In 1876 Kirksville Missouri USA, the name "Osteopathy" was chosen to describe a new medical profession which was to have a special aptitude for "bone-feeling"; or using the hands to understand the relationship between all bones of the body, and everything else that is attached to (and influenced by) them. The Greek root word "Osteo" refers to "bone", and "path" refers to either "feeling" (as in em-pathy) or "disease" (as in Allo-pathy, the name given to Western medicine). So it is that Osteopathy has little to do with naming bone diseases, and everything to do with feeling for Nature's inner expression of Health. This is the origin of the name Osteopathy.
"The objective of the doctor is to find health, anyone can find disease"
~ Dr AT Still (Founder of Osteopathy 1876)
Osteopathic Medicine involves feeling for restrictions within the deeper tissues and organs of a body - and gently manipulating these structures towards normal function. By returning them to a state of integrated structure and function, an Osteopath reveals the body's natural self-healing and self-regulating capacity. The final health outcome is a restoration of normal osseous (bone), articulatory (joint), ligamentous, muscular, fascial (connective tissue), visceral (organ), neurological, arterial, venous, lymphatic, immunological and cerebrospinal functions - the basic essentials of life.
Osteopathy is a receptive and holistic manual medical system, which considers that each individual has the structural and functional characteristics of body, soul and spirit. Each of these elements are inter-related and inseparable from one another, and so fall within the scope of Osteopathic practice.
Dr Still was a frountier doctor and surgeon, who was Union surgeon in the American civil war. His father was also a doctor and methodist minister, and Dr Still's early years where spent in Indian reservations. Because of his time spent in areas untouched by western civilisation, knowledge of the native Indian language and an immersion in their culture - Dr Still developed a profound appreciation for nature, and our place within it. The native Indian health treatment included spinal manipulation. Of course, an exposure to Christian philosophy and teachings and his knowledge of anatomy as a surgeon, all combined and formed the basis for what was to become the future Osteopathic profession.
For the past 140 years, Osteopaths have been taught to feel and listen with their hands, to treat each patient as a unique individual and to perpetually learn from their patients. Instead of applying a 'technique', 'system' or 'recipe' approach to treatment, they would develop their knowledge on a daily basis by listening to and learning from the human body itself. Osteopathy therefore has been a productive profession in a creative sense, with a great many different approaches to treatment within the single profession. There are a great number of original Osteopathic methods of treatment that have been adopted over the years into other health professions.
Examples of treatment methods that originated within the Osteopathic profession include Craniosacral Therapy (Cranial Osteopathy), Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (Biodynamic Cranial Osteopathy), Muscle Energy Technique, Positional Release (Strain/counterstrain) and Bowen Therapy; and there are others that still remain soley with the Osteopathic profession.
By way of observation, once a 'treatment method' is removed from the vine, it tends to stay (more or less) that size and shape thereafter. Osteopathic training is known for applying the essential principles of Osteopathic Medicine, and not focussing 'techniques'. These essential principles allow the different methods of treatment within Osteopathy to grow and emerge over time (as Osteopaths continue to dig and explore), and for individuals within the profession to develop their own unique approaches to treatment.
There are a variety of treatment methods within the profession of Osteopathy - each adhering to the 3 primary Osteopathic principles of Wholeness ('The body is a unit'), Vitality that arises from Intergration ('Structure and function being reciprocally inter-related'), and Natural Self-Healing ('The body has a Self-healing and Self-regulating mechanism'). Osteopathic treatment methods are also described in terms of being either 'Structural' or 'Functional' - the difference between these are explained below.
A STRUCTURAL approach views the human body as a machine, and looks to achieve therapeutic change with gentle mechanical force: using the bones as leverage, to alter or influence all other tissues: muscles, joints, ligaments, fascia, nerves, organs and fluids of the body (hence the name 'Osteo' (bones)-pathy (feeling). Different body parts are created within nature, to resist compression, distraction and to perform a unique function - and this predetermines the nature of their structure. Nothing in the body exist without a reason. Any alteration in body structure away from this originally intended perfect design (generally as a result of trauma) will alter it's mechanical characteristics, and so also the way it functions. The body is an interconnected whole: so any movement lost in one region will either affect, or be accommodated for elsewhere. Treatments therefore aim to decompress any of those physical elements which have become abnormally tight: this in turn reduces the mechanical, circulatory and/or neurological strain placed upon other interrelated regions.
A FUNCTIONAL approach views the story behind the human machine - and looks to achieve change through cooperating with the body's own indwelling awareness and self-healing capacity. By way of examples: In the field of Neurology, it is understood that when a person has a limb amputated, awareness of a phantom limb still remains. Further in the field of Prosthetics, it is observed that amputees can effectively walk again, only when their phantom limb (function/body awareness) is still present and becomes integrated with a new artificial limb (structure/anatomy). A person's whole body will then trust that the artificial limb is exactly where they feel it to be . Further, in the field of Functional Neurology, experimental research using virtual reality (to deceive subjects into believing they are moving their painfully restricted necks in rotation far less than they actually are), find that subjects are able to achieve previously unthinkable increases in pain-free range of motion. This research indicates the importance of the phantom/awareness/functional aspect of the body - where body awareness can influence body structure, without any structural problem being present.
The FLUID BODY is an important aspect of Biodynamic Osteopathic treatment, and is perceived as an egg shaped field surrounding the physical body. The 'Fluid Body' as the name suggests, has characteristics similar to protoplasm (refer to the 'Video' section for details): which can change shape, position, tone, texture and hold an image or imprint of function: depending upon various environmental influences. Whereas the Physical Body is affected by the accumulation of physical trauma, the Fluid Body is affected by other environmental influences such as positive (expanding) feelings of love, safety and security, supportive home and work environments, time spent in nature, spiritual practice, or negative (constricting) effects of stress, shock, poor food choices, drugs, toxins, disease states and metabolic stress. A healthy and actively expanding Fluid Body (or Function) acts to support the physiology of the Physical Body (Structure). As an example, if someone experiences a stressful event that shakes their foundation in life, often the fluid body will retreat from their legs. That person will feel a sense of being ungrounded, with little sense of anything beneath their feet. Structure and function of the legs are no longer integrated, and the lower legs lose their natural vitality and lift. As a reaction to this ungroundedness, often a person's breathing diaphragm will tighten: the body's way of generating some compensatory stability - but this often results in the chest collapsing with restricted breathing, a subsequent reduction in fluid return to the heart via the lymph nodes, so increased congestion and decreased immunity, plus the possibility of back and neck pain or headaches though postural strain from a restricted chest - all the result of a single functional change in life. From a treatment point of view, the objective is to address the primary issue - that is to restore fluid body expansion, and then with gentle encouragement, the physical issues will easily resolve.
Deeper still beyond the structure and it's underlying function, is a CENTRAL STILLNESS through which the blueprint of a perfect body design emerges - a reminder of how the body was originally intended to be. It is this central orientation that brings stability, organisation, coordination and ultimately a self-generated therapeutic healing response. "Be Still and Know" ~ Dr William Sutherland DO (Founder of Cranial Osteopathy).
BIODYNAMIC CRANIAL OSTEOPATHY is a functional approach to treatment which considers any mechanical distortions within the body structure, functional alterations to the Fluid Body and a deeper centralising stillness (Blueprint). This expanded methodology of Cranial Osteopathic treatment is taught by Dr James Jealous DO. Embryological development, growth to maturity, and also the body's self-healing and self-regulating capacity are all governed by the deeper intelligence contained within each and every person. A Biodynamic Cranial Osteopath will notice various regions of mechanical restriction within a patient's body, but will then look to find a central stillness within (or doorway to the person's greatest potential. . The body has a self-healing mechanism already at work, in the process of trying to resolve a dysfunction in structure or function, but having got lost or stuck in the process . It is therefore the body itself which guides the Osteopath in an unfolding treatment process: and so with gentle assistance, returns to the point of structure and function becoming interconnected as a whole, and Health expressing itself as natural movement with the tissues.
The CRANIAL RYTHMIC IMPULSE (CRI) can be perceived as movements within the body of a patient when Structure, Function/Fluid Body and Central Stillness are integrated. There are different rates of movement, each associated with different levels of Structure, Function (and the more subtle aspects of physiology). These same rhythms of life are expressed within protoplasm (the same substance contained within cells), and so within all living organisms - see the Video section above for an experimental demonstration of this.
During TREATMENT an Osteopath feels and listens to a patient's body, with the aim of cooperating with the natural self-healing capacity already at work within. When one finds a therapeutic process within, that has lost it's way, very little intervention is required to re-initiate a therapeutic change. When a patient is asked by friends or family to explain their experience of Biodynamic Cranial Osteopathy, they will invariably say "I don't quite understand how it works, since my Osteo doesn't seem to do much: but it just works for me!"
OSTEOPATHY was founded in the U.S. in 1876 by Dr Andrew Taylor Still, a doctor and army surgeon. Today, U.S. Osteopaths have the same legislative practice rights as medical practitioners. Throughout the U.S. both Modern Medical (Allopathic*) Hospitals - as in Australia, and Osteopathic Medical Hospitals, each provide a full range of health services - from acute trauma and emergency medicine, to all specialist fields. Osteopathy also has an original specialist interest in Manual Medicine, and the self-healing capacity of the human body. In Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and throughout Europe, Osteopathy remain drug and surgery free - as it was originally intended to be..
* Allopathic means 'against disease'. Allopathic is the term used when referring to Modern Medicine: hospitals, specialists and GPs, whose treatments act directly against a disease process, with drugs, surgery etc. Osteopathic, means 'bone feeling'. Osteopathic ''feeling' manual treatments act to encourage the body's own self-healing capacity. Osteopathy is a complete medical system, that utilises the body's natural pharmacy within.
The human brain has developed a remarkable capacity for critical reasoning and problem solving; this is it’s essential strength, and it’s achievements are reflected in the positive elements of our modern society. The mind is characterised by a linear way of thinking , and thrives upon seeing things in terms of cause and effect. As a consequence of it’s linear and analytical nature, the mind also contains an essential weakness. This weakness arises from the mind perceiving itself as being seperate from other people and seperate from nature. The complex and interweaving connections that allow a human being to function as a whole (essential yet small part of a complex ecosystem and universe) are most often discounted when the mind cannot find immediate and obvious meaning. Without a perceived place in nature and the universe, the mind then pursues safety through (positive and negative) relationships with others, and through controlling (rather than listening to) nature. Much of this characteristic is reflected in the negative attributes of modern society.
Science has demonstrated the existence of “mirror neurons” within the brain, the ‘neurons of empathy’. Empathy is the capacity to feel what others are feeling inside one’s own body (mirror neurons therefore bridge the gap between thinking and feeling, the gap between people, and between ourselves and nature). Utilising mirror neurons to such a degree that they tip the balance towards feeling within a person’s perception, requires either a natural born affinity or a process of learning. As previously described, the name “Osteopathy” means “Bone Feeling”, or utilising empathy as a means of feeling deep within another person’s body, a process that continues to develop over years and decades of practice.
Westerners have little first hand experience of their own interconnection with nature (as more primative cultures do), nor of their own inner self-healing capacity. The information that follows, aims to explain the interrelationship between brain function and the self-healing process, and how to maximise the benefits of Osteopathic treatment.
"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it"
~ Albert Einstein
* The following brainwave information has been adapted from 'Brainworks Neurotherapy' London.
"At the root of all our thoughts, emotions and behaviours is the communication between neurons within our brains. Brainwaves are produced by synchronised electrical pulses from masses of neurons communicating with each other.
Brainwaves are detected using sensors placed on the scalp. They are divided into bandwidths to describe their functions (below), but are best thought of as a continuous spectrum of consciousness; from slow, loud and functional - to fast, subtle, and complex.
It is a handy analogy to think of brainwaves as musical notes - the low frequency waves are like a deeply penetrating drum beat, while the higher frequency brainwaves are more like a subtle high pitched flute. Like a symphony, the higher and lower frequencies link and cohere with each other through harmonics".
In the field of Biodynamic Cranial Osteopathy, different levels of physiological function are also described in terms of different frequencies - and these are perceived through sensing within the body. One might describe these in terms of the ocean and it's different qualities and attributes: such as crashing waves upon the shore (with blunt physicality), the tide that slowly comes in and out (but with an enormous strength to lift), a deeper stillness and beauty (that influences our deeper self in a way that physical force cannot achieve), and so on.
