The History of Whole Life Recovery

Whole Life Recovery takes from both Eastern philosophies and Native American teachings in that life must always move forward not backward, and that each of us has four life elements of wellness that we must maintain in balance if we are to experience a wholeness in life:

  • physical
  • mental
  • emotional
  • and spiritual

The combination of these four life elements work together to revitalize and balance the body and provides us with contentment, fulfillment, a sense of wholeness, wellness and happiness.

In Whole Life Recovery, life is about moving forward and being in constant change. If one relates this concept to sobriety, the recovering individual is said to be in a state of constant change, from a state of active addiction to a state of physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual wellness. Ancients refer to this process as becoming a whole being and it is the combination of these four life elements that work together to revitalize and balance the body and life’s energies. This life balance is known as Prana by Eastern philosophers, Hozho or Walking in Beauty by Navajo healers and native shamans, and Whole Life Healing by modern-day holistic healers.

A Master Plan for Life

Whole Life Recovery is a pretty basic concept that has been around for centuries, and one that is easy to teach to recovering persons. Whole Life Recovery teaches that in order to find balance and fulfillment in life we need to heal, develop, and maintain all four life elements within ourselves. Picture life as being made up of four elements, each being important to maintaining a full and meaningful life and the positive impact it can have on one’s recovery.


The Physical element is, of course, the physical body (brain included).  This is the biological aspect of addiction and possibly the first casualty of addiction: one loses or gains weight, hygiene suffers, and for some, the immune system becomes compromised and we suffer near-death experiences.

Now that you’re sober, you must learn how to take back your good health and begin taking care of your body by maintaining a healthy diet, getting the rest you need and begin being at peace with yourself. Only then can you enjoy and benefit from your physical wellness.


The intellectual element is comprised of our ability to think and reason. In living your drug-induced lifestyle, your rational mind became hijacked by your drug of choice which clouded your thinking and kept you in a state of confusion. Your faulty thinking, coupled with your values being out of sync with reality caused horrendous personal, spiritual, social and legal problems.

By challenging your distorted thinking and beliefs, your mind now becomes clearer. You are beginning to discover that your choices are unlimited, and you are beginning to adopt new and healthier ways of looking at the world.


The Emotional element allows us to feel; to experience life in a deep way and to relate to those around us with feeling.  In living a drug-induced lifestyle, we gave up all contact with those we valued and loved. Waking hours were spent courting the obsession we loved the most: alcohol or drugs. The truth became blurred or lost as we made false justifications and began lying to ourselves and others.  Distorting the truth became a necessary part of our addictive process. We cheated, manipulated and alienated those closest to us.

In order to make progress in your recovery, you need to have an attitude adjustment, a transformation of character. As your values and attitudes change, you change; you become transformed and better able to forgive yourself and begin asking those you’ve hurt for forgiveness and once again work at regaining the confidence and trust of those you lost touch with through alcohol and drug use.


The Spiritual element is the domain of our soul, that place that extends beyond time and space, the “who am I and why am I here” part of life. It is not a religion (but it could be). It could be the service work that we do for others. It is a spiritual centeredness within us that says that we are a small part of some thing greater than us; that we belong.  When living your drug-induced lifestyle, you lost contact with the Great Spirit, your Higher Power and your purpose in life. It is now time to get in touch with your Higher Power.

Balance is the Challenge

Recovery is filled with discovery. One of the most important discoveries is finding out that you are welcome in this world…that you can have aspirations, set goals and meet them. However, goals, dreams, and aspirations cannot co-exist with an addictive lifestyle. One or the other must go. What is important is that you have made a key first choice.

Thank your Higher Power for the gains you have made. You are deserving of something better. No one disputes that, but only you have the power to choose what that something better will be. You can choose your environment, your friends, relationships, and your future. You now have a strong support group and a recovery plan that you can refer to each day. Welcome back into your own life.

Though you felt you were lost and forgotten, your Higher Power knew where you were all the time.  Remember: balance is the challenge.

Looking for support in staying sober? Contact Starting Point, we’re ready to help you!