My patients are not muppets. I do not need to decide for them how they should move. And if a tension is present, the system is likely to believe that it needs it. How can I pretend that I know what’s best for my patients? Because I studied for 5 years? Because I have 10 years of experience? Please, let’s be serious.
What do I really know about my patients? Nothing. But knowing nothing and accepting it is the first step to a deeper listening.
You know nothing, John Snow
What can I know about the fall my patient had 10 years ago, or about the back pain that he currently experiences? Of course, I can use models in order to pretend I understand. Biomechanical osteopathy, Chinese medicine, biodynamic osteopathy, reiki, etc. But I’ll never be able to understand the depth of the human being who’s lying down on my table in order to get a bit of relief from any pain they might be experiencing.
What can I know about the loss of a child for example? And let’s imagine I had a similar experience, how can I pretend that I know how my patient feels about it?
Think about how much information is not verbally shared with you? Miscarriages, broken hearts, and other secret injuries that display no visible scars? The truth is that you know nothing about your patients. You do not know if their divorce was a relief or an infinite pain. You don’t know the weight carried by this very active young woman. Nor do you know the joy of this man whit a life that would seem miserable to our society. A smiling person on Instagram could be dealing with very severe depression, how could I know? How could you know?
Words are not enough
We tend to forget that language will never be enough to explain things to another human being. Words fall short when it comes to expressing a sensation. They can point toward a direction, but they will never be enough for you to understand exactly what others experience.
What about the difference of language? Being from the south of France, I often use words that even other French people don’t understand. So what about my patients in Malaysia, or my patients in Ireland?
Think about how different your language, and so the words you decide to use, would be if you were a farmer or an artist, if you thought that the world was made of matter or of energy, or if you were a Muslim, a Buddhist, or an atheist? The same experience could lead to billions of different words, and still, none of them would be perfectly exact.
And what about those babies and toddlers who don’t even have words to express themselves? Should I decide for them that their birth was a trauma? Do I even have the right to decide that for them? How violent of me would it be to decide that for them and to try to fix them?
Knowing nothing? Start listening
Most people won’t accept that. They’ll just keep on going for training, jumping from models to models in order to explain the world, in order to fix things, to heal past life traumas, etc. They’ll go meet shamans in south America, they’ll become stronger at cracking bones, they’ll learn everything about the biopsychosocial model. Or maybe they’ll become the best at working with a biodynamic approach, or at manipulating the energy.
They’ll keep on running, making more and more noise, trying to reconnect things that never were disconnected, adding more suffering to the world. Anything but listening. Anything but being with the stillness that lies within all of us.
That’s the reason why I rarely accept to be treated by other osteopaths. People don’t realise how noisy they are. By noisy, I do not refer to the sounds they produce with their mouth. I talk about what they project on their environment. Some are so loud that I sense their pain before they enter my clinic. And most manual therapists project their need to fix the world on their patients.
They communicate with the tissues, they objectify, they negotiate the space, they align bones, they orient the tides, they count the rhythm, they remove tensions, they activate the energy. They project their fears instead of listening. Because listening and being still requires to trust life. Who can do that? Can you?
Most of us can’t listen. Listen to anything that appears in our consciousness. That’s what meditation is, and that’s what my osteopathy is because actually, anything else is superficial.
So if you are a manual therapist reading my words, I hope you’ll start listening. As being heard is the only thing that heals.
About Jules Rampal
I am an online meditation teacher and an osteopath currently working in Cavan, Ireland. 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. Learn more about me here.