"Our brainwaves change according to what we’re doing and feeling. When slower brainwaves are dominant we can feel tired, slow, sluggish, or dreamy. The higher frequencies are dominant when we feel wired, or hyper-alert.
The descriptions that follow are only broad descriptions - in practice things are far more complex, and brainwaves reflect different aspects when they occur in different locations in the brain.
Brainwave speed is measured in Hertz (cycles per second) and they are divided into bands delineating slow, moderate, and fast waves.
Infra-Low brainwaves (also known as Slow Cortical Potentials), are thought to be the basic cortical rythms that underlie our higher brain functions. Very little is known about infra-low brainwaves. Their slow nature make them difficult to detect and accurately measure, so few studies have been done. They appear to take a major role in brain timing and network function.
Delta waves (.5 to 3 Hz)
Delta brainwaves are slow, loud brainwaves (low frequency and deeply penetrating, like a drum beat). They are generated in deepest meditation and dreamless sleep. Delta waves suspend external awareness and are the source of empathy. Healing and regeneration are stimulated in this state, and that is why deep restorative sleep is so essential to the healing process.
Theta waves (3 to 8 Hz)
Theta brainwaves occur most often in sleep but are also dominant in deep meditation. Theta is our gateway to learning, memory, and intuition. In theta, our senses are withdrawn from the external world and focused on signals originating from within. It is that twilight state which we normally only experience fleetingly as we wake or drift off to sleep. In theta we are in a dream; vivid imagery, intuition and information beyond our normal conscious awareness. It’s where we hold our ‘stuff’, our fears, troubled history, and nightmares.
Alpha waves (8 to 12 Hz)
Alpha brainwaves are dominant during quietly flowing thoughts, and in some meditative states. Alpha is ‘the power of now’, being here, in the present. Alpha is the resting state for the brain. Alpha waves aid overall mental coordination, calmness, alertness, mind/body integration and learning.
Beta waves (12 to 38 Hz)
Beta brainwaves dominate our normal waking state of consciousness when attention is directed towards cognitive tasks and the outside world. Beta is a ‘fast’ activity, present when we are alert, attentive, engaged in problem solving, judgment, decision making, or focused mental activity.
Beta brainwaves are further divided into three bands; Lo-Beta (Beta1, 12-15Hz) can be thought of as a 'fast idle', or musing. Beta (Beta2, 15-22Hz) is high engagement or actively figuring something out. Hi-Beta (Beta3, 22-38Hz) is highly complex thought, integrating new experiences, high anxiety, or excitement. Continual high frequency processing is not a very efficient way to run the brain, as it takes a tremendous amount of energy.
Gamma waves (38 to 42 Hz)
Gamma brainwaves are the fastest of brain waves (high frequency, like a flute), and relate to simultaneous processing of information from different brain areas. Gamma brainwaves pass information rapidly and quietly. The most subtle of the brainwave frequencies, the mind has to be quiet to access gamma.
Gamma was dismissed as 'spare brain noise' until researchers discovered it was highly active when in states of universal love, altruism, and the ‘higher virtues’. Gamma is also above the frequency of neuronal firing, so how it is generated remains a mystery. It is speculated that gamma rhythms modulate perception and consciousness, and that a greater presence of gamma relates to expanded consciousness".
Dunsborough Osteopathy utilises a frequency based method of treatment. These frequencies vary from 70Hz to 3Hz (theta/delta transition): and by mechanical means, the patient is gently encouraged down to a deeply restful state; then the practitioner themselves takes over and deepens the process even further still. This therapeutic method both unlocks and releases the deep fascias of the body (as described in the 'Fascia' portion of this website), but also incorporates the principles of 'entrainment'.
In 1666, Christian Huygens, a notable Dutch physicist and inventor of the pendulum clock, demonstrated how 2 pendulum clocks placed on the same wall will naturally come into phase. This occurs because a subtle transfer of energy occurs between the clocks and this sets up a regular interference pattern. Likewise, when the human body comes into contact with a regular rhythm of any of the above mentioned frequencies, the brain itself will adjust to match that rhythm. As a consequence, the use of a frequency based method of treatment, has both a mechanical influence upon the body, and also a neurological one.
