On a wet October morning many moons ago, I found myself sitting in a run-down classroom in the basement of the London School of Osteopathy in Whitechapel. I was waiting with anticipation for my first ever osteopathy lecture. I was primed and ready (although be it slightly nervously) for an in-depth anatomy and physiology lecture when in walked an elderly gentleman who unpacked his notes, shuffled them and began to gently talk on the history and principles of Osteopathy.
For a fresh-faced 1st-year student who was eager to learn about bones, joints, and muscles I left day 1 feeling a little deflated. I wanted to understand the human body, not the philosophy of a chap called A.T Still who had been working as a ‘bone setter’ in the mid 1800’s. It turned out that this young and naive grasshopper had plenty to learn.
As I continued on my 5-year journey of studying I began to realise that that first lecture was the foundation stone on which I would lay the rest of my knowledge and would prove invaluable as I ventured out into private practice. I have since added to (and sometimes subtracted from) this list of core beliefs as I have learned from some brilliant minds who have inspired and caused me to question and adapt my thinking. Here are just a few of the principles that have survived the cut and guide me everyday in my clinic.
Core beliefs 1:
Your body is the ultimate healer and not me. The work we do in a session can create the space for change but the real healing occurs due to your amazing body afterward.
Core beliefs 2:
Creating a cooperative space where health practices will be done ‘by you’ as well as ‘to you’ (the more traditional method) empowers people to become fascinated by their body and to take control of the treatment wheel themselves. It means that there is always a little homework to do, but when the textbook (your body) is so interesting who wouldn’t want to flick through the pages.
Core beliefs 3:
The nervous system is fast becoming a buzz word in therapy and rightly so. Even though it was initially mentioned as one of the osteopathy’s founding principles (“the nervous system unifies the body’s activities”) advances in contemporary neuroscience are now allowing us to make quick and often dramatic changes in a clinic to enhance this brain-body connection – exciting times ahead!
Core beliefs 4:
“No pain no gain” is out and “no pain all gain” is in. If every time you move you expect to grimace then you will set up a predictive pattern (Pavlovian response) and the expected discomfort will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. By working within your pain-free parameters (the 70% rule from Qigong becomes important here) your nervous system can take a huge sigh of relief and come back from being on high alert.
Core beliefs 5:
Health does not have to be complicated – move a little more and with more variety, eat fresh food, sleep well and find ways to manage stress (not always easy in the 21st century). Follow these four suggestions and you will be amazed at how great you start to feel. You only have one you so treat it well.
Core beliefs 6:
As an adjunct to the above, we could all do with moving a little more frequently and more vigorously, in fact, the only thing that current research can agree on is that physical activity is good for our health as well as for those of us experiencing pain. Over 150 years ago A.T. Still famously said “to find health should be the object of the doctor. Anyone can find disease”, so I encourage people to put me out of business, lace up their trainers and get moving!
Core beliefs 7:
Pain is a cry for help from your body/mind saying I need a hand. As crazy as it seems pain does not always mean that there is actual damage to your tissues, it can simply be a warning that something has to change. Quite often revisiting the advice in point 5 can illuminate a path forward.
Core beliefs 8:
Pain can feel catastrophic but can also be reframed (as I found when out I finished my dancing career) to be a great teacher and motivator as well. Pain is here to protect us and to be able to observe it as such can be the first step to making peace with it and working with it instead of against it.
Core beliefs 9:
It can take years to decide to change, but change itself happens in a millisecond
Core beliefs 10:”
Whether we are 8 weeks old or 80 years old we all crave safety. Ultimately my job is to help people feel safe, strong, adaptable and resilient
So here we have my current top 10. It is a work in progress so I am sure there will be more added in the future, but for the time being these seem to be serving well.