Four years ago I wrote a post, entitled ‘My Three Great Teachers’, regarding those that had enlightened me to three spheres of life, the ‘spiritual sphere’, the ‘earthly sphere’ and the ‘human sphere’. Now I would like to expand upon the human sphere to include what I have come to regard as the ‘trinity of health and healing’ and to introduce two new teachers.
When I embarked upon ABR Therapy (Advanced Bio-Mechanical Rehabilitation), its creator and teacher, Leonid Blyum, enlightened me to a higher understanding of the nature of the human body and taught me that healing a body, damaged due to spinal injury, was a real possibility despite the insistence of the medical profession that recovery is impossible, at least, in their view, until scientists discover how to repair the spinal cord! The improvements I have made, over the last 14 years, have shown that nerve damage is not a barrier to recovery and that by addressing the bio-mechanical essence of the body, it is possible to improve the condition of paraplegia. The condition of ‘paraplegia’ is severe, the physical depletion of the body due to the condition is extensive and the work necessary to heal such a condition is enormous, but after all these years, I continue to make significant and predictable improvements in the structure and function of my body through ABR Therapy. Little by little do we bring my body back to life and slowly but surely do we improve both the quality of my body and so that of the life I am able to lead.
Bio-mechanics is at the heart of paraplegia and is an essential component of all physical conditions and health in general. However, if we wish to see health truly holistically, we must consider two other aspects. Firstly nutrition and secondly our psychological well being. I have always eaten fairly well, or at least compared with many people, and despite the difficulties of my life, I have always soldiered on and remained sane and so neither of these aspects of my health have been a real barrier to my therapy work and recovery from spinal injury. Having said this, in order to gain the maximum benefit from my therapy work, and from life in general, I have long sought to truly understand nutrition, to improve my diet and enjoy food to the full, and to understand and improve the struggles I have with my emotional, or psychological, well being.
For many years I have done my best to live off of pure natural whole foods and a diet that is traditional in essence. I have glanced through the odd recipe book for ideas, but have never owned one and have never wanted to, although I have always managed to cook meals from scratch. I was pretty happy with my diet and vary rarely entertained products of the food commodities industry, but just recently I have had my eyes opened even wider by Sally Fallon, founding member and President of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Weston Price was a dentist in the 1930’s who realised that the health of the Western World was in decline, as witnessed by him in the rise in tooth decay and crooked and crowded teeth. He also realised that when traditional societies, who had never known tooth decay or tooth abnormalities, were co-coerced into the industrialised foods of the West, their teeth rotted and future generations were born with narrow faces and crowded teeth. For the last 100 years there has been a steady decline in the nutritional value of the average diet in the Western world. Sally Fallon extols the virtues of animal foods for their high nutritional content and the importance of animal fats, dispelling the myth that these are bad for us. All research that has ever suggested that animal fats are bad for us and vegetable oils are good has been funded by the very industry that wishes to promote the vegetable oil products of industrial agriculture. She also believes in the importance of ‘raw milk’, it being a whole food full of living enzymes. Pasteurizing milk kills off so much of its beneficial enzymes that it can no longer be considered a whole food and has been blamed for many health conditions, particularly allergies. Raw milk on the other hand, she suggests, not only causes none of these health problems, but taken as a diet on its own has traditionally been used as a cure for many ills. When she talks of ‘lacto-fermentation’ as a way of preserving vegetables and fruit, while at the same time increasing their vitamin and nutritional content, and as a means of making all manner of soft drinks, she made me realise just how lifeless our modern food products are. The huge scale upon which food stuffs are produced, by necessity means that all life must be extinguished in their manufacture otherwise it would be impossible to maintain any standard of quality and shelf life.
As individuals who prepare and cook our own food we can always seek to improve our diet by eating highly nutritious food, but it is not so easy when we wish to integrate with wider society. I like to have my Sunday dinner at the kids home where I work, but have to accept that the potatoes will be roasted in vegetable oil; a polyunsaturated oil that is unstable at high temperature and so, not only unsuitable for roasting, but toxic to the body. I also have to accept that they buy cheap potatoes whose growth will have been forced with artificial fertilisers and whose health will have been subjected to herbicides and pesticides, not to mention the quality of the other vegetables and the meat. As for the puddings; I am never shy of cream, but the adulterated vegetable oil used as a cream substitute is borderline poisoning! I am grateful for the one social meal I have each week and believe that the efforts I make to eat well, in my own small way, more than counteract the odd poor quality meal. It’s just a shame that, collectively as a society, we don’t wake up to the importance of good quality highly nutritious food.
Understanding a healthy diet isn’t too difficult when presented with the facts; understanding our psychological health, however, is not always easy. Over the last few years I have come to understand how experiences at a very young age, even at too young an age to have a conscious memory of the experience, can have a profound and lasting effect throughout our adult life. Traumatic experiences cause the psyche to split as a way of managing and surviving the experience. The emotional experiences of the trauma are split off and buried in the unconscious and the person develops survival strategies to manage and maintain the split. Over time this forms what we call our personality. It is as though we are all traumatised and spend our lives trying to find our way home.
I have always talked of what happened, to leave me a paraplegic, as an accident, but accidents never just happen, they are rooted in our personality and so rooted in those experiences that have shaped our lives, rooted in our trauma. In my personal quest to understand this side of my life I have come across the work of Franz Rupert and find his theory on trauma very enlightening and this has helped me clarify much of what I have worked out for myself over the years. I have not tried his constellation method as a therapeutic means of addressing our own trauma, but the opportunity may present itself soon with up and coming local practitioners.
When you listen to Franz Rupert it is easy to believe that all health problems are the consequence of trauma. When you listen to Sally Fallon then they’re a consequence of poor nutrition and when you listen to Leonid Blyum it’s easy to believe they are all rooted in poor bio-mechanics. When it comes to myself and all the other seriously disabled people pursuing ABR Therapy, then the very real bio-mechanical issues over-ride all others, but that is not to say that it isn’t important to also address our nutritional health and our psychological health. Franz Rupert’s ideas may not be for everyone, but I urge you all to look up Sally Fallon and listen to what she has to say about food and nutrition. I thoroughly recommend her DVD presentation and her book, both titled ‘Nourishing Traditional Diets’.
Finally I would like to thank my personal therapist, whom I employ to help me with my ABR therapy work, for introducing me to the work of both Sally Fallon and Franz Rupert and for helping me to develop further my thoughts on the ‘Trinity of Health and Healing’.