The ultimate objective of Osteopathic treatment, is to awaken and activate the self-healing capacity that is already present within a patient. Most often this is achieved by relaxing and slowing a person's nervous system down, until a latent potential awakens within. As far as daily life in concerned, someone maybe able to remain deeply calm within themselves (and even feel a spiritual peacefulness), even during periods of great stress and mental activity. It is possible that the slower frequencies mentioned above are associated with an increasing capacity for self-healing, because they allow the deeper functions of the body as a whole to reveal themselves (as the white noise of active brain function subsides).
Considering Einstein's quote above: it is true that a lot of people's problems today are a consequence of their modern lifestyles, and ambient stress. Our body’s physiology is not adapted to coping with the stress of a modern life (stresses that over time become normal, and seemingly nothing out of the ordinary), and this impedes the body's own self-healing and self regulating mechanism. If a practitioner is working towards achieving a lasting meaningful therapeutic change, and discussed sports, politics or life events with a patient whilst treating, this has the potential to impede a patient's progress. The objective of treatment is to quieten the mind (and it’s tendency towards activity), and open a doorway to a person’s greater inner potential.
Language is an extremely powerful tool in treatment, and can be used to assist in distracting and calming the mind. Over the course of a treatment, conversation can be used to distract from immediate problems, to evoke memories and images and gradually brings a person down to a relaxed state. Eventually the objective is to abandon the mind's activity all together, and open the door to a deeper therapeutic potential.
For those patients who have got stuck in the habit of functioning at a faster rate in their lives (at the exclusion of other aspects within themselves), it is incumbent upon them to arrive at their appointment with a willingness to slow things down, and to be receptive to their own greater potential.
The light spectrum above (and explained in detail below) is a basic representation of the many complex functions present within the human body. The changes in colour (from Red, Orange, Yellow, Green etc) represent the increasing complexity of human dynamic function: with the physical body always being at the centre.
Consider turned this spectrum on it's end with Red at the bottom. The first and simplest Red building block is required to create a foundation of support for a more complex Orange element that sits above; and so on to Yellow in the same logical sequence all the way up to Violet. Without this graduation of Structural support from below, none of the more complex elements above would exist. On the flip side, each of the more complex Functional elements descending through the spectrum (starting from Violet) bring the essentials of Life to the less complex building blocks below. Without this creative intelligence descending from above, the lower elements would eventually disintegrate and return to their original base elemental state (returning to the earth as dust).
Such are the complex reciprocal inter-relationships between structure and function within the human body - and an explanation of the origins of Health.
"The body must function as an integrated whole, if it is to realise it's potential for Health".
Please now consider the elements of the Health Spectrum explained below, giving particular consideration to the relationships and inter-dependency between each of the adjoining elements.
Non-visible INFRARED: Quantum physics of subatomic particles
RED Physical elements of the periodic table (C, Ca, Fe, H, O, Na. K, Mg etc): the building blocks of the various tissues of the body (bone, muscle tissue, connective tissue, neural tissue, epithelial tissue, fluid and fat etc).
ORANGE: Body organs and systems (such as the musculoskeletal system, brain and peripheral nervous system, heart and circulatory system, skin, respiratory, renal, digestive, reproductive, hormonal and immune systems etc).
* When functioning optimally, the red and orange aspects are perceived by the Osteopath as a relative fast physiological rate of rhythmic movement within a person's body - all life contains movement. This movement extends from a person's centre to the boundary of the skin.
YELLOW: Consciousness: Primitive Brain (Autonomic control of body organs, and self-preserving emotions) and Homosapien Brain (Self-aware intentional movement, reasoned thinking, language and an individualised perception of self i.e. persona/ego).
* An Osteopath can perceive the prickling buzz of the sympathetic fright/flight nervous system out of balance inside a person’s body - stress is the origin of many diseases. Fascilitating parasympathetic resting/repairing function is key (which happens naturally when when there is integration into colours above and below).
GREEN: Soul: The ‘engine room’ of one's individual self. Character that is deeper than personality. A contextual awareness of ‘Self’ and ‘others’ that utilises symbolism rather than analytical thinking, and often functions beyond conscious awareness. A capacity for deeper decision making, attachments, purpose and meaning in life. Physiologically expressed as a living bio-electric field (fluid body) surrounding and guiding the physical body - contains the original blueprint of all physiological functions listed above.
