Meeting Charles - An osteopathic journey

I was watching some videos yesterday from the San Diego Pain Summit, which is basically an event where people who are way smarter than me talk about topics I am not smart enough to fully understand. They speak about topics such as pain and how to make our knowledge relevant to our practice, whether you are a physiotherapist, an osteopath or a movement guru.

One of the guests, Barrett Dorko, said that he did not go in that field to help people, but because he wanted to understand the mechanism, he wanted to understand how the magic trick works. His understanding of human nervous system led him to use a light touch, just like me through experience.

At this time, I knew that the knowledge I gathered during my studies was like a magic trick. And until I started to really question what my teachers told me, I was like a magician who would actually believe that the card disappears from his hand because of actual magic. I was both the one doing the magic trick and the one watching the show, mesmerized.

I have mentioned that, very early, during my studies actually, I started to think in a way that was different from what I was taught, based on my experience. Questioning your so called knowledge based on what you experience is quite an exercise. It can be utterly uncomfortable at first, but soon, one becomes used to it until he finally realises that he should not cherish neither other's knowledge (especially teachers), nor his own knowledge. Thought process is a living thing, giving it space for it to dance and evolve is as important as giving space to your body.

Since a few years now, I have answered many questions from patients and manual therapists who are interested in what I do. I believe (and I hope) that I have always told them that they should not listen to me, they should doubt about what I say, as my words are not important. What they are asking for is what my words are trying to point at. And I would like to insist on a point here: I do not point at synaesthesia. What I point at will be clarified in the next article, synaesthesia is only a part of my story, but it is not the heart of my practice.

I feel like sharing an experience I had a year after I killed the beast. During the same training I realised that I could really feel people's pain in my own body.

Meeting Charles

In 2013 I bought a book called "Stillness", written by Charles Ridley. That book talked about a form of osteopathy called biodynamic. In his book, Charles talks about what can be felt during a treatment if the practitioner does not try to name things, or does not try to use his knowledge to apply a force on the patient.

I remember reading it in a day or two. I just could not stop reading that book. Finally, I was reading something that was not only different from what I was told, but that was also very close to what patients could sometimes experience during my treatments. And more importantly, the way words were put together made me feel very calm. As if the words themselves were secondary. A few months later, Charles gave a class in France, so I decided to join.

During the training, Charles got us to meditate and contact the patient with our hands from that meditative state. I will disscuss this in a later blog, as meditation is not something that you do, it is not a state that you reach, it is your natural state as to reach it, one has to realise he cannot do anything to reach it. Just as said in another post, Jean Klein said that meditation is like not taking the train. What do you do not to take the train? You do nothing.

Something fascinated me during that training. People had thousands of questions. How does it work? Why do we do that? Should I do that? Is it okay if...? I wondered if they read the same book as I did.
But the most surprising thing for me was to watch Charles shrug his shoulders saying "I don't know" to almost every question. He was pointing in a direction and our brains were trying to do what they had been trained for: seizing, classifying and putting in small boxes.




On the 4th day, he gave everybody a treatment. We were all lying down on the tables and waiting for him to place his hands under our skull, neck or back. I remember that at this moment, I was believing that the treatment would be extremely powerful. I was absolutely convinced that I would feel so many things in my body, see colors... It takes time to get rid of ideas that are deeply rooted in our mind, culture, profession... And even (especially?) in most biodynamic training.

Waiting on that table with my thoughts going crazy about how powerful it would be, I had no idea that this experience was about to change my life in a whole different way.

Next episode


Jules Rampal, Osteopath D.O

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I am a registered osteopath currently working at the Cavan Osteopathic Center, in Cavan, Ireland.
Do not hesitate to contact me if you believe I can be of any help.

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