At Holistic Actions!, we are committed to so much more than helping pets become symptom and dis-ease free. The absence of dis-ease is not the same as the presence of health, and that’s why the end goal of everything we do is based on promoting, restoring, and maintaining vitality, balance, energy, happiness, and deep wellbeing.
True health is a “big picture” affair that involves every aspect of your pet’s body and larger life: their genetics, their diet, the amounts of exercise they get, whether they’re provided with regular enrichment exercises, how they were socialized, how close they feel to their guardians, how at ease they feel around other pets, whether they’ve been exposed to toxins, and so forth. Only by addressing and individually optimizing every single one of these aspects can we truly say that our pet is truly vital and balanced and healthy and happy vs merely dis-ease free.
Individual Optimization: BEAM and the Exposome
Every pet, just like every person, is an individual. The “paint-by-numbers” approach that has come to plague mainstream medicine prevents patients — animal or human — from receiving truly customized care based on their unique biology, life history, and symptoms. That’s why at Holistic Actions much of what we do depends on using two powerful approaches for assessing and working with your pet’s individuality: the exposome, and BEAM.
The exposome allows us to assess your pet’s individual exposure to things that can make them more susceptible to dis-ease: either exposure to negative things (like toxins, abuse, neglect, and so forth), or a lack of exposure/access to positive things (sound nutrition, adequate exercise, enrichment activities, and much more.)
BEAM is an acronym for Behavior, Energy, Appetite, and Mood. We teach pet guardians (who know their pet best) to identify and track symptoms across these four categories. Taking inventory of your pet’s BEAM allows us to collect highly specific clues based on your pet’s unique set of symptoms to support diagnosis and guide our initial treatment efforts. It also provides a baseline from which to assess how your pet is responding over time to the individualized treatment protocols we create for them.
Holistic Action’s Pet Happiness Protocol
Some compelling research demonstrates what we’ve been saying here: that health is about so much more than the absence of dis-ease, and that the experience of wellbeing and happiness may turn out to be one of the biggest (if not the biggest) predictor and “maintainer” of true health.
Research into Blue Zones
Dan Buettner’s research of clusters of people around the world who are the most long-lived, dis-ease free, vital, balanced, energetic, — suggest that happiness (and the strong, satisfying connections self, others, nature, meaningful activities, and a sense of purpose on which happiness is based) in inextricably related to true health.
Research into Radical Remission
Dr. Kelly Turner’s work identified 9 factors that promoted the spontaneous resolution of even serious dis-ease like stage IV cancer — provides further evidence that lifestyle changes that create conditions for happiness, connection, meaning and purpose play a huge role in the body’s capacity to not only heal itself from life-threatening illness but to actively thrive in the wake of it.
Research into Flow and positive psychology (aka “overflowing with joy”)
Wow, I am super excited by this wonderful work! This incredible field is describing the specific mechanisms and strategies to maintain and regain optimal functioning of the body both in all ways (psychological and physiological). It connects all the dots. The awe-some research by Drs. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Martin Seligman, journalist-research Steven Kotler, and many others around the world, are describing the neuropsychiatric mechanisms and strategies that help people and pets live happy and vital lives.
More exciting research into the connection between the power of breathing, happiness, sense of purpose, community and engagement is being conducted by researchers around the world, Journalist James Nestor’s excellent book on the science of breathing and awe-some work by the Art of Living Foundation are just a few examples.
Why does happiness seem to have such a powerful hand in health? Current research suggests that the experience of happiness supports and increases cellular energy and smooth cellular flow in living creatures, and we at Holistic Actions believe that high degrees of cellular energy and smooth flow of information between cells enable pets bodies to have the best possible lives. They do this by maintaining balance, immune resilience, and speed healing from illness.
Unleashing the Power of Happiness With the Happiness Protocol
At Holistic Actions, we know it’s not enough to increase cellular energy with optimized nutrition, supplementation, and holistic approaches drawn from nature, the ancient healing arts, indigenous medicine, and the best of modern science. We also have to increase cellular energy by increasing your pet’s happiness, and that’s why we implement an individualized “Happiness Protocol” for each of our pet patients! Here’s a glimpse into just a few elements of it!
The Power of “Puppy Pranayama” — Sniff Walks and Snuffle Matts
Dogs (even more than cats) have a huge number of nose and brain connections to experience the world through their noses. Their powerful sense of smell is the number one way they explore their environment. A dog’s ability to regularly exercise their sense of smell has enormous implications for their health and cellular energy. If they can do so in the sunshine and open air, even better! If this is not practical because of your pet’s limitations, a snuffle mat is a great tool for indoor pranayama (breathing exercises). The snuffle mat is like a shag carpet in which you hide treats which your pet then sniffs out. This “exercises” their brain similar to the sniff walk. Daily therapeutic “sniff walks” are loose leash walks that help the body heal and support vitality (cellular energy) by providing it with more oxygen and prana (life force energy). Cat’s benefit from pranayama too, and you can encourage this with the “hunt for treats” game or anything that makes them purr. Purring is akin to the restricted breathing of the ujjayi breath in yoga (cats are natural yogis!). If you’d like many more details, read this vet journal article on the extensive benefits of pranayama.
The Power of Play — Meaningful Connection and Pleasurable Exertion
Remember how we said a sense of meaningful connection is one of the bases for happiness? Playing with your pet, or promoting play with other animals, is an important piece of the happiness protocol because when you and your pet interact in this way it’s one of the most positive and powerful forms of connection you can share with them. Not only does it deepen the bond between you, it also provides an opportunity for pleasurable exertion — for your pet to move their body for the sheer joy of doing so.
The Power of Novelty — Old Dogs (and Cats) Learning New Tricks
Pets benefit from novelty — of being safely introduced to new things to help keep their brains sharp and to help them heal. Whether that’s a new toy, a new friend, a new park, a new agility course, or a new healthy treat, your pet’s happiness and wellbeing will increase through exposure to novelty. This can be especially powerful to help “tune-up” pets who have early warning signs of cognitive decline.
Understanding the role of individuality and happiness is absolutely essential for moving beyond merely treating dis-ease and instead focusing on creating true health. All living creatures — animal or human — want to thrive and flourish, to feel loved and to feel free, to feel energetic and at ease, to safely experience new things, and so much more. At Holistic Actions!, it’s our mission to ensure you have the tools, support, and resources for making this a reality for your pet. We’re here to empower you to help your pet live their healthiest, happiest, and longest life.
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