Holistic Holidays in Asia - International - August 2012
“Human beings are made of body, mind and spirit. Of these, spirit is primary, for it connects us to the source of everything, the eternal field of consciousness.”
This report focuses on holistic tourism in a number of Asian countries. With its time-honoured healing traditions, Asia leads the world in this sector of the industry – defined in this report as ‘holidays and travel experiences that offer an integrated approach to health and fitness, taking into account the whole person’s lifestyle as well as mental, physical and spiritual health’. Holistic holidays are taken by tourists for the purpose of improving their health and well-being, and usually involve structured programmes of activities and therapies. Holistic tourism is a niche sector of the overall health tourism market, which encompasses wellness and medical tourism as well as the various sectors linked to both categories.
The concept of ‘holism’ was pioneered by South African statesman Jan Smuts, in his book, Holism and Evolution (1926). Holism (from the Greek ‘holos’ meaning whole, all, entire, complete) is defined as ‘the tendency in nature to form wholes that are greater than the sum of the parts through creative evolution’ and plays a pivotal role in all life.
Holistic health is the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual health of an individual, family, society, nation and world. It involves holistic perspective and knowledge based on analytical research and co-ordinated policies as well as plans and their implementation in fields such as education, agriculture, science, technology and others.
Asia’s wellness traditions are rooted in ancient medical traditions and spirituality that treat the body, mind and spirit as one and encourage the body to heal itself. One of the distinctive features of oriental medicines is that they are an integral part of man’s philosophy, his consciousness and his relationships with other beings and the environment. Perhaps the most ubiquitous wellness principle in traditional medicine is the idea that life is dependent on a subtle form of energy. This energy, which is described by different healing traditions as ‘life energy’, ‘vital force’, ‘prana’ ‘chi’ or ‘qi’, is said to flow along defined pathways to support the function of living systems, according to Michael Loh in Understanding the Global Spa Industry, 2008. Health requires a dynamic balance of body, mind and spirit and any imbalance or disruption in the energy flow is likely to cause illness. Holistic treatments and therapies are aimed at restoring balance and the natural flow.
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