Having recently completed 5 years of academic and clinical training, then diving into research on the osteopathic concept of listening, I’ve been reflecting on the relationship between practitioner education and quality patient care. What puzzles me is, that as practitioners, we are rigorously trained to listen to the bodies of our patients, to help them understand what might be happening within them, and to discern possible ways forward toward health. Yet, precious little attention is given to the quality with which we are able to listen to our own bodies, to understand the ways our bodies signal and inform us, not only about our own state but about the clarity and precision with which we are able to perceive others.
Working in the field of rehabilitation and performance for close to 25 years, I’ve come to understand the necessity of the practitioners practice through exceedingly difficult personal experience. Training in movement, voice and improvisation have given me a language and a context for listening to, with and through my body, which helps me on a daily basis to orient my awareness to Health.
Health, as a concept in osteopathic medicine (as far as I’m able to understand at this point), refers to a state of being that is with us regardless of past or present circumstances. It is the aspect of ourselves that has organizational intelligence, is self-regulating, self-healing given the appropriate circumstances, and endlessly available to us. When we are ill or off-centre in our lives, it can be a great challenge to access this state of Health for ourselves and to know the best ways to proceed.
I understand my role as a practitioner to be someone who holds faith in this understanding for a person until they are able to do it for themselves. I don’t fix anything, that’s not my job or desire. Besides, I’m not nearly as good at it as is the self-organizing force of one’s own system. My job, as I see it, is to help a person access their own resources, to build trust in their own physiological wisdom.
We are highly trained to find disease processes. Oftentimes, we’re less agile in orienting to the Health within ourselves and within others. Listening for Health and allowing Health to organize my actions, as a philosophy of practice, takes determined effort and daily choice. When most everything in the observable world tells us that things are messed up beyond repair, it is a discipline to place faith in our own nature and in the nature of life.
Consider joining us Monday mornings, 9-10am at 42 Quebec st Guelph;
weekly lab led by lesley exploring the physiology of listening with, to and through our bodies. Explorations, inquiries, practices and foundational skill building for body practitioners, improvisers, movers of all kinds. Drop ins welcome, $10-15 sliding scale