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Heal Yourself: Through the Nine Domains of Healing

Whoa, we are complex beings! It can be daunting to consider, (nine domains, really!?) but I find it exciting as well as reassuring. I work with many very sick people with difficult problems and there are always inroads to their healing, we just have to consider the high priority places to start our work.

Our complexity means that we are incredibly interesting and that there are always options no matter how stuck we may feel.

It’s all fine and well to have a food plan to support our healing, but what if we just can’t figure out how to make the change? What if we are someone who places everyone else in our lives before ourselves so we never get around to the self-care practices that would help us heal?

We have to tend to our whole selves by exploring all nine domains for deep and sustainable healing to occur.

The Liftoff roadmap to healing is organized by the Nine Domains of Healing, each representing human attributes and experience that are foundational to who we are. Supporting each one helps us to heal, recover our vital energy, and achieve our highest potential.

In Liftoff we work with the Nine Domains of Healing to organize our self-care strategy for healing and energy recovery. We start with the domains we feel the most drawn to.

Wondering where to start on your own healing journey? Begin with the foundational domains: work on food, sleep, stress management and movement. Tending to these aspects of your life will strengthen and fortify you, preparing you for the rest of your work.

Many of my clients have to work with self-love early in their healing. They’re used to putting themselves last. They can’t possibly jump start sustainable changes in their lives until they make themselves their top priority. This is a skill and a practice that requires working with the Domain of Love and Connection.

The Nine Domains of Healing

  1. The Domain of Nutrients (food, water, air): in this domain we explore the foundational elements that make us, quite literally, what we are. We learn about optimal nutrition to meet our unique needs and preferences.
  2. The Domain of Rest and Restoration (sleep, rest and pause). We must hug in before we extend out. We will learn about the vital transitions from one day to the next—sleep—and from one endeavor to the next—rest. We must restore to rise up.
  3. The Domain of Balance (stress and all things): We must learn to balance all of our efforts with ease, or pause, and embrace the power of stress (you’ll see!).
  4. The Domain of Movement (exercise, activity and posture): We were designed to move. We’ll learn how movement is how we express all of who we are and helps us dial in our health and wellbeing.
  5. The Domain of Love and Connection: this is the domain that supports and inspires all others. This is where we begin: with honoring ourselves and cultivating love and connection in our lives because love heals all.
  6. The Domain of Mind and Our Stories: If we can just get our stories out of our way and engage our minds to support our highest intentions! This is the section about what makes us utterly human and how to work with it.
  7. The Domain of Our Emotions (flow and wisdom): The wild and, perhaps, most challenging part of ourselves. We’ll explore the emotional realm and practical ways to access the wisdom of our emotions.
  8. The Domain of Letting Go (toxins, irritants and negative energy): After spending most of our efforts addressing what we need, we’ll look at what we need to let go of—what does us harm and keeps us down.
  9. The Domain of Meaning, Purpose, Grace and Awe: This is where all of our efforts lead, eventually. Where our calling, curiosity, inspiration, intentions and practices take us. To the miracle of the present moment, where our humanness meets Divinity. The miracle of healing and transformation.

We are amazing in our complexity and beauty as human beings! By tending well to each of the Nine Domains of Healing our health will improve and our lives will soar. Come join me on our Liftoff journey!

I am currently putting the finishing touches on my book, Liftoff: Ignite Your Vital Energy, Recover Your Health, and Reclaim Your Life (using the Nine Domains of Healing). This is a book about healing through radical self-care, that is inspired by the science of Functional Medicine and body-mind wisdom. I can’t wait to introduce it to you!

Karyn Shanks MD


Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the revolutionary science of Functional Medicine, body-mind wisdom, and the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-eight year career. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves.