Tolle Totem

The naturopathic principle of tolle totem, treat the whole, refers to the practice of treating people as whole biological organism whose function depends upon a complex of interacting aspects -- physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. In the context of integral medical praxis, however, tolle totem refers not just to the individual as a whole, but also to the entire universe in which that whole is embedded, as well as the individual's experience and awareness of it. We do not exist in isolation from our environment -- physical, social, political, cultural. Our personal experience of who we are emerges from our consciousness about who we are in relationship to the world around us.


It is sometimes said that conventional medicine treats diseases while alternative medicine treats people. At best, this is oversimplified. At worst, it is inaccurate, because people cannot be separated from their experiences of the symptoms which characterize their illnesses. Integral medicine recognizes that no thing, such as a disease, and no person, exists independent of its circumstances. Interbeing, a term introduced in North America by the buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, describes this reality. The integral medical practitioner holds no illusions about the true nature of a medical encounter: without the illness, there is no patient, and without the patient, there is no physician.One does not exist without the other. They inter-are. How any clinical encounter unfolds depends upon their interbeingness.


An integral approach to medicine relies upon a panoramic view of different modes of inquiry -- tools used by people to acquire knowledge about themselves and the world they inhabit. It is based upon the presumption that no human mind can be 100% wrong. This means that all the methodologies that people have developed to understand the nature of health and sickness in order to influence the process of moving between the two are at least partially correct. Furthermore, the fact that there are different ways to understand these phenomena tells us that not only are there different ways to become healthy, but there are also different ways to become ill.


The fact that there are different ways to understand the universe leads us to ask the question "How is the human psyche organized to permit multiple perspectives?" The concept of quadrants is used by Ken Wilbur, an integral psychologist, to keep track of the four major dimensions of being-in-the-world that are comprehended by the human psyche simultaneously: Inside-the-Individual (I, me), Outside-the-Individual (he/him, she/her, it), Inside-the-Group (we, us), and Outside-the-Group (they). Conventional medicine focuses almost exclusively on only the exterior-individual quadrant -- the individual and his or her objective dimensions (physiology, anatomy and the effects of physical interventions, from drugs to surgery). Integral medical praxis integrates all four dimensions into the therapeutic relationship. And integration begins with the clinician.

Learn More


Integral medical praxis is a life-long, dynamic and holistic process of widening and deepening relationship with the self, culture and nature. It is a practice in which both the clinician and the person being "treated" are transformed. It is not a static process. Rather it is a continuous and dynamic process of healing in the fullest sense of the word, the journey of opening into one's unique and personal expression of integrity -- the state of being whole and undivided. In this context, health is not defined as the absence of disease. Rather, it is a process by which people maintain their ability to develop ways of understand the world that allow them to function, heal, and grow in the face of changes in themselves, their relationships, and the world. Integral medical praxis concerns itself with transforming consciousness -- the way that people understand themselves, the world, and their relationship to it -- in order to create life-affirming expressions of being human.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.






the universe

the void

an expression of the moment

when we are free

to let the mind/body create.

Zen Buddhism