* When functioning optimally, this aspect is perceived by the Osteopath as a medium rate of rhythmic movement within a person's body. This aspect of physiology extends from a person's centre to the boundary of their bio-electric field.
BLUE: Community, relationship or any immediate supportive environment: Group or tribal support, work or home environments that support (or undermine) the individual. Negative relationships or environments will compromise overall Health.
PURPLE: Nature: Every human being is an integral part of nature, and is reliant upon it’s relationship and support.
* When functioning optimally, this aspect is perceived by the Osteopath as a slow rhythmic rate of movement within a person's body. This 'Long-tide' extends from a person's centre to the horizon.
VIOLET: Spirit: A Central Stillness. The place from which all movement arises - in order to change directions one must first know what it means to be still. A doorway to a greater presence within oneself (Higher Self). The driver and creative presence of one's life (as opposed to the engine room of the soul), that is characterised by freedom of movement and a decentralised non-attachment to all things (The individualised "me" and "I" is replaced by the perception of an inseparable "One"). This element is an indispensable aspect of treating babies, children and during pregnancy, and is a common foundational knowing in indigenous cultures.
* When functioning optimally, this aspect is perceived by the Osteopath as dynamic stillness (where the regular senses no longer function). This Dynamic Stillness extends from a person's centre to beyond the horizon.
Non-visible ULTRAVIOLET: Quantum non-linear time/space.
WHITE: God Consciousness/enlightenment (a coalescence of all colours within the spectrum).
* It is worth mentioning that as Westerners, we are more familiar with seeing Red as the most important material element of this spectrum. Both indigenous and other cultures might consider the Violet end of the spectrum more concrete and meaningful in their experience.
"The objective of the doctor is to find health, anyone can find disease"
~ Dr A.T. Still
(Founder of Osteopathy 1876)
Thankfully, no health professional has to be perfect themselves in order to assist in your journey towards Health. They simply need to have found their particular gift in their chosen field. Is is then your job to choose a practitioner who can help bring Health into greater expression within you. You may be looking to find Health, or you may simply want to get by. Either way, Osteopathy is available to help.
If finding Health is a priority for you (we hope it is), it works best to not get too hung up on “trying” to find it. Don’t worry, Health is always present; and it will find you.
The above description of the Health Spectrum is over-simplified for the purposes of clarity - and gives little explanation of how Osteopathic treatment might actually help. Following the next link on the homepage will offer further explanations.
”Stillness is not the absence of motion but rather the absence of resistance” ~ Adyashanti
The primary (soft touch) method of treatment used at Dunsborough Osteopathy aims to activate a patient's own self-healing capacity - and this involves 3 essential steps. Our clinic also utilises an anti-gravity treatment method that is purely mechanical and aims at rapid pain relief - this is less of a wholistic method, and as such less of what is described immediately below is relevant.
The first step of ACCEPTANCE, involves clarifying exactly what is happening inside a patient's body (in a way that the patient themselves is unable to achieve); yet not trying to change or influence things in any way. It is well understood that mirror neurons of empathy within the brain, allow a patient's self-awareness to expand through the presence of an objective observer (therapist) - in Osteopathy this is achieved with hands upon the patient.
The second step involves FINDING THE HEALTH present within a person's body, which is the engine room for generating therapeutic change. The Health is found in the place one is least likely to look: within the depth of Stillness. Stillness is the doorway to the Health - yet one must also wait there until the Health arrives to direct the treatment. When it does, it is experienced in a deeply personal way that is difficult to express in words - unconditional love and gratitude is probably the closest. The ability to find the Health within a patient, requires a particular Osteopathic hands-on training - the ability to find that which the mind habitually passes over. A natural receptivity is also important: for if the mind is closed, the Health is unlikely to be found - and this applies to patients as well (they are just as important in this process). The Health can be hidden anywhere either inside the physical body, the bio-electric field surrounding the body, or even further afield.
The third and final step essentially looks after itself - the body's self-healing mechanism now has expanded self-awareness (from step 1) and increased vitality (from step 2), enough to generate the MOTION necessary to kick-start a therapeutic change - the Osteopath then supports this unfolding process. Depending upon a patient's sensitivity, the therapeutic process may or may not be felt as movements occurring inside the body, as the Osteopath rests their hand lightly upon the surface (whether a patient feels any change makes no difference to the final outcome). In the end, the proof is in the pudding: when an improvement in symptoms occurs as a consequence of seemingly no external intervention, the general response is 'I don't understand how it works, but it works for me and that's all that matters'.
