Friday, September 4, 2009

All is contingent and not arbitrary

I believe that we all came into this world with a mission, a purpose for which we are given tools, more dominant potentials (qualities) to be able to fulfill this objective. More dominant in the sense that we can be anything we want to be, do anything we want to do but just like our DNA has all the blueprint to be everything but only a part of this potential stands out, is in this life switched on. These switched on potentials are there to be activated, nourished and developed so that the master plan can be executed. These “potentialights” are part of the non-arbitrary way of life? Therefore although things seem to happen accidentally there is a predetermined possibility / probability.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Part II

When I read the article in GVA: "Bewezen: chronische vermoeidheid is geen ingebeelde ziekte", I straight away thought about my own experience with this condition: in short, I eliminated gluten out of my diet and the symptoms of CFS went away. So my first thought when I had read the article was that gluten were responsible for high levels of H2S as mentioned in the article (or see my previous blog).

They are but not as I thought they were. I discovered through visiting many webpages on this subject that sulfate containing amino acids were on the basis of H2S production so I thought that breads were probably supplying this... but in fact most vegetables and meats do. So I got confused... as apparently there wasn't a link... but as I said gluten is however partly responsable.

The problem situates itself in the fact that Sulfate in normal conditions is taken up by the blood stream in the bowels... only if the gut lining is inflamed or damaged this process is slowed down and bacteria get to it first. The bacteria have now access to more Sulfate to convert into Hydrogen Sulfate causing a hightened production... a bit of the stuff is healthy (regulates blood presure, body temperature etc) but "trop is te veel..." and then it becomes toxic and has an negative efect on the cells (It forms a complex bond with iron in the mitochondrial cytochrome enzymes, thereby blocking oxygen from binding and stopping cellular respiration causing fatigue etc)

Inflamation of the gut mucosa or worse, damaged lining of the gut through the auto immune disease Coeliacie are caused by gluten... these conditions prevent nutrients and sulfate to be easily absorbed resulting in bacteria having a party ...

Have a look at some coeliac and gluten intolerance info websites and you'll see that these conditions and CFS have many similar symptoms... My wild guess is that CFS can be ,in some cases if not most, a direct result from gluten related gut problems.

Catching my drift I hope so :-)

To be continued.

There is hope for people suffering from CFS

There is hope for people suffering of CFS
(Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)

This week I read a promising article, which announced the creation of a simple urine test to see if people suffer from CFS. A breakthrough as this syndrome is considered at least in Belgium as a psychosomatic condition and not a neurological one… CFS sufferers are regarded as lazy and not ill. This hopefully changes soon now that professors Kenny de Meulder (VUB) and Chris Roeland discovered that people suffering from CFS have a higher level of Hydrogen Sulfate (H2S) in the urine. H2S has a negative affect on the central nervous system, which has as effects tiredness, all kinds of muscle problems, memory loss, headaches…

The interesting part is that this H2S is caused by an alteration of the gut micro flora by several factors like antibiotic use, stress and diet. I had CFS for several years and I only got rid of it by changing my diet… as soon as I started to eat gluten free (and I was already eating less diary products) the symptoms disappeared.

I think diet is not the only key to overcoming CFS, together with a balancing osteopathy session and in some cases coaching to get a full Body, Mind and Spirit approach I’m sure many people will be helped in improving their own self healing mechanism and overcome the symptoms and eventually CFS.

I will dig a little deeper in the matter very soon and keep you posted.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Does our body need coaching?

Insight on the influence of osteopathy on trauma.
By Tom Meyers, Osteopath

Among its many effects, trauma can cause a freeze lock in the reptilian brain that blocks people’s access to their full potential and reduces them to survival mode. Through osteopathy treatment – in particular the cranio-sacral approach - the conditions associated with this downshifting can be lifted, restoring full use of the rational and emotional brain.

No joy in life, apathy, self-centeredness, dissociation, disrupted relationships, chronic fatigue, pain, irritability, easily angered, distress, not coping, overwhelm, feeling locked / blocked, back or neck-ache, upset stomach… We know the emotional effects of trauma but there are other conditions which are as much part of the aftermath of trauma but that are less well known. Trauma has an effect on the whole person - not only our emotions but our entire body, mind and spirit.

Trauma is not only an emotional shock following a stressful event or physical injury, it can also be induced by change. Any change in life can cause stress even those changes that we welcome in our lives: a new job, moving home, a new relationship, retirement, birth of a child… Not only actual change but also anticipated change can cause the body to suffer, resulting in anxiety but also physical conditions like stomach ache, stiffness / rigidity, various kinds of back pain (constant or variable), to give but a few examples.

On top of all this, the world around us is changing fast and keeping up seems to be a constant challenge to which we need to adapt.

One can therefore say that the experience of trauma ailments is caused through an accumulation of stressors over time. So although individual incidents will not always leave us scarred, the unrelenting stream of ‘aggressors’ will have a cumulative impact, both psychologically and physically.

Whether the cause is emotional, physical or environmental, the impact of trauma will reverberate throughout the body-mind-spirit unit. Trauma is a message that is perceived as undermining our survival. When the critical point has been reached, a freeze lock can be installed that can persist and infect our whole being.

To understand the trauma mechanism it is worth exploring the neurological angle, in particular the triune brain. The triune brain is a model proposed by Paul D. MacLean to explain the function of traces of evolution existing in the structure of the human brain. In this model, the brain is broken down into three separate brains that have their own special intelligence, subjectivity, sense of time and space, and memory. The triune brain consists of the R-complex, the limbic system, and the neocortex.

The R-complex, also known as the "reptilian brain", includes the brain stem and cerebellum. It is called the "reptilian brain" because a reptile's brain is dominated by the brain stem and cerebellum, which controls instinctual survival behaviors and thinking. This brain controls the muscles, balance and autonomic functions.

The limbic system is the source of emotions and instincts. It comprises the amygdala, the hypothalamus and the hippocampus. The limbic system must interact with the neocortex in some way - it cannot function entirely on its own: it needs to interact with the neocortex to process the emotions.

The neocortex, also known as the cerebral cortex, is found in the brain of higher mammals and is responsible for higher-order thinking skills, reason and speech.

These three brains each have a different biochemistry, respond differently to impulses and have a different disposition. Although all three must work together towards a genuine output, under certain circumstances a particular ‘brain’ is dominant. For example, in anger - which is linked to the reptilian brain - rational thinking is often impeded. When we come out of our rage and recover our intellectual capacities, we often wonder why we did or said certain things. While in the grip of rage, we were unable to think and reacted completely on instinct. Only when we calm down can we be rational again.

Both emotions and stress / trauma have a tendency to override reason, logic or intellect and therefore have an impact on the functioning of the triune brain. Most of this influence subsides when the stressors or emotions are no longer present, but it can persist when there is an accumulation of stress or when the body is no longer capable of processing the data coming in. When this happens, the system freezes or locks.

Leslie Hart called this freeze hold ‘downshifting’. When we downshift, we operate in a lower, more primitive and instinctual way. We are no longer able to access our full intellectual capacities and we no longer see what is really out there. We are also less able to engage in complex tasks, preferring to stay with the familiar, tried and tested mode of functioning, staying in our ‘comfort zone’. We are no longer coping, we feel overwhelmed by events. This can be seen as regressing to a more primitive state of being - primitive to the point that our instinct is activated towards its one primary goal: survival. The reptilian brain is also called the survival brain and when we are fixed in this system, extra stimuli can be experienced as threatening – although the threat is of course subconscious as our rational brain is out of reach.

In short, when we are locked in a downshift we are functioning robotically with the sole purpose of surviving. The more stimuli we are faced with, the more overwhelmed and stressed we become and in these circumstances we tend to stick to routine rather than find new solutions to overcome a problem. We can also become apathetic, dissociated, self-centered, irritable… But also, when stressed the mind will become focused on the stressor. We can’t think of anything else as rationality is cut off and we become mentally rigid. When this lock persists, the body also becomes stiff, with the most common symptoms being back, neck or shoulder pain.

Other symptoms described by people in this reptilian brain freeze lock is that they cannot engage in activities like meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, working out or other pastimes they had done before. They commonly report feeling caged or walled in. They see that something is not right but can’t seem to do anything about it.

Does our body need coaching? As an osteopath people come and see me because they are suffering from one or more physical conditions like back pain or other musculo-skeletal problems. When probing more deeply through the patient’s history, we have most often discovered, lurking behind these physical symptoms, a series of apparently unrelated psycho-emotional conditions or traumas that then move to the foreground. My interest in these non-physical problems has been piqued when, on the next visit, the patient reports having experienced an improvement. So, through an osteopathic treatment, not only did they get rid of their back pain and other ailments, but at the same time they felt they functioned better. When asked if they related this psycho-emotional improvement to the treatment, they were all 100% convinced. They could focus better, felt less stressed even when their external conditions had not changed, and they were also able to engage in their leisure activities again…

As part of my osteopathic treatment, I use the cranio-sacral technique in conjunction with musculo-skeletal, abdominal, fascia techniques and so on. Osteopathy is a holistic approach and the osteopath interweaves the different approaches into a treatment designed for each individual. So although a different set of manipulations is performed for each patient, the approach is very similar.

I believe that it is this cranio-sacral part of the treatment that makes the greatest difference in improving the psycho-emotional condition of the patient. That being said, the entire treatment is necessary, because the whole body must interact with the cranio-sacral process if it is to work.

In the cranio-sacral approach, the osteopath tunes into the client’s cranio-sacral system through the hands. By gently working with the skull and its cranial sutures, diaphragms, and fascia, the restrictions of nerve passages are eased, the movement of cerebrospinal fluid through the spinal cord is optimized, and misaligned bones are restored to their proper position. It now also seems that this has a direct influence on the triune brain and its functions.

After treatment, patients have expanded from their survival mode into normal functioning. In the words of one client: “I still have the same amount of stress but I don’t let it get to me.” He could accept his situation rationally.

I have no clinical proof of my arguments here, other than the testimonials of my patients and my own observation that osteopathy - and more specifically the cranio-sacral approach - has lifted the downshifting in these cases, allowed the patients to re-access their potential.

It doesn’t always stop there, either. In some cases it was also the start of recognition that further help in the psycho-emotional domain was needed. With continued osteopathic follow-up in conjunction with more mind-oriented therapies, clients have found their feet again, free from pain and psycho-emotional stable, creative, energetic, ready to face changes. Most of all they are happy.

Does our body need coaching? It seems it does help!


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.

If you like to contact me for more information please visit

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.