~5 min read
Holistic health is my business. As an occupational therapist of almost 20 years, a mother to three (with another on the way), a stepmother to 2, wife and amateur runner- this is a solid fit for me. As a Catholic, however, it’s a major challenge. The world of holistic health is dominated by moral relativism, pseudoscience, and resistance to acknowledge God as the Almighty Creator.
My personal and professional wellness journey began after graduating from college. I moved to New York and began working with adults diagnosed with cognitive impairment and mental illness. I went on to work in the school system and then a continuing care retirement community. I was in my early twenties and had begun to suffer panic attacks and my first acute autoimmune disease flare that went undiagnosed for over a year. As more of my joints became swollen and painful, I sought out alternative therapies over traditional pharmaceutical solutions. I found some success, but also discovered that the world of holistic health was often not spiritually aligned with my faith.
A few years passed and I moved to Maryland and then North Carolina working in subacute rehabilitation facilities and home health. Around this time, I began researching epigenetics and nutrigenomics. Following the completion of the human genome project, the opportunities for personalized medicine and preventative health informed by our own unique DNA provided brand new opportunities to advance every aspect of wellness. Epigenetics is the study of turning genes off and on and we now know that while you cannot change the genes that you were born with, you can influence which genes are active versus dormant in many ways. Nutrigenomics is the study of how food interacts with our specific set of DNA. Not only has this science given us the information to improve advanced medicine, but I was seeing more clearly how I could apply what I was learning to myself, my children and my patients. God’s gift of this science and His amazing design for us and our environment allowed me to eliminate my pain and autoimmune symptoms, resolve my son’s anxiety, help friends and family with various issues and identify major deficiencies for various family members that had never been tested for.
After treating thousands of patients and becoming familiar with the effect of genetic variations on physical and mental health, I left my traditional practice to develop a more effective preventative practice from a clinical perspective. I was more inspired than ever to find better ways to be holistically healthy according to God’s design and to help as many other people as I could. Inspired by my new goals, I wrote a book outlining my thoughts so that I could better explain the consistency between my Catholic faith and the healthcare work that I felt called to do. Of course, modern medicine and all of its treatments are also a great gift to us, but we must also seek to achieve wellness and prevent disease whenever possible.
One of the most fascinating wellness discoveries that I sought to incorporate into my own personal practice as well as my professional practice is that of meditation. Of course, meditation itself is not new at all, but recent discoveries about exactly how meditation improves our health at a cellular level have greatly increased general participation in meditative practices. This is great news for health and wellness, but for me, the challenge of finding resources that are both Catholic and good quality was somewhat frustrating. There is no shortage of scientific-based meditation apps, new age studios or secular self- help books. There is, however, a major shortage of holistic health resources and practitioners who place God at the center of it all- and that’s exactly where He should be. He designed each of us to be physically, mentally and spiritually well in order to pursue truth and purpose.
I do use some great Catholic prayer apps, but after looking more closely at meditative practice, I was hoping to find an app that could deliver both solid meditation and an opportunity to grow closer to God. I can’t tell you how excited I was to find Hallow. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for and I finally have a resource that I can confidently share with my family and my clients. This app has everything that I was looking for and is perfect for both beginner and advanced meditators of all ages. For me, staying healthy in order to care for my family and treat my patients is a top priority. The benefits of meditation are evident in physical, mental and of course spiritual practice, but we cannot be holistically well without acknowledging and worshipping our Creator. These days, controlling my autoimmune flares and staying healthy during my fourth pregnancy is a challenge that I most certainly cannot take on alone. I am so thankful to have Hallow as a guide to keep me on track!
If you’re interested in learning more about Erin’s work, you can check out the website link here: designedtobewell.com