Perth, Western Australia.
For anyone who has experienced the joy (or terror) of attending social dance classes, one will know exactly what it feel like to slowly rotate around a large circle of people, one by one dancing (or trying to dance) with the next person along - until one has experienced dancing with each person in the group.
The most striking thing that one notices when placing hands in the right position, is that every person in the group feels completely and surprisingly different! Some people feel tense and wound up like a spring, others are floppy and feel like a wet dish rag, some feel like elastic rubber, and others just have a mysterious and inexplicable sense of interconnected calm, that instantly put's one at ease. In some people, one can feel inside and through their body to the ground, and so one then has a really good sense of spacial orientation, for others, one can only feel half way down to the ground, or maybe can't feel anything but a layer of surface tension under one's hands: and so no capacity to sense how the person is moving.
For anyone that has asked the question, "What is an Osteopath", and "What exactly does an Osteopath do?", imagining for a moment what it feels like to put hands upon and dance with 20,000 people over a period of years. How might one's perception of the physical body change over time? Would you be able to tell more about the intricacies of a person's body, and how it interconnects and functions? By the time you have danced with your 15000th person, you have a vast library of past experience to draw upon, and you can recognise those elements that help a person to dance well, and those elements that contribute to a reduced capacity. When one puts hands upon a new person, one is able to anticipate problems, and either offer suggestions or perhaps make moves that have shown themselves in the past to help a person experience a greater sense of fluid interconnection and coordination within their own body.
With "Knowing, Seeing and Thinking Fingers", an Osteopath is able to place hands upon any person's body, and with a library of experience to call upon, sense to what degree that person's body has deviated from normal. A normal body is one that is fluid and transparent to the touch, and which incorporates Wholeness, Vitality and Natural Self-Healing.
,Perth, Western Australia.
As previously discussed, the body is designed and intended to function as an interconnected whole. Yet this isn’t the case for the past majority of people. The simple act of living a human life under the effects of stress and gravity means that very few of us have an unblemished history. An accumulation of traumas of a great many types, eventually show themselves as restriction and imbalance within the physical body – and of course painful symptoms and degeneration are the final result.
The good news is that such symptoms provide the motivation necessary to unearth the Wholeness, Inner vitality and Self-Healing capacity that is retained within us.
When a person’s whole body begins to function in an integrated way, it is able to generate it’s own Antigravity.
So what is Antigravity?
In Osteopathy, Antigravity is termed Longitudinal Fluctuation. It is a rising vitality within the body, that is generated when the body is integrated and functioning as a synchronised whole. Within the body, the Longitudinal Fluctuation feels like a river running uphill through the spine, and it is that which assists in lifting (through body awareness) the spine as a whole, supporting the chest and neck, and expanding the head from the inside – all of which allow Osteopaths to do their work – utilising the body’s own (self-generated) internally opening and lifting vitality.
In this case, “The function of the Whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.
This Antigravity element exists as a natural physiological function (or inner vitality) when the body functions as an integrated whole. The body remains asleep to this function, when it operates as many disjointed and unrelated parts (some regions compressed and inert, and others floppy and inflamed).
Humans have been living under the effects of gravity for over 200,000 years, and have developed adaptive physiology to accommodate and maintain an upright posture. Even after almost ¼ million years of living under the effects of gravity, perfectly open and upright posture is still normal for a human being – assuming that is, that a person is functioning as a complete and integrated whole.
In preparation for pregnancy and birth, this Antigravity is of great importance. When functioning as a whole, this internal lift within the body brings foundational support and a stabiising core strength. This internal stability is also essential for the latter ability to soften and disengage the pelvis, pelvic floor and diaphragm ready for delivery. The body will only every truly let go, if there is also genuine support present from within. There are many other physiological functions associated with baby positioning, engagement and the process of delivery that are influenced by midline (or core) organisation, but these are beyond the scope of this short blog..
