At the Nova Institute, we look at the whole picture, the entire lived experience that influences health. Our work examines the full spectrum of health, healing, and flourishing through many lenses—including nature, art, nutrition, planetary health, integrative medicine, primary care, light, social determinants, lifestyle, post-traumatic growth, and more.
Proper nutrition is good for the whole body, and what happens in the gut affects the brain and mental health. And food that is sustainably grown is good for both people and our planet.
We are examining the social determinants of health — the drivers and inequities of well-being and their root causes — so we can find solutions and develop measures that inform smart policies and promote health, healing, and flourishing for everyone.
Methodologies that are the gold standard for evaluating pharmaceuticals aren’t always appropriate for studying multi-component therapies or exploring the interwoven factors that influence health.
Healing is facilitated through safety, persistence, and trust.
Resources support us as we heal. They include reframing, responsibility, and positivity. “Making connections enabled participants to acquire and refine resources and skills that were essential in their healing journey. People also brought their own personal strengths to the journey.”
“Connection to others was an essential part of all the healing journeys.” Humans are social creatures, and even the most introverted of us need close relationships. Friends and family add meaning and value to life and help support us, in good times and bad. When we experience relational trauma, relationships can feel scary, but reestablishing safety and trust in relationships is where the healing happens. (To be clear, we do not mean reestablishing safety and trust with abusers, but rather finding other healing relationships.) “When safety and trust had been established, people were able to connect with helpers. The nature of the behaviours of helpers that fostered healing ranged from small acts of kindness to unconditional love.”
Healing probably means different things to different people, but one definition that emerged from the study is: “The re-establishment of a sense of integrity and wholeness.” Healing was an emergent property that resulted from each individuals’ complex healing journey, a result of bridged connections between resources and relationships. Healing, in this sense, does not mean cured—none of the study participants were cured of their ailments—”but all developed a sense of integrity and wholeness despite ongoing pain or other symptoms.” In varying degrees, “they were able to transcend their suffering and in some sense to flourish.” When we begin to heal, we find increased capacity for hope, renewed motivation to help others, and are more able to accept ourselves as we are.
Wounding happens when we experience physical or emotional harm. It can stem from chronic illness or by physical or psychological trauma for which we do not have the tools to cope, or a combination of those factors. “The degree and quality of suffering experienced by each individual is framed by contextual factors that include personal characteristics, timing of their initial or ongoing wounding in the developmental life cycle and prior and current relationships.”