Restore Vitality and Healing Life Force: The Osteopathic Perspective
May 02, 2017 12:38AM
● By David L. Johnston
We have all heard the body has an ability to heal itself. We have seen healing occur on some level, whether it is a cut or a broken bone, or recovery from a major illness, injury or even emotional trauma. But what is this unseen force or energy that allows the cells and tissues to regenerate, or for a person to recover from the brink of death? Why do some heal faster than others, especially when we are younger?
Throughout the world, it is commonly recognized across different healing traditions that a universal energy or life force exists in the body for healing. In Chinese medicine and acupuncture, this vital energy is called chi, or ki in Japanese. Prana, a word from Sanskrit translated as “breath” or “vital force”, is part of the Hindu philosophy, including in yoga. Kundalini, meaning “coiling like a snake” in Sanskrit, is a type of primal energy that sits dormant at the base of the spine; it can be activated for spiritual enlightenment by certain forms of meditation. Life force is defined as the spirit or energy that animates living creatures and the soul. Vitality can be defined as the state of being strong and active with energy, liveliness, life energy, spirit and vivacity.
There are many ways a person can help maintain life energy for everyday living. Adequate sleep, regular exercise, and proper nutrition with organic greens and whole foods are very helpful, as are nutritional supplements, herbs and homeopathy, when needed. Avoidance of processed foods—like sugar and white flour—and minimal use of chemicals and preservatives is essential to reduce toxic load on the body. Detoxification and methods of ridding the cells of inflammation, restoring balance to hormones and vital organs, and strengthening the immune system are all essential methods to allow our cellular and molecular systems to perform optimally. Meditation as a way to quiet the mind and control stress and deep breathing to increase oxygenation and balance the energy in the body are other methods.
Osteopathy is a method of healing that understands that the human being consists of body, mind and spirit, along with structure and function. It appreciates that the body has an inner wisdom about how to maintain balance and restore itself back to health.
Cranial osteopathy is the art and science of applying touch and light pressure to the bones; tissues (muscles and fascia); and fluids of the head, spine and sacrum. This allows the circulation of blood, lymph and cerebrospinal fluid to be restored, helping the body to heal itself from injury and disease.
Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, MD, the founder of osteopathy, said the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is the highest known element in the body. It contains potency and vitality and can be utilized as a fluctuating fluid force to restore balance and health in an individual. These concepts are based on natural laws and involve quantum theory. The osteopath’s perceptual ability to sense—in the present moment, without judgment or interference—and observe dynamic stillness of the health is key in this method of treatment. This allows the innate wisdom of the body—as part of the primary respiratory mechanism—to organize and prioritize the treatment as it unfolds to produce a profound expression of the healing forces within the body. This usually results in an improved sense of well-being, relaxation, pain relief, better sleep, and improved energy and mental clarity.
Bob Fulford, DO, was a remarkable osteopath who emphasized the concepts of vital energy and the healing power of nature. He described the life field, which envelops and surrounds the body and is composed of electromagnetic energy. This energy also exists within the body as the life force. Fulford believed that life force flow is regulated by the mind. The mind controls the body, and so a person’s emotional reactions and thoughts can tighten up or block his or her physical being. This is evident after an accident that causes us to hold our breath, which in effect means we’re blocking the flow of energy through our bodies. For many, that flow never fully returns. Fulford described the life force as a tingling or prickling sensation he could feel in the tissues when flowing correctly in a healthy person. If his fingers would stick rather than glide while running his hands over a patient, the body is static and the life force is being blocked. Osteopathic treatment could then be applied to those areas to free up the anatomy and restore the flow. Fulford also discussed vibrations and realized every living thing pulses with the flow of electric life force that pervades the universe. Individuals also vibrate at their own particular frequencies; this can influence their ability for physical strength, stamina and mental capacity as well as their health. He also believed that this universal life force may well be another name for God, or the universal creator. “And I believe that God therefore exists within all of us, embodied in this energy”, Fulford says.
We now live in the midst of challenging times. As a global community, now more than ever, we need to focus on restoring vital life force and healing ourselves and others so we may say, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
David L. Johnston, DO, is a board certified osteopathic physician in neuromusculoskeletal medicine and osteopathic manipulative medicine. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine and holds additional certification in cranial osteopathy. He practices at the Osteopathic Wellness Center, located in Ridgefield. Connect at 203-438-9915 and OsteopathicWellness.net. See ad, page 14.