Ultimately, Osteopathic treatment aims to bring a natural supporting Vitality to the Whole person, such that they can relax and let go from within, and so release their own Self-healing capacity. With a natural softness and transparency (instead of tension and inflammation), a pregnant woman will begin to glow with Health. This is one of those rare occasions in life when we are able to observe the same glowing Health that resides within us all, yet for the remainder of us, has been obscured through holding a lifetime of tension. Pregnancy is a precious period of time, and one that has a profound influence upon the yet to be born baby.
Perth, Western Australia.
When guided by the presence of Health within a patient's body, therapeutic decisions aren't made purely upon the basis of which mechanical problems are found. Rather, one looks for the Health already present within the patient's body, expressed as a specific local region of increased vitality and activity. It is such a region that indicates a patient's own body's healing mechanism already at work, working to overcome the resistance of an issue needing to be addressed. The objective of treatment is therefore to work in harmony with a patient's own self-healing mechanism.
Treatment involves using one's hands to softly free-float that restricted region in question, enough to unlock it, and allow the patient's own healing mechanism to do it's intended work - fluid movement is then restored. The Health doesn't just stay in one place however, it shifts around the body as progressive layers fall away (such as the peeling of an onion). The practitioner must follow the Health, in order to ensure that a treatment unfolds in a sequence appropriate for that individual person. As a treatment progresses, the Health begins to encompass larger regions of the body, until the whole person becomes integrated - it is only then that a significant self-generating healing process begins. Natural Self healing follows Integration and Wholeness.
The most fascinating aspect of treating babies and young children (generally up to the age 2-3), is that mother and baby are interlinked to such a degree that they function as a Whole, almost as if a single person. When assessing a baby's body and one finds a mechanical and/or functional disturbance present there, Health/a therapeutic process won't always be present/conveniently at hand to fix that particular problem. Obviously in such a case, one would not consider treating the baby/child by forcing a therapeutic change, since their body would not be ready and adequately resourced for such a change. In such a circumstance one looks towards mum for the answers. When assessing mum as well, invariably the Health/a therapeutic process will be present there. The presence of a therapeutic process signifies, that mother is the priority in that moment. Once mother has been treated, the Health will then return to the baby (as it occurs when treating a single person's body also, where a layer is removed and the health then shifts to a different location, in this case it simply switches between mother and child) - the treatment can then continue for the baby, with all the resources necessary for a self-generated healing process. It is in observing this phenomenon, that one comes to appreciate the interconnection and Wholeness of a mother and child.
The greatest mystery of all, is that not uncommonly when treating a mother I.e. following the Health and allowing for a local release, expansion and integration to take place within her body - upon then re-assessing baby/child, it becomes apparent that the structural and/or functional disturbance that was present not 15 minutes prior is no longer present. The baby has returned to full perfect function without any direct treatment being necessary,
My explanation of how a mother might be treated, and a baby also responds without being touched, is that a baby has an instinctive hierarchy of needs when survival is concerned. The primary need of survival is that mother is available, whole and healthy. When mother is perfectly fine, the baby feels 100% safe, and so can be 100% present for their own inner needs - this includes having a sense of their own centre, an instinctive self-awarness, and so a natural activation of their body's self-healing mechanism. If a baby's attention is drawn to their mother, because they instinctively feel something isn't right, they will lose their own centre, and so their natural self-healing capacity will be impeded.
During Health focused treatment of a baby/child, therapeutic change occurs at the right timing, and in a sequence that ensures the necessary therapeutic resources are present to gently address mechanical/functional disturbance. As a consequence, treatments are always calm and gentle, and the number of treatments required to achieve an outcome is also far less than would otherwise be the case.
Following and trusting the Health in the treatment of babies, young children and mothers, is an intriguing and rewarding process, and incorporates the Osteopathic Principles of Wholeness, Integration and Natural Self-Healing.
Osteopaths above all else, use their hands to listen, will trust and be guided by a body's natural instinctive intelligence. Clinical results demonstrated over the past 140 years of Osteopathic Medical history are testament to the effectiveness of the body's own Self-Healing and Self-Regulating capacity.
The ideal time for preventative treatment is during the pre-conception period, as one prepares one's body for pregnancy. Treatments can also begin during pregnancy, and after birth also. Generally the earlier one begins, the greater the potential for Wholeness, Integration and an unimpeded Self-Healing capacity.