felt honored to be at this amazing place, with a breathtaking view of Boston, and have remarkable people with common interests around me.  The networking aspect of the whole journey was probably the most beneficial.  I saw how Dillan advocated for herself and for her business, listened to others and what they had to offer, and could gage where to place her energy and focused attention.  This is one of the moments that I will look back at this internship and remember the impact it had on me.
I plan on continuing my internship in the spring so that we can proceed with some amazing ideas that we are developing.

Jillian Clarke:

Holistic psychology has always been a passion of mine, even before I knew it actually had a name. As a sophomore I have dove deeper into the field of holistic psychology and holistic living has become such an important part of my life.  Interning with Dillan has been one of the major catalysts for this love and passion.  This semester with Dillan has not only been an amazing work experience, but has also been changing my life for the better.
Working with Dillan has most definitely added to the primary foods of my life, particularly in the aspects of my career, relationships and spirituality.  Each week that we meet I have learned more and more about myself (I feel blessed to be able to do so much self-care at an internship!).  One of the experiences with Savor Your Existence that has helped my self-care progression was teaching a class at Lesley College with Dillan and Emily.  I spoke about the daily hardship of cravings and the correlation to primary food.  Being able to share my personal experiences with my peers was such a liberating feeling for me.  I was able to share my hardships and teach my peers how to cope with theirs as well.  I learned a lot about myself that day; the most important lesson was that I learned how well I was actually doing in my own life.   Learning about issues such as cravings, holistically, has strengthened my self-awareness and mindfulness.
I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity to work with Dillan this semester.  I am planning to keep working with this extraordinary person and keep broadening my horizons.