The philosophy of osteopathy is actually what makes osteopathy something very specific amongst manual therapies. The technique itself is the end product that makes absolutely no sense without a philosophical background.
Most people consult us for a back pain, a neck pain, sometimes headaches, carpal canal syndrome etc. Sometimes, other symptoms are associated with those musculoskeletal ailments, and sometimes applying the principles of osteopathy “miraculously” helps with symptoms that do not fit in our modern scope of practice (osteopathy was at first a medicine).
A classic neck pain
A patient came to see me as she had been suffering from neck pain since seven years, due to a car accident. When she was tired or stressed out (when her nervous system was overwhelmed), she experienced bad headaches that forced her to lie down in a dark and quiet room. Her headaches were located at the back of her head.
When you visit an osteopath, he/she starts the consultation with an interview and asks you several questions relevant to your health. The goal is to understand if you should be referred to a medical doctor, find some clues about what might have happened to you etc. Quite often, people keep some information to themselves. They believe it is not relevant to the scope of practice of osteopathy. And that is what happened in this case.
In her case, the biggest work had to be done on her first cervical vertebra, right under her skull. This part of her body was so tensed that anybodt would have been able to tell me that something was wrong in this area.
How do you treat to get un unexpected result?
The patient received a treatment that day. I first started to work on her first cervical vertebra and could feel how this area was having effects on her face (I am here talking about the area of the face). If you ask me to describe a treatment, I could say that it feels like a dance. Some areas appear to my consciousness to ask for my support. Holding space for them allows me to see some of the effects of those areas on the rest of the body, until they calm down and another area appears. At this moment I place my hands somewhere else.
In this case and after having worked on her upper neck, I needed to work on her jaw, and then on her upper back. Finally, I had to check on her sacrum. When I could feel that her whole body started to express a different reality, she was sent back home.
I forgot to tell you
A second appointment was scheduled a week later. The patient arrived at my clinic, and we started to talk about how her body reacted to her first treatment. Overall, she was doing much better. Her neck was feeling lighter, and she did not experience any headaches this week. She would not say that it is perfect (mind you, only one treatment after seven years of pain), but she could feel a difference.
I was about to ask her to sit on the osteopathic plinth to start the second treatment, when she told me:
‘Also Jules, I forgot to tell you when we met because I thought it would be irrelevant, but I have had an oral lichen planus for five years, and it seems to be improving since your treatment.’
An unexpected result
So now it gets interesting. “Oral lichen planus is an ongoing (chronic) inflammatory condition that affects mucous membranes inside your mouth. Oral lichen planus may appear as white, lacy patches; red, swollen tissues; or open sores. These lesions may cause burning, pain or other discomfort.” (More information here). And that is definitely not part of our scope of practice as it is not a musculoskeletal disorder. Still, it improved.
Did I try to treat my patient’s pain?
No, I applied principles of osteopathy.
Did I try to help her for her lichen planus?
No, I did not even know she was suffering from that condition.
Did I try to mentally think about which muscle was pulling and what nerve was irritated?
No, I felt which muscle was pulling and which area needed my support to express Health instead of disease. I hold space for her, just like I did for that baby.
And do not get me wrong when I say that I felt it. I did not feel with my hands, I felt it in my body. I experienced it.
The mind’s eye
Here is what AT Still, the discoverer of osteopathy, once told Arthur G Hildreth, one of the first osteopaths:
He was feeling and seeing in his mind’s eye. And that was his method. Experiencing or living an experience. Thas is Goethean science. It is the opposite of what most people (and osteopaths) do. We are trying to create the whole by adding the parts. But you need to feel FROM the whole.
It starts to be a bit specific now, especially if you are not an osteopath. But you do not start from the parts to reach unity, you experience the parts from the unity. If you are a biodynamic osteopath, you do not start with the fluidic tide to then go to the long tide and later to the dynamic stillness, but you experience everything from the dynamic stillness. The tides become superficial. If you read Charles Ridley‘s work, that is the difference between what he calls the ascending and the descending current. And this can be practiced.
Wait, there’s more
After several treatments, everything went back to normal. Her neck is now fine, no more headaches, no more oral lichen planus. Oh and of course no more chronic sinus issues! but I forgot to tell you that she had been suffering from that condition for a few years. I thought it would not be relevant to that story 😉
Do you feel like learning that? I teach it through online meditation.
Disclaimer: All my articles are no substitute in any way for a proper exmination and diagnosis by a medical professional healthcare.
About Jules RampalMeditation teacher and osteopath
I am an online meditation teacher and an osteopath currently working in Gordes, France. My courses are for people who want to learn meditation with guided sessions, and for therapists who want to delve into the way they feel and the knowledge they can gather for their clients.
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