Sunday, January 25, 2009

Stress and the Reptilian Brain Function

See if you recognize these traits in you:

  • Before you were able to do yoga, meditate, do sports… but since some time you can not focus on these hobbies anymore
  • You have a lot to deal with at work but also privately
  • There has been recently a few big changes and / or traumatic experiences… (can be even mild ones)
  • You feel at an edge
  • You closing yourself off from the outside world although in general you are a social outgoing person
  • You’ve been experiencing back- or neck pain… or pains there where you know you have a weak spot (caused through a previous injury)
  • Your workload is not getting less and feel difficult to handle it all even though before you were coping just fine

The list can go on but these are just a few examples of symptoms, feelings and observations at least three of my clients have presented me with in the last 6 weeks when I took the anamnesis. I want to use their situation to describe a pattern I found in their condition. Although the three cases are unrelated and their stories were different it became clear that when two of them had their 2nd visit some of the symptoms described here above had gone. One session it had taken them to be in a different mode. One session at a time when one client said he was ready. He had reached a peak of now I need to do something about it… and landed in my osteopathy practice.

Clinically the three cases had amongst other lesions one in common a cranio-sacral compression, which had an impact on their Body, Mind & Spirit functioning. Thinking a bit beyond the boundaries and trying to integrate the story in the osteopathic lesion I came to realize that this also could be seen as a reptilian brain mal-function. The brain is made up of three parts (triune brain) the neocortex, which is the area where we think, the limbic system where we relate the past experience and the reptilian or oldest brain, which is the survival (fight & flight) brain.

This reptilian brain is in action when, for example, we touch a hot stove, the reflex is instant. Reptilian brain is all about our survival and will also shut all auxiliary systems down when we are in a situation when our survival is at stake… when our boat has capsized and we’re lying in cold water for hours.

It also seems that emotional shocks, or heavy stress can cause the reptilian brain to go in overdrive and shut out reason shut out all that is auxiliary into our life… what is not important to our primary survival… Our unconscious self is in alarm modus and anything that comes over as threatening will cause more stress and exhaust our whole system causes pain, anxiety, rage, anger, being easily irritated, lack of focus, withdrawal,…

So when you are in this R-mode do you think meditation, yoga or sports are possible? You’re body is fighting for its survival no way has it time for extra-curicular activities!

I can at least say that the two clients that came for their second visit had came out of this R-mode and started to be able to use their triune brain again. The treatment they received had allowed them to become whole again and function with their full capacity. Or as one client saysd it:” Although I know that I have still the same amount of challenges I know can observe them and say ok and react without over-reacting, what I would have done before.” In my words he can go again into acceptance, observe and let go… 'Reason' is again a player.

Hereby I would like to thank my clients for their confidence in my work and for the learning experience that they are giving me.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Body Mind Spirit Coaching

I heard it numerous times when giving someone some suggestions on issues that involve change: “ I know but I can’t seem to do anything about it, I want to but feel I’m hitting a brick wall all the time!”

What I also get to hear is: “ I want to do something but don’t know where to start!”

In the first example the people know but can’t move the second they don’t know but are able to move. So we’re talking about two opposites with the common denominator of being stuck of standing still and they might even feel to be going backwards.

These are situations straight out of my osteopathy practice, you may ask yourself what are they doing in an osteopathic practice in the first place. Isn’t osteopathy something to do with cracking bones?

Osteopathy isn’t just about cracking bones, it is about bringing a person back to himself, to bringing balance to body, mind and spirit. Or in other words to restore the healing mechanism so that the person becomes whole again. Osteopathy is a holistic approach and that means that we try to look at the whole of the person and therefore not only the bones.

The people who are in a situation mentioned above they do come with ailments like headaches, back problems, low energy feeling, general malaises etc, and as an osteopath I help to facilitate these symptoms but these can be symptoms of some underlying mechanism that is out of balance. An imbalance of the BMS mechanism where one or more parts are blocked.

The BMS or Body Mind Spirit mechanism is in a few words explained as follows. The Body part is the structural, physical part of the human being: Bones, muscles, organs… Spirit and not spiritual, is our Life Force which contains the mechanism of healing, but it is also the animated part in us, what makes us move. Body and Spirit are part of the basis of the BMS triangle, they are part of the earthly structural – functional component. Mind on the other hand is the pinnacle of the triangle and part of the celestial, non-existant realm of knowledge and wisdom. In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medcin) Body and Spirit are Yin and Mind Yang. In Taoism Mind is Wu Ji (non-existance) and Body and Spirit are You-Ji (existence) from where man is created.

The BMS mechanism is a holistic system where all parts have an influence on each other. So in my first example where lies the imbalance? They know but can’t act? Knowing is Mind so it must be part of the Spirit or Body level. In the second example they don’t know… so a sort of disconnection has occurred between the Mind and the Body and Spirit.

As an osteopath I work on the three parts but my approach is via the functional structural levels, Body and Spirit. But what if the underlying problem is of Mind level? Then off-course I’ll be only able to help these people part of the way and advise to go and see someone who has a Mind approach like a coach or a psychotherapist if the problem is a medical condition.

An example of the need for a mind approach is people who are looking for change. They feel they need to do something different with their life or are in front of change with many options but they don’t know what to choose. This I don’t know where to go, what to do, who am I, what am I doing here mental activity is very stressful for the body and can lead to many aches and pains like a blocked back (lumbago) or neck (torticolli)… being stuck physically. I’m not saying that all back or neck pain is related to this but a lot of people are struggling with these issues when you probe a little deeper.

So you are with an osteopath and he becomes aware that you could do with a Mind approach but what also can happen is that you’re with a Coach and the client says I know what I need to do but it’s like I’m paralyzed… Then something in the Structural, functional level might indeed be in need of freeing through an osteopathic session.

From whatever aspect you look at it man can only function to his or her full potential when there is a free flow between all three levels. So therefore in wanting to give a full service and knowing that combining forces is sometimes essential to get the best result: Osteopathy & Coaching or “BMS Design Coaching” which will be available at the BioMotions Osteopathy & massage Practice soon.